Spaghetti and Meatballs

4.96 from 122 votes

This Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe is full of juicy, tender and delicious meatballs- it's a wholesome, hearty and easy dinner for the whole family.

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Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic recipe that never fails to please my kiddos, husband, or myself, for that matter! Who doesn’t love a good meatball seasoned with garlic and parsley and simmered in a marinara sauce? Served over al dente pasta, this spaghetti and meatballs recipe is so good!

A serving of meatballs and spaghetti in a bowl with skillet of more nearby.
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I always find spaghetti and meatballs to be the perfect recipe for those nights when I am craving carbs and am looking for easy prep without a bunch of hassle. Mixing the ground beef with breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and just the right touch of herbs equals meatballs that are tender on the inside and flavorful. Plus, when you simmer the meatballs in the tomato sauce it deepens the flavors! Here’s how I bring this classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe to life, hoping it might become a favorite in your home, too.

Recipe At a Glance

Cuisine Inspiration: Italian
Primary Cooking Method: Stovetop
Key Flavor: Savory tomato with beef and herby flavors
Skill Level: Easy

  • Weeknight-Friendly: This recipe is broken down into manageable steps that won’t overwhelm you, making it easy to cook even after a long day.
  • Pleases the Crowd: Whether it’s a family dinner or a get-together, spaghetti and meatballs are a classic that satisfies both kids and adults alike.
  • Minimal Cleanup: With just two pots needed, one for the pasta and one for the meatballs and sauce, this recipe keeps dishwashing to a minimum!

Ingredients to Make Spaghetti With Beef Meatballs

Ingredients for recipe: ground beef, parmesan cheese, spices, herbs, spaghetti, tomato sauce, oil, egg, garlic, and breadcrumbs.
  • Spaghetti Noodles: Cook them just to al dente; they’ll continue to absorb flavor from the sauce when mixed together, enhancing the texture in each bite.
  • Lean Ground Beef: Chosen for its lower fat content to make sure your meatballs don’t turn into a greasy mess.
  • Egg: Helps bind the ingredients, keeping your meatballs intact during mixing and cooking.
  • Breadcrumbs: They add lightness to the meatballs and help retain moisture, keeping them from drying out as they cook.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: Mixes into the meatballs for a subtle cheesy/salty flavor that complements the savory notes of the meat and sauce.
  • Garlic: Freshly grated for a sharp, kick. Plus, can you really even make good spaghetti and meatballs without garlic? I think not!
  • Chopped Parsley and Italian Seasoning: These herbs add freshness and a classic Italian flavor to the meatballs.
  • Salt and Pepper: Simple but essential for seasoning the meatballs right.
  • Olive Oil: Used for frying the meatballs, it helps to create a golden crust that seals in flavors and adds a slight richness.
  • Marinara Sauce: A smooth, tomato-based sauce that ties the dish together, coating the pasta and meatballs.
  • Pasta Alternatives: Switch out regular spaghetti for gluten-free pasta or spiralized zucchini noodles for those seeking a lighter option or needing a gluten-free meal.
  • Meat Variations: If beef isn’t your preference, try ground turkey or chicken for a lighter take on the meatballs. For a plant-based version, consider using mashed chickpeas or a plant-based ground meat substitute.
  • Dairy-Free Options: Use nutritional yeast or a vegan parmesan alternative in place of traditional Parmesan to keep it dairy-free without sacrificing that cheesy flavor.
  • Herbs and Spices: Fresh herbs like basil or rosemary can be finely chopped and added to either the meatballs or the sauce for a fresh touch.
  • Extra Veggies: Bulk up your meatballs or sauce with finely chopped vegetables such as carrots, zucchini, or spinach. This is a great way to sneak more nutrients into your meal.
  • Cheese Center: For those who can tolerate dairy, cheese stuffed meatballs are amazing! Adding a small cube of mozzarella inside each meatball makes for a cheesy center that melts as the meatballs cook.

How to Make Spaghetti & Meatballs

Ground beef, garlic, spices, parmesan, egg, and breadcrumbs in a bowl.
Step 1: In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
Meatball ingredients in a bowl after combining.
Step 2: Use your hands to combine the ingredients together until they’re moist and well blended.
Meatballs in a skillet.
Step 3: Heat olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Place the meatballs in the skillet.
Meatballs in a skillet after browning.
Step 4: Sear the meatballs until browned on all sides.
Tomato sauce added to skillet with cooked meatballs.
Step 5: Add the marinara to the skillet and gently stir to combine with the meatballs. Lower the heat to low, cover the skillet, and simmer the meatballs in the sauce until it thickens.
Spaghetti tossed with sauce and beef.
Step 6: Add the al dente spaghetti noodles to the sauce with the meatballs and gently coat the noodles in the sauce to serve.

Tips for Making the Best Spaghetti & Meatballs

  1. Choose the Right Meat: Go for ground beef that’s 85-90% lean. It keeps your meatballs juicy and flavorful without being too greasy. Trust me, it’s the sweet spot for perfect meatballs.
  2. Don’t Overmix the Meatballs: When you’re mixing the ingredients, less is more. Overmixing can make your meatballs tough, and nobody wants that. Just mix until everything’s combined.
  3. Cook Pasta Al Dente: Boil your spaghetti until it’s just al dente. It’ll soak up more sauce and keep that perfect texture when you mix it all together.
  4. Taste and Adjust Seasonings: Always taste your sauce mix before adding the noodles. Adjust the seasonings as needed—your taste buds know best!
Spaghetti and meatballs in a skillet, garnished with fresh herbs and parmesan.

What to Serve With Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I prevent my spaghetti from sticking together?

Make sure to cook it in plenty of salted boiling water, and give it a good stir occasionally. After draining, if you’re not mixing it with the sauce right away, toss it with a little olive oil to keep the noodles separate.

How do I reheat leftovers without drying them out?

The best way to reheat spaghetti and meatballs is gently on the stovetop. Add a splash of water or marinara sauce to keep everything moist. You can also reheat in the microwave, covered, with a bit of added sauce.

How do I keep my meatballs from falling apart?

The key to meatballs that hold together is the right mix of ingredients. Make sure to use an egg and breadcrumbs to bind everything. Also, don’t skip the searing step; it helps to set the meatballs before they finish cooking in the sauce.

Spaghetti and meatballs in a bowl.

I hope you find this spaghetti and meatballs recipe as enjoyable to make as it is to eat. It’s a straightforward, comforting meal that’s always a hit in my house.

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This spaghetti and meatballs recipe was originally published on June 23, 2020 and has recently been updated with new photography, tips and substitutions, storage information, and step by step photos to help make the recipe. It was only slightly modified to remove the grated onions in the meat mixture, but feel free to still include if you’d like!

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Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

This Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe is full of juicy, tender and delicious meatballs- it's a wholesome, hearty and easy dinner for the whole family.
5 from 122 votes
Servings 6 servings
Course Entree
Calories 544
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
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Ingredients
  

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water, drain and return the pasta to the pot, covered.
  • In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, egg, breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine the ingredients together until they’re moist and well blended. Form into 16 meatballs.
  • Heat olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and then place the meatballs on the skillet. Cook the meatballs until browned on all sides, 5-7 minutes total. They do not need to be fully cooked at this point though.
  • Add the marinara to the skillet and gently toss to combine with the meatballs. Lower the heat to low, cover the skillet and simmer the meatballs in the sauce until the sauce is thickened, 15-20 minutes.
  • Serve the cooked spaghetti noodles with the meatballs and sauce.

Notes

Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last about 3-4 days in the fridge. You can also freeze the meatballs in an airtight container up to 3 months.
Substitutes: For best results, follow the recipe as is. However here are some common substitutes that would work well in this recipe.
  • Instead of ground beef, you can use ground turkey or ground chicken
  • Instead of garlic, you can use garlic powder.
  • To make it gluten-free, you can also make this with gluten-free pasta and almond flour instead of breadcrumbs.

Nutrition

Serving: 2cups, Calories: 544kcal, Carbohydrates: 68g, Protein: 28g, Fat: 17g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 86mg, Sodium: 927mg, Potassium: 794mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 7g, Vitamin A: 717IU, Vitamin C: 11mg, Calcium: 110mg, Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.

Cuisine Italian
Course: Entree

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Comments

  1. Dev says:

    Ooh I’m definitely going to try this one but will use lamb mince instead. Thank you for the wonderful recipes.🙏🙌

    1. Yumna J. says:

      Yum! I think the lamb mince will work great in this recipe. You’re welcome, hope you enjoy!!

  2. Valerie says:

    Yumna, I have tried so many or your recipes and honestly each one has turned out perfect. Your spaghetti and meatball recipe is no exception. My husband is very particular about texture and taste of meatballs and is not very complimentary of most recipes. He only likes his Dad’s homemade recipe. He was quite impressed with your recipe. Thank you for answering so many of our questions as a standard part of all of your recipes. You make cooking enjoyable once again. Please keep it up. You are doing great work here!!!!!

    1. Yumna Jawad says:

      That’s amazing! Yay!! So glad to hear it!

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