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homemade italian spaghetti sauce and meatballs

(4 ratings)
Blue Ribbon Recipe by
Julia Ferguson
Greenwood, IN

This is my family's recipe. My mother always made this for our birthday dinner. It's one of those recipes that needs to cook all day. So one of these winter days when you don't want to get out and you want something hearty and flavorful make this for your family. The aroma coming from the kitchen will keep their stomachs growling all day. But well worth the agony and wait. My mom always served this with an antipasto salad and garlic bread.

Blue Ribbon Recipe

All good things come to those who wait and this spaghetti and meatballs recipe is proof of that. Simmering the sauce for so long really brings out the robust tomato and garlic flavors. Sprinkling Parmesan cheese at the end brings another depth of cheesy flavor. The tender meatballs soak up all the yummy sauce while cooking. Serve with garlic bread for a comforting meal.

— The Test Kitchen @kitchencrew
(4 ratings)
yield serving(s)
prep time 1 Hr
cook time 6 Hr
method Stove Top

Ingredients For homemade italian spaghetti sauce and meatballs

  • olive oil (enough to just cover the bottom of the pan)
  • 3-5 clove
    garlic, peeled
  • 3-4 can
    tomato paste (6 oz each)
  • 2-3 can
    tomato sauce (28 oz each)
  • 1-2 can
    tomato puree (28 oz each)
  • 1 Tbsp
    Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 - 1 Tbsp
    garlic powder
  • 1 tsp
    ground black pepper
  • 1-2
    bay leaves
  • salt, to taste (the Parmesan cheese at the end will add to the saltiness as well)
  • 1 pinch
  • 1-2 lg
    handful of Parmesan cheese, at the end
  • 2-3 lb
    ground sirloin
  • 1-2 lb
    ground chuck
  • 1 lg
    onion, finely chopped
  • 2-3 clove
    garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp
    Italian seasoning
  • 1-2 tsp
    ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp
    dried parsley
  • 1-2
    handful of Italian bread crumbs
  • 1-2
    handfuls of Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3
    eggs (depends on the moisture content of the meat)

How To Make homemade italian spaghetti sauce and meatballs

  • A large pot to hold the sauce.
    This makes a lot of sauce, so you will need a very large soup pot with a good weight to it.
  • Adding olive oil to the pot.
    Cover the bottom of the pan with olive oil (you want just enough to barely cover the bottom of the pan) begin to warm the oil gently.
  • Cooking garlic in the oil.
    Place peeled garlic cloves in oil, on low heat cook cloves until just starting to lightly blister. Do not let the garlic brown or burn. Remove garlic.
  • Tomato puree added to the pot.
    Add tomato paste, one can at a time, thoroughly incorporating the olive oil into the tomato paste each time. I find this is easier to do with a wire whisk.
  • Adding tomato sauce to the puree.
    Add tomato puree mixing thoroughly. Add tomato sauce and mix well.
  • Adding water until the right consistency.
    At this point, some water can be added, as the sauce will be cooking for at least 6 hours and will thicken as it cooks. I wouldn't add more than 2 of the paste cans full of water. Mix well.
  • Seasonings added to the sauce.
    Add Italian seasoning, garlic powder, bay leaves, and salt. Additional cloves of garlic can be added. depends on how garlicky you want the sauce.
  • Lid cocked on the pot while sauce simmers.
    Cover pan with lid cocked and simmer on low for at least 6 hours. Stirring occasionally, to keep the sauce from sticking to the bottom. While the sauce is getting hot, mix together the meatballs, see below.
  • Ground beef in a mixing bowl.
    My mother used veal in her meatballs. The price of veal is so expensive I have started using ground sirloin and ground chuck. The rule of thumb here is to use 2 parts lean veal or sirloin to 1 part ground chuck.
  • Meatball ingredients added to the bowl.
    Mix together, ground sirloin (or veal), ground chuck, finely diced onion, garlic, Italian seasoning, ground black pepper, parsley, bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and eggs.
  • Shaping meatballs into a ball.
    Using a spoon (I like to use my large cookie scoop), take a good amount of meat mixture and roll in the palm of your hand, forming a ball. The meatballs should hold together and be about the size of a golfball. I like to get a plateful of meatballs made then drop them into the hot sauce. Then go back and make another plateful to be dropped in the sauce. Repeat until all meatballs have been added to the sauce. Gently, so as not to break up meatballs, push and stir the sauce to get the meatballs down into the sauce.
  • Meatballs added to the sauce and pot covered.
    Cover with lid cocked, so steam can escape and thicken the sauce. Simmer on low on the stovetop. After about 1/2 hour check the meatballs and stir carefully, making sure the meatballs do not stick. The sauce and meatballs should cook for at least 6 hours or longer if you like. About 1 hr before serving add a pinch of sugar and stir well, being careful not to break up the meatballs. Add the Parmesan cheese. Mom never stirred the cheese into the sauce, she just let it melt into the sauce. Be careful after adding the sugar and cheese, as they could cause the sauce to stick on the bottom. Remove bay leaves before serving.
  • Homemade Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs over spaghetti.
    Serve sauce and meatballs over hot cooked pasta and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on top.