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5 from 17 votes

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is a classic combination of meatballs that are broiled and simmered in a simple tomato sauce that's tossed with spaghetti and topped with hand-torn fresh basil. Our recipe uses ricotta in the meatballs for a light, airy, and incredibly tender texture.
Prep Time30 minutes
Cook Time1 hour
Total Time1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main Course, pasta
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6


For The Sauce

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic sliced
  • 2 small anchovy fillets optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • 2 24-ounce jars passata
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 packed cup basil hand torn
  • 1 cup water optional, see notes below

For The Meatballs

  • 4 slices white bread ends removed and cubed
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup Pecorino Romano
  • 1/2 cup flat leaf Italian parsley minced
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cloves garlic paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


For The Sauce

  • Heat a large sauce pot to medium-low and add the olive oil, garlic, and anchovies. Saute until lightly golden (about 2-3 minutes) while mashing the anchovies with a wooden spoon so that they dissolve into the oil. Add the red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.
  • Next, add the white wine and turn the heat to medium-high. Cook for 2 minutes while scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon then add the crushed tomatoes and passata and bring to a boil.
  • Once the sauce starts bubbling aggressively, turn down the heat and keep the sauce at a low simmer, stirring often, while moving on to preparing the meatballs. Make sure to taste test the sauce and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

For The Meatballs

  • In a very large bowl, mix the bread cubes with the ricotta and mash it together with a fork to form a paste. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes or until well saturated.
  • Next, add the beef and ground pork to the bowl. Sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the meat then add the garlic paste, parsley, Pecorino, and eggs and mix to incorporate. Try to evenly distribute the ingredients but do not aggressively overmix, so as to avoid making the meatballs too tough.
  • With wet hands gently roll approximately 2-inch size meatballs. Place the formed meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set the oven rack to the second highest level and turn on the broiler. Broil the meatballs for 5 minutes per side or until well browned.
  • Place the browned meatballs into the sauce pot to simmer and finish cooking.
  • While the meatballs are simmering, bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt per gallon) to boil. Once boiling, cook the spaghetti until 1 minute less than al dente.
  • Place 3 cups of the sauce into a large pan and turn the heat to medium. Add the spaghetti and toss or mix to coat well. Cook the spaghetti until just al dente (about 30-90 more seconds). If the sauce is too dry, just add a splash of pasta water then toss again.
  • Turn off the heat and taste test making final adjustments to salt and pepper. Add the hand-torn basil and serve with the meatballs and sauce on the side. Make sure to serve with a loaf of crusty Italian bread and grated Pecorino. Enjoy!



  • 1 cup of water is optional.  You might need to thin the sauce a bit depending on how much evaporation occurs and how long it has cooked.  Passata being thicker than crushed or plum tomatoes contributes to this. 
  • Note that in the video, Jim used equal parts ground chuck, veal, and pork.  You can do that or just go with the 1 pound beef and 1 pound pork as shown above.
  • You will have extra sauce with this recipe.  That is a good thing!  Use it for bread dipping or for serving in a bowl at the dinner table.
  • It's crucial to not over-mix a meatball and to not form them too tightly.  Use wet or oiled hands and roll the meatballs by hand until there are no cracks.
  • This recipe uses 4 slices of white bread which equals about 1 1/2 cups of bread cubes.  If using storebought breadcrumbs use 1 cup instead.
  • Leftovers can be saved in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.  The sauce and meatballs can be frozen for up to 3 months.


Calories: 936kcal | Carbohydrates: 83.6g | Protein: 67.8g | Fat: 33g | Saturated Fat: 11.2g | Cholesterol: 201mg | Sodium: 1269mg | Potassium: 670mg | Fiber: 10.8g | Sugar: 20.2g | Calcium: 382mg | Iron: 12mg

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