Tender and flavorful homemade meatballs are cooked in a simple marinara sauce. Serve these meatballs over zucchini noodles, pasta, in a hoagie, or as is! This classic comfort food meal will be a hit among kids and adults!
Ask any kid or adult out there what their favorite food is and I guarantee you’ll hear spaghetti and meatballs. What’s not to love? Rich, sweet, and savory tomato sauce covers tender and flavorful meatballs… then add all of that over pasta and you’ve got the ultimate comfort food meal!
These meatballs, my friends, will be the best you’ll ever have. Heck, I even surprised myself with these. Who says you have to be Italian to make great Italian food? I know the ketchup is a controversial ingredient as a “real” Italian would never use it. However, I love the sweetness it adds! Plus the whole spaghetti and meatballs thing is an Italian-American creation anyway.
I decided to keep things as healthy as I could and serve my homemade meatballs over zucchini noodles, but you can serve them however you like. Over wheat pasta, gluten-free pasta, in a hoagie, or as is with a salad. These also freeze well and can be made ahead – they just get better and better as they sit in the fridge!
Making meatballs is super easy. You can make them in big batches and freeze them so that you always have some on hand for quick, easy meals. Whatever you do, don’t buy frozen meatballs! Making your own lets you control the quality of the meat and ingredients. Plus, they taste way better than any pre-packaged frozen meatball ever could.
I always start my meatballs by combining a flavorful mix of eggs, grated onion, fresh garlic, garlic powder, fresh parsley, pecorino romano cheese, ketchup, and almond meal. It’s best to mix all of this together before you add the meat so that you end up with soft and tender meatballs. If you try and mix it all with the meat you’ll end up with tough meatballs that aren’t evenly seasoned.
So, mix all the “stuff” together and then fold in the meat with your hands until just combined. Speaking of the meat, I use what’s called “meatball mix”. It’s a mixture of ground pork, beef, and veal and it makes the best meatballs. You can get this mixture at your local butcher or I’ve seen it at some grocery stores – whole foods will even put it together for you at the meat counter.
Once you have your meatball mixture ready, you can form them into balls. I like to do larger ones, but you can easily do any size you want. I use a large ice cream scoop to make sure I get uniform meatballs. Then, place them on a baking sheet and bake them in a hot oven for 10 minutes.
This does 2 things – it allows the meatballs to cook just enough so they set up and won’t fall apart in the sauce. It also allows for some of the extra fat to render out. The result is firm, but tender and soft meatballs!
Add them into my simple marinara sauce and let them cook away!
My regular marinara sauce usually consists of onions, garlic and other flavors perfect for topping pasta or using in lasagna. However, for the meatballs I like to go really simple. Since the meatballs cook in the sauce, they are what flavor the sauce. No need for anything but tomatoes, some seasoning, and a parmesan cheese rind. See – it’s easy!
I think we all enjoyed “pasketti” as a kid – I know it was one of my favorites…. as you can see by this photo! 😉
- 2 Eggs
- 1 Tablespoon Water
- 1 Small Onion, grated
- 3 Garlic Cloves, finely minced
- ¼ Cup Ketchup
- ¼ Cup Fresh Parsley, finely chopped
- ¾ Cup Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
- ½ Cup Almond Meal* (see notes)
- 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
- ½ Teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 2 Pounds Meatball Mix (a mixture of ground beef, pork, and veal)*
- 2 (28-ounce) Cans Whole San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1 (6-ounce) Can Tomato Paste
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
- 1 Parmesan Cheese Rind, optional
- Zucchini Noodles or Spaghetti (or an pasta shape)
- Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Fresh Basil Leaves, torn
- Preheat the oven to 500º.
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, water, grated onion, garlic, ketchup, parsley, cheese, almond meal, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix well.
- Add in the meatball mix and combine the mixture with your hands. Don’t over mix the meatballs, or they will be tough!
- Form the meat mixture into balls – I use a large ice cream scoop to form uniform meatballs. You can make them any size you like (just adjust the bake time!)
- Place the meatballs on a baking sheet and bake them for 10 minutes, or until they set and are very lightly browned.
- Meanwhile, combine the whole tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, and oregano in a blender. Blend on low-medium speed just until the mixture is smooth.
- Pour the tomatoes in a large pot or dutch oven and add in the meatballs and parmesan cheese rind. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat.
- Simmer the meatballs, partially covered, for 30-45 minutes or until the sauce is nice and thick and the meatballs are tender.
- Serve the meatballs however you like – over zucchini noodles, pasta, on a hoagie, or enjoy them as is! Top each serving with fresh parmesan cheese and basil leaves.
- *I use almond meal in my meatballs, but you can easily substitute 1 cup of regular breadcrumb or gluten-free breadcrumbs if you wish.
- *Meatball mix will give you the best result, but if you can't find it and don't want to make your own you can use all ground beef. If you do this, get it with at least 20% fat.