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Spaghetti and Meatballs

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This spaghetti and meatball recipe is the ultimate weeknight family dinner — quick, easy, and picky eater-approved!

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This is my go-to recipe for spaghetti and meatballs. With a quick 45-minute cook time, it’s perfect for busy weeknights and sure to please even the pickiest eaters. The meatballs are juicy and packed with flavor, with a fork-tender texture that keeps everyone coming back for more. To make things easy and save on mess, I brown the meatballs in the oven on a sheet pan instead of pan-frying them on the stovetop. I also use a good quality store-bought marinara sauce to save time, but feel free to use homemade tomato sauce if you have some on hand.

For more family-friendly Italian recipes (everybody loves Italian!), try my baked ziti, stuffed shells, and chicken parmesan. For an alternative to beef meatballs, try my favorite turkey meatballs.

What You’ll Need To Make Spaghetti and Meatballs

spaghetti and meatball recipe ingredientsFor the most flavorful meatballs (or meatloaf), 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 the ultimate weeknight family dinner — quick, easy, and picky eater-approved!

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  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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Comments

  • I’ve made these meatballs many times with just pork and beef and no veal. I was excited to find the meatloaf mix at my grocery store today so decided to try it with that. Oh my! It really ups the quality – not that I thought it needed it – but wow! It was a great surprise. I also spray the foil with Pam to make sure they don’t stick.

    • — Heather on February 29, 2024
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  • This turned out great (I omitted the oregano since the breadcrumbs already had seasoning).I could only find one pound packs of ground beef and ground pork at my grocery store, so that’s what I used, plus increasing everything else a little bit. Thank you!

    • — Angela on February 20, 2024
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  • This recipe is a good one. I made a few changes. I extended the meatball cook time per side to 15 min. The specific cheese wasn’t available so had to sub. Really liked the marinara brand you recommended. I used two 12.6 oz jars. Might use a little more sauce with a pound of spaghetti.

    • — Randall Barnes on January 26, 2024
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  • Dear Jen,

    My husband and son made the spaghetti and meatballs recipe for my birthday this week. They used your recipe for the homemade tomato sauce, which we have made twice before. This was the best spaghetti and meatballs we have ever had. This is my favorite meal and the guys did a great job making it for me! The simple things in life! Just perfect!! Thank you for sharing your talent with us, Jen!

    • — Valerie on January 11, 2024
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  • I just finished this recipe using turkey rather than beef and it is delicious. I also used a package sauce mix with other dried sauces. I’ve never made this dish before and I will definitely try it again. Thanks for posting ☺️

    • — Cheryl on January 9, 2024
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  • Very easy to make and was absolutely delicious! The meatball were not dry at all like the ones I’ve tried to make in the past! However, I was unable to find a 32oz. jar of Rao’s Marinara Sauce (I’ve seen the 15.5, 24 and 28 ounce sizes, the latter being a twin pack from Costco). Is that something that needs to be ordered from their website? I wish that I had those extra 6 ounces because I also added two links of mild Italian Sausage (to fish out later in order to make a combo sandwich with some of the meatballs)!

    • — Chris on December 7, 2023
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    • Hi Chris, Glad you liked this! I don’t have a problem finding the 32 oz jar of Rao’s at my store, but you can either order it online (I saw it on Amazon) or directly from Rao’s You could also use two 15.5 oz jars and you’d just be one ounce shy of the 32.

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2023
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  • I made this recipe last night and it came out amazing.
    the whole family loved it.
    Thank You

    • — Ayelet on November 30, 2023
    • Reply
  • This dish was so delicious and so easy to prepare. The meatballs were perfect! One again, thank you.

    • — Barbara on November 30, 2023
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  • Very delicious recipe and easy to follow. The meatballs were soft and put together

    • — Magaly on November 26, 2023
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  • Your recipes are amazing, and the meatballs are one of my go to’s. Living abroad makes it difficult to follow all the measurements successfully or quickly. Is there any plan in the future to include metric measurements ?

    • — Danielle on November 24, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Danielle, So glad you like the recipes! The great majority of my recipes have metric measurements. If you look in the top right corner of the recipe card, you’ll see a little button that allows you to toggle between metric and cup measures. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on November 24, 2023
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  • First of all I have really enjoyed trying so many of your recipes! I’m recently retired and have more time to experiment in the kitchen. I have a question-You use freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese in numerous recipes and in Indianapolis it’s hard to find and when I do it’s very expensive. Do you have a good substitution? Thanks again and happy holidays!

    • — Karlyn Fox on November 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes and you now have more time to play in the kitchen! While it’s a bit saltier and has a stronger flavor, pecorino Romano is a good substitute. Happy holidays to you! 😊

      • — Jenn on November 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • A definite family favourite. I have had great success in batching this recipe. I cook the meatballs in the oven and then freezing the meatballs in 2oz size. Our children (university students) absolutely love all your recipes.

    • — Brenda Steinburg on November 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • Best meatballs ever! Jen nails another recipe. Meatballs are moist, tender and full of flavor. So delicious. Clever use for surplus garden parsley and basil. Planning on making meatballs again this weekend before frost takes out the basil.

    • — Marianne on October 19, 2023
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  • This was amaaaaazing!
    I made this for my family and they loved it. Btw I am only 13yr old and it was not that hard.
    Thank you so much for this recipe! ❤️

    • — Anonymous on October 14, 2023
    • Reply
  • Thanks Jenn –
    We really enjoyed these. I added a bit more garlic, and some grated parmesan (family habit), but kept everything else the same. Delicious!
    Susan

    • — Susan on September 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • This turned out really good even though I forgot the basil and had to use Italian seasoning instead. The kids and adults loved them.

    • — Sarah W. on September 27, 2023
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  • Easy, perfect, delicious. Absolutely what you’re looking for when someone wants spaghetti and meatballs.

    • — Bette S Levin on September 19, 2023
    • Reply
  • OH MY GOD these meat balls! Highly recommend these – easy to make (and I am a shitty cook), yet they turned out perfect. We did end up pan-frying them instead of in the over but the recipe is excellent. Great tip re the marinara w/ sugar and fresh pepper – 10/10 would recommend.

    • — Aimee on September 15, 2023
    • Reply
  • What would the ratio be to use regular bread vs. Breadcrumbs?

    • — Danielle Kern on August 28, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Danielle, I’m not sure as it depends on the size of the bread. I’d pulse 1 piece of bread in the food processor at a time until you get to 3/4 cup of bread crumbs.

      • — Jenn on August 29, 2023
      • Reply
  • Did not use the dried oregano . Traditional Italian meatballs do not use oregano, the flavor is overpowering . Fresh parsley and basil is perfect and enough

    • — Marilyn on August 21, 2023
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  • Excellent recipe! I am curious- how do you chop your herbs so fine?

    Thanks!

    • — Cecile on August 14, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cecile, So glad you enjoyed the dish. And I get the herbs chopped so finely from years and years of cooking/practice/working in restaurants! 🙂

      • — Jenn on August 14, 2023
      • Reply
      • Probably great knives too!

        • — Erika on September 19, 2023
        • Reply
  • Made these meatballs with your homemade tomato sauce tonite. It was full of flavor and was a hit with the men at home. I made the sauce from Roma tomatoes & only had ground beef (no pork or veal). But it was a meal I will create again. Loved the use of my garden basil in the meatballs & added garnish.

    • — Julie Austin on August 8, 2023
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  • Made this tonight and it was AMAZING! I had been craving spaghetti and meatballs for weeks and this recipe hit the spot!

    • — JB on August 3, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was delicious thank you for the recipe! Made it for the whole family and it went down a treat!

    • — shoshana Plail on June 2, 2023
    • Reply
  • I want to make this for 10 women . It will be an Italian theme, plus several pizzas and salad. I think I need to 1.5 times this recipe? If so, should i add another egg?

    • — Joni Antweil on May 29, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Joni, For ease, you can get away with using another egg but if you want to be the most accurate, you can use half an egg — just beat one egg in a measuring cup, discard half of it, and use the remaining half. Hope everyone enjoys!

      • — Jenn on May 30, 2023
      • Reply
  • i need to make meatballs without spaghetti for an Italian ladies’ luncheon. Do you suggest this recipe or the turkey with spinach recipe? In either case, I am doing them cocktail size along with the rest of the menu.

    • — Joni Antweil on May 22, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Joni, I think either would be delicious, but because you’re making them into minis and the turkey meatballs sometimes have a bit of spinach sticking out of them, I think I’d opt for these instead. Hope the luncheon is nice!

      • — Jenn on May 23, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi! How far in advance can I make the meatballs and leave in the fridge? In sauce?
    I haven’t made them yet but I love all the ingredients and appreciate the flavors it will bring.

    • — Mary L Kunza on April 25, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Mary, I suspect they’d be fine for 3 to 4 days. 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 25, 2023
      • Reply
  • Many of the meatball recipes I have tried in the past use milk instead of water. Is there any reason you prefer water? You are my go-to chef so I thought I would ask. Thanks!

    • — Rebecca on April 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Rebecca, No specific reason – either will work well here!

      • — Jenn on April 15, 2023
      • Reply
  • This is a life saver🇨🇦🇨🇦

    • — Marjory on April 12, 2023
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  • the best ever

    • — Stanja Andraković on April 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • I don’t have a sweet Italian grandmother to get great recipes from but this recipe tasted like it came from one! We loved it!

    • — Ginny on April 3, 2023
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  • Move over, Marry Me Chicken! These should be called Marry Me Meatballs! My fiancée said he has no choice but to marry me now so I can always cook these for him! Plus, he said if I cook meals this good every night he will let me be a stay-at-home mom! 😉 He scarfed down almost half the batch and had to stop himself from eating more! The meatballs are so moist and pair perfectly with Rao’s marinara sauce (to which I did add some black pepper and sugar as Jenn does). I have made this with different combinations of meat, including all turkey, and they all turn out moist. I will only make meatballs this way from now on! Thank you for another easy and delicious weeknight recipe!

    • — Olexa on March 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn!
    If buying the meats separately what kind of ground beef do you suggest…80/20?

    • — Jeanine on March 16, 2023
    • Reply
    • Either 80/20 or 85/15 would be good.

      • — Jenn on March 16, 2023
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn! This recipe is now my go-to, after many MANY years of doing them another way. So delicious!! One question, if you’re still monitoring comments on this: I’ve been asked to make these meatballs, but served with a creamy mushroom sauce. Well, Campbell’s mushroom soup, to be honest 🙂 Do you think the Italian seasonings would be a problem? Thanks!

    • — Jane on March 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, so glad you like these! No, I don’t think the Italian seasonings would be a problem. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 6, 2023
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  • Hi! Can’t wait to try these 🙂 so 4-6 meatballs IS about 700 calories right?
    Im counting my calories so i need to document it

    • — Diana on March 4, 2023
    • Reply
    • Yes, that plus 1/6 of the spaghetti is 731 calories. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on March 6, 2023
      • Reply
  • i made these meatballs , wowowowowowowow WOW . they were soft wonderful firm enough to hold up in sauce , they were yum yum billy blum , and if billy blum would eat it you know thier good , love from boone of the north woods

    • — brenda lee pierson on February 21, 2023
    • Reply
  • ok going to try your meatballs , we;ll see how it goes
    thanks brenda

    • — brenda lee pierson on February 20, 2023
    • Reply
  • Jenn
    I want to make these meatballs for a party and one guest is gluten free. What do you suggest I substitute the breadcrumbs with to make them gluten free? Thanks!

    • — Cynthia Berner on February 13, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Cynthia, You can definitely use gluten-free breadcrumbs.

      • — Jenn on February 15, 2023
      • Reply
      • Thank you!

        • — Cynthia Berner on February 18, 2023
        • Reply
  • Easy & delicious recipe. I had abt 1.25 lbs ground beef so I reduced the breadcrumbs a bit while keeping other ingredients appx the same ( per an eyeball measure). Substituted abt 1tsp dried parsley – no fresh on hand but did use fresh basil plus a bit extra. Using a scoop, my mixture made 22 meatballs. I popped the pan w/ meatballs in the refrigerator until ready to bake for dinner. Took about 24 minutes to cook. Simmered a jar of Rao Marinara while baking the meatballs. I prepared meatball subs w/ freshly shredded mozzarella & parmesan for my husband & me and spaghetti & meatballs for our son. Quick easy wonderful weeknight meal. So versatile. I think the leftover meatballs & sauce will be served over baked parmesan polenta. Thank you!

    • — A@4U on February 8, 2023
    • Reply
  • This was very good made with chicken or turkey. I personally will not eat veal.
    The cruelty involved in harvesting veal is just horrible.

    • — Hubbard on January 31, 2023
    • Reply
  • Love your foolproof recipes, Jen!
    Can I use Panko instead of the Italian bread crumbs?

    • — Stacey on January 30, 2023
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Sure, you can use panko. If you’d like to add some of flavors that Italian seasoning has, you can use this recipe as a guide.

      • — Jenn on January 31, 2023
      • Reply
  • Wonderful, delicious sauce and the meatballs scrumptious. Again a winner.

    • — Virginia Murrell on January 29, 2023
    • Reply
  • I made this last week for my great granddaughters birthday party. We had 15 guests for dinner and I have never received so many compliments on this meatball recipe. Raves about how flavorful, tasty and tender they were. It was easy to prepare. I doubled the recipe and made 60 meatballs. I combined the jar of Rao’s marinara sauce with a jar of Rao’s Arrabbiata spicy marinara sauce and it gave it a little spicy bite. I also followed the suggestion I read in the comments to place them on a raised rack to save having to turn them and they turned out perfect. Thank you for such a wonderful recipe. I will be making this often!

    • — Margaret Barclay on January 29, 2023
    • Reply

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