Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs

Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs

Make this family favorite, all from scratch, in about 1/2 an hour. While the sauce cooks, you’ll make the meatballs and while the meatballs cook, you’ll boil your pasta. Makes 8 meatballs, two per person. Process the breadcrumbs first and you can just wipe the processor bowl clean for the tomatoes. No food processor? Cut the bread into small pieces and puree the tomatoes in a blender. - Jenny Jones

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 32 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 28 ounce can whole peeled plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + pepper to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh sliced basil leaves
  • Meatballs:
  • 2 slices soft bread, white or wheat, crusts removed (3/4 cup fresh crumbs)
  • 1/3 cup milk (I use 1%)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon parmesan
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian spices
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt + pepper to taste
  • 3/4 pound ground sirloin

  • 8-10 ounces spaghetti


  1. In a food processor pulse bread to make soft crumbs. Place crumbs in a bowl and add milk. Let stand.
  2. In the food processor, pulse canned tomatoes until smooth.
  3. To start sauce, in a large pot, at least 7 inches across the bottom, sauté garlic in oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and seasonings (except basil), bring to a boil and cook, uncovered while you make the meatballs. Lower the heat if it splatters but keep it bubbling.
  4. To the bread/milk mixture, add egg, garlic, parmesan, parsley & spices and combine well.
  5. Add meat, mixing gently by hand. Shape into eight 2-inch balls and place gently into the sauce. Once sauce bubbles again, cook, undisturbed and uncovered, for 20 minutes.
  6. While meatballs cook, put on water for pasta and cook per package directions.
  7. Just before serving, add basil to the sauce. Drain spaghetti and stir in some of the sauce. Top with meatballs and extra sauce.

Notes: For more on this recipe in my blog click here.

Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs

49 Comments on "Quick & Easy Spaghetti & Meatballs"

  1. Trina

    Hello Jenny you are just a wonderful cook what I love about you is you not only tell me how to cook something but you also go the extra mile and setup a video to show me hot to do cook it with you doing show and tell well you can’t go wrong with that and everyone of your you recipes are absolutely delectable that’s for all you show and tell 😀

  2. sheanette

    I’m cooking it now using all organic ingredients . I did have to tweek it a little bit because I did not have all the ingredients, and I wanted these meatballs today. So yummy and thanks for sharing. I love it!!😊

  3. Ana

    Hi, Jenny wonderful receipe gonna try in very soon
    Thanks for Starring.

  4. Beth

    Outstanding! Don’t change or add other ingredients, it will take away from this wonderful meatball/sauce. The meatballs were so, so good cooked in the sauce. Thanks Jenny! 🙂

  5. RUTH stagnitta

    iam gonna try it just once i usually put peppers ,onions in my sauce and mushrooms at times the meat balls won me over gonna try for sure sounds yummy thanks jenny i love all your colorful gadgets in the kitchen i would like that my kitchen is colorful like that too i love colors and where did you buy those nice pan they look like iron maybe i like iron skillet just silver instead of black am i somewhat correct ? I WILL LET YOU KNOW HOW IT GOES OVER FEEDING THIS TO REAL ITALIANS

  6. Cha

    Fantastic! easy to cook and my children love it veryyyyy much! 🙂 thank you Jenny!

  7. Katie

    Do you strain the tomatoes? I think that’s why mine is runny. It didn’t specify in the directions and maybe it’s obvious to some but not all.

    • Jenny

      I think you can see in the video that I put the entire contents of the can in the processor (maybe I should have said so too). Did you use whole peeled canned plum tomatoes?

      • Katie

        Yes, but it seemed more watery than your can, I thought that might be it but now I’m convinced it may have been the meat.

  8. Shantanu

    Hi Jenny. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. I used it yesterday and the results were a big success. Spaghetti and meatballs aren’t exactly a staple in Indian cuisine but when my 5 year old son expressed a desire for the same (because one of his comic book characters has it for dinner), I did a random search on YouTube and decided to go with yours. Since my wife does not eat beef, I substituted beef with ground goat meat (much less gamey than lamb which should also work), added a touch of Indian spices to the sauce and the meatballs and followed the recipe very faithfully. The end result was a dish the entire family could eat, and eat we did! And even for a first timer (though very adept in the kitchen) it actually took the 35 minutes you promised. So thank you again. Cheers!

  9. Gregory W. Vigue

    Hi Jenny. I just tried this recipe and it was inexpensive, hearty, and delicious! I think I will use double the tomatoes and spices next time because I like a lot of sauce with my spaghetti. I love your videos and sense of humor; I used to watch your talk show, too. Thank you.

  10. BGail

    I made the Quick and Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs twice already, and it is delicious. My family loved it. I never thought of letting the meatballs cook in the sauce but they turn out so moist, tender, and flavorful. The first time i was afraid they might fall apart because they were so soft going in, but they did not. they were perfect. I love pasta, and i probably will make this recipe twice a month.

    • Felix (The Polish Chef)

      When the meatballs hit the hot sauce, the egg in the mixture quickly solidifies and holds everything together. Remember, cooking is 90% chemistry.

  11. Debby

    Can you freeze ahead! Can’t wait to try!😀

    • Jenny

      I have frozen meatballs after cooking. And I have frozen sauce but separately.

  12. Dave

    I am a single, middle-age male … TOTALLY clueless in the kitchen. Complete rookie. Trying to learn how to cook some basic dishes to become more well-rounded (and impress the ladies when I cook dinner). I am not familiar with a lot of cooking terminology.
    Tried your recipe above, printed out your ingredients and went to the supermarket, bought a pot and a strainer … had the iPad on the counter playing the video as you walked me through it.
    *My question:
    Nowhere did you tell me what level of HEAT to do the sauce or the meatballs at (electric stove). I’m sure this is a given for more experienced cooks (I see no one has brought it up on the comments section) … but I felt totally helpless. Did I miss it somewhere???
    Love the video that goes with the recipe – without it my cooking would be a comedic disaster (with the SJFD on the way). I will try more of your recipes – thought I would try the spaghetti and meatballs first. Thanks.

    • Jenny

      You didn’t miss anything. This was my mistake not to indicate the level of heat so I’m so glad you asked. It’s medium heat (not too high because garlic burns easily) and I am adjusting the recipe to show that. It’s not a given for experienced cooks – I just forgot!!

      • Dave

        Jenny, one thing I have noticed lately when I make this:
        When the 20 minutes are up for the sauce and the meatballs … the sauce is not thick; it seems very runny … I notice that a lot of oil has risen to the top. The meatballs themselves taste great.
        I stir periodically, follow your directions to the “T” … but should it come out like this? I even go as far as using the same brand of peeled plum tomatoes that you use in your video; same goes for the virgin olive oil. What say you?

        • Jenny

          With my recipe there is no oil to rise to the top so please send me a list of every ingredient & quantity you are using and I can help you figure it out.

          • Dave

            I went back and cooked this many times (8x) – taking a close look at everything I was doing and how I was doing it. I wanted to try and figure it out on my own, before I came back and replied to you.
            There is still oil that is rising to the top of the sauce; it is very noticeable.
            I have used the exact brand of canned, peeled plum tomatoes you use in your video, the same brand of olive oil …. I follow your ingredients to the letter, cook at the exact time and the exact heat level … same result. I have tried many different brands of tomatoes and oil. I tried going to different places for the meat. I decided to start experimenting and try different levels of heat (electric stove), a slightly different length of time. I even bought a new 7″ pan to cook the sauce in.
            The meatballs still taste fantastic …. but no change to the sauce. It seems that I have to stir it constantly … and even then the sauce tastes okay … but not great. ??
            Point this fellow Canadian in the right direction as to any area I should be looking at. I am stumped. I thought at one time maybe I needed to use a gas stove instead. But if that were the case …. you would hear about it from others besides me. Thx.

          • Jenny

            The only sources of fat in this recipe are the oil and the meat. I suspect it’s coming from the meat. The one I usually buy is only 9% fat. I’ve seen ground sirloin packages that sound lean but they have more fat. I suggest buying ground meat labeled 9% or less fat. You could also try using less oil to saute the onions & garlic. As far as the sauce not having enough flavor for you, it could be you would prefer a different sauce recipe with more spice. All my cooking is pretty basic. I hope this helps.

  13. Megan

    I am going to use mince chicken but i will be very careful with them would you recommend cooking the outside of them first so that they don’t fall apart.

    • Jenny

      This recipe does not work with chicken. I just tried to make them and the meatballs do not hold together. I tried carefully cooking them in the sauce and I also tried frying them first on the outside and in both cases they did not hold together and became kind of flat. But more importantly, the flavor was not good. So please don’t waste your time using chicken and look for a different recipe.

  14. Megan

    Can you use ground turkey instead of ground beef?

  15. Megan

    Hi just wondering what camera you use to take photos of your food?

    • Megan

      And i was wondering where you got your bright and colorful kitchen utensils

      • Jenny

        I use a Canon Rebel.

      • Jenny

        I mostly find things at Target, Pier One, World Market, and Sur La Table.

  16. megan

    i thought you would have to seal the outside of the meatballs first so that they don’t fall apart in the sauce.

    • Jenny

      No, but you do have to stir carefully when you first place them in the sauce. Be sure to watch the video.

  17. Diane

    delicious. My grandchildren loved this even though I simmered too hot and bottom scorched

  18. Anna

    Jenny this spaghetti meat ball is super. Thanks a million times Jenny

  19. Nicolas

    Questions. First, do you ever use whole-wheat pasta (“integrale”)? Some people hate it; apart from
    the nutrient-density I actually find I largely prefer it flavor-wise (maybe because of the higher protein content) in “meaty” pasta fare such as bolognese or carbonara. Thoughts?

    Second, you mention “fresh Parmesan cheese.” I assume you grate/shred your own? (What you say in your Mac & Cheese video about pre-shredded cheddar being dry due to anti-caking chemicals is also true of Parmesan, notwithstanding its ample fat content.)

    • Jenny

      I have tried several brands and I’m not a fan of whole wheat pasta. And I didn’t mean to mislead about Parmesan – I do not grate my own but I buy it grated from the deli section.

      • Nicolas

        Fresh-grated from the deli is basically the same thing – I will admit I occasionally buy it grated from the Italian trattoria in the street below; it’s no more expensive and as a bonus you can get exactly the quantity you need, with no nasty back rind (but I do like to grate my own in front of guests to show off!).

  20. Barbara Kennedy

    You fry onions &garlic in your meatloaf, why not in your meatballs? I always put onions in my meatballs. Just wondered? Reply, luv your pierogis and cabbage rolls. I’m Ukrainian. Do you have a recipe for blood sausage or they call it kishka

    • Jenny

      This recipe is about speed so I don’t fry the onions but you can if you like. And sorry, I do not have a recipe for kishka (somebody stole it). That was a bad joke if you know the song…

  21. kathy

    omg Jenny made these meatballs and sauce for supper last night..they are delicious, noce n light..thank you so much for your great recipes..I am a fan!!

  22. Deborah Sanford

    I made this for supper tonight. Loved it, I will for sure make this again and again and again

  23. Lindsay E.

    For our recent wedding anniversary I cooked the spaghetti and meatball dish. And for a fleeting moment I went from zero to hero in my wife’s eyes. I just know that when I cook the meatloaf my wife will think I can walk on water.
    Thanks for your time in teaching me how to cook.

  24. Rosalie

    Making everything Jenny,got a good friend hooked -both of her daughters.LOLOL JENNY MANIA Hope you get this comment..

  25. Kasey

    OMG this may be my new favorite recipe of yours Jenny! Everyone loved it and I think these may be the best spaghetti and meatballs I ever tasted.

  26. Steve

    Are the meatballs OK to freeze before cooking them?

    • Jenny

      They are okay to freeze before or after but I only freeze mine after cooking. They are easier to handle and easily available for other uses like a meatball sub.

  27. ssoozee

    OK, I don’t usually comment on public sites like this, but I MUST tell everyone how AMAZING these spaghetti and meatballs tasted. And it was SO easy. We have some left over and I’m making meatball sandwiches tonight with crunchy french bread. Yum! Thank you, Jenny!

  28. Snowbackohone

    Made this tonight and it was really, really good. The meatballs were tender and the sauce was really delicate and light. This was a real winner and so easy to throw together. Thanks!

  29. ann marie

    Having my kitchen torn apart for a total remodel ..I am pleased to say that your spaghetti and meatball dish was fantastic…I usually simmer all day …not anymore ..this was great! I also made your stuffed cabbage recipe several months ago Polish husband loved them …and so did I ..but I am Polish too ……love reading all of your recipes …they are so easy I don’t mind cooking now …Smacznego…Dziekuje

  30. Rebecca

    My grandchildren love spaghetti & meatballs…..this sounds so good and easy….can’t wait to make it for them!!!

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