Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Spaghetti and meatballs, while often associated with Italian cuisine, is more accurately described as an Italian-American creation. The dish gained popularity in the United States in the early 20th century, thanks to Italian immigrants who adapted their traditional recipes to available ingredients in America. In Italy, meatballs (polpette) are usually smaller and served as a standalone dish or in soup, rather than with pasta.

Why You'll Love This Recipe?

Comforting and Familiar: It's a classic comfort food that evokes feelings of warmth and nostalgia. The combination of tender meatballs, flavorful tomato sauce, and perfectly cooked spaghetti is inherently satisfying.

Versatile and Customizable: While the basic recipe includes ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and a tomato-based sauce, it's versatile enough to accommodate variations. You can adjust the seasonings, add different herbs or spices, or even experiment with alternative meats like turkey or chicken.

Balanced Nutrition: This dish offers a balanced meal with protein from the meatballs, carbohydrates from the spaghetti, and vitamins from the tomato sauce. It can be made healthier by using leaner meats, whole wheat pasta, and minimizing added fats.

Family-Friendly: Spaghetti and meatballs is a crowd-pleaser that appeals to all ages. It's a dish often enjoyed by families and large gatherings, making it perfect for sharing and creating memorable moments around the dinner table.

Ease of Preparation: Despite its impressive presentation and rich flavors, spaghetti and meatballs is relatively simple to prepare. The steps are straightforward, and the ingredients are readily available in most kitchens, making it accessible for home cooks of all skill levels.

Iconic Cultural Significance: As a staple of Italian-American cuisine, spaghetti and meatballs holds cultural significance and has been featured in literature, movies, and pop culture, further cementing its status as a culinary icon.

Adaptable to Dietary Needs: It can be adapted to various dietary preferences and restrictions. For example, it can be made gluten-free by using gluten-free breadcrumbs or pasta, or vegetarian/vegan by substituting plant-based meat alternatives and omitting dairy.
Spaghetti and meatballs have become an iconic comfort food in the United States, often associated with family gatherings and home-cooked meals. It’s also a popular dish in Italian-American restaurants and has been featured in numerous films, TV shows, and literature, symbolizing warmth and hospitality. This classic dish continues to be loved for its hearty, flavorful combination of pasta, savory meatballs, and rich tomato sauce.

Key Ingredients 


Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs have become an iconic comfort food in the United States, often associated with family gatherings and home-cooked meals.

Prep Time: 20minutes 
Cook Time: 40 
Total Time: 60minutes 
Servings: 4


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (for frying)

For the Tomato Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Spaghetti:

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • Salt (for boiling water)


Preparing the Meatballs

  • Combine Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, chopped parsley, egg, salt, pepper, and milk. Mix gently until all ingredients are just combined. Overmixing can make the meatballs tough.
  • Form Meatballs: With your hands, shape the mixture into meatballs about 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter. Place them on a plate or baking sheet as you work.
  • Cook Meatballs: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs in batches, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry them until they are browned on all sides and cooked through, about 5-7 minutes per batch. Remove the meatballs from the skillet and set them aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.

Making the Tomato Sauce

  • Sauté Aromatics: In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the finely chopped onion and cook until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
  • Add Tomatoes and Seasonings: Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Add the sugar, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Mix well to combine all ingredients.
  • Simmer: Bring the sauce to a simmer. Once it starts to bubble, reduce the heat to low. Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce, gently stirring to coat them. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Cooking the Spaghetti

  • Boil Water: While the sauce is simmering, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. The water should be salty like the sea to properly season the pasta.
  • Cook Spaghetti: Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. This usually takes about 8-10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent the pasta from sticking together.
  • Drain: Once cooked, drain the spaghetti in a colander and return it to the pot. You can toss the pasta with a bit of olive oil to prevent sticking, if desired.
Serving the Dish

  • Combine Pasta and Sauce: Add a portion of the cooked spaghetti to individual serving plates. Ladle the meatballs and sauce generously over the top.
  • Garnish: Finish with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped fresh parsley for a burst of color and flavor.
  • Accompaniments: Serve the spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread and a green salad for a complete meal.

Tips for Success

  • Choosing Meat: Use high-quality ground beef with a bit of fat content (about 80/20) for moist and flavorful meatballs.

  • Browning Meatballs: Browning the meatballs before adding them to the sauce enhances their flavor and texture.

  • Simmering Sauce: Allowing the sauce to simmer gently helps to meld the flavors together and thicken it to the perfect consistency.

  • Perfect Pasta: Cook the spaghetti until al dente to ensure it holds up well when mixed with the sauce and meatballs.

Enjoy this timeless classic with your loved ones, creating memories one meatball at a time.
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