Spaghetti and Meatballs in homemade marinara sauce. These are amazing “WOW”-inducing MEATBALLS – so tasty and juicy and BIG! We’re sharing all of our secrets for incredibly tender and flavorful meatballs.

Spaghetti and Meatballs served family style garnished with basil

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Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe:

The secret to getting uber tender meatballs is bread; yes, bread. And the secret to getting uber flavorful meatballs is in the combination of meats – I’m talking about lean ground beef with sweet Italian sausage.

You’ll finish these up by simmering them in the super yummy and easy home-made marinara sauce. This are seriously the best spaghetti meatball recipe I’ve ever tried.

Store-bought meatballs can’t touch these (in an MC Hammer kind of way) – I have no idea why I keep referencing Mr. Hammer? I think I grew up in the 90’s, in Seattle.

The Best Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe in a bowl topped with parmesan and basil

Ingredients for Meatballs (makes 22-23 meatballs):

  • White bread is best but you can use whole wheat or other soft sliced bread
  • Use lean ground beef – 7% to 15% fat content
  • If you aren’t able to find Italian sausage meat only, use sausages and remove casings
  • Use freshly grated parmesan or finely shredded pre-packaged
  • Do not skimp on the garlic in the meatballs or the sauce

Ingredients to make meatballs for spaghetti

Ingredients for Marinara Sauce:

  • It seems like alot of chopped yellow onion but it shrinks considerably
  • If you use “Crushed tomatoes with basil” you can omit the fresh basil if desired
  • Bay leaves are nice, but optional if you don’t have them on hand

Ingredients for Homemade marinara sauce with crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil

How to Make the Best Italian Meatballs:

1. Combine diced crustless bread pieces with 2/3 cup water and set aside for 5 minutes then mash together with a fork.

Bread and water soaking in a bowl

2. In a large mixing bowl (I use my KitchenAid mixer to do the work), add: 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb sausage, 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 egg and the mashed moist bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.

How to make meatballs with all meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl

3. Form into 1 1/2″ meatballs (about a flat ice cream scoop’s worth of meat). Dredge/roll meatballs in flour. Heat a deep, large, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat with about 3 Tbsp oil. Add meatballs in batches so you don’t crowd the pan and saute until browned on all sides (6 min total or 2 min per side). Remove meatballs to a separate dish and set aside (don’t worry about cooking through at this point).

How to shape, dredge and saute Italian meatballs

How to Make Marinara Sauce:

1. In the same skillet over medium heat, add more oil if needed and saute 1 cup chopped onion stirring often until soft and golden (5 min). Add 4 cloves minced garlic and stir 1 minute.

Sauteed onions for marinara sauce

2. Stir in 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a light boil (stir to make sure it’s actually boiling and hot and not just letting bubbles to the surface).

3. Add meatballs back into the pan with tomato sauce, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 min, turning the meatballs occasionally. Meatballs will be tender and sauce will be thickened. 5 minutes before your sauce is done, stir in chopped fresh basil and add salt and pepper to taste.

Adding crushed tomatoes and meatballs back to the pot and adding basil

Finishing Details:

1. Cook pasta according to package instructions until aldente or softer if your family loves it that way! Truth be told, I love slightly overcooked pasta. Drain pasta and return to the empty pot.

2. Pour sauce and meatballs over spaghetti and toss gently to combine. To serve family-style, transfer to a large platter, garnish with more parmesan cheese and fresh basil leaves if desired and serve hot.

Spaghetti and meatballs in a dutch oven pot

More Family-Favorite Pasta Recipes:

Creamy Shrimp Pasta – so creamy with plump juicy shrimp
Chicken Fettuccini Alfredo – Mom’s classic recipe
Chicken Tetrazzini – creamy, cheesy and easy with rotisserie chicken

Spaghetti and meatballs served on a plate garnished with parmesan cheese

Watch Natasha Make Spaghetti and Meatballs:


This recipe is also great for meal prep and to-go lunches since it freezes and reheats really well. I hope this becomes a new favorite recipe for you!

Natasha's Kitchen Cookbook

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

4.96 from 635 votes
Author: Natasha of NatashasKitchen.com
Spaghetti and Meatballs in homemade marinara sauce. Learn how to make juicy Italian Meatballs - so tender and big! The Best Homemade Spaghetti Meatballs.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients 

Servings: 8 (2-3 meatballs per serving)

Ingredients for Meatballs (makes 22-23 meatballs):

  • 3 slices white bread, (crusts removed), diced or torn to pieces
  • 2/3 cup cold water
  • 1 lb lean ground beef, (7%-15% fat)
  • 1 lb Sweet Ground Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour, to dredge meatballs
  • 3 Tbsp Light olive oil to saute, or use vegetable oil

Ingredients for Sauce:

Other Ingredients:

  • 1 lb spaghetti

Instructions

How to Make the Best Italian Meatballs:

  • Combine bread pieces with 2/3 cup water and set aside 5 min then mash with a fork.
  • In a large mixing bowl add: 1 lb ground beef, 1 lb sausage, 1/4 cup parmesan, 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1 egg and mashed bread crumbs. Mix until well combined.
  • Form into 1 1/2" meatballs (about a flat ice cream scoop of meat). Dredge/roll meatballs in flour, dusting off excess. Heat a deep, large, heavy skillet or a Dutch oven over medium heat with about 3 Tbsp oil. Add meatballs in 2 batches without crowding the pan and saute until browned on all sides (about 6 min total or 2 min per side). Remove meatballs and set aside (don't worry about cooking through at this point).

How to Make Easy Marinara Sauce:

  • In the same skillet over medium heat, add more oil if needed and saute 1 cup chopped onion stirring often until soft and golden (5 min). Add 4 cloves minced garlic and stir 1-2 min until fragrant.
  • Stir in 2 cans of crushed tomatoes and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a light boil (stir to make sure it's actually boiling and not just sending bubbles to the surface).
  • Add meatballs back into the pan with tomato sauce, partially cover with lid or cover with a splatter screen to reduce splatter and cook at a gentle simmer for 30 min, turning the meatballs occasionally. Meatballs will be tender and sauce will be thickened. Five minutes before sauce is done, stir in chopped fresh basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

How to Make Spaghetti and Meatballs:

  • Cook pasta according to package instructions until aldente (or to desired doneness), drain and return to the empty pot.
  • Pour sauce and meatballs over spaghetti and toss gently to combine. To serve family-style, transfer to a large platter, garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh basil and serve hot.

Notes

*Basil is nice but optional if your crushed tomatoes jar has basil as 1 of the ingredients. 

Nutrition Per Serving

696kcal Calories73g Carbs35g Protein29g Fat9g Saturated Fat101mg Cholesterol1112mg Sodium1110mg Potassium6g Fiber11g Sugar520IU Vitamin A21.5mg Vitamin C167mg Calcium6.4mg Iron
Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
Amount per Serving
Calories
696
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
29
g
45
%
Saturated Fat
 
9
g
56
%
Cholesterol
 
101
mg
34
%
Sodium
 
1112
mg
48
%
Potassium
 
1110
mg
32
%
Carbohydrates
 
73
g
24
%
Fiber
 
6
g
25
%
Sugar
 
11
g
12
%
Protein
 
35
g
70
%
Vitamin A
 
520
IU
10
%
Vitamin C
 
21.5
mg
26
%
Calcium
 
167
mg
17
%
Iron
 
6.4
mg
36
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Spaghetti and Meatballs, Spaghetti Meatballs
Skill Level: Easy/Medim
Cost to Make: $$
Calories: 696

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen

Twirling spaghetti onto fork 

♥ FAVORITE THINGS ♥
Shown in this post: (nope, no one paid us to write this; just stuff we love):
* The Le Creuset French Ovens are made to last a lifetime. They’re lovely too.
* These glass bowls by pyrex are perfect for prepping & serving. Love them!
* These Joseph Joseph utensils sit next to the stove and they get used. ALOT!

What is your all-time favorite comfort food? 

Natasha Kravchuk

Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved and tested recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

Read more posts by Natasha

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Recipe Rating




Comments

  • Beth Cordoba
    October 26, 2023

    Looks great! Can I substitute ground turkey and turkey sausage?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      October 26, 2023

      Hi Beth! Yes, that should be fine. Just keep in mind that if your Turkey is lean, the meatballs will be more dry.

      Reply

  • Aprille
    October 11, 2023

    Great recipe when you’re short on time and need to “get those darn meatballs” done! 🙂

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      October 12, 2023

      Yes indeed! Thanks for this great review!

      Reply

  • robert
    September 1, 2023

    I’ve been using this recipe for the past couple of years. It’s easy and it turns out delicious, the whole family loves it when pops cooks “his” spaghetti dinner. I add mushrooms and black olives to the sauce and 1 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes. Plenty of leftovers that just get better over a day or 2. Thanks of the recipe. Pops

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      September 1, 2023

      Hi Robert! Thank you for sharing. I’m glad to hear its being enjoyed!

      Reply

  • Joanna
    August 28, 2023

    I had to do quite a bit of doctoring with this recipe.
    First, when I combined the ingredients needed for the meatballs, I was left with a sloppy wet mixture. Thankfully, I had breadcrumbs in my cabinet that I was able to use so they held together and I could make the meatballs. I do love the combination of ground beef and ground sweet sausage, but without those breadcrumbs the meatballs would have fallen apart.
    Second, the crushed tomatoes on their own with nothing but onions and garlic was way too tangy. I needed to add the fresh basil, the onion and garlic, Italian seasoning, salt, and sugar to the sauce for it to taste good. The sugar and salt saved this sauce.

    Reply

    • Natasha
      August 29, 2023

      Hi Joanna, different brands have varying amounts of salt so it’s always a great idea to add seasoning to taste at the end. Also, make sure to simmer the meatballs in sauce for the full time as indicated for the flavors to develop and will result in a very flavorful sauce

      Reply

  • Amber
    August 12, 2023

    What to make this tomorrow for a birthday. Can I use Panko bread crumbs instead of the bread? If yes, how much should I use?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      August 12, 2023

      Hi Amber, while I haven’t tried panko in this recipe, about 1/2 cup of bread crumbs or so would work to substitute the 3 slices of bread. You might add the liquid based on the texture of the bread. It should be moist but not wet.

      Reply

      • Shirley
        February 5, 2024

        I used Panko, about 1 cup. True, you want moist not wet soggy meatball when rolled.

        Reply

  • Billy Campbell
    August 8, 2023

    Nice simple recipe that creates nice simple food.

    This is my go to spaghetti and meatballs recipe now, it is delicious.

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      August 8, 2023

      Hi Billy, great to hear that you enjoyed this recipe. Thanks for sharing!

      Reply

  • Natalia
    July 21, 2023

    It was impossible to saute the meatballs, they pretty much fell apart as soon as I’d start turning them so I ended up cooking a pile of mush instead of meatballs 🙁

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      July 21, 2023

      Hi Natalia! That shouldn’t happen unless the ratio of the ingredients was off. I would look over the recipe again and watch my process to see if anything was measured incorrectly or where your process looked differently.

      Reply

  • Hayley
    July 10, 2023

    I made this last night and it was delicious! I did make a few alterations though. First I added oregano and italian seasoning. Second, I cut the tomato sauce in half, which gave the sauce a lot more flavor. Overall very good recipe meatballs were amazing. Thanks

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      July 10, 2023

      Hi Hayley! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. Thanks for sharing your experimentation with it.

      Reply

  • Shannon
    July 9, 2023

    Hi Natasha- I was planning on making these and bringing them hot to a family reunion. Do you think these could be made in a crockpot and if so would I put it on hi or low and for how long? Thank you!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      July 9, 2023

      Hi Shannon! I have not tested that to advise. But you should be able to keep it warm in a crock pot.

      Reply

  • Hayley
    July 9, 2023

    Hi Natasha, I was curious why you didn’t include oregano in the sauce. When I think sphagetti, I think oregano. Can I add some and if so how much? Gonna make this tonight thanks!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 9, 2023

      Hi Hayley, we didn’t feel the need to add oregano but one of our readers shared this comment “Added a half teaspoon of oregano this is my first time making home made sauce…absolutely delicious.” I hope that helps.

      Reply

  • Randy
    July 9, 2023

    Maybe the best meatballs I’ve ever had – certainly the best I’ve ever made. The Italian sausage is the key!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 9, 2023

      Aaaw, thank you so much for this wonderful review!

      Reply

  • Cindy A
    July 5, 2023

    How much salt and pepper do you usually add to the sauce? This looks so delicious!

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      July 5, 2023

      Hi Cindy, I add it to taste, usually a sprinkle. I hope you love this recipe.

      Reply

  • Jackie
    July 2, 2023

    Can you freeze the uncooked meatballs and then proceed cooking them and adding them to the sauce?

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      July 2, 2023

      You can prepare the meat and form the meatballs the next day before cooking them. You can also prepare them ahead and store them on parchment paper, covered in plastic, and refrigerate them until ready to use the next day. They also freeze very well

      Reply

  • AJ
    May 25, 2023

    Came out amazing and this was my first time making anything. Very beginner friendly too. Big thumbs up.

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 25, 2023

      That’s great, AJ! Thank you for the feedback. I’m glad you loved the recipe.

      Reply

  • Linda
    May 4, 2023

    I made this recipe last night and it truly was delicious – we all loved it. This was the first of your recipes I’ve tried and I’m looking forward to discovering more great tasting food. This is definitely on my ‘make again’ list. Yum!

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      May 4, 2023

      Great to hear that, Linda. I hope you’ll love all the recipes that you will try!

      Reply

  • Teresa
    May 3, 2023

    Can I make these meatballs and use them to make Italian meatballs sub sandwiches?This recipe sounds amazing!

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      May 3, 2023

      Hi Teresa! These meatballs would absolutely work in a meatball sub. Enjoy!

      Reply

  • Mary
    April 27, 2023

    Looking forward to making these! Can I store fully cooked meatballs in fridge and reheat the next day? Will storing in fridge for a day ruin their texture?

    Reply

    • NatashasKitchen.com
      April 27, 2023

      Hi Mary! Yes, you can. They reheat great.

      Reply

  • Donna T
    April 25, 2023

    Hi,
    I’m making for supper & only have mild Italian sausage not sweet Italian. Is that ok, woukd it alter the flavor?

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 25, 2023

      Hi Donna, it’s best with sweet Italian, but it will still work with mild. I hope you love this recipe.

      Reply

  • Julina
    April 10, 2023

    If there is 10 stars, I would’ve given it.
    The meatballs is soooo unbelievably good. Moist, juicy, succulent.
    I cannot thank you enough for this recipe.
    xoxo

    Reply

    • Natasha's Kitchen
      April 10, 2023

      Wow, thank you! It means a lot to us.

      Reply

  • Korrin
    April 3, 2023

    The sauce sucks but the meatballs are really good. The sauce at the VERY least needs a spoonful of sugar to cut the tartness but otherwise it was just really bland. However the meatballs are amazing. I will make these meatballs again but with my own homeade sauce.

    Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      April 6, 2023

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me, Korrin!

      Reply

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