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Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

This authentic Italian recipe was given to me by my cousin's wife, who is from Italy. It's so hearty and satisfying, everyone's eyes light up when I tell my family that we're having this for supper! —Etta Winter, Pavillion, New York
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Cook: 1-1/2 hours YIELD:6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (12 ounces) tomato paste
  • 1-1/2 cups water, divided
  • 3 tablespoons grated onion
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 6 slices day-old bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • Hot cooked spaghetti
  • Additional Parmesan cheese, optional

Directions

  • 1. In a Dutch oven, combine the tomatoes, tomato paste, 1 cup water, onion, sugar, oregano, bay leaf and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt, garlic and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1-1/4 hours.
  • 2. Meanwhile, soak bread in remaining water. Squeeze out excess moisture. In a large bowl, combine the bread, eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley and remaining salt, garlic and pepper. Crumble beef over mixture and mix well. Shape into thirty-six 1-1/2-in. meatballs.
  • 3. Place meatballs on a rack in a shallow baking pan. Bake, uncovered, at 400° for 20 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Transfer to spaghetti sauce. Simmer, uncovered, until heated through, stirring occasionally. Discard bay leaf. Serve with spaghetti; if desired, top with additional Parmesan. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutritional Facts

1-2/3 cup: 373 calories, 13g fat (5g saturated fat), 123mg cholesterol, 1201mg sodium, 39g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 7g fiber), 26g protein .

Reviews for Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs

Sort By :
MY REVIEW
mkaskela
Reviewed Sep. 6, 2015

"Amazinh"

MY REVIEW
pajamaangel
Reviewed Aug. 22, 2015

"Meatballs were tasty. Sauce needed more flavor."

MY REVIEW
poppadude
Reviewed May. 31, 2015 Edited Jul. 11, 2015

"Awesome !!!!! I did not add the eggs....Worked out great ...."

MY REVIEW
Dilli
Reviewed Jun. 17, 2014

"Six slices of bread for one pound of meat & 2 eggs? Seems like a lot. For even 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of meat I use only 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs or 2 slices of bread and 1 egg. I do one egg per 1 pound of meat. When in season I use fresh basil. Gives the sauce and meat a wonderful refreshing taste."

MY REVIEW
euge1
Reviewed Dec. 14, 2013

"f"

MY REVIEW
cremation
Reviewed Feb. 17, 2013

"The time to make was to long and the meatballs were tasteless."

MY REVIEW
country baker
Reviewed Feb. 10, 2013

"What a great recipe. My family and I loved it. Could hardly wait for it to be done cooking. The only thing I did differently was to use my blender to smooth out the tomatoes because my hubby and daughter don't like tomato chunks. Will be making this again."

MY REVIEW
ferndale52
Reviewed Jan. 28, 2013

"nice american standard. meatballs are tender, but i think they are made with a little too much bread - it does make it spread though, makes a lot of spaghetti. my family ate with relish."

MY REVIEW
bristol
Reviewed Jan. 25, 2013

"The sauce was sour-tasting and bland. It improved by the addition of 1 qt. of Prego-but still so-so. The meatballs had too much bread in them-3 slices would have been enough. If this is authentic Italian, where are the spices? 1-1/2 tsp of oregano was just not enough. Sorry."

MY REVIEW
GJALEX
Reviewed Jan. 24, 2013

"Spaghetti is my favorite food and I'm always trying new sauce recipes and I give this a "10". I couldn't stop tasting it so I hope I have enough for dinner. I do recommend you try this recipe. I like crushed instead of diced tomato and that was the only change. Thank you for sharing."

MY REVIEW
j29cjoy
Reviewed Jan. 23, 2013

"Olice Garden eat your heart out. This is the best recipe I have ever made and I have been cooking for over 50 years."

MY REVIEW
Hootsmom
Reviewed Jan. 23, 2013

"JnBham & kiltyone

This recipe is absolutely delicious. It has already become a favorite in our cajun household. I'm sure your recipes are as delicious. Please feel free to share them. That's the beauty of this site. Sharing our love for cooking."

MY REVIEW
Kecia37
Reviewed Jan. 21, 2013

"I made this last night and followed the recipe exactly EXCEPT I can't bear to use dried spices when I have a gardenful of fresh so I used fresh oregano and parsley. When substituting fresh for dried, you are supposed to use around 3x more fresh (in general) so I did that. The meatballs were excellent - so good that hubby and I were eating them off of the pan when they came out of the oven / before they went in the sauce. The aroma when the sauce was almost done was heavenly! The only two reasons I didn't give it 5 stars (and these are both just personal preferences) are: #1) I didn't like all the tomato chunks in the sauce. Next time I will whirl the diced tomatoes a bit in a food processor to make it smoother and less chunky (or maybe use crushed tomatoes instead?). #2) It was ever so slightly on the bland side for me - I printed the recipe out (I WILL make it again) and wrote at the bottom to add a teaspoon of pepper flakes next time and maybe a bit more oregano and parsley. My husband and our guest both said it was "Grade A"! (my husband uses letter grades instead of stars :-). I think that translates to 5 star for him."

MY REVIEW
kasea9139
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"Fixed this for Sunday dinner. Thick, scrumptious. Prep time, sorts time took awhile.Sure next time will be quicker and there definitely will be a next time. I don't like cooking from a jar. The aroma while cooking made me want to sing something Italian!"

MY REVIEW
AJGalo
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"I have not made this recipe as of yet. Planning on making it for next weekend. I have one quick question. How long do you soak the bread?"

MY REVIEW
Kecia37
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"I am making this tonight and can hardly wait. I will submit a review tomorrow and plan to follow the recipe exactly (tempted to add pepper flakes but trying to resist!). I'm making a meal for 40 people at a mens' homeless shelter on February 9th and this will be what I take if I like it."

MY REVIEW
MAXKAISERHEIDI
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"can you say perfect- dont change a thing!"

MY REVIEW
MAXKAISERHEIDI
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"OMG! Wow.. Thank you for sharing this recipe! The sauce is awesome and the meatballs as my husband said melt in your mouth. I like the idea of baking the meatballs instead of pan browning, loose some of the fat! Followed the directions as listed and would NOT change a thing! Thanks again - a new favorite!"

MY REVIEW
davedemare
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"OUTSTANDING flavor yet very easy to make!

Coming from an Italian heritage, I'm often wary of "Italian recipes". This is defintely one you can trust.
Dave D."

MY REVIEW
nonahope
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"Love this recipe! Mine is exactly the same except I use 4 - 15 oz. cans of tomato sauce, rather than diced tomatoes. That's only because I don't like pieces of tomato in my sauce. And, yes...this is my aunt's mother-in-law's recipe who came "off the boat" and spoke only Italian until the day she died. So, I would say it's a pretty authenic Italian recipe although I'm sure there are others, as well."

MY REVIEW
ABWaligora
Reviewed Jan. 20, 2013

"I made this for dinner last night, and it was a huge hit! I followed the directions exactly, and the sauce was perfect. The meatballs were excellent, as well. We'll be having the leftovers on rolls for meatball subs today. Thanks so much for a simple recipe the whole family enjoyed!"

MY REVIEW
JennTats
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Yum! This taste so much better than the pre made sauces you can buy in the store! my whole family loved this recipe just the way it is & I will definitely keep making this again! Thank you for the great recipe!"

MY REVIEW
kiltyone
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"JnBham :

You are quite correct. This recipe is not one that one would find in Italy either North or South.
I would never put bread in the meatballs we use oat meal(old fashioned) soaked in a small amount of full fat milk. Better for you than bread.
It ideed, needed more herbs(fresh) not dried(tacky.) It works well for those who are in need of Gluten Free meat balls and when using Quinoa spaghetti.
Delete the sugar and add a couple of shredded arrots. One ust also use original cheese and not the fake version sold in the U.S.
We also add chopped Kalamata or other salted olives.
This is a lovely recipe when done correctly. Browning the meat balls in a proper pan stovetop is the only way to develop the lovely crust on the outside of them as one would expect when expertly prepared."

MY REVIEW
chefology
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"I have not tried this recipe yet. It is very much like my own. I will say that if the sugar bothers you, you can also use a pinch or two of baking soda to cut the acid in the tomatoes. I started doing it because I had acid reflux."

MY REVIEW
dovecanyon
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"My grandmother was born and raised in Sicily, and her sauce is very basic, 3 cans tomato paste, 9 cans water, garlic and oregano. That's it. Pass the red pepper flakes at the table along with the parmesan. Her sauce is wonderful and what I grew up with. So... the first time she saw me put in a bay leaf and a bit of sugar, she nearly had a fit. After dinner, she asked me to write down what I did, so she could do it at home- she was impressed with the taste. I'll admit that I leave out the onion completely, and I gently brown the garlic in olive oil then discard before adding the tomato (I use crushed, not diced); also, I do not use a tablespoon of sugar, but just a pinch, only what I can grab between my thumb and finger, as I find that any more adds sweetness instead of just cutting the acid as desired. But basically this recipe is very similar to my sauce. It is very good. Do not be put off by the naysayers, try it then decide for yourself. Also, my meatballs are nearly identical, except I also add a little oregano in addition to the parsley. Excellent recipe Etta, thanks!"

MY REVIEW
AuntieA1955
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Food and cooking really is about a gift and talent. Its such an expression of love and giving of ourselves to others. Both my Grandmothers were Resturant owners, my Mom still is known for her wonderful pies, we used to walk plates of food to the elderly on Sunday's because my Mom never learned to drive. I grew up watching and learning by women who loved me. I went to culinary school and after 35 yrs, now retired, I just still love to cook for anyone who'll sit around our table. All my working years and for the most part cooks and chefs were pretty darn cool and good to each other. We're a family that we share a common bond, this wonderful thing, food. It's the love of the craft, and the possibilities are endless! Oh...I'm Irish, English and Bohemian Gypsy, but I like me some Italian food!"

MY REVIEW
Di820
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"This is the best spaghetti and meatball recipe ever! I lived in Italy and it is authentic."

MY REVIEW
menkens
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Italy like the USA cooks the same thing different ways and the "north" does not like the way the "south" does it -- grow up and move on! When I lived in Northern Italy 1957-1961 my pasta was served with garlic butter sauce, or just plain olive oil in one dish and the meat sauce in another. Red sauce was "American" -- when I had friends in Austoria, NY in the early 1970's and Italian & Catholic the Friday night dinner was pasta with garlic/butter sauce and sauted/fried fish! This recipe is something I am going to be making in the next week or so.

Hope you have a wonderful week-end -- linda"

MY REVIEW
pretzeld
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Sugar cuts acidity the same as carrots and it was an Italian that told me that. I prefer the DICED tomatoes because it gives more body to the sauce and cooks down when simmered, anyway. It tastes better WITH the bay leaf (which I have always used) and I am sure that egg numbers don't matter a hoot. Baked meatballs have less fat."

MY REVIEW
gknee50
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"This recipe is wonderful and easy to make. I have made meatballs with water or milk, the tast is the same. My family loves this sauce."

MY REVIEW
Sue Zappa
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"An excellent sauce & meatball recipe! Thank you for sharing it! I, too, am married to an Italian & my dad served in various parts of Italy during WWII, so we ate lots of Italian foods when I was growing up. "

MY REVIEW
Mayte Wynn
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Etta, thank you for the delicious recipe. I baked the meatballs for the first time and was a wonderful experience, they are better then fried. My husband notice was not my own recipe and said yours is better, so... from now, just this one."

MY REVIEW
bungaraya
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"This recipe was so yummy. I tried the other one that substitute sugar with carrots too and it was yummy.. actually I prefer not to add sugar to my sauce. So both recipes were yummy.. so let's not have any grudges or ill feelings. I absolutely LOVE this website. I am a subscriber of the magazine for about 15 years. I have tried many, many, many recipes from Taste of Home. I love them all and they have never failed me. I am so happy to see so many interested cooks. Not many people has the time to cook or are interested in learning because of various commitments in their lives. So let's have a good time learning and discovering. I appreciate all the reviews and I learnt from them. Nobody is wrong or right... we are cooks and we love to feed people we love."

MY REVIEW
Lady1bug
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"This is really delicious! The only thing I do different is add some chili flakes to give it a little heat that my honey loves. I've used both milk and water for the meatballs, but really don't detect a difference. I'm guessing that the Italians are like us in that they do have their traditional recipes, but home cooks put on their own personal touches to suit their family's tastes."

MY REVIEW
proudgrandma
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Thank you to all the folks who post their recipes for us to try. Keep up the good work."

MY REVIEW
taffytoby
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"i think all of the recipes for sauces have too much sugar"

MY REVIEW
Maddy51
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Italian food is very diverse. Just because you don't use sugar in your sauce doesn't mean it's not done. Bay leaf is also used in spaghetti sauces. I personally just use garlic, parsley, oregano and basil in my sauce. I also use fennel seed when I use pork in my sauce. Different areas of Italy use different ingredients so you can't say the sauce is not authentic. You just never ate sauce made that way before. The meatball recipe is like my mother's and that's a good thing. Her meatballs are the best.  Italy is made up of different yet equally as good recipes."

MY REVIEW
quetip
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"I usually do not respond. JnBham is rude. I spent some time in Italy, and this recipe and the meatballs are excellent. I will definately make it again. Reminds me of the spaghetti I had in Milan."

MY REVIEW
Red Hat Milli
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"To doglover32...assuming it is the Red Pepper Flakes made by McCormick you are having trouble finding I offer this tidbit. Any red pepper flake brand will work, even a store generic brand which I have used with much success. Hope this helps."

MY REVIEW
swhittley
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Wonderful recipe."

MY REVIEW
warrenbaker
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"I can't thankyou enough for sharing your recipe. It is very tasty and the portions are good. I would make it again. In fact I have copied this receipes to my favorites.PS I am a well aged and seasoned cook. This why I keep subscribing to this magazine because it's nice to share. Rockland baker."

MY REVIEW
TheCookieLady2
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Very, Very Delicious!!!"

MY REVIEW
Diane Mike
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"You can buy crushed Red Chile Pepper flakes in most grocery stores that carry spices - mine are from Trader Joe's. I use very carefully because they can be very hot."

MY REVIEW
Carolinerbain
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"Just looked up the Red Pepper Flakes and they have crushed ones from Chile."

MY REVIEW
carrieott
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"I can't wait to try this recipe with fresh pasta! If you've ever been to Italy you know that in every region...every town for that matter, they have a different version of what I have to assume is "authentic" Italian sauce. :) They're all wonderful! Just saying! I'll be back with a complete review after dinner! Thanks so much for sharing Etta!"

MY REVIEW
Carolinerbain
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"I am pretty sure you can find Red Pepper Flakes at The Savory Spice Shop, you can find this on line."

MY REVIEW
doglover32
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"I used to have a recipe that called for red pepper flakes,but i can't find it any more it was mccormick,can anyone tell me where i can buyit?"

MY REVIEW
Patty1952
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"This recipe is very similar to my late mother in laws recipe which was the best spaghetti sauce I have ever had! I am looking forward to making this! "

MY REVIEW
debbie63937
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"This recipe is similar to my mom's, which has always been a family favorite."

MY REVIEW
JnBham
Reviewed Jan. 19, 2013

"You could use carrots for the sweetening agent and to cut the acidity of the tomatoes......which could be Crushed instead of  diced....you can skip the bay leaf and increase onion and garlic and oregano and add basil (garlic,oregano & basil I prefer fresh not dried).

Meatballs were ok..but soak bread in milk instead of water for a more authentic flavor....for one pound of meat use only one egg-i like to use 24 oz's of ground pork and 24 oz's of ground beef & 2 eggs........instead of baking the meatballs.....after they are rolled into balls, I cover in plain breadcrumbs and sautee until browned all over and then put directly into sauce and simmer for 1 hour."

MY REVIEW
ddmarco
Reviewed Sep. 16, 2011

"I haven't yet made the sauce, but the meatballs are so good! My Italian husband and my children love them!"

MY REVIEW
tnewell
Reviewed Feb. 7, 2011

"Delicious & easy! I only added 1/2 tsp of crushed red pepper to the sauce for some heat!"

MY REVIEW
habershamway
Reviewed Nov. 3, 2009

"DELICIOUS!!! EASY RECIPE--A REAL "KEEPER!"

The next time I make this recipe, I will use the ground beef to make a "meat" sauce versus meatballs since we prefer meat sauce over meatballs.."

MY REVIEW
book-lady
Reviewed Oct. 20, 2009

"I am from an Italian family and this is a great authentic recipe. The only thing different that we do is to omit the sugar and put in a whole carrot. The carrot lends a bit of sweetness and supposedly neutralizes some of the acid from the tomatoes. Discard carrot before serving."

MY REVIEW
123Lon
Reviewed Oct. 16, 2009

"One plate of this is over half the daily recommended allowance of sodium. Leave out the 2 1/2 tsp salt, use either low sodium or no sodium canned tomatoes, paste and cheese. There's enough sodium in the sausage and spices to make this a tasty dish without all the additional sodium.

Lag"

MY REVIEW
KarenKayMertes
Reviewed Oct. 15, 2009

"I've made this same recipe for years and the only difference is that I soak my bread in milk instead of water. Best the second day!"

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Wine Pairings

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti, Sangiovese, Malbec or Zinfandel.