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The ultimate guide to making the best Spaghetti and Meatballs, includes tips on the meat, aromatics, seasonings, fillers, and cooking techiniqes to make the juciest, most tender, and flavorful meatballs.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This Italian-American favorite pairs tender, juicy meatballs with long strands of spaghetti and a simple sun-ripened tomato sauce for the ultimate spaghetti and meatballs. 

Course Entree
Cuisine American, Best, Italian
Level Intermediate
Main Ingredient Beef, Pasta
Diet Low Sugar
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 people
Calories 615 kcal


for meatballs

  • 140 grams onion (1 small onion, minced)
  • 10 grams garlic (2 medium cloves, minced)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 400 grams ground beef
  • 100 grams ground pork
  • 100 grams ricotta cheese (or soft tofu)
  • 1 small egg
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 25 grams Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 gram fresh thyme (~3 sprigs, leaves minced)
  • 3 grams flat-leaf parsley (~2 sprigs, leaves minced)
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

for sauce

  • 15 grams garlic (3 medium cloves, minced)
  • 140 grams onion (1 small onion, minced)
  • 650 grams tomato (cored and chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt

for spaghetti

  • 400 grams spaghetti
  • flat-leaf parsley (minced for garnish)


  1. For the meatballs, fry the onions and garlic in olive oil until they're tender and starting to brown. Remove the pan from the heat and let them cool.

    Sauteeing the onions and garlic boosts the flavor of your meatballs.
  2. In a large bowl, add the beef, pork, ricotta, egg, panko, Parmigiano-Reggiano, thyme, parsley, soy sauce, salt, fennel seeds, nutmeg,  and pepper along with the caramelized onion mixture. Put some gloves on and use your hands to knead the mixture together until all the ingredients are evenly distributed and the meatball mixture is the consistency of bread dough. 

    The meatball mixture should be very well mixed.
  3. Use your hands to roll the mixture into meatballs. I like to make about 16 balls that are about 2-inches in diameter. 

    Shape the meatballs into spheres.
  4. Heat a frying pan up over medium-high heat, then add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Fry the meatballs in batches, gently rolling them around with tongs to maintain their shape until browned on all sides.

    The best meat balls are pan fried, this forms a brown crust around the meatball that adds flavor to the marinara sauce.
  5. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of oil then sauté the garlic and onions until they are soft. The browned meat juices on the bottom of the pan are where the sauce get's its flavor, so be sure to scrape those up. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, and salt and bring the mixture to a boil. 

    Using fresh tomatoes keeps our sauce light, while imbuing it with some natural sweetness.
  6. Add the meatballs into the tomato sauce along with any collected juices. Turn the heat down to low and gently simmer until the sauce is thick and the meatballs are tender (about 15-20 minutes)

    Simmer the meatballs together with the sauce until the sauce is thick and flavorful.
  7. Boil the spaghetti in salted water according to the package directions. Drain the pasta, then toss the pasta together with the sauce. Plate the spaghetti, then top each serving with meatballs, minced parsley, and parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 615 Calories from Fat 216
% Daily Value*
Fat 24g37%
Saturated Fat 9g45%
Cholesterol 94mg31%
Sodium 910mg38%
Potassium 800mg23%
Carbohydrates 66g22%
Fiber 4g16%
Sugar 7g8%
Protein 30g60%
Vitamin A 1070IU21%
Vitamin C 20mg24%
Calcium 161mg16%
Iron 3.6mg20%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.