My delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs are a family favourite. Tender, juicy meatballs in a rich tomato sauce. This easy Italian dinner is comfort food at its best.
At the end of a long busy day sometimes all we want is something comforting to eat.

Spaghetti and meatballs in a pan on a blue background
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My kids often vote for for spaghetti and meatballs – ‘the sausagey ones!‘.  I rarely argue with that – it’s one of those meals where you can pretty much guarantee that everyone will clear their plates.

And honestly, it doesn’t seem to matter how many meatballs I make, they ALWAYS seem to ALL get eaten.

What do we need?
Ingredients for Spaghetti and meatballs on a wooden table

Full list of ingredients and quantities in the recipe at the bottom of this post.

NOTE: you can swap out the dried pasta for my homemade fresh pasta.

Why do you add breadcrumbs?

The breadcrumbs help to ensure the meatballs are tender and juicy. The breadcrumbs absorb the oil and cooking juices, expanding slightly in the meatballs, meaning they have a softer texture when you bite into them.

How to make it:

*Full ingredient quantities and recipe instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post*

  • Mix skinned sausages, beef mince, panko breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, egg, salt and pepper together in a bowl, using your hands.
  • Shape into meatballs and place them on a baking tray.
  • Cook in in the oven for 20 minutes.
8 step collage showing how to make meatballs
  • Fry onions in the olive oil until softened, then add garlic, celery and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. Start cooking your spaghetti at this time too.
  • Add red wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then add tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, oregano and salt and pepper.
  • Bring to the boil. Then simmer until the meatballs are ready.
  • Drain the spaghetti and add to sauce with a splash of the cooking water.
  • Add the meatballs and toss everything together. 8 image collage showing how to make spaghetti and meatballs

Divide between plates and top with a sprinkling of parmesan and a little fresh parsley or basil and serve up with some homemade garlic bread.

Meatballs and spaghetti on a white plate with basil and parsley

Is it better to bake or fry meatballs?

You can fry the meatballs in a little oil, then remove them from the pan and start on the sauce. Then add the meatballs back to the pan again when the sauce is simmering.

I find this takes a little longer to cook overall, and the meatballs occasionally fall apart a little.

My preference is to bake these meatballs so you get a lovely uniform, unbroken shape with a golden exterior.

How many meatballs per person?

I tend to serve:

  • 4 meatballs for the average serving.
  • 5 for hungry people and 3 for kids.

See how to make it

YouTube video

More Pasta Recipes:

Pasta Lover? I’ve got a whole Pasta category. Try these reader favourites:

Spaghetti and Meatballs

My delicious Spaghetti and Meatballs are a family favourite. This easy Italian dinner is comfort food at its best.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4 -5 People
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian

Ingredients

Meatballs (makes about 18-20 meatballs)

  • 3 good quality sausages taken out of their skins
  • 300 g (10 1/2 oz) minced beef
  • 25 g (2 tbsp) panko breadcrumbs
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) grated parmesan
  • ½ small onion finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp  Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 small egg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Sauce

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic crushed
  • 2 sticks celery finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper finely chopped
  • 120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • 2 x 400 g (28oz) tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree (paste for US)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of salt and pepper

also

  • 300 g (10 1/2 oz) dried spaghetti or fresh pasta
  • grated parmesan and fresh parsley or basil to serve
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Instructions 

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F (fan).
  • Mix all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl with your hands. Squash it all together but don't overmix as this will make the meatballs tough. 
    3 good quality sausages, 300 g (10 1/2 oz) minced beef, 25 g (2 tbsp) panko breadcrumbs, 25 g (1/4 cup) grated parmesan, 1/2 small onion, 1 tbsp chopped parsley, 1 tbsp  Worcestershire sauce, 1/2 tsp ground cumin, 1 small egg, 2 tbsp olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper
  • Shape the meatballs into little balls – the size of a golfball – and place them on a baking tray. 
  • Put in the oven for 20 minutes.  Keep an eye on them toward the end of the cooking time and turn the oven down a little if they start going too dark.
  • Put the water on to heat for the spaghetti.
  • Whilst the meatballs are cooking, make the sauce. 
  • Fry the onions in the olive oil on a medium heat for about 5 mins, until softened. 
    1 tbsp olive oil, 1 large onion
  • Add the garlic, celery and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes. 
    2 sticks celery, 1 red pepper, 3 cloves of garlic
  • Add the red wine and let it bubble for a couple of minutes.
    120 ml (1/2 cup) red wine
  • At this point the water will probably be boiling, so put the spaghetti on to cook for about 12-13 minutes (or per pack instructions).
    300 g (10 1/2 oz) dried spaghetti or fresh pasta
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, sugar, oregano and salt and pepper to the sauce and bring to the boil. Then simmer for gently until the meatballs and pasta are ready. 
    2 x 400 g (28oz) tins of chopped tomatoes, 1 heaped tbsp of tomato puree (paste for US), 1 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp dried oregano, pinch of salt and pepper
  • Drain the spaghetti, reserving a cup of the cooking water. Add the spaghetti to the sauce and toss together using tongs. Add some of the cooking water if you want it to be a little saucier.
  • Add the meatballs to the pan and move them around a little so they're coated in a little of the sauce.
  • Divide between plates and top with a sprinkling of parmesan and a little fresh parsley or basil.
    grated parmesan and fresh parsley or basil to serve

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Can I make them ahead?

You can make the meatballs and sauce ahead of time, but I’d recommend cooking the spaghetti and mixing with the meatballs and sauce right before serving.
Place the meatballs and sauce together in a covered container and refrigerate for up to two days.
Take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating to take the chill off the meatballs. Reheat in a pan with a lid over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot throughout. You may need to add a splash of boiling water (or even better, cooking water from your pasta) to loosen the sauce a little.
Mix with the cooked pasta before serving.

Can I freeze them?

Yes, as per the make ahead instructions above, you can make the meatballs and sauce, then place in a covered container in the freezer.
Defrost overnight in the refrigerator, then take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating to take the chill off the meatballs.
Reheat in a pan with a lid over a low heat for 15-20 minutes, until piping hot throughout. You may need to add a splash of boiling water (or even better, cooking water from your pasta) to loosen the sauce a little.
Mix with the cooked pasta before serving.

Type of sausage to use

I use medium-sized (around 150g/5.3 oz each) pork sausages. I use plain pork sausages, but you can use flavoured ones if you prefer. Go for good quality sausages if you can.

Minced beef

Don’t be tempted to go for very low fat minced (ground) beef. The fat in the beef gives the meatballs more flavour and makes them more tender
Use 20% or 15% fat minced beef. You can get away with 12% fat, but don’t go for anything lower.
Nutritional Information is per serving – including meatballs, sauce and spaghetti – based on 5 portions. Remove 220 cals per portion if not including the spaghetti.

Nutrition

Calories: 652kcal | Carbohydrates: 69g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 26g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 97mg | Sodium: 608mg | Potassium: 1085mg | Fiber: 7g | Sugar: 14g | Vitamin A: 1339IU | Vitamin C: 50mg | Calcium: 171mg | Iron: 6mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

This post was first published in January 2014. Updated April 2020 with new photos, tips and video.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

Welcome to Kitchen Sanctuary

Hi, I'm Nicky and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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Comments

  1. Lauren says:

    5 stars
    First time making my own meatballs but so so easy, and quick! I nearly cheated and bought shop bought ones but I’m so glad I didn’t. The sauce is also lovely. This recipe has been added to my recipe collection!

  2. Kath says:

    5 stars
    Seeing this gorgeous pic, I had to make your version and I have to say it didn’t disappoint, so tasty. Thank you

  3. Stewart says:

    5 stars
    Great meatball recipe, so tasty.

  4. BJ Stark says:

    I have to say Nicky, I look at a lot of recipe/food sites, and your recipe pics look so good, better than most! If they taste as good as they look, you have a gift! Haven’t tried any yet. Although, I will have to find a measurement converter, I am in the US, and not proficient in metric.

  5. Juliet says:

    Do you think I could make and freeze the meatballs without the sauce. Have made this recipe once before, it was gorgeous. We thought if we flattened the meatballs we could make them into little oven burgers.

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Hi Juliet,
      Yes, you can freeze the meatballs – either cooked or uncooked (although I’d only advise freezing them uncooked if the beef mince (ground beef) hasn’t been frozen beforehand.
      The meatballs should be defrosted, then you can cook or reheat in the oven.

  6. margotvangils says:

    I would just like to say your blog is amazing! and your recipes are really cool!

    1. Nicky Corbishley says:

      Thank you Margot, I’m really glad you like the recipes 🙂