Italian Meatballs Recipe: Homemade and Authentic

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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Meatballs in tomato sauce are one of those recipes I find comforting and I just love to make: to me, there’s something magical in rolling the meat and dip into the tomato sauce and it’s strictly related to the fact I’m Italian. Meatballs in Italy mean happiness, joy, family and good food: every single area and every single family have its own recipe to make the meatballs in tomato sauce but there’s always a common ground, the need for good and comforting food.

This is my family recipe to make meatballs in tomato sauce like the ones we make in Rome; you’ll notice they’re heavy but I can reassure you they are just delicious.
We don’t usually use them to make spaghetti with meatballs but we eat our meatballs as a second dish together with vegetables; we also make sure we don’t skip the so-called scarpetta time which means dip homemade bread into the tomato sauce and then eat the bread. Such a pleasure!

I guarantee these Italian meatballs in tomato sauce are 100% worth all the effort!

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 400 grams of beef ground meat
  • 40 grams of steal bread
  • Milk
  • 400 grams of tomato passata
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1/2 celery
  • 2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • salt
  • pepper
  • nutmeg
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • 400 grams of tomato passata (you can make it at home! Click here)
  • extra virgin olive oil


  1. Deep fry carrot, onion, and celery in a pan together with bay leaf and clove, then add the tomato sauce, salt and pepper and let it cook until the sauce is reduced but will not be dry;
  2. Soften the bread in milk and squeeze it well so that it is completely dry;
  3. Put the ground meat in a bowl with bread, minced garlic, finely chopped parsley, nutmeg, grated Parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and 2 eggs. Mix for good with your hands;
  4. Take the beef mixture and gently roll between your hands to form 1 1/2-inch meatballs;
  5. Pour extra-virgin olive oil in a frying pan and fry the meatballs; drain them so that they will lose the excess oil;
  6. Plunge your meatballs into the pot with the tomato sauce. Let it cook for another 10 minutes and serve hot.


Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

tomato meatballs

Italian Meatballs Recipe: Tips and Advice

  1. You can store your meatballs in a container and keep in the fridge for 3 days: take them out and reheat over low heat:
  2. You can freeze your meatballs in a covered container for 6-7 months: let them defrost and reheat over low heat;
  3. You can also freeze uncooked meatballs: when you need them, put them in the refrigerator overnight and then cook according to the above recipe;
  4. You can also cook the meatballs directly in the tomato sauce: if you choose this method, your tomato sauce has to be a bit juicier otherwise the meat won’t have time to cook;
  5. If you like, you can also use the same recipe and eat your meatballs without the tomato sauce.
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