Spaghetti and Meatballs




About: I work at instructables by day, and turn into a stitch witch by night. follow me on instagram @jessyratfink to see what i'm working on! ^_^

A couple months ago I was craving spaghetti and meatballs. I searched and searched but every recipe I found looked a little sketchy. (Cream of mushroom soup in meatballs? YUCK!) Finally I found this recipe by Lidia Bastianich, which turned out pretty good the first time. I've made her spaghetti and meatballs quite a few times now, tweaking it a little more every time.

After a couple months of tweaking the original spaghetti and meatballs recipe, I'm finally ready to share it with you guys. Hooray! This one is definitely a keeper. :D

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Step 1: Ingredients:

For the meatballs:
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (seasoned or not - your choice!)
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper (I used probably 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend (I added this into the beaten egg for easy mixing)
  • all purpose flour for rolling the meatballs in
  • olive/vegetable oil for frying the meatballs

For the sauce - we're using this recipe:

  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.z oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 onion, diced finely
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the spaghetti:

  • one 16 oz package spaghetti of choice

You'll need a couple large frying pans to cook all of this in, as well as a deep pot for boiling the spaghetti. :D

Step 2: Start Your Sauce!

Follow my recipe for tomato sauce, here.

You'll want it started and simmering before you move on to making the meatballs.

Step 3: Make the Meatball Mix

Put the ground beef into a medium sized bowl and add in everything else listed in the meatball ingredients. Mix this together using your hands until well combined.

Make sure to not overmix - it will make the meatballs tough! As soon as it's looking nicely mixed, stop.

Step 4: Roll the Mix Into Meatballs

Roll the meatballs between your hands - try to make them no larger than 2 inches wide or so. Also try your best to keep them uniform - that way they'll cook nice and even!

Once you've rolled the mix out, toss the meatballs in a little all purpose flour. This will help them brown.

Step 5: Brown the Meatballs

Heat a pan over medium/high heat. Once it's nice and hot, add in enough olive oil to coat the bottom.

Add the meatballs in batches and turn them often, so they become golden brown on all sides. As soon as a meatball is browned, add it to the tomato sauce pan. :D

Continue, adding more oil as necessary, until all the meatballs are browned and in the tomato sauce.

Step 6: Simmer the Meatballs and Cook the Pasta

Stir the meatballs into the sauce. If the sauce is looking super thick right now, you can add 1/4 cup of water to help thin it out and give the meatballs more liquid to cook in. (Or more water as needed - your call!)

Cover the meatballs and turn the burner down to low - you just want to simmer these for a half hour or so. Just until there's no pink left in the middle. Stir them every few minutes just to make sure they cook evenly. :D

While the meatballs are simmering, cook your pasta according to the package directions. (Add a good bit of salt to the water! I almost always use a palm full) Drain it well and add just the tiniest bit of olive oil to it. (I normally don't add oil when I cook pasta, but since this is a big pasta dish that sits in the fridge for a couple days before we finish it off, the olive oil keeps it from turning into a pasta brick!)

Add it back to the pan and cover, so it'll stay nice and warm.

Step 7: Taste Test and Then Enjoy!

Once the meatballs are done simmering, taste the sauce. You might want to add a little salt, sugar or pepper to balance it out - keep messing with it until you love it!

Serve with extra cheese and lots of napkins.


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15 Discussions


3 years ago



5 years ago on Introduction

Whenever someone starts telling me the recipe for a great meal they made and they get to the "can of mushroom soup" or "can of cream of chicken soup" my eyes glaze over and I imagine them being subjected to some horrid torture device from the dark ages.


5 years ago

This tastes sooooo good I tried it!


5 years ago on Introduction

Looks amazing , i bet it tastes even better!

I was wondering if i could you chicken instead of beef?

3 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Yes! I agree - use turkey. I use turkey for both meatballs and bolognaise and it works very well. It's a bit softer than beef and takes a wee bit less time to cook so you actually get a tender, moist meatball in a bit less time.


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

Might I suggest Turkey? My GF does such lovely Turkey burgers that I'm almost converted (almost) and I guess that they'd work well as meatballs too. (Turkey thigh mince, onion, chilli and seasoning).


Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

You definitely can! If you do choose to go the chicken route, I'd suggest adding another egg, more herbs and maybe some Worcestershire - it'll help give it more flavor and keep it moist since chicken can dry out super fast :)

spark master

5 years ago on Introduction

While I may try it next time I make meatballs, you do not ever need to roll the in flour. I am not saying it is bad, one simply does not need to do it.

I did gag at the thought of a bay leaf in "Sunday Sauce" think BASIL.

But in fairness every sauce has it's day. I will need to try a sauce with a bay leaf in it.

For the uninitiated I think this recipe gets an A++. Simple to the point.

Gotta get some good Italian bread to sop up the sauce after the pasta is gone, and although a nice Chianti is traditional, I think a nice cold Dinkleacker is better with this, or a Pepsi.

MMMMMmmmm I think I make sauce this weekend.... My fat cells are screaming at me as I type this after reading that.....


5 years ago on Introduction

Coincidentally I did the same meal a few days ago (not so much a craving but I found some meatballs in the freezer) but I used fresh basil that I happened to have (basil always goes well with Parmesan, tomatoes and olive oil) and included garlic, tomato puree and a pinch of sugar (optional) and just used peeled tomatoes (I have a bay tree so I will try to remember that next time). Anyway, food for thought :-)