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.

a bowl of meatballs with sauce over spaghetti

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!
Labeled ingredients to make meatball sauce with prepared meatballs on a tray

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!

Pro Tip!

If the sauce tastes a bit acidic, stir in a tablespoon of brown sugar while it’s simmering.

How to Make Meatball Sauce

  1. Cook onion and meatballs in oil in a large pot (meatballs won’t be fully cooked).
  2. Stir in tomatoes, all seasonings, and sugar (if using).
  3. Add meatballs and simmer until sauce is thickened to your preference, between 1 ½ to 2 ½ hours (as per the recipe below).
  4. Serve over freshly cooked pasta and top with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.

Serving Meatball Sauce

meatballs and sauce served over spaghetti in a bowl

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.
A top view of a bowl of spaghetti topped with meatballs and sauce

Other Saucy Pasta Recipes!

Have you tried this Meatball Sauce recipe? Leave a comment and rating below!

a bowl of meatballs with sauce over spaghetti
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Meatball Sauce

Make this meatball sauce for a delicious dinner made in minutes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 servings
Author Candace


Dutch oven or large pot


  • 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
  • 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.


*For a thinner sauce or additional sauce, add up to an additional 28 ounces diced tomatoes, undrained or drained.
5 from 2 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Nutrition Information

Calories: 296 | Carbohydrates: 58g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 232mg | Potassium: 748mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 524IU | Vitamin C: 21mg | Calcium: 107mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition information does not include optional ingredients or garnish and is an estimate. It may change based on actual ingredients and cooking methods used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American

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hearty meatballs with sauce over spaghetti with text
A bowl of spaghetti topped with meatballs and sauce with text
a serving of spaghetti and meatballs with sauce with text
A serving of meatballs and sauce over spaghetti with text
A bowl of meatballs with sauce over spaghetti with text
Top image - a bowl of meatballs and sauce over spaghetti. Bottom image - meatball sauce prepared in a pan with text.


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About the author

I am a wife, mother of two, and professional accountant. I love fantastic food, and it is so often the center of our lives, from everyday dinner, to family gatherings, and special evenings at fabulous restaurants. I have always loved cooking and baking, with my mom and grandma, and now, with my daughter and son. I love trying new recipes while enjoying my favorites too. I’m so happy to share them with you.
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