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Meatballs and pasta in platter on wood table.
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4.99 from 67 votes

Italian Meatballs And Sunday Sauce Recipe

Flavorful and juicy Italian meatballs with garlic, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese braised in a simple Sunday sauce.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6


For The Sauce

  • 4 28 ounce cans San Marzano plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp sugar

For The Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 cups unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley minced
  • 2-3 large eggs
  • 3 cloves garlic paste
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper


For The Sauce

  • Dice 1 onion. In a large bowl hand crush the tomatoes. Alternatively, pulse the tomatoes in a blender for 2-3 seconds.
  • Coat the bottom of a large heavy pot with a 1/2 cup of olive oil and saute the onions on medium-low heat until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add the tomato paste to the onions and cook for 5 minutes, spreading the paste around with a wooden spoon.
  • Add in all the hand crushed tomatoes, 1 tsp of kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp of sugar. Stir the sauce until incorporated and cook on a low simmer with the lid left slightly ajar. Stir the sauce every so often (very important!) to avoid sticking. The sauce should cook on low heat for at least 2.5 to 3 hours but longer will be better.

For The Meatballs

  • Begin by grating 3/4 cup of parmigiano reggiano, mincing a half cup of fresh parsley, and creating garlic paste from 3 garlic cloves.
  • Add the beef and ground pork to a large mixing bowl and season with 2 tsp kosher salt and a 1/2 tsp black pepper. In a small bowl beat 2 eggs and set aside.
  • To the meat, add the breadcrumbs, grated cheese, parsley and garlic paste. Pour the eggs in and mix everything together. If the mixture is too dry, add one more egg to the mix.
  • With wet hands roll approximately 2" size meatballs. The meatballs can be baked on a sheet pan with wire rack at 375f for 25-30 minutes or until brown in the middle of oven.
  • Place the browned meatballs in the sauce and cook for a minimum of 1 hour on low heat to allow the meatballs to absorb the flavor of and braise in the sauce.
  • When the meatballs are finished, serve with choice of pasta, grated cheese and Italian bread. Enjoy!



  • Calories - The calorie info reflects the addition of 1 pound of pasta.
  • Salt - Salt is necessary for flavorful meatballs.  A good amount is 1 tsp per pound of meat, which is what the recipe calls for.
  • Meat - Chuck, which has a large amount of fat and flavor, and ground pork are a great combo for juicy tender meatballs.   Avoid using really lean meats if at all possible.  
  • Mixing the meatballs - It's crucial to not over-mix a meatball and to not form them too tightly.  Use wet hands and roll the meatballs by hand until there are no cracks.
  • Breadcrumb amount - The amount this recipe calls for is a fair compromise in the meat to breadcrumb ratio.  
  • Eggs - 2 eggs is a good starting point, but don't be shy about using an extra one if the mix is too dry.  The eggs are the binder and ensure the meatballs can be formed properly.
  • Let the meatballs cook - Leave them in the sauce (minimum 1 hour)  on real low heat to slowly braise and absorb the flavors of the homemade tomato sauce.
  • How to make the sauce thicker - With or without paste the sauce can be thickened by simply opening the lid to allow quicker evaporation.  Conversely, to slow the thickening process keep the sauce pot fully covered.  
  • Leftovers - The meatballs and sauce can be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days and reheated on the stove-top.  If the sauce is a little too thick, just add a touch of water to loosen it up.  Or if needed, just toss in another can of crushed plum tomatoes to increase the amount of sauce and let it cook for 30 minutes to incorporate into the existing sauce.
  • Freezing - The sauce and meatballs can be frozen.  Reuse them by thawing in the fridge, then cooking on the stove-top until heated through. 


Calories: 824kcal | Carbohydrates: 97g | Protein: 46.3g | Fat: 27.5g | Saturated Fat: 6.2g | Cholesterol: 132mg | Sodium: 1255mg | Potassium: 850mg | Fiber: 14.6g | Sugar: 29.3g | Calcium: 220mg | Iron: 14.6mg