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Spaghetti and Meatballs

These spaghetti and meatballs are a classic Italian dish made with juicy, tender meatballs tossed with homemade marinara sauce and spaghetti noodles. It’s easy to make and a family favorite!

More pasta recipes we love for weeknight dinners include spaghetti bolognese and million dollar spaghetti!

Plate of spaghetti and meatballs.
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Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs

One of the most requested meals at my house is spaghetti and meatballs. Making your own marinara sauce and homemade meatballs will taste the best and take this dish to a whole new level.

This is one of those classic dishes that’s on the menu of every Italian restaurant. Homemade sauce and juicy meatballs are the perfect way to showcase amazing Italian flavor just like in my baked ziti with meatballs.

With this homemade version, you can easily make a long time favorite from the comfort of your own home in just 35 minutes. We love to top ours with freshly grated parmesan cheese and serve with some warm garlic bread.

Recipe Ingredients

Italian meatballs in marinara sauce.

Find the full printable recipe with specific measurements below.

  • Sauce: I love to whip up an easy homemade marinara. It’s got great flavor and really takes the dish up a notch. If using a store-bought tomato sauce, make sure it’s good quality (I list my favorites in the printable recipe card below).
  • Italian meatballs: Homemade meatballs are the star of the show in my opinion. They’re juicy, tender and taste so much better than the frozen premade meatballs from the grocery. I’ll often make a batch in the oven or make my easy Instant Pot meatballs, then freeze half to pull out specifically for when my family requests this dish. For a lighter option, try making healthy turkey meatballs or chicken meatballs.
  • Pasta: Spaghetti noodles are mixed in with the sauce and meatballs. Simply cook them according to the package directions.

How to Make Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs in pot.
  • Meatballs. Mix together the meat, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, garlic, onion and black pepper in a bowl until just combined. Make sure not to over mix. Scoop and form the meat into 1 1/2″ balls, then place on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for about 17 to 20 minutes, or until the meatballs are cooked through (flip halfway through).
  • Pasta. Cook the spaghetti noodles in a large pot of water according to the directions on the package. Then drain and set aside.
  • Sauce. Add the marinara and cooked meatballs in a large pot and simmer for about 10 minutes. Then mix in the spaghetti until the noodles are well coated with sauce.

Cooking Tips

  • Use a combination of ground pork and ground beef for extra juicy and flavorful meatballs.
  • Don’t overcook your meatballs, use a meat thermometer if needed. They should be 165°F.
  • Instead of baking the meatballs, you can fry them in a pan over medium-heat with oil for about 7 to 10 minutes.
  • If using store bought marinara, make sure to use a high quality sauce such as Rao’s or Victoria’s.
  • Add 1 Tablespoon of salt to the pasta water for optimal flavor. Find more tips on how to cook pasta.
Spaghetti and meatballs in pot.

Recipe FAQs

Do I need to add salt to the pasta water when I cook the noodles?

Yes! I wholeheartedly believe that adding salt to the water makes the whole dish taste better. Pasta doesn’t typically offer a lot in flavor, but it will absorb the salt as it cooks giving it nice bit of seasoning.

How do I know if my meatballs are cooked?

You want to be careful not to overcook the meatballs as you want to keep as much moisture as possible. There are two ways to tell when they are cooked. You can either cut one (taken from the center of the baking sheet) in half to see if the meat is brown throughout or use a digital meat thermometer for the temperature (inserted in the center should read 165°F).

What is the best meat for meatballs?

I like to use 80% lean ground beef as there is still a little fat to give the meatballs amazing taste! Sometimes I use a combination of beef and ground pork for an even more flavorful meatball. Depending on how much ground pork is added, you can reduce the fat content of the beef if your prefer to 85% lean or even 90% lean.

How to store leftover spaghetti and meatballs?

Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Spaghetti and meatballs on white plate.

More Types of Spaghetti Dishes

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spaghetti and meatballs on white plate

Spaghetti and Meatballs

5 from 8 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
Juicy, tender meatballs simmered with marinara and then tossed with spaghetti noodles. These homemade spaghetti and meatballs taste like they came straight from an Italian restaurant! 
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 1 pound 80% lean ground beef (or sub half with half ground pork)
  • 1 large egg , beaten
  • ¼ cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon + 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt , divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 Tablespoons water , if needed
  • ½ pound spaghetti noodles , plus more if desired
  • 30 ounces marinara sauce (I prefer Rao's or Victoria's)

For serving (optional): Fresh chopped basil, Grated parmesan cheese


    • Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. 
    • In a large bowl, mix together the meat, egg, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs, cheese, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper using your hands or a wooden spoon until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Add water, as needed, to keep the mixture moist. 
    • Using a medium cookie scoop or spoon, scoop the meat onto the baking sheet. Roll into 1 1/2-inch balls. 
    • Bake uncovered 17 to 20 minutes, or until no longer pink in the middle. Flip the meatballs halfway through the cooking time, so the bottoms don't brown. 
    • In a large saucepan over medium heat, bring sauce to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and add meatballs. Simmer 10 minutes.
    • In a large pot filled with water, add remaining 1 Tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook noodles according to package directions.
    • Transfer drained noodles to the sauce and stir until coated. Top with basil or parmesan, if desired, to serve.


    Fry meatballs: You can also cook in a pan with 2 Tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat for 7 to 10 minutes, or until cooked through. 
    Substitutes: You can use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder and onion powder if you do not have fresh garlic cloves and onions. 
    If I have pork on hand, I like to use 1/2 pound ground beef and 1/2 pound ground pork. It creates juicier meatballs. 


    Serving: 4meatballs | Calories: 388kcal | Carbohydrates: 41g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 86mg | Sodium: 1797mg | Potassium: 771mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 695IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 93mg | Iron: 4mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Main Dish
    Cuisine: Italian

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