spaghetti and meatballs recipes

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic Italian-American dish that has been enjoyed for generations. It is a simple yet delicious meal that is perfect for any occasion. Whether it’s a family dinner, a romantic date, or a casual get-together with friends, spaghetti and meatballs is always a crowd-pleaser.

In this article, we will be sharing 7 different spaghetti and meatballs recipes that are sure to impress. From classic meatballs with tomato sauce to more unique variations like turkey meatballs with pesto, there is something for everyone. Each recipe is easy to follow and uses simple, wholesome ingredients that you likely already have in your pantry. So, whether you’re a seasoned cook or a beginner in the kitchen, you’ll be able to whip up a delicious spaghetti and meatballs dish in no time.

History of Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs originated in Italy in the early 19th century. However, contrary to popular belief, it is not an Italian-American dish. It was actually brought to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late 1800s.

The dish was initially made with meat and bread, which were combined to form meatballs. In Italy, the meatballs were served as a separate course from the pasta. However, when the dish was brought to the United States, it was adapted to include spaghetti and the meatballs were served on top of the pasta.

Spaghetti and meatballs quickly became a popular dish in the United States, particularly in Italian-American communities. It was a cheap and filling meal that could feed a large family. It also became a popular dish in Italian restaurants across the country.

Over the years, spaghetti and meatballs has evolved to include a variety of different ingredients and preparation methods. Some recipes include spices such as garlic and oregano, while others use different types of meat such as pork or veal. However, the basic recipe of spaghetti and meatballs remains the same – a hearty and delicious meal that has become a staple in American cuisine.

Essential Ingredients

Pasta Selection

The type of pasta used in spaghetti and meatballs recipe is crucial to the overall dish. The most commonly used pasta for this recipe is spaghetti, but other long pasta varieties such as linguine or fettuccine can also be used. It is important to choose a good quality pasta made from durum wheat semolina, as it will hold its shape and texture when cooked.

Meat Choices

The meat used in meatballs can vary depending on personal preference. Ground beef is the most commonly used meat, but a combination of ground beef and pork or ground turkey can also be used. It is important to choose a meat with a good amount of fat content, as this will keep the meatballs moist and tender.

Tomato Sauce Basics

The tomato sauce used in spaghetti and meatballs recipe is usually a simple tomato sauce made with canned tomatoes, garlic, onion, and olive oil. It is important to use good quality canned tomatoes, as they will provide the base for the sauce. The garlic and onion should be sautéed until they are soft and fragrant before adding the canned tomatoes.

Herbs and Spices

The herbs and spices used in spaghetti and meatballs recipe can vary depending on personal preference. Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, and parsley are commonly used to add flavor to the tomato sauce. Salt and pepper should also be added to taste. It is important to taste the sauce as it cooks and adjust the seasoning as needed.

Equipment Needed

To make the perfect spaghetti and meatballs, you’ll need a few essential pieces of equipment. Here are the must-haves:

Large Pot

A large pot is essential for cooking the spaghetti. It should be big enough to hold at least 4 quarts of water and the spaghetti without overcrowding. A pot with a strainer insert is also helpful for draining the pasta.

Mixing Bowl

A mixing bowl is necessary for combining the meatball ingredients. A large bowl is best, as it makes it easier to mix everything together without making a mess.

Baking Sheet

A baking sheet is used to bake the meatballs in the oven. It should be large enough to hold all of the meatballs without overcrowding them.


A skillet is needed to brown the meatballs before baking them. A non-stick skillet is best, as it makes it easier to flip the meatballs without them sticking to the pan.

Wooden Spoon

A wooden spoon is perfect for mixing the spaghetti and sauce together. It won’t scratch the pot or damage the non-stick coating on the skillet.


Tongs are helpful for removing the meatballs from the skillet and placing them on the baking sheet. They’re also useful for serving the spaghetti and meatballs.

With these essential pieces of equipment, you’ll be able to make delicious spaghetti and meatballs every time.

Preparation Techniques

Making the Meatballs

To make delicious meatballs, start by mixing ground beef, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, egg, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix the ingredients well until they are evenly combined. Then, form the mixture into small balls, about the size of a golf ball. Be careful not to overwork the meat, as this can make the meatballs tough.

Cooking the Pasta

Cooking pasta is a simple task, but it requires some attention to detail to achieve the perfect texture. Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and stir occasionally to prevent it from sticking together. Cook the pasta for about 8-10 minutes, or until it is al dente. Drain the pasta and reserve some of the cooking water to add to the sauce.

Simmering the Sauce

The sauce is the heart of any spaghetti and meatballs dish. Start by heating olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped onions and garlic and sauté until they are translucent. Then, add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Let the sauce simmer for about 15-20 minutes, or until it thickens.

To bring all the elements together, add the meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer for about 10-15 minutes. This will allow the meatballs to cook through and absorb the flavors of the sauce. Finally, add the cooked spaghetti to the sauce and toss everything together. If the sauce is too thick, add some of the reserved pasta water to thin it out. Serve hot and enjoy!

Step-by-Step Recipe

Preparing spaghetti and meatballs is a simple and straightforward process that anyone can follow. Below is a step-by-step recipe that will help you create a delicious and satisfying meal.


Before you begin cooking, make sure you have the following ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1 jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  3. Using your hands, form the mixture into small meatballs, about 1 inch in diameter.
  4. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.
  5. While the meatballs are cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  6. Add the spaghetti to the boiling water and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until al dente.
  7. Drain the spaghetti and return it to the pot.
  8. Add the spaghetti sauce to the pot and stir until the spaghetti is well coated.
  9. Serve the spaghetti topped with the meatballs and additional Parmesan cheese and parsley, if desired.

By following this recipe, you can create a delicious and satisfying meal that will impress your family and friends.

Variations and Substitutions

Vegetarian Alternatives

For those who don’t eat meat, there are several vegetarian alternatives to the classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe. One option is to substitute the meatballs with plant-based alternatives such as Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat. Another option is to make lentil or mushroom meatballs.

To make lentil meatballs, simply cook lentils until tender, then mix them with breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, eggs, and spices. Form the mixture into balls and bake or fry them until crispy.

Mushroom meatballs can be made by finely chopping mushrooms and mixing them with breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, eggs, and spices. Form the mixture into balls and bake or fry them until crispy.

Gluten-Free Adaptations

For those who are gluten-free, there are several adaptations that can be made to the classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe. One option is to use gluten-free breadcrumbs in the meatball mixture. Another option is to substitute the spaghetti with gluten-free pasta such as rice noodles or quinoa pasta.

To make gluten-free breadcrumbs, simply pulse gluten-free bread in a food processor until it reaches a breadcrumb-like consistency. Use this in place of regular breadcrumbs in the meatball mixture.

Rice noodles can be cooked according to package instructions and served with the meatballs and sauce. Quinoa pasta can also be cooked according to package instructions and served with the meatballs and sauce.

Overall, there are several variations and substitutions that can be made to the classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe to accommodate different dietary needs and preferences.

Plating and Presentation

When it comes to serving spaghetti and meatballs, presentation is key. A well-plated dish can make all the difference in the dining experience. Here are a few tips for plating and presenting your spaghetti and meatballs:

  • Start with a clean plate: A clean plate is essential for a beautiful presentation. Make sure the plate is free of any smudges or fingerprints before adding the spaghetti and meatballs.
  • Arrange the spaghetti neatly: Use tongs or a fork to twirl the spaghetti into a neat pile. Avoid piling the spaghetti too high, as this can make the dish look messy.
  • Add the meatballs: Place the meatballs on top of the spaghetti, evenly spaced apart. You can also place them on the side of the plate if you prefer.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs: Add a sprinkle of fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil, on top of the spaghetti and meatballs for a pop of color and flavor.
  • Serve with a side of bread: A side of bread, such as garlic bread or a crusty baguette, is the perfect accompaniment to spaghetti and meatballs.

By following these simple tips, you can create a beautiful and delicious dish that is sure to impress.

Wine Pairing Suggestions

When it comes to pairing wine with spaghetti and meatballs, the key is to find a wine that complements the rich and savory flavors of the dish. Here are a few wine pairing suggestions to consider:

Red Wines

Red wines are the classic pairing for spaghetti and meatballs, as they tend to have bold flavors that can stand up to the richness of the dish. Some great options to consider include:

  • Chianti: This Italian wine is a classic pairing for spaghetti and meatballs, as it has a medium body and a bright acidity that can cut through the richness of the tomato sauce.
  • Barbera: Another Italian wine, Barbera has a high acidity and a fruity flavor that can complement the meaty flavors of the dish.
  • Zinfandel: This California wine has a bold flavor profile with notes of blackberry and spice that can stand up to the bold flavors of the meatballs.

White Wines

While red wines are the traditional pairing for spaghetti and meatballs, there are also some white wines that can work well with the dish. Here are a few options to consider:

  • Pinot Grigio : This light and crisp Italian wine has a refreshing acidity that can complement the tomato-based sauce of the dish.
  • Chardonnay: A fuller-bodied white wine, Chardonnay can work well with meatballs that have been cooked in a creamy sauce.
  • Sauvignon Blanc: With its high acidity and herbaceous flavors, Sauvignon Blanc can be a refreshing pairing for meatballs that have been seasoned with herbs.

No matter what type of wine you choose, be sure to serve it at the appropriate temperature. Red wines should be served at room temperature, while white wines should be chilled to around 50-55 degrees Fahrenheit.

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