How to Make Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

June 10, 2020
You don't need a ton of fancy ingredients and hours on end to make a fabulous batch of homemade spaghetti and meatballs from scratch.  A few very simple ingredients cooked well together definitely equals one rich and flavorful pot of Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs the whole family will love.
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Plate of Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Image

When I was a kid growing up in Vermont, my Mom would make amazingly delicious pots of homemade spaghetti sauce loaded with meats and flavorful spices. -- And simmered all day long on the top of our family room's woodstove.  In warmer seasons when the woodstove wasn't burning, those pots of spaghetti sauce would simmer for hours and hours on the stovetop.

For the longest time, I thought the only way to make a truly delicious batch of homemade spaghetti was by combining a long list of spices and ingredients and simmering them together pretty much all day long.

Turns out, that's not the case.

You don't need a ton of fancy ingredients and hours on end to make a fabulous batch of homemade spaghetti and meatballs from scratch.

You absolutely don't need a ton of ingredients and hours on end to make a fabulous batch of homemade spaghetti and meatballs from scratch.  You just need a few very simple ingredients cooked well together.  And that cooking of them together doesn't need to take all day.

Now admittedly, there are still several components and steps to this homemade spaghetti and meatballs recipe -- Preparing the sauce, forming and browning the meatballs, cooking the spaghetti, and simmering the meatballs in the sauce.  But they're steps that are well worth the effort to make a pot of delicious comfort food at its best.

The result is one rich and flavorful pot of classic Spaghetti and Meatballs the whole family will love.

Fork with Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Image

Since this classic Spaghetti & Meatballs recipe is made with relatively few simple ingredients, make them good quality ingredients for the best result. 

Using fresh parsley -- not dried, -- is important.  Parsley isn't just for garnish and color.  It brings nice, fresh flavor to both the sauce and the meatballs.  Use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Buy good quality ground beef, and good quality crushed tomatoes -- I use Tuttorosso brand crushed tomatoes in all my cooking because I've found them to have the best flavor.

To make a batch of Spaghetti & Meatballs, start by preparing the sauce.  The sauce can then simmer away while you prepare the meatballs.

Parsley isn't just for garnish and color.  It brings nice, fresh flavor to both the sauce and the meatballs.

For the sauce, all you need is:
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • a large onion
  • a couple of garlic cloves
  • one large can of crushed tomatoes
  • water
  • chopped fresh parsley, and
  • salt & pepper
Truly, nothing fancy in that ingredients list.  But it comes together to make one very tasty sauce, indeed.

Ingredients for Classic Spaghetti Sauce Image

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Then add the chopped onions and cook them for about 5 minutes until they're softened.  You want the onions to soften and turn translucent, but not brown.

Add the minced garlic and parsley. Then cook these together with the onions, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes.
Finally, add the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper.  Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and then simmer the sauce, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes until it's thickened slightly.

To partially cover the pot, I set the pot's lid on kind of crooked, letting one side be open pointed up into the air.  Partially covering the pot like this stops the sauce from sputtering and splattering all over the stovetop while it simmers.
Serving Spoon of Classic Spaghetti Sauce Image

While the sauce simmers, prepare the meatballs.

For the meatballs, you'll need:
  • ground beef
  • lightly beaten eggs
  • Panko bread crumbs
  • chopped fresh parsley
  • a garlic clove
  • salt & pepper, and
  • a little canola or vegetable oil for browning the meatballs

Again, nothing fancy or complicated in that ingredients list.  Just simple ingredients that come together beautifully and flavorfully.

Ingredients to Make Homemade Meatballs Image

In a mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper until they're well combined.  Mixing these ingredients together before adding in the ground beef makes it easier to evenly distribute them throughout the beef.

Add the ground beef and bread crumbs.  Then use a spoon or your hands to mix everything together until it's just combined.  Take care to not overwork the meat mixture as overworking the meat can result in tough, dense meatballs.


Take care to not overwork the meat mixture as overworking the meat can result in tough, dense meatballs.
With your hands, gently form the meat mixture into golf ball-sized balls. There should be about 15 meatballs.
For the best texture, gently roll the meat mixture into balls with your hands when forming the meatballs. Do not squeeze or tightly pack the meat together, as this will create dense hard meatballs.
Rolled Homemade Meatballs Before Cooking Image

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Working in 2 batches, brown the meatballs in the hot oil, turning them with tongs to brown on all sides.

Browning Homemade Meatballs in Frying Pan Image

Get a good sear on the meatballs when browning them -- this sear adds a great layer of flavor.

Tongs Holding Browned Homemade Meatball Image

The meatballs won't get cooked all the way through when browning, and that's okay.  They're not supposed to.  They'll finish cooking while simmering in the sauce.

Place the browned meatballs into the simmering sauce and cook the sauce and meatballs together for about 20 minutes.

How to Make Spaghetti and Meatballs from Scratch Image

While the meatballs simmer in the sauce, some of their fat cooks into and melds with the sauce creating wonderful flavor. 

Pre-made store-bought meatballs will not have the same flavor effect -- I've tried this shortcut and was woefully disappointed. Make your own meatballs from scratch for the best result.

Spooning Meatballs Over a Plate of Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs Image

Once the meatballs and sauce have simmered together, spoon your desired amount of sauce and meatballs over individual servings of hot cooked spaghetti.  Then top each serving with grated Parmesan cheese, if you'd like.

I prefer my plate just plain as it is -- no cheese involved.  Our daughter, on the other hand?  She loads her spaghetti and meatballs up with that cheese!

Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs from Scratch Image

But whether you enjoy yours all covered with cheese or not, this is one pot of classic Spaghetti & Meatballs from the scratch the whole family will enjoy.

Loaded with simple ingredients that come together beautifully without taking all day to cook, this Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe is also loaded with fabulous flavor.  It's pure and simple classic comfort food at its best.

Check out these other pasta favorites:
Twisting Fork into Spaghetti and Meatballs Image
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how to make spaghetti and meatballs, spaghetti and meatballs from scratch, spaghetti and meatballs recipe, homemade spaghetti and meatballs
Main Dishes
Italian
Yield: about 6-8 servings
Author:
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How to Make Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

How to Make Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

You don't need a ton of fancy ingredients and hours on end to make a fabulous batch of homemade spaghetti and meatballs from scratch. A few very simple ingredients cooked well together definitely equals one rich and flavorful pot of Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs the whole family will love.
Prep time: 30 MCook time: 55 MTotal time: 85 M

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. uncooked spaghetti
For the Sauce:
  • 2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 c. water
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
For the Meatballs:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 c. Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 c. chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 T. canola or vegetable oil

Instructions:

Prepare the Sauce:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add onions and cook 5 minutes until softened, stirring frequently.
  2. Add minced garlic and parsley. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, water, salt, and pepper.  Bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, for 20-30 minutes until slightly thickened. 
Prepare Meatballs:
  1. While the sauce simmers, prepare meatballs.  In a mixing bowl, mix together eggs, parsley, garlic, salt, and pepper until well combined. 
  2. Add ground beef and bread crumbs. Use a spoon or your hands to mix until just combined. (Do not overwork the meat).
  3. With your hands, gently form into golf ball-sized balls.  (There should be about 15 meatballs).
  4. Heat oil in a frying pan over medium to medium-high heat.  Working in 2 batches, brown meatballs in the hot oil, turning to brown on all sides.
  5. Place browned meatballs into simmering sauce and cook for 20 minutes.
Assemble Spaghetti & Meatballs:
  1. Cook spaghetti in salted water, according to package directions; drain.
  2. Spoon sauce and meatballs over individual servings of hot spaghetti.  Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
TRACEY'S NOTES:
  1. Since this classic Spaghetti & Meatballs is made with relatively few simple ingredients, make them good quality ingredients for the best result. Using fresh parsley -- not dried, -- is important. Use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Buy good quality ground beef, and good quality crushed tomatoes -- I use Tuttorosso brand crushed tomatoes.
  2. For the best texture, gently roll the meat mixture into balls with your hands when forming the meatballs. Do not squeeze or tightly pack the meat together, as this will create dense hard meatballs.
  3. Get a good sear on the meatballs when browning them -- this adds great flavor.
  4. The meatballs won't get cooked all the way through when browning, and that's okay. They'll finish cooking while simmering in the sauce.
  5. While the meatballs simmer in the sauce, some of their fat cooks into and melds with the sauce creating wonderful flavor. Pre-made store-bought meatballs will not have the same flavor effect. Make your own meatballs from scratch for the best result.
Created using The Recipes Generator

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