Spaghetti and Meatballs — A family favorite recipe that never goes out of style! Made with homemade beef and pork baked meatballs, homemade marinara sauce, and perfectly cooked al dente spaghetti, this Italian classic is sure to get rave reviews! Not only do they taste FABULOUS but both homemade meatballs and homemade marinara are FASTER and EASIER than you may think!
Best Ever Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe
I can’t think of a more classic dinner recipe that everyone loves and never goes out of style. That is, classic spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce.
If you’ve never made homemade meatballs or homemade marinara sauce, I promise you not only are you in for a real treat, but they are both so easy!
Making homemade meatballs for spaghetti is a cinch because you dump all the ingredients into one bowl, mix, and form your little meatballs before baking them.
For this spaghetti and meatballs recipe, I baked the meatballs but I also provide two other cooking methods below.
Homemade marinara sauce is also a snap to make and really you’re just simmering canned tomatoes with onions, garlic, herbs, and spices for a bit.
Quite literally then throw it all together with al dente cooked spaghetti, garnish with fresh herbs and Parmesan cheese, and it’s a guarantee that this Italian-inspired meal will be a hit.
For this scratch spaghetti and meatball recipe, I heavily borrowed from my Cheesy Meatballs with Gnocci recipe so make sure to check that one out, too!
Ingredients in Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs
To make these juicy and cheesy homemade meatballs, you’ll need the following common ingredients:
- Ground beef
- Ground pork sausage
- Parmesan cheese
- Dried basil
- Dried oregano
- Dried parsley
- Italian seasoning
- Olive oil
For marinara sauce from scratch, simply have on hand the following ingredients:
- Olive oil
- Tomato paste
- Canned whole tomatoes
- Canned crushed tomatoes
- Fresh basil
- Italian seasoning
- Red chili flakes
- Granulated sugar
How to Make Meatballs for Spaghetti
These are incredibly easy meatballs for spaghetti and are worth the bit of effort it takes in my opinion. However, all the ingredients get mixed by hand in just one bowl to keep things super basic!
To make them, follow these easy steps:
Step 1: Add ALL the ingredients to one bowl and mix gently to combine.
Step 2: Using a small cookie scoop form evenly sized meatballs, then place them on a baking sheet.
Step 3: Bake for about 10 minutes. That’s it!
Note: Some of that glorious Parmesan cheese will seep out during the baking process. This is totally normal!
Can I Cook the Meatballs Other than Baking Them?
I baked these meatballs, but you absolutely can cook your homemade meatballs in a couple other ways including:
- Using an air fryer: Air fry the meatballs at 425F for 10 to 12 minutes. The temp and time are same as if you were baking them, but air fry them instead. When air fried, the texture on the outside is a bit crispy and the interior is nice and juicy.
- On the stovetop: Cook them in a skillet on the stove with a bit of olive oil over medium-high heat like I did in my Cheesy Gnocchi and Meatballs recipe. Take care not to overcrowd them and brown them in batches.
How to Make Meatballs Keto-Friendly
I got this tip from a friend who follows a keto diet and thought I would share it.
Rather than using breadcrumbs and regular cow’s milk like I did in my beef and pork meatballs, you can instead use almond flour and almond milk.
I haven’t personally made them this way because I am don’t follow a keto diet, but this may help one of my readers.
How to Make Spaghetti Sauce
While your meatballs are baking, get started on your homemade marinara sauce by doing the following:
Step 1: Add olive oil to a skillet and sauté onions and garlic before adding tomato paste.
Step 2: Add all the remaining ingredients and simmer before adding the meatballs and cooked spaghetti and serving!
Do I Have to Make Homemade Meatballs and Sauce?
Obviously, no you don’t and sometimes doing partially homemade is good enough. You can use frozen and previously cooked meatballs that you simply thaw and heat.
Additionally, if you’re not wanting to bother with marinara sauce from scratch for your spaghetti and meatballs, a jarred store bought sauce will work.
Rao’s is my favorite if you’re going that route but use what you know your family enjoys.
What to Serve with Spaghetti and Meatballs
Although homemade spaghetti and meatballs is easier to make than you might think, it does require extra prep work. As such, I like to keep the sides super simple.
Here are some sides that go well with spaghetti and meatballs:
- Apple, White Cheddar & Spinach Salad
- Cheesy Roasted Asparagus
- Mediterranean Cobb Salad
- Parmesan Balsamic Broccoli
- Cheesy Bread Rolls
How to Store Spaghetti and Meatballs
Both meatballs and marinara sauce will keep airtight in the fridge for up to 5 days. As a bonus, red sauces tend to taste better as time passes because the flavors marry and harmonize.
If possibly, I recommend storing the meatballs, pasta, and sauce in separate container to prevent anything from becoming soggy.
But if you have leftovers that have already been mixed together, that’s just fine too!
Can You Freeze Spaghetti and Meatballs?
If you like to batch cook or plan ahead so that you have some easy dinner options waiting for you in your freezer that you simply need to thaw and reheat, meatballs as well as marinara sauce both freeze very well.
I recommend making a double batch of the meatballs and using half for spaghetti and meatballs, and then the other half will keep airtight in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Pull them out as needed for recipes like Cheesy Gnocchi and Meatballs, thaw, and gently reheat either in the microwave if you’re like me or brown them up with a bit of oil in a skillet.
The same can be said for marinara sauce from scratch in that it freezes and keeps well. Make sure you freeze it in freezer-safe containers and for up to 4 months.
Tips: Don’t freeze it in too large of a container. Split it up into a couple containers so you’re not obligated to use it all once you thaw it. And you’ll save yourself a lot of thawing time! Reheat it gently in the microwave or on the stove.
Tips for the Best Spaghetti and Meatballs:
Ground beef: When selecting the fat percentage of your ground beef, I recommend not going too low-fat because fat will helps the meatballs hold together. 80/20 ground beef is what I use.
Pork sausage: You can use spicy sausage if you like heat and want to amp up the flavor of the meatballs. Normally I just use a regular basic pork sausage though.
Shaping the meatballs: When you’re mixing the meatball mixture together, don’t ovemix. Use a wooden spoon or a (gloved) hand to just barely combine the ingredients, but don’t overdo it. This ensures the meatballs stay moist and juicy.
I prefer to use a 1-tablespoon small cookie scoop to form evenly sized meatballs. If you’re not using a scoop, grease your palms so they don’t stick to your hands.
Size of meatballs: The recipe makes about 40 smaller meatballs if you use a small scoop. However, you can make the meatballs larger. They will take longer to bake depending on how big you make them.
Marinara Sauce: I like to use Italian or San Marzano tomatoes for both the whole peeled tomatoes and the crushed tomatoes. They add such a perfect Italian-inspired flavor to this your homemade Italian spaghetti and meatball dinner!
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- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork sausage
- ½ cup white or yellow onion, diced small
- 3 to 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
- ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white or yellow onion, diced small
- 3 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 28 ounces canned whole peeled tomatoes (San Marzano recommended)
- 28 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (San Marzano recommended)
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
Spaghetti and Assembly
- 1 ½ to 2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
- Fresh basil or parsley, finely minced; optional for garnishing
- Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional for garnishing
- Preheat oven to 425F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
- To a large bowl, add all the ingredients, and using a wooden spoon or a gloved hand, mix together all ingredients. Don't overmix.
- Using a small 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, form the meatballs. If desired, add a bit of oil to your hands and then roll the meatballs into nice round balls, although straight off the cookie scoop is fine too.* (See Notes)
- As you form the meatballs place them on the prepared baking sheet.
- After you've formed all the meatballs, bake for about 10 to 12 minutes, or until done.
- Set cooked meatballs aside. Tip - While the meatballs are cooking, start on the marinara sauce.
- To a large skillet or saucepan, add the oil, onion, garlic, and saute over medium heat for 3 minutes, stir nearly constantly.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
- Add all remaining ingredients** (See Notes) and simmer for about 20 minutes. Stir intermittently with a wooden spoon and break up the larger tomato chunks. Tip - While the sauce simmers, make sure to start boiling your spaghetti.
Spaghetti and Assembly
- While the sauce simmers, in a separate large pot, cook the spaghetti according to package directions; drain and set aside.
- Toss the cooked spaghetti with the marinara sauce, add the meatballs, and serve either family-style or plated.
- Optionally garnish with fresh basil or parsley, and optional freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
*Cooked meatballs often don't stay perfectly round anyway and may flatten on one side as they cook which is why rolling them between your palms before browning them isn't truly essential. Plus, they will be covered up with sauce and cheese so it will be hard to tell anyway later on if they are "perfectly" round.
**I like to use Italian or San Marzano tomatoes for both the whole peeled tomatoes and the crushed tomatoes. They add such a perfect Italian-inspired flavor to this your homemade Italian spaghetti and meatball dinner!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 713Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 11gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 19gCholesterol: 151mgSodium: 1143mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 6gSugar: 12gProtein: 41g
The recipe makes about 40 tablespoon-sized meatballs. Combined with the marinara sauce and 1 ½ to 2 pounds spaghetti, you should be able to serve 8. However, appetites vary and your milage may vary. Nutrition stats take into account serving 8.
Favorite Meatball and Pasta Recipes:
Baked Honey Garlic Meatballs — These honey garlic meatballs are easy, can be prepped in advance, and hold well at room temp. They’re juicy, tender, and the honey garlic sauce gives them so much flavor!
Mexican Meatballs with Tomato Avocado Salad — These FAST and EASY ground beef meatballs are coated are loaded with Mexican-inspired flavors the whole family will LOVE!! Great for busy weeknight dinners or easy-breezy entertaining!!
Slow Cooker Grape Jelly Meatballs — The EASIEST holiday appetizer that’s made with just 3 INGREDIENTS! People adore these saucy meatballs loaded with FLAVOR! A perfect appetizer for Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s celebrations and holiday parties. Or make them for your next tailgating or game day party!
Slow Cooker Hawaiian Meatballs — The EASIEST slow cooker meatball recipe that’s sure to be a hit at parties and events! Or turn this into a no-fuss weeknight meal and serve these pineapple-infused Hawaiian meatballs over rice! Made with only 6 ingredients so you can just set your slow cooker and let it do all the work!
Cheesy Gnocchi and Meatballs — True Italian comfort food with these beef and pork homemade meatballs along with pillowy gnocchi. Everything is covered in homemade tomato sauce , smothered with cheese, and baked! Easier than it looks, and an instant family favorite that everyone will beg you to make again!
Cheesy Beef Ravioli — EASY, ready in 30 minutes, and it’s pure cheesy COMFORT FOOD in every bite!! Makes a big batch and it’s perfect for meal prep and planned freezer meals! A guaranteed family FAVORITE you’ll want on repeat!!
Cheesy Ravioli Lasagna — This EASY lasagna comes together with just four simple ingredients, making it perfect for busy weeknights!! The whole family will LOVE this cheesy comfort food lasagna recipe!
Healthier 20-Minute Skillet Lasagna — A fast, EASY, healthier way to enjoy lasagna — in skillet form!! Warm pasta and beef topped with tomato sauce and Parmesan is IRRESISTIBLE!!