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a bowl of spaghetti and meatballs with parmesan

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This spaghetti and meatballs recipe has that classic rich taste you love! It's got juicy meatballs in a flavorful tomato sauce, and everything is made from scratch in this Italian-American favorite.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian American
Keyword spaghetti and meatballs
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 772kcal


  • 1 pound uncooked spaghetti


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 (28 fluid once) cans whole tomatoes (with juices) see note
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar see note
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional (or add more, to taste)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Fresh basil for serving optional, to taste


  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk I use whole milk
  • 1 pound ground beef see note
  • 1/2 pound ground pork or ground Italian sausage
  • 1 large egg
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped finely
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more for serving


  • I recommend prepping all ingredients before getting started to make it easier. The meatballs and sauce both use minced garlic, so be sure to mince it all at once (I use a garlic press to make this go fast). Add the canned tomatoes (with juices) to a large bowl and use your hands to break the whole tomatoes up.
  • To a soup pot, add the olive oil, butter, and onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add in the tomatoes, Italian seasoning, oregano, sugar, and red pepper flakes. Give it a good stir. Once the sauce starts to bubble, cover the pot with the lid slightly open and reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes (adjust between medium-low and low heat as needed to maintain a constant simmer).
  • While the sauce is cooking, make the meatballs. Add the breadcrumbs and milk to a fairly large prep bowl. Mix/mash together until you've got a paste.
  • Add the remaining meatball ingredients to the bowl. Using your hands, mix it together and then form about 18 (1 ½-inch) meatballs. Don't over-mix or pack them too tightly, and use a delicate touch. Place the meatballs on a couple of plates or a parchment paper lined baking sheet as you go along for easy clean-up.
  • Give the sauce a stir, then place the meatballs in the pot and gently arrange them so they're submerged in the sauce. Continue simmering (lid slightly open) for another 35-45 minutes or until they're cooked through (165F). You may need to increase the heat to get it going again, then reduce the heat and adjust as needed to maintain a simmer. If you have a strong preference, feel free to brown the meatballs in a skillet ahead of adding them to the sauce, but our kitchen tested both methods and the meatballs are tasty either way (and this saves time and extra dishes)!
  • Give the sauce a taste and season with salt & pepper as needed (I'm generous with both). Serve with cooked spaghetti and some fresh basil (tear it up or slice it thin) and freshly grated parmesan cheese sprinkled over top.
    Note: Leftovers can be refrigerated/frozen, so if you don't plan on eating it all at once, I would make less than the 1 pound of spaghetti and boil fresh pasta when you're warming up leftover meatballs & sauce.


  • The meatball prep time is counted within the cook time since the sauce is cooking while you're prepping the meatballs. 
  • I recommend using San Marzano plum tomatoes for best flavor.
  • Adding a little sugar to tomato sauces is an old trick to cut down on the acidity of the tomatoes and bring out their natural sweetness. It's optional but recommended.
  • Fattier ground meats equal moister and more flavorful meatballs, so avoid anything that's extra lean (80-85% lean is good).
  • Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information. It includes the spaghetti (just over 2.5 oz uncooked/person).


Calories: 772kcal | Carbohydrates: 78g | Protein: 38g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 1187mg | Potassium: 1118mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 806IU | Vitamin C: 31mg | Calcium: 288mg | Iron: 6mg