Italian Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

These Italian meatballs are cooked directly in a thick tomato meatball sauce. Serve with any tubular pasta for an easy dinner your whole family will love!

Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword meatballs
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 55 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 903 kcal


For the Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic pressed or minced
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed or puréed tomatoes
  • 1 6- ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For the Meatballs

  • 1 pound ground chuck beef
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup Italian-seasoned bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried mint
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces tube pasta (such as penne or ziti)
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


For the sauce:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low and cook to deepen the color for more flavor.
  2. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well. Add the sugar, oregano, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover with a lid and cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally so the bottom doesn't burn and the flavors develop.

For the meatballs:

  1. Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs. Break the beef apart in a large bowl. Add the beaten egg, bread crumbs, oregano, mint, salt and pepper. Gently mix with your hands until blended. Don't overwork the beef or the meatballs will be tough.
  2. Shape the mixture into about 12 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Drop them into the sauce and stir gently to cover in sauce. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  3. Boil the pasta according to the package directions. Drain.
  4. Remove the meatballs from the sauce and add the pasta. Gently stir to coat the pasta then add the meatballs back to the pan. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission, Eating in the Middle: A Mostly Wholesome Cookbook.

Nutrition Facts
Italian Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 903 Calories from Fat 333
% Daily Value*
Fat 37g57%
Saturated Fat 11g69%
Cholesterol 122mg41%
Sodium 1188mg52%
Potassium 1720mg49%
Carbohydrates 106g35%
Fiber 11g46%
Sugar 25g28%
Protein 40g80%
Vitamin A 1342IU27%
Vitamin C 33mg40%
Calcium 202mg20%
Iron 9mg50%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.