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Spaghetti and Meatballs

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This spaghetti and meatball recipe is easy enough for a busy weeknight — and it’s a family favorite, too!

This is my go-to recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. Not only is it weeknight friendly — you can have it on the table in 45 minutes —  but it’s also picky eater-approved. The meatballs are tender but not falling apart and packed with flavor. Because the recipe makes a fair amount of meatballs, I find it easier to brown them on a sheet pan in the oven rather than pan-fry them on the stovetop (less stovetop splatters to clean up, too!). To cut down cooking time, I cheat and use a good quality store-bought marinara sauce, but if you have homemade tomato sauce stashed in your fridge, by all means, use it.

For more family-friendly Italian recipes (everybody loves Italian!), don’t miss my baked ziti and chicken parmesan — both dishes are easy to make and please all ages. For a ground turkey alternative to the meatballs, try this recipe.

What You’ll Need To Make Spaghetti and Meatballs

spaghetti and meatball recipe ingredientsFor the most flavorful meatballs, I recommend using equal parts beef, veal, and pork; at most supermarkets, this blend is labeled “meatloaf mix.” If your market doesn’t carry the blend, you can use half beef and half pork (since ground veal isn’t readily available).

For the cheese, be sure to use the real-deal imported Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy; domestic Parmesan pales in comparison. You can always tell if it’s authentic by looking at the rind, which is embossed with the name over and over. If the cheese is already grated, it should be labeled “Parmigiano-Reggiano,” not “Parmesan.”

Step-by-Step Instructions

herbs, egg, water, and seasoning in mixing bowlBegin with the meatballs: In a large bowl, combine the egg, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and water; whisk well.

whisked liquid ingredients

Add the meat, breadcrumbs and Parmigiano Reggiano. meatball recipe

adding meat, bread crumbs, and cheese to wet ingredients

Mix with your hands until just combined.

meatball mixtureRoll the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs, and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

raw meatballs on sheet pan

Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from the oven and use a metal spatula or tongs to turn the meatballs (they will stick a bit but should release easily when you scrape under them with the spatula).

turning meatballs halfway through cooking

Put the meatballs back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, until they are nicely browned and almost cooked through.

baked meatballs

In the meantime, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a large skillet. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary (I usually add a healthy pinch of sugar and some freshly ground black pepper). Transfer the browned meatballs to the marinara sauce, leaving the fat behind. Cover loosely with a lid or foil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the flavors marry and the meatballs are cooked through. Keep warm until ready to toss with pasta.

meatballs in marinara sauce

While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.

boiling the spaghettiAdd the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, then toss with the sauce and meatballs.

spaghetti and meatballs in skillet

Transfer the spaghetti and meatballs to serving bowls and top with fresh chopped basil and more grated cheese.

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Spaghetti & Meatballs

This spaghetti and meatball recipe is easy enough for a busy weeknight — and it’s a family favorite, too!

Servings: 4 to 6 (Makes 22 to 24 small meatballs)
Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 50 Minutes


  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil (plus more for serving)
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1½ pounds ground "meatloaf mix" (approximately equal parts ground beef, pork and veal)
  • ¾ cup dried Italian style bread crumbs (such as Progresso)
  • ½ cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (plus more for serving)
  • Large jar (32 oz) good quality Marinara sauce (such as Rao's)
  • 1 pound spaghetti


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and set an oven rack in the middle position.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, basil, parsley, oregano, salt, pepper, garlic and water. Add the meat, breadcrumbs and cheese and mix until just combined (your hands are the best tool). Do not overwork it.
  3. Roll the mixture into golf ball-sized meatballs and place on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes, then remove the baking sheet from oven and use a metal spatula to turn the meatballs (they will stick a bit but should release easily when you scrape under them with the spatula). Put the meatballs back in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes, until they are nicely browned and almost cooked through.
  4. In the meantime, bring the marinara sauce to a simmer in a large skillet. Taste it and adjust the seasoning if necessary (I usually add a healthy pinch of sugar and some freshly ground black pepper). Transfer the browned meatballs to the marinara sauce, leaving the fat behind. Cover loosely with a lid or foil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the flavors marry and the meatballs are cooked through. Keep warm until ready to toss with pasta.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente. Drain, then toss with the sauce and meatballs (you may find it easier to toss everything together in the pasta pot rather than the skillet; it depends on the sizes of pans you are using.). Serve topped with fresh basil and more grated cheese.
  6. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked meatballs can be frozen, in their sauce, for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, defrost overnight in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop until the meatballs are hot in the center.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 731
  • Fat: 29 g
  • Saturated fat: 10 g
  • Carbohydrates: 78 g
  • Sugar: 11 g
  • Fiber: 6 g
  • Protein: 37 g
  • Sodium: 897 mg
  • Cholesterol: 116 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • My wife & I have been eating a Keto regimen for over 4 years and it has been very healthy for us. We have very much missed good pasta though and until recently we hadn’t found a low carb pasta substitute that was at all satisfying. We then found our savior in Ciao Carb spaghetti made by an Italian company (www.ciaocarb.com). It cooks up beautifully al dente and has the mouth feel and flavor that we have missed and it has only 13g net carbs for a 50g serving (vs over 40g for regular pasta). So, my wife begged me to make her spaghetti & meatballs and I found your recipe. I followed it pretty much, except I used a half & half mixture of 80/20 ground beef and hot Italian sausage. Making the meatballs fresh like this made all the difference. We are already big fans of Rao’s marinara, so that was an easy no-brainer. It was excellent and my wife raved. I will make it again and again…and next time, I think I will double the batch of seasoned meatball mixture and vacuum pack & freeze half of it for an even quicker meal.

    • — ChrisB on November 15, 2022
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  • These meatballs and the full spaghetti recipe are amazing in flavor! Veal is not generally available so I use equal parts ground beef, ground Italian sweet sausage and ground pork…so good! It’s hard to stop eating the meatballs before putting them in the spaghetti mixture! Thank you for sharing your talent with us.

    • — Cat on October 26, 2022
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  • I was sous chef to my 6-year-old granddaughter, Rylee. She made these lovely meatballs by herself. She ate 6 in one sitting. She skipped most of the noodles. She really enjoys mixing the “disgusting” meat up and rolling out the meatballs. Such a good meal. Thanks again for another recipe for meatball summer.

    • — laurie welsh on July 18, 2022
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  • I made these tonight and they were delicious. I subbed the egg for Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer to accommodate an egg allergy and used crushed crackers in place of bread crumbs. My whole family loved them. I will definitely add these to my rotation.

    • — Erica on June 16, 2022
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  • Can’t wait to make this tonight! We are angel hair pasta lovers…do you think it would stand up to the meatballs, or would regular spaghetti noodles work better?

    • — Kristie on May 22, 2022
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    • Hi Kristie, I think you can get away with angel hair. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2022
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  • I made this recipe it’s was the best spaghetti and meatballs ever. My boyfriend couldn’t get enough of it.

    • — Cindy on April 21, 2022
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  • Hi Jenn!

    Longtime follower and total fangirl of you and your recipes!

    Question – I don’t eat pork or veal. For the meat mixture, should I substitute with half turkey, half beef? Or leave it all beef?

    Thank you!

    • — Callie on March 23, 2022
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    • Hi Callie, You really can go either way here; so I’d go with whatever you prefer (and so glad you like the recipes)! 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 23, 2022
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    • I went for all beef and they were delicious! I also made burgers with this recipe and my husband said he will never order a takeout burger again!

      • — Zena Rathzel on June 18, 2022
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      • Hi Zena, are you saying you used the meatball ingredients to make burger patties? Did you alter any ingredients?

        • — Sohnia on September 22, 2022
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  • Amazingly delicious! My boys couldn’t get enough.

    • — Melody on March 15, 2022
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  • This has been one of my favorite meatball recipes and it’s so simple. I doubled it and used beef and pork with some Italian seasoning instead of meatloaf mix. I also put them in a sauté pan instead of baking cause it’s just better that way. Froze more than half on a baking sheet overnight and then into a ziplock. Even after being frozen they are so good!!

    • — May on March 4, 2022
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  • This is a great recipe. We don’t eat pork or beef, but we do eat poultry, so I used half ground turkey and half poultry sausage. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe pretty closely – except I added San Mariano tomatoes to the sauce. Everyone really loved it!

    • — Mitzi on February 24, 2022
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  • Would it be possible to make these gluten free?

    • — Viv on February 23, 2022
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    • Yep definitely 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 23, 2022
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  • love this recipe! I always have a batch frozen. Quick question, can we use only ground pork?

    • — Beck and Bulow on February 7, 2022
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    • Glad you like them! The meatballs will taste a little different with just pork, but you can do it. Please LMK how they turn out!

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2022
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  • I have tried a lot of different recipes for meatballs and have to say I appreciate yours hands down!
    The suggestions you share about using certain cuts of meat, the type of wines to use, and different cooking techniques are very helpful. You explain why to use certain techniques, too!
    I have bookmarked your page so I can prepare some of your other recipes.
    Thank you for sharing!

    • — Gary Hepner on February 1, 2022
    • Reply
  • Grocery woes — we didn’t get Italian breadcrumbs in our delivery order. Would it be better to substitute Panko bread crumbs or whole wheat sandwich bread that we put in the food processor? Looking forward to trying this recipe. Thanks!

    • — MM on January 13, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi MM, you could go either way but I’d add some seasonings to them so they have the flavor of Italian breadcrumbs. Here’s a recipe that will give you an idea of what to add. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 14, 2022
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      • These turned out great! Now we are going to use one of the portions that we had frozen. Do we have to leave in the fridge for 24 hours first or can we go straight to stovetop from the freezer? Thanks!

        • — MM on January 26, 2022
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        • So glad you enjoyed! You would defrost the meatballs first (I have updated the instructions).

          • — Jenn on January 27, 2022
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  • Your recipes never disappoint! The meatballs were delicious! The recipe was easy with ingredients that I always have on hand. Btw, to avoid the meatballs sticking, I always use parchment paper.

    • — Karina on December 5, 2021
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  • What is a substitute for eggs where children have allergic reactions?

    • — Grace on December 3, 2021
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    • Two of the best substitutes I’ve heard about (I haven’t personally tried either of them) are a combination of water, oil, and baking powder, and carbonated water. Scroll down to the bottom of this article for more information about both. I would assume many recipes would also work with some kind of store-bought egg substitute. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 3, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi, Looks wonderful. But I am wondering why you use dry bread crumbs, instead of cut up bread soaked in milk or water as you recommend for hamburgers.

    • — Cecile on November 28, 2021
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    • Hi Cecile, I honestly don’t recall why I used breadcrumbs here instead of a panade but if you’d prefer to use a panade, that should work as well. Hope you enjoy the meatballs if you make them!

      • — Jenn on December 1, 2021
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  • This is one of my favorite dishes I have tried here so far. It’s so good! What I actually do is instead of the marinara sauce, I make Amatriciana and I use that as the sauce base. It’s amazing

    I found that my oven doesn’t cook the meatballs fast enough if I bake it on 350-degrees. I’m wondering if broiling it in the oven would be better for me instead

    Either way, love this recipe 🙂

    • — Dennis on November 24, 2021
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  • BEST MEATBALLS EVER!!!! Made these for Halloween for the family and can’t wait to make this recipe again. Also made the rosemary foccacia from this website as well which was outstanding. THANK YOU Jenn for always making me look like a rock star chef in my home!

    • — Tamera on November 1, 2021
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  • I’ve made this recipe a BUNCH. I always freeze the meatballs after cooking and they are FABULOUS – pulling them out and reheating with the Rao’s sauce. Started making it with Marcella Hasan’s tomato sauce and they are OUTSTANDING! I always use 1/2 beef and 1/2 pork and often make a triple batch. This last time I forgot to add the Parmesan Cheese :(. They are still good, but the cheese is essential. I often eat these meatballs reheated in the mircrowave (1 or 2) as a snack by themselves! So good!

    • — Heather D on September 25, 2021
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  • This is my new favorite spaghetti and meatball recipe. Thankfully my husband agrees and moved his go to spaghetti recipe aside for this one without getting his feelings hurt. He was quite proud of his recipe.

    • — Autumn on September 22, 2021
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  • As written, this is quite probably the best recipe on the web. I have tried several, by trained chefs. Those are good, but this one is much better. The fresh herbs make a difference. If at all possible, do not sub out the fresh flat-leaf parsley. The dried stuff just cannot compare.
    I used 3/4 lb ground pork, and 3/4 lb ground beef that I like to buy at a meat store rather than in grocery stores., if time permits. Grocery store prices have gone up so much, that the special meat store prices are not much higher than those now. Plus the grade of beef is usually Prime, not ” choice” So, at least you are getting more for the price.
    Next time I MIGHT try adding in 1 medium to lg fine diced Shallot ( the purple-ish oval ones…just b/c some people can confuse them )
    I MIGHT also try just 1 extra lg clove of fresh garlic. But as written, this recipe is company worthy. Make it as written ( or ground pork/beef combo as mentioned by Jen )before messing with a great recipe.

    • — GMJ on July 7, 2021
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  • I’ve tried many meatball recipes. These seemed too simple to be anything special but, having made many of your recipes without ever being disappointed I thought “why not”? They were the easiest and best I’ve made. Thank you!

    • — Sharon on June 21, 2021
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  • I made this recipe last month and got two batches of meatballs out of it (it’s just me and hubby). I froze one batch uncooked and fixed them tonight. We got 4 meals out of one recipe😄So delicious! Nice to have a batch ready to go. Thank you for the suggestion of the Rao’s marinara sauce. It’s very good.

    • — Glinda on June 7, 2021
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    • Excellent recipe! Whole family enjoyed it so much.

      • — Denise on October 13, 2021
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  • Do you have a recommendation for quantities when subbing dried herbs for the fresh? I don’t always have fresh on hand. Thnx.

    • — Mommo on May 2, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Mommo, When substituting dried herbs for fresh, the rule of thumb is to use 1/3 of the amount. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on May 3, 2021
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  • Jenn….honestly AMAZING! Whipped these up this weekend as part of meal prep for the week.
    Popped them in the oven on a busy week night for a quick and delicious dinner. Totally outstanding. My 5 year old gave it “one million stars”. Served with whole wheat pasta and roasted broccoli. A definite keeper.

    • — Elizabeth on April 27, 2021
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  • These are really easy to make and full of flavor. I made a double batch (froze half) and served with spaghetti squash and fresh parmesan. This is my go to classic meatball recipe!

    • — Kristyn on April 26, 2021
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    • I know Jen said to cook then freeze.. but I was hoping I could just freeze the meatballs before I cooked them?

      • — Melissa Dufty on May 29, 2021
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      • Yes, you can freeze them uncooked. To keep them from sticking together, I’d arrange them on a baking sheet and put them in the freezer until frozen. You can then transport them to an airtight container or freezer bag. Hope that helps!

        • — Jenn on May 31, 2021
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  • I made this recipe as is and it’s delicious!! I was always intimated by making meatballs they never came out right! Too dry or not enough flavor. But this one was perfect and super easy. My family loved it!! Thank you! It’s a keeper for me.

    • — Marleen S on April 8, 2021
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  • Hello,

    I am a foods teacher and make take and bake meals with my students. Any recommendations for this recipe? Would reheating these in the oven work?

    • — Madison Steffes on March 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Madison, I’d recommend reheating them on the stovetop in the sauce. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on April 1, 2021
      • Reply
  • I just made these meatballs and they are perfect! I was using another meatball recipe until my husband mentioned that he really didn’t care for them. The next day I received my weekly email from you Jenn with your meatball recipe and knew I had to try them. Purchased all the ingredients this morning and followed the recipe exactly as written. Well! My husband had several for lunch and loves them! I have enough ingredients to make another batch tomorrow. I made the meatballs one ounce each and got 35 perfectly delicious meatballs.
    Thank you for another fabulous recipe.


    • — Jan Painter on March 6, 2021
    • Reply
  • Another solid recipe.

    • — Rosemary on March 5, 2021
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  • Best meatballs in the whole world! This meatballs are really the best, made them for my family and husband and they were blown away… super soft, creamy and full of flavor. Delicious! A must keep recipe for sure!

    • — Marisabel on February 20, 2021
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  • This is soooo good ! And so simple to make! Plus it freezes beautifully!!!

    This is by far the best recipe for spaghetti sauce (gravy) & meatballs!!!!!
    In fact my boyfriend and I are having it tonight, and it’s our 5th time having it in a 1 1/2 months!
    I stuck to the recipe provided w/o changing anything- I wouldn’t want to😉

    Thank you so much AGAIN Jenn for sharing your “gift” of good cooking ☺️


    • — Lisa on February 10, 2021
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  • Hi Jenn – This is amazing. I’ve made it a hundred times. A couple of questions for you: 1. Which of your desserts would you pair with this? 2. Would you mind linking the skillet you use here? Thank you!

    • — Chad on February 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Chad, So glad you like this! This would be nice with the pavlova, any of my biscotti, or the ricotta cheesecake. And the skillet I use in the recipe is a 12-inch All-Clad. 🙂

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2021
      • Reply
  • My daughters LOVE spaghetti and meatballs and they declared this recipe their favorite version. I don’t eat veal so used half ground beef and half pork. I also used Italian panko rather than breadcrumbs as I prefer panko and they turned out great. I doubled the meatball recipe while I was at it and froze the extra in a vacuum sealed bag so it will be super quick and easy to make this again. Thanks Jenn!

    • — Sara Jenkins on February 1, 2021
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  • My entire family loves these meatballs. In fact, this is one of the few dinners both my kids will reliably eat, so I make them regularly! I just use ground beef rather than a mix of meats, and they’re delicious. My husband’s family is Italian and has their own family meatball recipe, which is also great, but…these are better!

    • — Jaclyn on January 31, 2021
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  • Loved how easy this recipe was! I used ground turkey, dried parsley and dried basil because that’s what I had on hand. Meatballs were flavorful but I will try to use fresh parsley and basil next time. Our guest loved it. This recipe is a winner!

    • — Helen Wong on January 31, 2021
    • Reply
    • I think you will notice a nice fresher taste with the fresh flat leaf (Italian) Parsley. If using dried basil, just be sure your dried spices are not older than a yr old. Plus I have found that buying them in glass containers keeps them much better. Just an idea.

      • — GMJ on July 5, 2021
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  • I probably make this recipe every other week when my grandkids are here for dinner. I made this one again this week and unfortunately I am unable to find veal. I then use 3/4 lb. of hamburger and 3/4 lb of pork. The meatballs are still outstanding. The recipe is so easy and a big hit.

    • — Kathleen Severson on January 30, 2021
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  • This is our go to meatball recipe. The basil really makes a difference. I use only 1lb. Ground beef and 1/2lb. Ground pork and they come out great. We freeze what’s left over before adding to sauce for another meal. Another winner!

    • — Beth on January 28, 2021
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  • As good as mom made it. Was very happy not to fry the meatballs – much healthier but just as good. The recipe is a keeper!

    • — Joanie on January 28, 2021
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  • This is a quick and really good spaghetti dish and I love that you mix the pasta in the sauce. The sauce has a really good flavor and meatballs are excellent. It was a big hit at my house and I plan to make again. It was good cold the next day too!

    • — Nancy on January 28, 2021
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  • Made this recipe several times now. Big hit with teens and husband. Recipe is part of our dinner rotation now. Thanks for suggesting Rao’s marinara.

    • — Diana R on January 28, 2021
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  • Have made these multiple times and always a crowd pleaser. I double the recipe because there’s six of us

    • — Randi on January 28, 2021
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  • These are delicious! Funny story: When I was forming these into meatballs, my husband walked into the kitchen. I said, “You might have to taste test these to make sure I got the spices right.” He let out a little whimper-like sigh. I looked over at him, and said, “Not now, when they are cooked!” Poor guy, I still laugh about that every time I make these!

    • — Amber Block on January 28, 2021
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  • My 7-year old Great, Great, Nephew asked me to cook spaghetti and meatballs for his birthday dinner. I had never made meatballs before. So, when I found this recipe, I went for it. I did not include the veal, but otherwise followed the recipe exactly. It turned out great! It made plenty for the 4 adults and 4 children from ages 4 to 12. I saved the recipe for future meals.

    • — Richard Turner on January 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • I have never been able to make good meatballs. They tasted like a tasteless round hamburger. This recipe is great. Family loves it! I make a double batch so I always have some in the freezer for a quick meal!

    • — Ellen Boshe on January 28, 2021
    • Reply

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