Easy Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

Tested & Perfected Recipes

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

Here’s a super-simple and super-delicious spaghetti and meatball recipe to add to your repertoire. The meatballs are tender and flavorful — and you’ll love that they’re browned on a sheet pan in the oven rather than fried on the stovetop. To cut down on effort and cooking time, I cheat and use a good quality store-bought marinara sauce, but if you have some homemade sauce stashed in your fridge, by all means, use it!

What You’ll Need To Make My EASY Spaghetti and Meatball Recipe

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.”

How To Make Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

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.

You may also like

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)
Total Time: 40 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
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1-1/2 pounds ground "meatloaf mix" (approximately equal parts ground beef, pork and veal)
  • 3/4 cup dried Italian style bread crumbs (such as Progresso)
  • 1/2 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 simmering, 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. 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.

See more recipes:

Reviews & Comments

  • Made these for dinner and it was a hit! The meatballs were so tender and flavorful!

    • — Bridget on January 26, 2021
    • Reply
  • A big thank you for this recipe. My grand-daughter said “These are amazing”! Will definitely be cooking them again. Everyone enjoyed them.

    • — Nicola on January 16, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, quick question I want make these but only have curly parsley (hubby grab the wrong one at the store). Can I use it instead and would it be the same amount?
    Thanks 🙂

    • — Sharon on January 11, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure that’s perfectly fine, Sharon. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • Fantastic! Improvised a bit – used turkey, dried basil and parsley and upped the fresh garlic a bit. So…good. Very moist and flavorful! My family loved the meal!

    • — Robin on January 8, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made the meatballs exactly per the recipe – they were absolutely incredible! Everyone loved them. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • — Erin on November 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • These meatballs were good but didn’t wow me. I followed the recipe exactly, except I didn’t bake the meatballs, I pan fried them. I just thought there was too much breading in the meatballs and even though the meatballs were well seasoned, I didn’t get that “this is amazing” feeling. Not the best I’ve had, not the worst.

    • — Kim A on October 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jen, thank you for all of your wonderful recipes. I learned to cook as a twenty year old, from Delia Smith ( I’m 64 now) I have enjoyed making many of your recipes, as much as my family have enjoyed eating them! This recipe is equally successful! Again many thanks 😊

    • — Fiona Stephan on September 26, 2020
    • Reply
  • Amazing! Best meatballs I’ve ever made!

    • — Patty on July 22, 2020
    • Reply
  • WOW! I can finally make meatballs! My family loved them and they were easy and quick to make. Highly recommend this recipe it is absolutely delicious!!!!!

    • — Alison Mirer on July 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Please share the Marinara recipe with me.
    Thanks,
    Nicky

    • — Nicky Bell on June 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Nicky, I don’t have a recipe of my own for marinara sauce yet; it’s on my list of recipes to develop. My favorite store-bought one is Rao’s if you want to give it a try. 🙂

      • — Jenn on June 25, 2020
      • Reply
  • Very good, couldn’t find meatloaf mix so I used beef and sausage. I think at this time I was lucky to find that. Thanks for all of your very good recipes. I have tried many!

    • — Tish on June 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • I rarely made meatballs, but decided to try this recipe, and I couldn’t believe it was so easy yet tasty. Also, baking the meatballs eliminates a lot of the runoff grease and cleanup was a snap. My family loved it and I will definitely be making this again!

    • — Susan on June 20, 2020
    • Reply
  • Great recipe made this last night veal was too expensive so I just used equal parts grass fed beef and mild Italian sausage added some pepper flakes and an angry pasta sauce. Thank you for the recipe

    • — Sherie Miles on June 14, 2020
    • Reply
  • Made this tonight and we loved it! I’m so glad you suggested Rao’s marinara sauce. I had to look and see who carried that brand, was more expensive but it’s so worth it! Sweeter tasting, not as acidic as the other brands. Thanks again for a great recipe.

    • — Verna on June 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Delicious and so easy. The meatballs were so light and tasty. I used panko, with tons of basil and parsley from our crazy crop victory garden. And Rao’s is always standard in our household so it came together easily.

      Thanks, Jenn – another home run. It’s funny how many times your recipes are discussed on zoom calls. Everyone agrees that your recipes are always on target. Thanks.

      • — Pattickaesdarien on July 14, 2020
      • Reply
      • I’m so flattered that my recipes have been mentioned on your Zoom calls!!! 🙂

        • — Jenn on July 14, 2020
        • Reply
  • Another great recipe! The meatballs are better than anything I’ve had.

    One of many recipes I’ve made from your site. Your recipes are simple, with good ingredients and not over thought. I already have about 5 others bookmarked I need to try.

    • — Crandall on June 11, 2020
    • Reply
  • I am Italian and I love and dearly miss my mother’s meatballs. I was always afraid to make meatballs because I knew they would not be “my mom’s”. I trust Jenn and all of her recipes, not one failure ever. So I tried them and OMG they are VERY good. Not mom’s but maybe a new tradition, one I can make my own. Thanks Jenn for another great recipe and taking the fear out of making a great meatball.
    -Roselle

    • — roselle perrucci on June 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you enjoyed them! I hope they brought back good memories. 💗

      • — Jenn on June 11, 2020
      • Reply
  • Everyone…you need to make this! I followed this recipe to a T and it’s just the right amount of everything. Meatballs are sooo tender and full of flavor (I used my fingers to mix until JUST mixed together or they get too dense) I used Rao’s homemade marinara sauce. Every recipe of Jenn’s is 5STAR and I’ve made a ton of them!

    • — Noreen on June 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Best Meatballs 👍🏼

    • — Cheryl on June 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • Tried this recipe today. So easy and so delicious! Used dried herbs as I didn’t have fresh on hand, still it turned out fantastic!!

    • — TJ on June 1, 2020
    • Reply
    • And oh I used only beef! Next time I might try with just lamb or half beef half lamb. Any meat would work perfectly in my opinion.

      • — TJ on June 1, 2020
      • Reply
  • Happy Mother’s Day Jenn…….could I use asiago as I do not have enough parmesan?
    Thank you

    • — DEBBIE on May 9, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Debbie – that should still be delicious. 🙂

      • — Jenn on May 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn
    I love all your recipes! My son’s birthday is on Sunday and he loves spaghetti with meatballs, I only have ground beef would that work instead of the mix? Thanks so much

    • — Melissa on April 29, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes! Yes, all ground beef will work here. Hope your son’s birthday is great! 🙂

      • — Jenn on April 29, 2020
      • Reply
  • Thank you so much for your amazing recipes!! We really enjoy the delicious food. So grateful for your website!

    • — Zahra and Aleem on April 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on April 27, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made the spaghetti & meatballs for supper tonight without the veal as it was not available at two stores. We do not sell Rao’s Marinara sauce here in my province of Canada. I used a marinara sauce that I feel is pretty darn tasty with a few add ins as you do. Other than that I followed the recipe. It was delicious. Thank you for a fantastic recipe.

    • — Lucille Gans on April 19, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    another question for you.
    Would a flax seed egg work here?
    My son cannot have any eggs.

    Thank you.
    Ivan

    • — Ivana on April 16, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ivana, I’ve never used flax eggs, but I suspect you could get away with it here. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on April 16, 2020
      • Reply
      • Our local grocery store didn’t have lamb or regular pork sausage. I had to use Mild Italian Sausage and 70/30 hamburger. Also, no Parmigiano Reggiano, so I used imported Parmesan. It still came out AMAZING!! I used your homemade pasta sauce with basil and it was so very delicious. Thank you!!

        • — LeeAnn Busson on April 29, 2020
        • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious!!!!! Thank you!

    • — CHERYL SKORNIK on April 8, 2020
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious! I only had dried herbs on hand and plain breadcrumbs. Used 2 tsps of each basil and oregano and the meatballs were well seasoned.

    • — Michelle on April 7, 2020
    • Reply
  • Best meatballs I’ve ever made! I’ve tried many recipes and these were so moist and tasty!! I’ve finally found a meat ball recipe I can return to!! Thank you!

    • — Kathy Ferguson on April 1, 2020
    • Reply
  • This a favorite with my family. We have been making it weekly. Delish!!

    • — Debbie on March 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • You are the best 👍🏻💞

    • — Fatiha on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • ❤️

      • — Jenn on March 20, 2020
      • Reply
  • Would you please post a marinara recipe when you get a chance? I think Rao’s is great but it’s expensive. I do not like the New York Times’ marinara recipe (much too thin and it comes out orange). Would love your advice.

    • — moni 52 on March 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Sure, Moni, I will add marinara sauce to my list of recipes to potentially develop. 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 19, 2020
      • Reply
      • I agree with Moni…please…I’m sure you will have a great one. I love marinara but I’m always disappointed when I make it at home.

        • — Vanessa on April 15, 2020
        • Reply
  • Delicious! Another good one. Thanks Jenn.

    • — Becky H on March 15, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn, if I’m making these meatballs using all beef, how lean should I get the beef? Is 90% ok, or should I go for the 85% lean? Thanks so much for all of your great recipes! You are one of my go to places when I’m looking for a recipe that is sure to be a success!

    • — Hafsa on February 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you like the recipes, Hafsa! I’d probably go for the 85% variety of ground beef. Enjoy!

      • — Jenn on February 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • I am making these today and would prefer to freeze them without sauce so I can decide how many to defrost at a time. Would they be ok if I did that?

    • — Joanne on January 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • If I use plain breadcrumbs, should I add more herbs? Or should I just buy the Italian breadcrumbs? – Jane

    • — jane simon on January 25, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jane, You can use plain — just add a pinch more salt and a bit more herbs.

      • — Jenn on January 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this the other evening and it turned out great. The meatballs topped it off. I did find rolling them out to golf ball size a bit difficult but found that using a table spoon measure filled the bill nicely. Using that, I got 24 nicely sized meatballs. Used half and froze the others.

    • — William McLellan on January 23, 2020
    • Reply
  • I just made this for lunch (now our biggest meal of the day) today and my husband and I both thought the meatballs were delicious. I appreciated the oven time for them as lots of the fat just naturally cooked out of them! I made my own sauce this time but who knows about next time. Options are nice. I did, however, omit the veal and still we thought the meal was so good.

    • — Sarah on January 10, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’m going to make these Kosher using all beef. Do I need to add something since I’m omitting the cheese?
    Thanks

    • — Susan Fine on January 10, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Susan, I’d just omit the cheese — they’ll still be good. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2020
      • Reply
  • I grew up with my Napolitan grandparents and this looks like a really good, authentic Italian recipe (save for the jarred sauce, lol), but one thing my grandmother did that I never seem to see in recipes is she cooked the meatballs ENTIRELY in the sauce, no browning or baking first, and they always come out delicious, without any browning or skin on them, soft, silky, and delicious. Just offering a little glimpse into Nonna’s technique!

    • — Tabitha on November 1, 2019
    • Reply
  • Once again – another superb recipe! We used the meatball recipe and made some quick and easy meatball sliders. Thank you Jenn!!

    • — Amy B on October 28, 2019
    • Reply
  • Even though I was afraid my meatballs would fall apart, they did not, and they were very good.
    I used all sirloin because it’s what I had. Really liked the ease of using store bought sauce and thought Rao’s was an excellent choice.

    • — Patricia Smith on October 5, 2019
    • Reply
  • Absolutely delicious and quick and easy-thanks once again for a great recipe!

  • Made this tonight, and we really enjoyed it. We had the Big Italian salad with it, and also really liked that dressing. Thanks for another great meal!

  • This is a great recipe and it can be tailored to your own particular taste, for example, type of meat, more or less salt, heat, portions of herbs, etc. We had unexpected guests for dinner at our ranch last weekend and this dish came together quickly and with a small dinner salad,
    garlic bread and your apple crisp (which I had made the day before) everyone was happy except for the outcome of the LSU/Texas game.

    A couple of slight alterations were 1 TBP Worcestershire, one-fourth teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes, one fourth finely diced onion and two pounds lean sirloin. I used Rao’s Arrabiata sauce to kick it up. Also put a pan of hot water in the stove to help keep meatballs from breaking up. My wife and the guests thought the dinner was great as did I. Thanks so much for your work and of course I have your book. RW from Rocky Creek Ranch

  • I bought 1lb each ground beef, veal and pork therefore I doubled the recipe. I loved the flavor of these meatballs. They are good for spaghetti and I’m planning to use some for meatball subs. I used all dried herbs, so I used 75% of the recommended seasoning. I’m sure fresh would elevate the dish. I’ll do that next time.

  • I made this recipe last night for my boyfriend and myself. I didn’t change a thing in this recipe aside from using the leftover basil in the sauce. The fresh basil really elevated the meatballs and I love how the meatballs are finished in the sauce. My boyfriend couldn’t stop raving about how much he loved this! I will definitely be making an extra batch to freeze next time.

  • We just went on a vacation to Chicago and this was better than all of the Italian we had there. So good doesn’t even begin to describe.

  • The whole family loved this recipe – even my daughter who hates tomato based pasta sauces! Thank you Jenn!

  • My kids requested these meatballs with spaghetti for their birthday dinner this week! To make them ahead of time, I baked them at 350 for 30 minutes, turning once. After cooling completely, I popped them in the freezer to have for later in the week. I also used a mixture of half ground beef and half pork in my batch. I agree with the other reviewers that a bit more salt helped lift these meatballs. Otherwise, it’s a solid recipe.

  • Dear Jenn,
    I have been making meatballs and sauce for many years…my grandfathers recipe! But finding pork ground five times isn’t easy anymore. So, I went looking and, of course, found a delicious meatball recipe on your blog. These meatballs are so tender, my very first requirement and one not easy to find. I might use just a tad fewer herbs, but even so, the best meatball recipe I have had since my Grandpa’s!

  • These meatballs were delicious and so simple to make! Thank you Jenn! I love that you bake them and not fry them. I think meatballs without a doubt should have sausage in them but unfortunately I did not have any on hand. I followed the recipe using only ground beef and they were really good. This recipe is definitely a keeper

Add a Review or Question

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.