Perfectly seasoned homemade meatballs are oven baked, then combined with a simple tomato sauce. Finished with lots of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and aromatic basil, this easy meatball recipe is sure to be something you’ll want to make again and again. So comforting and simply delicious!
Is there anything more comforting than a big pan of homemade meatballs with sauce? I think not.
Whether it’s for a cozy weeknight supper or to be enjoyed as a big family meal on Sunday with some pasta, this is sure to put a smile on everyone’s face.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always in the mood for good eats (especially during the winter months). We make a lot of stick to your ribs comfort food, like hunter’s chicken, chicken, sausage and peppers, baked gnocchi and meatballs.
What’s your favourite comfort food recipe to make?
How To Make Homemade Meatballs With Tomato Sauce
Full details are in the recipe card below, but here are the basics:
- In a small bowl, mix bread crumbs with milk. In another (larger) bowl, combine ground beef, Parmesan, parsley, onion powder, salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, garlic and the bread crumb/milk mixture. Stir with your hands to combine.
- Form the ground beef mixture into meatballs.
- Bake the meatballs until fully cooked through.
- Add San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper to another bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour the tomato sauce into a large sauté pan. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally.
- Add the cooked meatballs to the sauce, stirring to ensure they are well coated. You can then garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and basil, if you like.
The Tomato Sauce
Let’s talk tomato sauce. The meatballs are easy to prepare, just like this simple tomato sauce. It’s light, quick and yummy.
There are just six ingredients, including canned tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper.
Because there are so few ingredients, you want to use the best quality ones you can, meaning good canned tomatoes (I absolutely love San Marzano tomatoes here) and great balsamic vinegar. Balsamic vinegar in tomato sauce really adds something special, if you ask me. I just love it!
I didn’t add any garlic to this tomato sauce as the meatballs are garlicky as they are. However, if you like, feel free to add some garlic to the sauce as it cooks.
How Do I Know if the Meatballs Are Seasoned Enough?
Want to make sure that the meatballs are seasoned to your liking? I love how these are seasoned, but if you want to make sure they’re good for your taste buds you could always test some out by cooking some of the mixture.
Grab a little bit of the seasoned meatball mixture and fry out in a skillet until fully cooked through. Give it a taste. If you like it, you’re good to go and start forming the meatballs. If not, you could always add a little more seasoning to taste.
How Do You Keep Meatballs Moist?
To keep the homemade meatballs moist and delicious, mix in some milk-soaked breadcrumbs. You don’t need too much. I used ¾ cup of fresh bread crumbs mixed with 3 tablespoons of milk for 1.5 pounds of ground beef.
Do You Turn Meatballs When Baking?
No, simply place the meatballs on a parchment paper-line sheet pan and bake until fully cooked through. Easy!
What Temperature Should the Meatballs Be Cooked To?
When cooking ground beef, it should reach a minimum internal cooking temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit. Use an instant-read meat thermometer to be sure.
How Many Meatballs Per Person?
Well, I guess that kinda depends on how big of an appetite one has and what you are serving with it. Generally speaking, I would say that around 4 to 6 meatballs per person should be plenty.
Tips for Making the Best Meatballs
- The key to making meatballs is don’t handle them too much. I mean, form them but don’t overly handle them. You don’t want to compact them too much so they’re dense.
- Ensure your meatballs are around the same size so they cook evenly.
- Don’t skimp on the fresh parsley! This adds brightness to the dish.
- While I used onion powder in the meatballs, I highly recommend using fresh garlic. It adds tons of flavour to these Italian meatballs.
- Cook the meatballs (of course), but don’t overcook them. You want them nice and moist and straight-up delicious! That’s where an instant-read meat thermometer is quite handy.
How To Serve Meatballs and Sauce
- Enjoy as is. Imagine serving up a big pan of meatballs in sauce and laying it in the centre of the table. Talk about yummy!
- Serve with crusty garlic bread to mop up that delicious sauce.
- Toss the tomato sauce and meatballs into cooked pasta.
- Mix with cooked gnocchi.
- Pile onto some sub buns (with mozzarella cheese) for a meatball sandwich.
- Meatballs are also great with a Caesar salad.
More Yummy Comfort Food Recipes
- Chicken and Sausage With Gnocchi in Tomato Sauce
- Farro With Vegetables and Sausage
- Cheesy Baked Gnocchi Casserole
If you make these easy homemade meatballs with tomato sauce, be sure to leave a comment below!
This homemade meatballs recipe was originally published January 15, 2018 but has been updated.
Homemade Meatballs With Tomato Sauce
- ¾ cup fresh bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons milk
- 1.5 pounds lean ground beef
- ½ cup grated Parmesan, grate on small hole on box grater
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 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
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes, roughly crush the tomatoes to break up a bit before using
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 5 to 6 basil leaves, torn or chopped
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Garnish Ideas (optional)
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Torn or chopped fresh basil leaves, or use parsley
- 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). When the meatballs are about halfway done, start to make the tomato sauce.
- Add San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and black pepper to a bowl and stir to combine, then pour into a large sauté pan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes.Note: Canned tomatoes can vary in salt content (and everyone has a different preference for salt). You can add more salt to taste, if necessary.
Combine the Meatballs and Tomato Sauce
- Once the meatballs are cooked, stir them into the tomato sauce, then garnish to taste (if desired) with grated Parmesan cheese and basil. Serve and enjoy!
A note on times provided: appliances vary, any prep and/or cook times provided are estimates only.
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