Parmesan Meatballs

Any good home cook needs a recipe for scratch meatballs and homemade marinara.

I know, I know, there are ready made meatballs and jarred sauces you can just heat up. I used to buy jarred sauce until I looked at just how much sugar is added to some of the most well-known sauce brands. The lower sugar or no added sugar varieties are quite pricey. I was determined to create a lower sugar variety that tasted just like the pricey Rao’s brand. Feel free to double, triple or multiply the sauce to your use and freeze or can for later. The meatballs celebrate my love for all things cheese. Leave the parmesan coarsely ground or use shaved parmesan so some of the delicious cheese peeks out of the meatballs.


(yields about 40, 1 in. meatballs)

I lb. Falkner Farms ground beef 1 lb. mild or sweet ground Italian sausage 1 egg 1 tsp. garlic powder 1 tsp. onion powder ¾ c dry bread crumbs 1 c. coarsely grated or shaved parmesan cheese ¾ tsp salt several grinds freshly ground black pepper, or ½ tsp black pepper 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1 lb. of your favorite pasta.

Marinara sauce

1 28 oz. can San Marzano tomatoes 3 TBSP good quality olive oil 2 heaping tsps. minced garlic (I love Spice World brand jarred minced garlic) 1 tsp. salt several grinds of freshly ground black pepper (I don’t measure this, so please season to your taste) 2 TBSP fresh basil puree (I use Gourmet Garden brand stir-in paste found in the produce section 1 tsp white sugar

Combine all meatball ingredients in a large mixing bowl or in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix until just combined using the paddle attachment of the mixer or your hands. Feel the meat mixture and shape 1 meatball into a 1 in. ball. If the mixture is sticky but holds its shape, it’s perfect. Continue shaping until you have used the remainder of the meat mixture. (see Prepped and Ready Tip 1)

Heat 1-2 TBSP olive or avocado oil on medium high heat on a non-stick skillet. Brown meatballs on all sides for 1-2 min on each side. You don’t need to cook the meatballs all the way through. At this point you are just searing them on the outside, as you will finish cooking them in the sauce. Set aside. Use ½ your meatballs for this recipe and save ½ for later. (see Prepped and Ready Tip #2).

Meanwhile, make your sauce. Puree canned tomatoes. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat olive oil to medium heat, add garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes stirring constantly. Please be careful to not get your oil too hot, as garlic, especially finely minced garlic burns very quickly. When the garlic is lightly golden brown and fragrant, add your tomatoes and the remainder of your seasonings. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add meatballs, cover and cook for an additional 20 min, stirring occasionally. It is very important that your heat be a very gentle simmer.

Prepare 1 lb of your favorite pasta according to the package directions. Pour sauce over pasta and toss to coat, serving with a sprinkle of extra parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.

Serves 4-6.

Prepped and Ready Tips

  1. The meatballs can be frozen raw for a future dinner. Shape as directed in recipe and place on a parchment lined baking sheet in one layer, taking care to space them farther enough apart so they don’t touch. Place in the freezer until they are frozen solid. Store in a gallon Ziploc freezer bag until ready to use. When ready to use, defrost, then follow instructions as follows above. Alternately, you may bake meatballs defrosted for 20-25 min at 400 degrees or frozen for 30 min at 400, taking care that the meatballs register 170 on a meat thermometer. You may also slice a meatball open to make sure it is cooked through.

  2. Freeze/store meatballs using same method as # 1. Cook defrosted meatballs in sauce for 20 min or frozen meatballs in sauce for 25-30 until cooked through.


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