Skip to Content

Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe: Classic Comfort Food Perfected

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic dish that is beloved around the world. The combination of tender pasta with flavorful, juicy meatballs and rich tomato sauce isn’t just a staple in Italian-American cuisine, but it’s a comfort food favorite for many. My take on this dish highlights the simple joy of creating a meal that’s both satisfying and timeless.

What I love about making spaghetti and meatballs is the versatility and ease of the process. I often blend different meats for the meatballs to achieve the perfect balance of flavor and tenderness. You’ll find that a mixture including ground beef and pork, or even a bit of veal, can elevate the taste. As for the sauce, simmering it slowly allows the tomatoes and herbs to meld together beautifully, crafting a marinara that complements the meatballs splendidly.

When I prepare the meatballs, I pay special attention to the spices and herbs, as they’re key to achieving that signature taste. Fresh parsley, minced garlic, and grated Parmesan cheese are a few ingredients that I ensure are included in my meatball mixture. These elements, when combined with a well-seasoned tomato sauce, make my spaghetti and meatballs recipe truly stand out as a comforting and fulfilling meal.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Creating a classic spaghetti and meatballs dish is quite straightforward. Let me guide you through the ingredients you’ll need to gather before we begin.

For the meatballs, here’s what I usually use:

  • Ground beef: 3/4 lb is perfect for a balance of flavor and texture.
  • Ground pork: Another 3/4 lb to mix with the beef for juiciness.
  • Eggs: 2 whole eggs help to bind the meatballs together.
  • Breadcrumbs: I opt for 3/4 cup fine breadcrumbs for structure.
  • Parmesan cheese: Freshly grated, use 3/4 cup, plus more for topping.
  • Garlic: 3 cloves, minced, add a punch of flavor.
  • Parsley: A 1/4 cup of flat-leaf parsley, minced, for a herby freshness.
  • Salt and pepper: Essential seasonings, to taste.
  • Milk: Just a splash to keep everything moist.

For the spaghetti and sauce, you’ll need:

  • Spaghetti: 1 lb of your favorite brand.
  • Olive oil: 2 tablespoons to sauté the onions and garlic.
  • Onions and garlic: 1-1/2 cups onions, chopped and 3 cloves garlic, minced for the sauce base.
  • Tomato paste: 2 cans (12 ounces each) to thicken the sauce.
  • Tomato sauce: 1 can (29 ounces) as the main sauce component.
  • Herbs and spices: Fresh parsley, dried basil, salt, and pepper for seasoning your sauce to perfection.

Now that you have all your ingredients lined up, you’re ready to start cooking up some delicious spaghetti and meatballs!

How To Make Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

Firstly, I gather all the necessary ingredients for my meatballs, including ground beef, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings—basil, parsley, and oregano are my go-tos. Eggs are essential as they help bind the mixture together. For the sauce, I typically use canned tomatoes, garlic, onions, and some more herbs for enhanced flavor. Here’s a quick rundown of the meatball mixture:

  • Ground beef: A high-fat content, like 80/20, ensures juicy meatballs.
  • Breadcrumbs: They add texture and help retain moisture.
  • Parmesan cheese: For a rich, savory flavor.
  • Herbs: Fresh is best, but dried will do in a pinch.
  • Eggs: For binding the ingredients together.

I whisk the eggs, herbs, salt, pepper, and garlic together, then add the meat and breadcrumbs before mixing it all gently with my hands. To avoid tough meatballs, I don’t overmix.

Making the Meatballs:

  1. Combine the egg mixture with the meat and breadcrumbs.
  2. Shape into balls, typically 1-1/2 inches in diameter.

Cooking the Meatballs and Sauce:

  • Brown the meatballs in a skillet with oil, then drain any excess fat.
  • Simmer the meatballs in the tomato sauce for about 45 minutes.

While that’s cooking, I boil the spaghetti in salted water until it’s al dente, usually following the package instructions. Finally, I toss the cooked spaghetti with the rich, flavorful meatball-laden sauce, and it’s ready to serve.

Remembering a recipe from Bon Appétit, traditional Italian spaghetti and meatballs is a simple yet satisfying dish and a classic comfort food we all know and love.

Tips for the Best Spaghetti and Meatballs

When I make spaghetti and meatballs, a dish beloved by many, attention to detail can make all the difference. Here are my personal tips to elevate your spaghetti and meatballs to the next level.

For Meatballs:

  • Texture is key: Use a mix of beef and pork for moistness and flavor. I aim for a balance; too lean and they’ll be dry, too fatty and they might fall apart.
  • Bread matters: Soak bread in milk until fully saturated before combining with the meat (Once Upon a Chef has a good ratio).
  • Seasoning: Before forming the meatballs, test cook a small piece to ensure the seasoning is just right (check the seasoning).

For Assembly:

  • Cook the meatballs in the sauce on a low simmer. This infuses the sauce with a rich, meaty flavor and keeps the meatballs tender.
  • Add pasta to the sauce, not the other way around. This helps the pasta absorb the flavors.

To Serve:

  • Use freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano over pre-grated cheese; it melts better and tastes superior.
  • Fresh herbs like basil can be torn and sprinkled atop as a final touch for a pop of color and freshness.

Remember, go for quality ingredients whenever possible. From the pasta to the tomatoes used in the sauce, better ingredients usually yield better results. And don’t rush the simmering; a good sauce needs time to develop its full flavor profile.

What to Serve with Spaghetti and Meatballs

When I prepare spaghetti and meatballs, I like to consider sides that complement the flavors and textures of this classic dish. Here’s my go-to list of sides that I’ve found pair wonderfully with the hearty and comforting taste of spaghetti and meatballs.

  • Vegetables:

    • Sautéed green beans with a pinch of salt
    • Roasted broccoli with garlic and Parmesan
    • Grilled vegetables like mushrooms, red onions, and green bell peppers, especially during summer
  • Salads:

    • A crisp Caesar salad with homemade croutons and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese
    • Caprese salad with ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, and fresh basil
    • Cucumber and vinegar salad for a refreshing side
  • Breads:

    • Oven toasted garlic bread, crunchy and buttery
    • Warm cheese rolls right out of the oven
  • Starchy Sides:

    • Creamy polenta, a nice change from the usual pasta
    • Baked Parmesan zucchini rounds for a lighter option

These sides are not only delicious but also help to round out the meal, ensuring there’s a little something for everyone on the table. I’ve had great success serving these at family dinners, and I hope they make your meal just as memorable.

How to Store, Freeze & Reheat Spaghetti and Meatballs

When I make a big batch of spaghetti and meatballs, I always ensure I can enjoy it for days to come by storing and freezing it properly. Here’s how I handle leftovers:

Storing in the Refrigerator

  • Cool Down: I let my spaghetti and meatballs cool to room temperature to avoid condensation and prevent bacteria growth.
  • Separate Containers: I often store spaghetti and sauce separately in airtight containers to keep the pasta from soaking up too much sauce and getting soggy.
  • Refrigeration Time: They can stay in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Freezing for Long-term Storage

  • Portioning: I freeze individual servings by placing a portion of spaghetti and meatballs into freezer bags or containers, which makes thawing and reheating more convenient.
  • Airtight Packing: I squeeze out any excess air from freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
  • Label and Date: I always label my containers with the date so I can keep track of how long they’ve been in the freezer. They should be good for up to 3 months.


  • Thawing: I defrost the meal in the fridge for several hours or overnight. This ensures even reheating.
  • Microwave: I place the spaghetti and meatballs in a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a microwave-safe lid or wrap, and heat it on medium power until thoroughly warmed.
  • Stovetop: When I reheat it on the stove, I put the meatballs and sauce in a pan and warm over medium heat. The spaghetti goes into boiling water for just a few seconds to quickly reheat without becoming overcooked.

This method keeps my spaghetti and meatballs tasting as fresh and delicious as the day I made them!

{ “@context”: “”, “@type”: “Recipe”, “name”: “Spaghetti and Meatballs”, “author”: “Benjamin”, “image”: “×1080-1-683×1024.jpg”, “datePublished”: “2024-01-05”, “description”: “Spaghetti and Meatballs is a classic Italian-American dish that offers a perfect blend of tender pasta, juicy meatballs, and a rich tomato sauce. This beloved comfort food is versatile, allowing for various ingredient adjustments to suit different tastes. The meatballs, typically a mix of ground beef and pork, are seasoned with fresh parsley, garlic, and Parmesan, then baked to perfection. Paired with a flavorful marinara sauce and spaghetti, this dish is a staple at family dinners and gatherings.”, “recipeYield”: “4 portions”, “recipeCategory”: “Main Course”, “recipeCuisine”: “Italian-American”, “aggregateRating”: { “@type”: “AggregateRating”, “ratingValue”: “5”, “reviewCount”: “25” }, “nutrition”: { “@type”: “NutritionInformation”, “calories”: “700 kcal”, “carbohydrateContent”: “85 g”, “cholesterolContent”: “150 mg”, “fatContent”: “25 g”, “fiberContent”: “5 g”, “proteinContent”: “40 g”, “saturatedFatContent”: “10 g”, “servingSize”: “1 portion”, “sodiumContent”: “800 mg”, “sugarContent”: “10 g”, “transFatContent”: “0 g”, “unsaturatedFatContent”: “10 g” }, “recipeIngredient”: [ “3/4 lb ground beef”, “3/4 lb ground pork”, “2 eggs”, “3/4 cup fine breadcrumbs”, “3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese”, “3 cloves garlic, minced”, “1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, minced”, “Salt and pepper to taste”, “Splash of milk”, “1 lb spaghetti”, “2 tbsp olive oil”, “1 1/2 cups onions, chopped”, “3 cloves garlic, minced”, “2 cans (12 oz each) tomato paste”, “1 can (29 oz) tomato sauce”, “Fresh parsley, dried basil, salt, and pepper” ], “recipeInstructions”: [ { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “Preheat oven to 375°F and prepare a baking tray.” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “Mix ground beef, pork, eggs, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and milk to form meatballs.” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “Place meatballs on the tray and bake until cooked.” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “For the sauce, sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add tomato paste and sauce, season with herbs, salt, and pepper.” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “Simmer the sauce, add meatballs, and continue to cook.” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “Boil spaghetti as per package instructions, drain.” }, { “@type”: “HowToStep”, “text”: “Serve spaghetti with meatballs and sauce, garnished with Parmesan and parsley.” } ] }