My Recipe Box

Spaghetti & Meatballs


Serves four to six.

Yields twelve beautiful meatballs.

If you can’t buy the ground meats individually, use 1-1/2 lb. of meatloaf mix, which is often available in supermarkets.

  • Frank's Marinara Sauce 
  • 1/2 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 lb. ground pork
  • 1/2 lb. ground veal
  • 1 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, plus 1 clove garlic, lightly smashed
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup finely grated imported Locatelli Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano (or half and half); more for serving
  • 1-1/2 cups plain dry breadcrumbs, preferably 4C brand
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 cup olive oil or vegetable oil; more as needed
  • 1 lb. dried spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Start making the marinara sauce. While it’s simmering, make the meatballs.

Break up the ground meat into a large bowl. Sprinkle on the salt, pepper, minced garlic, eggs, grated cheese, breadcrumbs, 1-1/2 cups water, and parsley. Mix with your hands until everything is nicely distributed, but don’t overmix. Shape into twelve meatballs by gently scooping up a handful of meat and rolling it into a nice even ball; each meatball should weigh about 4 oz. and be about 2-1/2 inches in diameter.

Spaghetti & Meatballs Recipe

In a 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the olive oil and the lightly smashed garlic clove over medium heat. (If your skillet is larger than 10 inches, you’ll need to add more oil; there should be enough to come about halfway up the sides of the meatballs.) When the garlic is lightly browned, the oil should be hot enough to start frying. (Remove the garlic from the oil once it becomes fully browned.) Gently set six of the meatballs in the oil and fry until they’re lightly browned on the bottom half, 5 to 6 min. Carefully turn them over using a slotted spatula and brown the other side. Drain the meatballs on a few paper towels to soak up excess oil. Fry the remaining six meatballs the same way.

When the marinara has finished its initial simmer and you’ve seasoned it, add the meatballs to the simmering sauce and cover the pot. Simmer them together for 30 min. to let the sauce permeate the meatballs and the meat flavor infuse the sauce.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the meatballs and sauce have been simmering for about 20 min., add the spaghetti to the boiling water and boil until it’s just about al dente.

When the spaghetti is done, drain it and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Add the chopped fresh basil and a couple of ladlefuls of the marinara sauce to the spaghetti. Put the pot over high heat and, with a wooden spoon or tongs, constantly toss the pasta until each piece is coated with sauce, about 1 min. Transfer to serving bowls and ladle more sauce over the spaghetti, along with two to three meatballs (or transfer the meatballs to a serving platter and set it on the table). Serve with grated cheese.

Spaghetti & Meatballs Recipe

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on six servings, Calories (kcal): 1060, Fat (kcal): 51, Fat Calories (g): 460, Saturated Fat (g): 14, Protein (g): 47, Monounsaturated Fat (g): 29, Carbohydrates (mg): 99, Polyunsaturated Fat (mg): 5, Sodium (g): 4260, Cholesterol (g): 170, Fiber (g): 12,

Photo: Scott Phillips

We love these meatballs but one cup of water is fine and at least half the salt in the sauce, if not less. So half the salt, one cup water = our favorite meatball recipe.

I've made this a few times and each time it was a hit. It's best to make the meatballs very moist. There's loads of flavor, so you don't want too chewy or mealy a texture ruining each bite. I recommend using Pecorino Romano and real aged Parmesian Reggiano cheeses for grating. I top each serving with cheese, a sprinkle of finely chopped flat leaf parsley and garlic bread.

Love this recipe. The texture of the meatballs was perfect, in my opinion, and I believe it was the water that made it so nice and light. I made my own breadcrumbs out of old french bread and used only a cup of water. Add more if they seem dry after mixing - maybe because my bread still had a little moisture left in it, I needed less. I only needed half the salt. Same with the sauce - started with half the salt and then seasoned up just a little bit at the end. I made my meatballs smaller, maybe 3oz, instead, browned them in the frying pan with a couple tablespoons of oil, then finished them in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes on a parchment lined sheet pan. A lot less oil used this way and less mess to clean up after frying. My dinner guests were very impressed and loved the dish, and I loved it too. I have made it many times since.

This is the absolute best recipe, my husband loved it ! I followed the directions to a T except I had 2 lbs of meat, so I had seasoned just a little extra...the marinara was excellent I kept stirring the pot to prevent splatter then reduced the heat to a simmer for an hour..I think that is key for good sauce...the meatballs were awsome...Im keeping this one ....the reviews that say otherwise screwed it up themselves.....Great flavor!!!!

These are, hands down, the best meatballs I have ever had. Even my friends with Italian grandmothers say these meatballs rival their 'nana's'. These are now a staple in my house, and I am always asked for the recipe when I serve them to friends. The only changes I recommend is use about half the water and salt that is called for. I found them to be too salty and mushy when I followed the recipe precisely.

I also added less water and salt. I used ground turkey instead of the other meats and the meatballs came out great!

This was good but not great..sauce did not support 12 meatballs. Next time I will cut the meatball portions in half.

While the meatballs were quite tasty, I added way less water and cheese, and fried them in half the oil. However, the marinara sauce is way too light to accomodate the heaviness of the meatballs, which need a saucier base. Definitely a mismatch.

I don't know that I will ever try this... Sodium (mg): 4260 per serving. I hope this is a typo otherwise this is a heart attack in waiting.

These are great! I made a double batch and froze one batch - they hold up great. I did not have the problems with water that other people mentioned. My breadcrumbs were quite fine though so that's probably what's required to work right. Don't expect these to be like burger patties. These meatballs are very tender, moist and flavorful. They stay very brown even after being in sauce for 30 minutes. Try them as a sandwich too - great. Tasty!

These meatballs are a staple in our home. For a party, I often make a double batch of smaller sized meatballs & freeze them and then add them to the sauce on the day of the party. I think good quality tomatoes and good quality meat make a big difference. I usually buy the meat from our local butcher, and the quality was much better than the supermarket "mix". I also use homemade breadcrumbs and, like others, add less water (I find that a cup is plenty) and less salt. Whenever I serve these at a party people rave about them, many saying they are the best meatballs they've ever had.

These were very tasty meatballs, but I definitely had to readjust the ingredients. I did not add as much water, parmesan and breadcrumbs as directed and skipped the tablespoon of salt. I fried them in at most two tbls. of oil and can't understand why you would need anywhere near a cup. I also made the meatballs about 2 ounces a piece. Next time I would add some red pepper flakes for a bit more bite.

I made this for a big group of people, and they loved it! My sister-in-law said it was the best spaghetti and meatballs she'd ever had! My husband had two big servings. This makes at least 8 servings, not the 4-6 the recipe says. Also, next time I might make the meatballs a bit smaller and more of them, or try baking them as other reviewers suggested. If you want to impress people, try this spaghetti!

1 1/2 cups of water? You better recheck your recipe. My meatballs didn't resemble meatballs after (or during) frying. What a mushy mess.

This is by far my favorite meatball recipe for spaghetti. They are moist and actually taste "light". The sauce is perfect as well and really simple. This dish tastes very fresh.

Found the sauce too oily but like the meatballs....

These are great! They are now a regular item at my house. My kids love them and they are an easy item for casual entertaining. I make the meatballs golfball size (personal preference) and cook them in the oven (saves oil and just as good IMHO). I also make a big batch and freeze some after baking - so I have an easy quick dinner at the ready when I need an easy night (turns out great).

one word.....delicious

Incredible flavor. Cooking in a frying pan is a pain -- so we have been finishing off in the oven on a broiler pan. Less mess and a bit less oil & fat. Doesn't seem to affect the end result.

This is my absolute favorite meatball recipe. They are so light and flavorful...the water really makes a difference in the texture. I will never make another meatball recipe again!

I love this meatball recipe. The meatballs are moist and flavorful. And the recipe for the sauce is so simple and tasty. This is the closest I've ever come to making meatballs and sauce like my 88 year old italian grandmother inlaw. I think even she would be impressed.

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