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Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti Recipe

Not all meatballs are created equal. But Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti recipe sets the standard. 

It sets the curve against which you grade all other meatballs. 

Ina Garten's Real Meatballs and Spaghetti featuring Spaghetti Served With Real Meatballs Covered with Cheese and Basil
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This recipe is the stuff of legend, and for good reason. 

It features tender, flavorful, 3-meat meatballs and a rich tomato and wine sauce. It is everything you want in a classic Italian meal. 

So, slip on your comfiest sweatpants and grab a glass of vino. Get ready to indulge in some delicious carby goodness.

Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti

Ina Garten’s meatballs and spaghetti recipe is classic comfort food. Ideal for satisfying all your cravings.  

Juicy meatballs, hearty tomato sauce, and perfectly cooked spaghetti create a flavorful and filling meal. 

The herbs and spices in the recipe, such as parsley, nutmeg, and garlic, add depth. And they complement the natural flavors of the meat and tomatoes.

I promise it will leave you feeling warm and content. 

If you have dietary restrictions, you can make substitutions to the recipe. You can use vegan or gluten-free replacements as needed.

However, you do it- the combination of flavors is delicious! Plus, this recipe is perfect for a weeknight dinner or elegant party. 

Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs with Tomato Sauce and Fresh Herbs


  • Meat- There are no meatballs without meat. This recipe uses ground veal, pork, and beef. 
  • Spices and Herbs- Nutmeg brings subtle sweetness and a distinct aroma, while pepper adds bold heat. And parsley adds a bright and fresh note to the mix. And no recipe is complete without salt and pepper!
  • Breadcrumbs- Breadcrumbs add flavor and texture. Plus, they help the meatballs stay moist.
  • Oil and eggs – The oil helps keep the meat moist and tender. The eggs act as a binding agent that holds everything together.
  • Veggies- No sauce is complete without onion and garlic. They are like the building blocks of any savory dish. Crushed tomatoes make up the bulk of the sauce. 
  • Wine- Red wine adds depth and complexity to the sauce. But it also compliments the overall meaty flavors in the dish.
  • Spaghetti and Parmesan- Spaghetti is a delicious base for this dish. Parmesan ties all the flavors together.
Meatball on a Fork with Saucy Spaghetti Twirling Around the Fork

How to Make Ina Garten’s Meatballs and Spaghetti

Step 1: Make the Meatballs

Start by combining the ground meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Gently mix everything together with a fork. 

Then, use your hands to form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs. This should yield around 14 to 16 meatballs. 

Heat a mixture of vegetable oil and olive oil in a large skillet. 

Once hot, add the meatballs in batches and cook them over medium-low heat. They are ready when they are brown on all sides. 

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Remove the browned meatballs and set them aside on a plate lined with paper towels.

Step 2: Make the Sauce

Add olive oil to the same pan. Heat it up and then sauté the onion until it turns translucent. Follow up with garlic and cook for an additional minute. 

Pour in the wine and cook over high heat until the sauce has thickened. Stir continuously, scraping up the brown bits in the pan. 

Add the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper to the pan and stir everything together.

Step 3: Combine and Simmer

Add the browned meatballs back into the skillet with the sauce. 

Cover the skillet and let the meatballs simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes. 

Step 4: Serve

When the meatballs are ready, serve them hot cooked spaghetti and sprinkle Parmesan on top. 

You can also experiment with other cheese and toppings like fresh parsley or Ricotta.


Spaghetti in Tomato Sauce and Meatballs in a Cast Iron Skillet with Fresh Herbs

Recipe Tips & Tricks

  • Soak the breadcrumbs. Soak breadcrumbs in milk before adding them to the meat mixture for a super moist meatball.
  • Better yet- make fresh breadcrumbsFreshly toasted breadcrumbs have so much flavor! 
  • Don’t overmix the meat! Mix the meat mixture gently and avoid overmixing, as it can make the meatballs tough.
  • Chill the meatballs first. Refrigerate them for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This helps them hold their shape and prevent them from falling apart.
  • Use the right pan. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the meatballs evenly and prevent burning.

How to Store

Don’t waste your delicious spaghetti and meatballs! 

Store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

When you’re ready to indulge, sprinkle some water on top for moisture. Then, toss the meatballs in the microwave for a quick reheat. 

You can also reheat them in a pan on medium heat for a few minutes. 

Ina Garten’s Real Meatballs and Spaghetti Recipe



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Ina Garten’s real meatballs and spaghetti will be your new favorite dinner! With a rich, aromatic sauce and juicy, tender meatballs- what’s not to love?


  • Meatballs:
  • 1/2 pound ground veal

  • 1/2 pound ground pork

  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 1 cup fresh white bread crumbs

  • 1/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1 extra-large egg, beaten

  • 3/4 cup warm water

  • Vegetable oil

  • Olive oil

  • Sauce:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion (1 onion)

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1/2 cup good red wine, such as Chianti

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, or plum tomatoes in puree, chopped

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • Serving:
  • 1 1/2 pounds spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

  • Freshly grated Parmesan


  • Combine ground meats, bread crumbs, parsley, Parmesan, salt, pepper, nutmeg, egg, and warm water in a mixing bowl. Use a fork to combine lightly.
  • Form the mixture into 2-inch meatballs using your hands. You should end up with 14-16 meatballs.
  • Heat a mixture of vegetable and olive oil to a depth of 1/4 inch in a large skillet.
  • In batches, carefully add the meatballs to the hot oil and cook over medium-low heat until they are browned on all sides. It usually takes around 10 minutes per batch. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan.
  • Place the browned meatballs on a plate lined with paper towels. Dispose of the excess oil, but do not clean the pan. You will use it for the sauce.
  • Add olive oil to the same skillet and heat it up. Sauté the onion over medium heat until it turns translucent. This should take 5-10 minutes.
  • Throw in the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Pour in the wine and increase the temperature to high heat until almost all the liquid has evaporated, which should take (about 3 minutes). Make sure to scrape up the brown goodness from the bottom of the pan.
  • Add the tomatoes, parsley, salt, and pepper to the pan.
  • Put the meatballs back in the pan with the sauce, cover, and let them simmer on low heat for 25-30 minutes.
  • Serve hot with cooked spaghetti. And do not forget to sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
Ina Garten's Real Meatballs and Spaghetti Recipe

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Kim - InsanelyGood
Hey there! I'm Kim. I love running, cooking, and curling up with a good book! I share recipes for people who LOVE good food, but want to keep things simple :)

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