How To Make Spaghetti and Meatballs Like A Pro

May 11, 2020 | Cooking Tips, meat, Pasta, Recipes

Spaghetti and Meatballs is the most Italian food (other than pizza) that most of us can think of. Strangely enough, most Italians would never combine the two. If they do, the two items would be served separately rather than as one dish. However, in North America Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic. It also happens to be one of my wife’s all-time favourite dishes, so we had it last night for her Mother’s Day dinner. Today, I’m going to show you exactly how I made it.


How To Make Spaghetti and Meatballs Like a Pro

The Sauce

It should go without saying that you are never going to make a great bowl of Spaghetti and Meatballs without first making a great sauce. What is really important to note here is that great does not mean complicated and it absolutely does not mean a lot of ingredients. Case in point, the sauce we are going to look at today has only eight ingredients. That’s all. Let’s take a look at it.

Making the Sauce

To start the sauce I first diced 2 medium onions which came out to be about 1 cup. While I was dicing the onion I heated a large pot over medium-high heat and added in about 3 tbsp of olive oil. I added the onions into the pot and cooked them for about 10-15 minutes or until they started to caramelize. It is important to stir the onions every few minutes so they don’t burn.

While the onions were cooking I used the time to prep my other ingredients. First, I chopped up 3 cloves of garlic which was about 2 tbsp in total. Once the onions were caramelized I added the garlic in and cooked it for about 2 minutes.

While the garlic cooked with the onions I opened a can of whole Italian tomatoes, poured them into the bowl, then crushed them with my hands. You can use a hand blender if you’d prefer, I just like to get my hands dirty. Then, I dumped the tomatoes into the garlic and onions. Depending on how much liquid there is in your tomatoes you may need to add a bit of water to the sauce.

For the last few steps of the sauce, I chopped up about 1-2 tbsp of rosemary and added it to the pot. Finally, I seasoned the sauce to taste with salt, pepper, and sugar then let it simmer for 20 minutes and set it aside until I was ready to use it.

Basic Tomato Sauce

This is a really great all-purpose tomato sauce. Here I use it with Spaghetti and Meatballs, but it works just as well on a meatball or sausage and pepper sandwich, chicken parmesan or just about anything you can imagine.
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Basic Sauces, Tomato Sauce
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 796 ml Can Of Whole Italian Tomatoes dumped into a bowl and hand crushed
  • 1 cup Diced Onion
  • 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1-2 tbsp Fresh Chopped Rosemary or basil
  • 3 tbsp Olive Oil
  • Salt, Pepper, and Sugar to taste


  • Heat a large pot over medium heat then add in the olive oil and onions.
  • Cook the onions for 10-15 minutes or until they are lightly caramelized then add in the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Add in the tomatoes, and a 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water if needed then add in the rosemary and seasoning.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 20 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and sugar as needed. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to use.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


With the sauce out of the way, let’s now take a look at the meatballs.

First of all, I should say that for a very, very long time I hated meatballs. (I feel like this is becoming a theme on the blog). I found them to be dry, chewy and tasteless, it didn’t matter who made them, I hated them. Then, I started working at an Italian restaurant and discovered how good a meatball could actually be. A good meatball is tender, juicy and full of flavour. Easy to say, but how do you accomplish it?

The meat

The first step to making a delicious meatball is using the right meat. There has to be fat in the meat, meaning you should not use lean ground beef to make a meatball. This lack of fat will lead to all the common issues people encounter when making meatballs like dryness and chewiness. Having said that, I also wouldn’t suggest using full-fat ground beef. I generally suggest a nice medium ground. Not only does it have more flavour than lean ground beef, but it is also considerably cheaper. If you want to really step up your game substitute a quarter of the ground beef for ground pork. I didn’t do that in this recipe but it does make a really great meatball.

The flavourings

The next step to making a great meatball are the flavourings. I find that meatballs are like burgers. People add way too many ingredients and the flavour becomes jumbled. Like with most things I cook, I prefer a more minimalist approach. I also much prefer fresh herbs to dried herbs if you have them.

For these meatballs I used about 1 cup of very finely minced onion, about 2 tbsp of minced garlic, 1 tbsp each chopped parsley, rosemary and dried oregano (the one exception to the fresh herb comment), 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan. Of course, I also added salt and pepper which was about 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt (less if you are using table salt) and about 1/2 – 3/4 tsp fresh cracked black pepper.

The binders

The last things to add to the meatball mix are binders. For this, I used about 1/2 – 3-/4 of a cup of bread crumbs (gluten-free of course) and 1 lg egg. That’s it.

Now that all the ingredients for the meatballs were in the bowl and ready to go it was time to mix. For this, I used my two favourite tools in the kitchen, my hands. I mixed not only until the ingredients were fully incorporated but until the meat got a little tacky. This has a specific culinary name that you really don’t need to know. All you do need to know is that by mixing the meat until it is tacky, you are creating a mix that is going to give you smooth tender meatballs. This took 4-5 minutes.

Forming/Cooking the Meatballs

With the meat all mixed I poured about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a roasting pan and preheated my oven to 400°f, then I started making the meatballs.

The size that you chose to make your meatballs really comes down to personal preference. I like kind of medium size while some people like really big ones and some people prefer very small ones. Make them however you’d like, just make them all the same size. Once all of the balls have been formed and placed in the roasting pan, put the whole thing in the heated oven for about 35 minutes or until they are nice and brown. You can flip them halfway through cooking if you’d like.

After that initial cook, I removed the meatballs from the oven and drained off as much of the fat as I could from the roasting pan. Next, I added about 2 cups of beef stock (you could also use red wine) to the roasting pan along with about 1/3 of the tomato sauce. I tossed the meatballs around to coat them, turned the oven temperature down to 325°f, covered the roasting pan with foil and put it back in the oven for another 35 minutes. After the 35 minutes, I removed the foil cover from the meatballs and put them back in for another 20 minutes.

Finishing the dish

While the meatballs were finishing in the oven I brought a large pot of water to a boil and cooked my pasta. I also heated the remained of my sauce back up. Once the meat balls were finished, I added 8 of them (4 each for my wife and me) to the hot sauce, add in the pasta and tossed. At this point, I also add in about 2 tbsp of garlic butter. This may seem odd, but it adds so much flavour it is incredible. This is optional however I highly recommend it. Also, finishing tomato sauces with a bit of butter (plain or garlic) is always the way to go. Try it for yourself. I then plated the Spaghetti and Meatballs and finished it with freshly grated parmesan, fresh chopped parsley, and a bit of fresh cracked pepper.

Tender and Juicy Meatball Recipe

One of the best meatballs you will ever eat.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Chicken Pasta, Meatballs, Spaghetti and Meatballs
Servings: 23 meatballs


  • 1.2 kg Medium Ground Beef
  • 1 cup Minced Onion
  • 2 tbsp Minced Garlic
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Parsley
  • 1 tbsp Chopped Rosemary
  • 1 tbsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1/2 cup Freshly Grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher Salt 1 tsp if using table salt
  • 3/4 tsp Black Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Bread Crumbs Gluten-Free
  • 1 lg Egg
  • 1/3 batch Basic Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cup Beef Stock
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil


  • Combine all the ingredients except the olive oil, tomato sauce and beef stock in a large bowl and mix until the meat is tacky, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the olive oil to a roasting pan.
  • Form the meat into 23-24 even size balls and place in the oiled roasting pan.
  • Bake the meatballs in a 400°f oven uncovered for 35 minutes flipping them halfway through.
  • Remove the meatballs from the oven and drain off all the excess fat.
  • Add the beef stock and tomato sauce to the roasting pan, cover with foil and bake in a 325°f oven for 35-45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 10-20 minutes.
  • Toss the meatballs with tomato sauce and pasta and serve.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


I highly recommend that you try this meatball recipe. I’m willing to be that it will be one of the best meatballs that you’ve ever had. If you do try them I’d love to hear about it. Also, if you have a meatball secret that I havn’t mentioned I would love to hear that too.

Thank you as always for reading and remember to subscribe to the blog so you never miss a post. And…if you really liked this post please remember to share it! Have a great Monday everyone, talk to you soon.



  1. Basic Things Everyone Should Be Able To Cook pt. 3- Kitchen Clueless Basic Cooking Course - […] Check out the full Spaghetti and Meatballs post here. […]

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