I've eaten a lot of homemade Italian meatballs in my life and these are some of my favorites. I've also got a spicy version, but we'll add those onto the blog later. For now, these homemade Italian meatballs will cover all your needs - spaghetti and meatballs, meatball subs, meatball and polenta, meatballs alone with a salad on the side.
How else are you eating meatballs? Drop it in the comments below! I want to give it a try.
As the story goes, my grandfather dated a lovely Italian woman back in his college days. He was lucky enough to attend a few family dinners and they must have liked him because they gave him this family meatball and red sauce recipe. It's now in its third generation in my family and the taste alone brings me right back to childhood.
Don't let the long ingredient list scare you. This recipe repeats a lot of the same ingredients and spices in the sauce and the meatballs. Really this recipe is only 18 ingredients and the majority are pantry staples!
Let's make some Homemade Italian Meatballs
Next, using a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients for the meatballs. Using your hands mix the meatball mixture to combine.
I use two large cast iron pans (the two biggest I have. Yes, they are different sizes) to cook as many meatballs as possible. Once each meatball has cooked on all sides, I use tongs to place them directly in the sauce and stir gently to cover.
Yes, it does take 8 hours to simmer those meatballs to melt in your mouth perfection, but it is worth it. I have been known to cook this the day before, but the entire pot in the fridge and slowly let heat up for the remainder of the 8 hours the next day.
How I do I use these?
Well, this recipe freezes beautifully, so I will make a double batch every once in a while and use them for months.
- Spaghetti and Meatballs, duh
- In meatball subs
- On top of a bed of polenta
- On their own next to a huge salad
If you are going to freeze these meatballs, I recommend freezing them in individual servings. They are easier to defrost this way. It is also easier to take them out for, say, a single meatball sub for lunch.
We hope you LOVE these homemade Italian Meatballs and Red Sauce! They’re:
Full of pantry-staples
A great meal to gift
& a total crowd-pleaser
Considering mixing it up and serving it with something besides noodles?
Head over to the full meal plan for inspirations on sides, salads and more.
If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, and don’t forget to tag a photo #eternalhostess on Instagram. Enjoy!
- 112 oz tomato sauce
- 14 oz tomato paste
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- 3 tablespoons dried basil
- 1 large onion (diced)
- 3 pounds ground beef (Preferably 90/10)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 2 egg
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup parmesan (grated)
- 1/8 ceaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 1 bay leaf (crumbled)
- olive oil (for frying)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and onion and cook to soften for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and stir to combine.
- Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, water, sugar, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, basil.
- Bring sauce to a simmer and then lower temperature to low. Add meatballs to the sauce after browned. Simmer on low for 8 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Combine all meatball ingredients into large bowl and mix well with hands. Roll into approximately 1" balls.
- Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat in a pan (preferably nonstick or cast iron) for frying.
- Once olive oil is hot, place meatballs into pan and fry 2 minutes on all sides. Be sure to leave plenty of space between meatballs for best results.
- Once the meatballs are cooked on all sides, remove them from the pan and allow them to rest on paper towels. Place second round of meatballs into the pan to cook. Continue to cook in batches until all meatballs are cooked.
- Once all meatballs are cooked, gently place them into the sauce. Stir gently to cover as many as possible with the tomato sauce.
- Simmer for 8 hours over low heat, stirring about once an hour.
A NOTE ABOUT TOOLS
- My 6.75 Qt Le Creuset Dutch Oven held this entire recipe with about an inch of space. If you don’t have a pot this big, I would recommend splitting the sauce into two pans.
- Using a cast iron or non-stick pan to brown the meatballs will make your life much easier
ALTERNATIVE COOKING METHODSFrying the meatballs isn't for you? Totally fair.
- BAKING Place all rolled meatballs on a metal cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Place entire sheet in the top of the oven. Broil for 5 minutes. Flip and broil another 5 minutes. Drop into sauce to cook the rest of the way through.