Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Homemade Meatballs with Marinara and Fettucini

With the “almost in-laws” arriving at the cottage this weekend, I decided to go with a simple comfort style menu that would feed a crowd. I asked Bryan if it was OK to serve spaghetti and meatballs (homemade, of course); the answer: absolutely! Well, I couldn’t just limit myself to that, so I decided to do a pasta bar type dinner. So, in addition to homemade spaghetti and meatballs, I served a chicken and basil cream sauce which is just a simplified version of my previous blog My meatball recipe is a combination of my college friend’s recipe and my grandmother’s recipe. The most important component of my college friend Cheryl’s recipe was milk – she claimed you added milk to the meat mixture until it literally couldn’t handle anymore. My grandmother, however, always used egg as a binder; so, I’ve combined them. And, while I’m usually a purist when it comes to ingredients, I used garlic powder rather than fresh garlic in this recipe. A couple of other things to consider…if you use Italian seasoned bread crumbs (which I’ve done when that’s all I have on hand), reduce your other spices – including salt, herbs, and garlic. Despite Bryan’s request for little meatballs, I made my average golf ball sized meatballs (everything always comes back to golf). You can make any size you want. At 1:00 AM, at which time my helper meatball maker friend was asleep on the couch, I was done with the whole meatball making endeavor and decided to make rather large meatballs, of which I still had a ton (I quadrupled this recipe). I made homemade marinara sauce, but let’s not fool ourselves, there are great marinara sauces available in the jar – so, spend your time making the meatballs and skip the homemade marinara if that saves you time. (I will say that I got a shout out for my homemade marinara). The meatballs freeze well, and you can also use the meat mixture for unbelievable meatloaf. (Serves 6-8). You can easily increase the recipe (as I did) and reserve the prepared meatballs in the freezer.

INGREDIENTS FOR MEATBALLS: (for Marinara, see below)

  • 1 Lb. Ground Beef
  • 1 Lb. Ground Pork
  • 4 Cloves Garlic – finely chopped (or substitute 1-2 TBS. Garlic Powder)
  • 1/2 tsp. each dried: Rosemary, Oregano, Thyme, Parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried Basil
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/4+ Cup Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 3/4+ Cup Bread Crumbs (if using Italian seasoned crumbs, reduce herbs and salt by 1/2)
  • 2-3 TBS. Olive Oil


In a large mixing bowl, combine meat and seasoning and mix until well combined. Add egg and 1/4 cup of milk. Combine well – mixture should be very soft and should easily squeeze through your fingers; if not, add more milk (the more milk, the more tender the meatballs). Add breadcrumbs – mixture should “firm up” and be able to be worked into meatballs; if not, add more bread crumbs. Work mixture into balls (ranging from very small to very large). In a large saute pan, heat olive oil. Add meatballs to hot oil (in one layer only) and brown on all sides. The size of your meatballs will determine how well they are cooked through. If you are serving meatballs with sauce, finish cooking the meatballs in the hot tomato sauce if necessary. If using meatballs plain (for meatball sandwiches or as an appetizer) finish cooking on a baking tray in an oven heated to 350 degrees .


INGREDIENTS: (for homemade Marinara Sauce)

  • 1 28 oz. can of Crushed or Chopped Tomatoes (San Marzano if available)
  • 1 28 oz. can of Tomato Sauce
  • 1 6 oz. can of Tomato Paste
  • 1/3 Cup Red Wine
  • 3 Cloves of Garlic – finely chopped
  • 2 TBS. Onion – finely chopped
  • 2 TBS. Olive Oil
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Chopped Oregano (or 1 TBS. dried)*
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Chopped Thyme (or 1/2 TBS. dried)*
  • 1 TBS. Fresh Chopped Rosemary (or 1/2 TBS. dried)*
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Chopped Basil (or 1 TBS. dried)*
  • 2 TBS. Fresh Chopped Parsley (or 1 TBS. dried)*
  • 3 TBS. Sugar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper (Optional)

* You can substitute 3-4 TBS. dried “Italian Herbs”


Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until until transparent. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 30 minutes, but up to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. This sauce freezes well.


5 responses to “Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

  1. So its milk to make them tender – my meatballs usually end up like rocks!

  2. Approximately how many meatballs will this recipe yield?

  3. About 16 golf ball sized meatballs – more if smaller sized, less if larger sized

  4. Looks delicious! A classic spaghetti and meatballs 🙂

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