Meatballs in tomato sauce are the ultimate comfort food you can have. Soft and tender meatballs made out of three different kinds of ground meat in tasty sweet tomato sauce with al dente spaghetti are one of our family favorite staple meal.
Meatballs in tomato sauce are masterpiece of Italian cuisine origins
Actually, I should say Italian-American cuisine. Do you know where the origin of spaghetti and meatballs are really coming from? You might be surprise, but they do not come from Italy exactly.
If you would travel to Italy, you wouldn’t be able to likely find spaghetti and meatballs on the restaurant menu. Italy has its own version of meatballs, and they are called polpettes.
One can find many versions of polpettes in Italy, but most importantly, not usually served with spaghetti and tomato sauce, as the American version is. In Italy, meatballs are made of not only ground beef, but also turkey or fish. So I am very sorry to disappoint you, but Meatballs in tomato sauce do not come directly from Italy.
But this dish has its real origins in America, where Italian immigrants were settling in the late 19th century, in between 1880 and 1920. And this is where the first time the classic what we know today and meatballs in tomato sauce was born.
- Bay leaf
Herbs are always very important in any dish. These herbs will spruce up the flavors and aroma to the meatballs and the tomato sauce. Basil and marjoram brings meatballs to a different level.
- Beef ground
- Pork ground
- Veal ground
This trio gourmet meat is my little secret how to make meatballs even more flavorful and tender. Beef is the base, pork brings lots of bacon flavors and veal adds the soft and tender texture in meatballs.
Spices and other condiments
- Bread crumbs
- White toast
- Salt & Pepper
- Crushed Tomatoes
- Beef broth
If there wouldn’t be garlic and onion, there would not exist meatballs. Those are one of the many key ingredients in making delicious & flavorful meatballs. Garlic and onion are little mighty vegetables, which will transform any kind of dish into tasty heaven.
Bread crumbs & eggs help to keep the meatballs together, as well as these bread crumbs are adding a little flavor, because of Italian seasoning bread crumbs. Cinnamon and sugar brings the sweetness in tomato sauce, and beef broth gives the flavor a depth.
White toast and milk might sound odd in meatballs, but trust me, it adds the soft and mild side of meatballs, never miss these ingredients in meatballs.
Parmesan can’t miss on any Italian dish, and definitely not on spaghetti with meatballs and tomato sauce.
How to make tomato sauce for meatballs
Tomato sauce can be done with fresh tomatoes or pre-cooked and pre-manufactures tomatoes, such as tomato purées, crushed tomatoes, dices tomatoes in can etc. In this case, I am using canned crushed tomatoes that are made with the highest ingredients, not containing any salt or herbs.
This cuts down a lot on cooking time and still have the homemade tomato sauce. This process of making tomato sauce is fairly easy. I will always start with cooking onions and garlic, including all the spices and herbs. Following the crushed tomatoes from the can, a bit of a ketchup, beef broth and seasoning with salt and pepper. Cooking for 30 minutes and then blend all this into a smooth sauce. Don’t forget to remove the allspice and bay leaves, they are not that easy to blend.
I finish by seasoning with a pinch of cinnamon and adding a bit of sugar for the sweetness.
How to make the meatballs
This is actually the easiest part of making this whole dish. Meatballs are sort of simple, toss everything in the bowl and make the balls kinda meal. You can add all the ingredients into the large bowl and mix it with hands. This is the most effective way to mix well the ground meat with all the spice and condiments.
White toast should be added as the last ingredient into the bowl, following warmed up milk. Why warmed milk? Because it will warm the cold meat and your hands won’t feel so cold. It also helps with the toast to quickly dissolve into the meat batter.
The best way how to make equal size meatballs, is to measure with ice cream scoop. You may also use a tablespoon to measure the approximate size of meatballs. You may find different sizes of ice cream scoops. It is your choice how big your meatballs you want to have, but the best size for shorter cooking time is no more than 2″ inches large.
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More recipes to try
- SWEDISH MEATBALLS RECIPE
- TOMATO AND CUCUMBER SALAD
- STUFFED PEPPERS WITH TOMATO SAUCE & DUMPLINGS
- ITALIAN PORK SHANK OSSO BUCO
- THE BEST SPAGHETTI BOLOGNESE SAUCE
SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS IN TOMATO SAUCE
- 300 grams ground beef
- 300 grams ground pork
- 300 grams ground veal
- 2 medium eggs
- 110 grams bread crumbs with Italian seasoning
- 4 medium cloves of garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons marjoram dry
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- 2 slices white toast
- 100 ml warm milk
- 2 tablespoons Olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil leaves
- 2 medium bay leaves
- 4 medium balls of allspice
- 4 cups crushed tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons of ketchup
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 500 grams spaghetti
- 5 litres cold water
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 cup shredded Parmesan for topping
- 16 leaves fresh basil
- In a large bowl, add all the ingredients for meatballs and pour over the warm milk. Mix well with your hands or spatula and with a help of an ice cream scooper form meatballs.
- Place the meatballs in a large plate or baking sheet and cover with food foil. Place in the refrigerator in the meanwhile.
- In a large sauce-pot, reheat olive oil and add chopped onion, garlic, basil leaves and the rest of the spices (bay leaf, allspice). Cook for 5 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
- Add 2 tablespoons of ketchup and stir well. Add two cans of crushed tomatoes, two tablespoons of ketchup and beef broth. Salt and Pepper. Stir and let simmer with lid on, approximately for 30 minutes, on low heat.
- Remove allspice balls and bay leaf from the tomato sauce. With a hand blender, blend until tomato sauce is smooth. Sprinkle the sauce with sugar and cinnamon. Stir and salt to taste.
- Remove the meatballs from the refrigerator and bring the tomato sauce to light simmer. Add all the meatballs in the sauce and stir them well. Cover the sauce-pot and simmer the meatballs for 25-30 minutes.
- Check for doneness by taking out the biggest meatball. Cut through the meatball and if there is no pink colored meat inside, it means it’s done.
- Follow the instruction for spaghetti cooking in the packaging. Place spaghetti, on the plate and pour over the tomato sauce with meatballs. Sprinkle with Parmesan and garnish with a few basil leaves.
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