Every cook needs a “foundation” spaghetti and meatball sauce recipe and here it is!
Just toss together ready-made meatballs, canned tomatoes, and a handful of seasonings for a thick and rich, aromatic sauce that’s ready for spaghetti!
This is the ultimate family-friendly recipe for busy weeknights.
Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs
- This Italian sausage meatballs recipe has no complicated tomato prep or extended simmering, and it’s all made in one pot!
- Freeze the sauce and meatballs separately for quick weeknight meals. Just reheat from frozen right in the pot and add your favorite pasta!
- Keep pasta and meatball sauce warm in a crockpot and serve with hoagie rolls to make hearty meatball subs just in time for game day or movie night!
Ingredients and Variations
Meatballs: Pre-made Italian meatballs are convenient, but they’re also really easy to make from scratch. Use any combination of beef, pork, chicken, or turkey.
Sauce: Any combination of tomatoes, including fresh, can be used in the sauce base. Buy or DIY your own Italian seasoning blend to use in all kinds of sauces, dips, dressings, and rubs.
Pasta: Thicker spaghetti noodles like bucatini or linguine are best for holding up under a thick, chunky, meatball sauce. Penne, rotini, and ziti are great for pasta sauce to cling to as well.
Variations: Toss in leftover bits of veggies into the meatball sauce to make it go a bit further (and to get the kids to eat their veggies). Add a dash of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick!
How to Make Meatball Sauce
- Cook onion and meatballs in oil in a large pot (meatballs won’t be fully cooked).
- Stir in tomatoes, all seasonings, and sugar (if using).
- Add meatballs and simmer until sauce is thickened to your preference, between 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours (as per the recipe below).
- Serve over freshly cooked pasta and top with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.
Serving Meatball Sauce
- Thick slices of homemade bread or breadsticks made from homemade pizza dough, or this super easy no-knead bread are perfect to soak up all that delicious meat sauce. Or make some garlic cheese bombs for tasty side!
- Add a light and tangy kale salad or some sauteed broccolini to round out the meal!
- Italian meatballs are versatile and can be made into appetizers like Swedish meatballs with a BBQ dipping sauce or try a sweet and sour version. For a more festive appie, make cranberry meatballs, or grape jelly meatballs.
Storing Spaghetti and Meatballs
- Keep leftover spaghetti and meatballs in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave.
- Freeze portions in quart-sized zippered bags for quick and easy use, simply make fresh pasta!
- Leftover meatballs can be chopped up and added to chili mac along with the sauce or layered into a quick and easy skillet lasagna or tossed into a hearty tortellini soup.
Have you tried this Meatball Sauce recipe? Leave a comment and rating below!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 12 Italian sausage meatballs about ¾ pound, store bought
- ½ onion chopped
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes 1 can (or 56 ounces, 2 cans*)
- 28 ounces crushed tomatoes 1 can
- ⅓ cup tomato paste about ½ small can
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
- ½ Tablespoon garlic and herb seasoning or garlic pepper seasoning, (or 1 teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon onion powder, and 1/16 teaspoon chili powder (a small pinch))
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar optional
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 pound spaghetti or pasta of choice
- Add oil to a large dutch oven pot, heat over medium heat until oil is shimmering. Add meatballs and onion to pot and cook until meatballs are lightly browned (meatballs will not be cooked through).
- Add diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasoning, garlic and herb seasoning, pepper, and sugar (if using). Gently stir to combine. Add additional diced tomatoes if desired*.
- Bring to a boil then reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 ½-2 ½ hours, gently stirring occasionally. After 90 minutes, and for a thicker sauce, remove the lid and continue to simmer until sauce has thickened.
- Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions.
- Taste and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve on pasta of choice. Top with parmesan cheese if desired.
Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.
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