Skip to Content

Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Sauce

Skip the Little Italy restaurant tonight.  Instead, create Italian meatballs and spaghetti with tomato-garlic sauce in your own kitchen!  These Italian-style meatballs are awash in a killer tomato sauce then, spooned over a heap of al-dente spaghetti.

Italian meatballs and spaghetti with tomato-garlic sauce

Italian meatballs and spaghetti with tomato-garlic sauce

This Old World Italian meatball and spaghetti dinner is a timeless classic.  This is by far one of our most beloved Italian dishes.

The made-from-scratch tomato-garlic sauce is easy to put together.  This sauce is better tasting than my favorite jarred tomato sauce.  It includes red wine, herbs and a punch of garlic.  Are you not a garlic lover?  No problem….adjust to your preference.  It will still be one terrific tasting sauce! 

Italian meatballs in tomato-garlic sauce

Italian meatballs in tomato-garlic sauce

How to make Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Sauce:

We made these tender, juicy meatballs with a combination of ground beef and sweet Italian pork sausage. I know it is tempting to use the leanest ground beef possible but resist the urge! You will have better-tasting meatballs when using beef with 85-15 ratio…. 85% lean and 15% fat. The percentage of fat is important if you want a great meatball. 

The added Parmesan and fresh herbs add maximum flavor.  Then, when the Italian sausage is combined with the beef you really have a winner. BEST ITALIAN MEATBALLS EVER!!

Close up of Italian meatball spaghetti dinner

Close up of Italian meatball spaghetti dinner

We combined the beef-sausage mixture with a beaten egg and bread soaked in milk. Parmesan cheese, fresh herbs, garlic, and seasoning complete the meatball mixture.

 
The mixture is formed into meatballs and chilled in the fridge to set them. We browned the chilled meatballs in a skillet then added them to the sauce to simmer until fully cooked. As the meatballs simmer in the tomato-garlic sauce they exude juices and flavorful goodness into the sauce. It’s flavor on top of flavor! 
 
With this recipe, you’re going to want spaghetti and meatballs much more often!  I’m just warning you ?  Maybe you better make a double batch.  
 
Single serving of Italian meatballs in tomato-garlic sauce

Italian meatballs in tomato-garlic sauce

Why Use Bread Soaked in Milk?

This is one of the secrets that makes a great meatball and keeps them moist! The secret to these juicy, tender meatballs is the milk-soaked bread.  It adds the much-needed moisture to the meat blend.  If you have been making your meatballs with plain cracker crumbs or bread crumbs try the milk-soaked bread and taste and see if they are better. 

What is in the Tomato-Garlic Sauce:

While the meatballs are chilling out in the fridge we put the sauce together. We sautéed onions with a lot of minced garlic and added canned tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, herbs and spices. This sauce takes about ten minutes to assemble, then it simmers for about an hour.  Finally, we used an immersion (stick) blender to process it into a smooth sauce.  The sauce was reheated and the reserved meatballs added and simmered for a few more minutes.
 
The secret to making this sauce taste so incredibly, delectably delicious is time!  You just can’t rush a good thing. You really have to let the sauce simmer for an hour. While it sits and simmers, all the flavors have a great big ole’ party and get yummier and yummier. 
 
After you add the meatballs to the sauce it gets even better as the juices from the meatballs mingle into the sauce.  This is the best spaghetti and meatballs ever! 

How long do you cook the meatballs in the sauce?

You only have to cook the meatballs in the sauce for 15 minutes.  They have already been browned in the skillet and are partially cooked by the time you add them to the sauce. 
 
Some people skip the browning step and just add the raw meatballs straight to the sauce but we recommend browning them first. The reason we have you brown them in the skillet is that it makes them taste better. They get a nice brown caramelized crust on them that adds an extra layer of flavor to the Italian meatballs.
 
Close up of Italian meatball spaghetti dinner

Close up of Italian meatball spaghetti dinner

What should you serve with Italian meatballs?

Serve these Italian meatballs over a plate of spaghetti with a green salad and some crusty garlic bread. That is really all you need to complete a fine Italian dinner. Make sure you have some extra bread because you are going to want to dip it into the tomato-garlic sauce and sop up every little drop. 
 
We know you’re going to love this spaghetti and meatballs dinner. The tomato garlic sauce is so good we use it in a lot of pasta dinners. We even use it with our Malfatti in tomato garlic sauce

SOME OTHER RECIPES WE ARE SURE YOU WILL LOVE:

  • Lemon Chicken Piccata is an easy and fast recipe but it packs a ton of flavor. 
  • Lamb Shanks – Osso Buco Style is one of those recipes you will want to plan some time for. It only takes 40 minutes to prepare but you will need to give it a few hours of cook time. 
  • Minestrone Soup is fast to throw together but make sure you plan for a couple of hours to let it cook. You won’t regret waiting for this classic Italian soup. 

CONNECT WITH SAVOR THE BEST!

Be sure to follow us on our social media accounts

Facebook * Instagram *  Pinterest * Twitter * Youtube

Did you make this recipe? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a comment below.

Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Sauce

Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti with Tomato-Garlic Sauce

Yield: 8 servings
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

An Italian style meatball and spaghetti main course with a garlicky tomato sauce that is full of flavor.

Ingredients

  • 2 slices French or Italian bread, crusts removed and torn into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 pound ground beef (85-15% ratio )
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage, not in casing
  • 6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons grated or minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • olive oil for browning

Tomato-Garlic Sauce and spaghetti

  • Homemade Tomato-Garlic Sauce or your favorite store-bought brand
  • 8 ounces spaghetti (I like to use Buccatini, which is thicker than spaghetti and is a lot like a long skinny tube)

Instructions

  1. Soak the bread in the milk for 5 minutes, then squeeze out the bread and discard the milk. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soaked bread, the beaten egg, ground beef, sausage, the grated Parmesan cheese, parsley, olive oil, garlic, lemon peel, allspice, oregano, salt and the black pepper. Mix with a fork or wooden spoon until all the ingredients are blended but do not over mix or the meat will become tough.
  2. Form the meat into balls about 2-inches in diameter. Place the meatballs on a tray or baking sheet in one layer and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. (In the meantime, make the sauce)
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet heat 4 tablespoons of oil over moderate heat until a light haze forms over it. Fry the meatballs in batches of 5-8 at a time shaking the skillet constantly to roll the balls and keeping them round. As each batch browns remove them from the skillet and transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil off. The meatballs will be slightly underdone and will finish cooking in the simmering sauce.

For the tomato-garlic sauce and the Spaghetti:

  1. Heat the tomato-garlic sauce (or a jar of marinara sauce) in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Transfer the meatballs to the hot sauce and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the pasta according to package instructions and when still firm (al-dente) remove from heat, drain but do not rinse, reserve half a cup of the water and add to the sauce and meatballs. Serve the meatballs and sauce immediately over the hot pasta.

Notes

  1. You will have better tasting meatballs when using a beef with 85-15 ratio…. 85% lean and 15% fat.
  2. The secret to these juicy, tender meatballs is the milk-soaked bread. It adds the much needed moisture to the meat blend. 
  3. The added Parmesan and fresh herbs add maximum flavor to the meatballs.
  4. Adjust the garlic in the tomato-garlic sauce to your preference
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1/8th
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 501Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 14gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 617mgCarbohydrates: 40gFiber: 4gSugar: 15gProtein: 28g

Nutrition information is a guideline only, is calculated automatically by third party software, and absolute accuracy is not guaranteed.

Click here to follow us on Pinterest!

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

John / Kitchen Riffs

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

I haven't made meatballs in forever. It's on my list of things to do this year, though. We'll see if I make it. :-) Anyway, your recipe looks terrific. And yes, I always soak my bread in milk, Or sometimes white wine. :-) Good recipe -- thanks.

Pat Nyswonger

Wednesday 26th of June 2019

Hi, John...Meatballs and spaghetti was a weekly event on our table when I was growing up but my mom just used cracker crumbs and chopped onion. I too, like the wine-soaked bread. Wine is good! Thanks for your comments.♥️

Cora

Wednesday 30th of April 2014

Yay!

Cora

Tuesday 29th of April 2014

Hi grammy! I LOVE any dinner that includes ground beef. Meatballs, Meatloaf, Hamburgers, Meat Sauce, etc. Thanks for posting this, I'll ask mama if she can try making these. They look really good. ;-0

Pat

Tuesday 29th of April 2014

Hi, Cora! It is so nice to see you here. We will have to get together again soon and I can fix some Italian Meatballs and spaghetti for you. And.....how about another Orange Creamsicle Soda to go with it! :)

Kathi Kirk

Monday 31st of March 2014

My family loves meatballs and yes, they are a bit time consuming - always tempted to make a meat loaf instead :) This looks fabulous....like usual :)

Pat

Monday 31st of March 2014

Hi, Kathi....thanks for the input....and the meatballs taste fabulous too. Now you have me thinking of meatloaf which I have not made in a while. :)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to Recipe