Tender homemade meatballs, hearty gnocchi and a simple creamy tomato sauce are combined for one comforting and delicious gnocchi and meatballs recipe. And with aromatic basil and Parmesan cheese, it’s so satisfying (and easy). You’ll want to make this one again and again!
I could go for homemade meatballs any time of the year. You too? They can be enjoyed in so many ways, but one of my absolute favourites is gnocchi with meatballs in creamy tomato sauce.
I’m pretty sure if you looked up the definition of comfort food, there would be a picture of this dish next to it.
With cooler weather lately, recipes like this are in full swing and, I gotta say, I’m loving it. Cozy food, cold weather, comfy clothes, good books and binge watching my favourite shows just puts me right in my happy place!
Fan of gnocchi recipes? Then check out this cheesy baked gnocchi casserole!
How To Make It
Full details are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics:
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together the ground beef with Parmesan, parsley, onion, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic and milk-soaked bread crumbs. Form the mixture into meatballs and place them onto a parchment paper-lined sheet pan as you are rolling them.
- Bake the meatballs until they are fully cooked through.
- Start to make the tomato sauce. In a pan, combine tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper and basil. Cook for just a tad to heat through.
- Stir in heavy cream to make the tomato sauce creamy, and then cook a little more.
- To the tomato cream sauce, add cooked gnocchi, cooked meatballs and baby spinach. Cook until the spinach has just wilted.
- Off heat, stir in Parmesan cheese.
Can I Use Store-Bought Meatballs?
You sure can! Just cook them according to package instructions before adding to the creamy tomato sauce.
Of course, homemade is always best if you ask me!
Can I Use Pasta Instead of Gnocchi?
Definitely! While I do enjoy gnocchi in this recipe, you could definitely use your favourite pasta. Some great options are linguine, fettucine or spaghetti.
What To Serve With It
This gnocchi and meatballs recipe is quite filling all on its own, but if you want to make things more substantial, serve it with a green salad and some garlic bread.
More Comfort Food Recipes
- Hunters’ Chicken (Easy Chicken Cacciatore)
- Chicken and Sausage With Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce
- Homemade Lasagna
If you make this gnocchi and meatball recipe, be sure to leave a comment below!
Gnocchi and Meatballs With Creamy Tomato Sauce
- ¾ bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1.5 pounds lean ground beef
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, grated on small hole on box grater
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
Creamy Tomato Sauce
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes San Marzano, tomatoes crushed with your hands or a potato masher before using
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 basil leaves, torn or chopped
- ½ cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
Other Recipe Ingredients
- 2 (350-gram) packages gnocchi, about 1.5 pounds
- 4 handfuls baby spinach, about 4 loosely packed cups
- ½ cup Grated Parmesan cheese, grate on small hole on box grater, plus more to taste for garnish
- Fresh basil leaves, torn or roughly chopped (garnish to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
- Meanwhile, in a bowl, stir together the bread crumbs and milk. Set aside for a minute or two until the bread crumbs absorb the milk.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef, Parmesan, parsley, onion powder, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic and reserved bread crumb/milk mixture. Stir with hands to combine.
- Form ground beef mixture into balls. Use a small cookie scoop (about 1.5 tablespoons of the meat mixture per meatball) to measure the meatballs, then roll them with your hands into balls. Place the meatballs onto the prepared sheet pan as you are finished rolling them. You'll yield about 25 to 26 meatballs, approximately.Note: If you don't have a small cookie scoop, no worries. Basically, you want about 1.5 tablespoons of the ground beef mixture per meatball.
- Bake the meatballs for 20 to 22 minutes or until they're fully cooked through (they should no longer be pink, be brown throughout and the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the centre of the meatballs when checked with an instant-read meat thermometer).Tip: When the meatballs are about halfway done, start to make the tomato sauce and start to boil the water for cooking the gnocchi.
Creamy Tomato Sauce
- In a large heavy-bottomed sauté pan, combine tomatoes with tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, crushed red pepper flakes, salt, black pepper and basil. Stir to combine. Place over medium heat, stirring occasionally, to heat through, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in heavy cream and heat through for 5 to 8 minutes.
- Cook gnocchi according to package instructions, then drain.
- To creamy tomato sauce, stir in cooked gnocchi, baby spinach and cooked meatballs. Heat through for a couple of minutes just until the spinach has wilted. Off heat, stir in Parmesan cheese.
- Garnish with basil and more Parmesan cheese (if desired). Serve and enjoy! Yields about 4 large servings or 6 smaller servings.
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
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Tried this recipe?
If you do make this recipe, thank you!! It would mean so much if you could leave a comment below. Love to know how you enjoyed it, and it helps other readers too!
David @ Spiced
Oh, I don’t even know where to start here! This recipe includes so many of my favorite things – cheese, gnocchi, creamy sauce, meatballs. If I had to define the perfect comfort food, this would be pretty high up there on the list!