Homemade meatballs are hearty & super delicious and a classic Italian favorite. This easy meatball marinara recipe is so good you’ll want to add it to the regular meal rotation!
And bonus, it’s totally kid friendly!
Easy meatball marinara recipe
Perfectly tender and delicious, these Italian meatballs are easy to make, maintain their shape and flavor, and freeze for later use. So, they definitely make a great option for meal planning!
I love this meatball marinara for our family meal after church on a Sunday. They are also so versatile that you can make this recipe and use it for pasta, meatball subs, or even in a lasagna!
Homemade meatballs are cheaper and healthier than store-bought ones. And when you prepare the meat mix at home, you can make the perfect meatballs.
These classic Italian meatballs have just the right blend of spices and herbs. And this recipe doesn’t require any complicated ingredients.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe.
- onion, chopped
- garlic cloves, minced
- extra virgin olive oil
- fresh shredded parmesan cheese
- canned San Marzano tomatoes
- tomato paste
- Italian seasoning
- ground beef
- large egg
- dry Italian bread crumbs
- garlic cloves
- Italian seasoning
- pinch of sea salt
Meat substitution ideas
If you’d like, you could substitute the ground beef for half lean ground beef and half ground pork. Turkey meatballs are also another alternative with using ground turkey. The texture will come out a bit different and even slightly dry if over cooked.
Personally, I would recommend only ground beef or half ground beef and half ground pork.
Instructions – step by step
For this recipe, we begin by gathering our ingredients and starting the marinara sauce. After the sauce is simmering, we will brown the meatballs in a frying pan. After they are browned, they simmer in the the tomato sauce until cooked through.
The secret to a good Italian meatball is to use the right ingredients and to handle the meat gently when mixing all of the ingredients. Overworking the meat mixture will create a tough meatball.
Finishing the meatballs in the sauce also contributes to them being perfectly tender and helps to avoid them being overcooked while frying them in the pan.
Homemade marinara sauce
In a large saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until translucent, add garlic and stir until fragrant (just about 1 minute).
Stir in the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Cook the sauce on the stovetop over low heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to prevent burning to bottom of the pan.
Make the meatballs
In a large bowl, add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, minced garlic, egg, and seasonings; mix thoroughly but be careful not to over mix as it will result in a tougher meatball.
Gently form the meat mixture in small balls.
Preheat a large skillet or frying pan with a drizzle of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and brown the sides in the hot olive oil.
Add the browned meatballs to the sauce and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and serve this flavorful marinara sauce over spaghetti or your favorite pasta noodles.
Add crushed red pepper flakes and fresh grated parmesan or pecorino for even more delicious flavor!
They can also be topped with fresh herbs like basil, oregano, Italian parsley, or mint.
How to store and reheat leftovers
This meatball marinara recipe stores well in the refrigerator and freezer, which makes it a great addition to meal planning. Store leftovers in an airtight container for about 4-5 days and can be kept in a deep freeze for up to 6 months.
To reheat the leftovers, heat in a saucepan or pot on the stovetop over medium heat until warmed through. Be sure to stir occasionally.
What to serve with italian meatballs
Or pair it with a fresh green salad or Caesar salad.
Here’s a few other recipe pairings that we love:
FAQ (frequently asked questions)
Depending on how long the meatballs were browned for, about 15 minutes or so is how long I generally simmer the meatballs in the marinara sauce.
They can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for about 4-5 days.
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Easy Meatball Marinara Recipe
Marinara sauce ingredients
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- ¼ cup olive oil extra virgin
- 28 ounce San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes dice up slightly or use scissors to snip them up a bit
- 6 ounce tomato paste
- 28 ounce water use the can from the canned tomatoes and fill with water
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- In a large stock pot or saucepan, cook onion in olive oil until translucent. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant (just about 1 minute).
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, salt, black pepper and Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat to low and cook on a low simmer for 1 hour. Stir occasionally to prevent burning to the bottom of the pan.
- Combine ground beef, breadcrumbs, minced garlic, egg, and the seasonings; mix thoroughly, but be careful not to over mix. Gently form in to small balls.
- Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat and brown sides of the meatballs in hot olive oil.
- Add the browned meatballs to the sauce and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.