Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs Marinara

Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs

Inspired by and adapted from the NY Times recipe for Marinara, and  Bobby Flay’s Meatballs, I made this Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs.  Both recipes are easy and straightforward and blend together to make the perfect Easy Spaghetti and Meatballs Marinara recipe!

For this recipe, I form the meatballs first, and refrigerate them while I make the Marinara.  While the Marinara simmers, I brown the meatballs, then add them to the marinara to simmer and finish cooking, while the pasta cooks.  So I recommend reading the entire recipe first, so you can decide whether to multitask or pour a glass of Sangiovese and take your time.

  • Author: Laura
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 50
  • Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Method: Stove-top
  • Cuisine: Italian



For the Marinara Sauce

  • 1 28oz. Can whole tomatoes, preferably San Marzano variety
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
  • 1 t sugar
  • pinch crushed red pepper flake
  • 1 t Kosher Salt
  • 1 large sprig of fresh Basil

For the Meatballs

  • 2 lb. total of Ground Meat:  I used 1 lb beef and 1 lb pork but feel free to use beef, pork, veal, alone or in combination, as long as you have about 2 lb.
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
  • 1/2 c Grated Parmeggiano Reggiano Cheese
  • 1/2 c Breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 1/4 c olive oil


  • 1 lb dry pasta, preferably a long pasta like Spaghetti or Linguini


Make the Meatballs

  1. In a large bowl, place all of the meatball ingredients except for the olive oil.  Using your hands (preferred) or a large spoon, gently mix ingredients until all ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Form mixture into 1 1/2″ balls, placing them on a sheetpan.  Put meatballs in the refrigerator while you prepare the marinara.

Make the Marinara

  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil.  Add the garlic.  Once the garlic sizzles, gently lift the tomatoes from the can with your hands, and gently crush into the hot oil and sizzling garlic.  Add 1 c water to the can. Reserve.
  2. Once the tomato mixture begins to bubble, add the reserved water, sugar, crushed red pepper, and salt.  Place the basil sprig on top of the sauce and simmer while you cook the meatballs.

Cook the Meatballs

  1. Heat the 1/4 cup olive oil in a saute pan.  In two batches, brown the meatballs to a deep golden brown color on all sides, draining on paper towels when browned.  This should take 8-10 minutes per batch.
  2. Gently spoon the meatballs into the simmering marinara.  Continue to simmer while preparing pasta.

Cook the Pasta

  1. Cook 1 lb pasta to “al dente” according to package directions.  Place pasta on serving platter or bowl, or onto individual plates.  Remove basil sprig from the marinara and spoon meatballs and marinara over pasta.
  2. Serve with more freshly grated Parmeggiano-Reggiano at the table.


Too speed up cooking time, consider heating your salted pasta water while you cook the meatballs.

If you don’t have fresh basil for the Marinara, a good substitute is 1 tsp. dry oregano (it has more flavor than dried basil).


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