Grandma’s Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs Recipe

Everyone does spaghetti and meatballs, but our Grandma’s authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs recipe is easily the best. Straight from Italy and into your kitchen!


My mother and my grandmother were my inspiration for cooking, and their authentic Italian dishes made me love food and the accompanying feast. My fondest memories are watching these wonderful cooks in the kitchen, as well a savoring the delicious meals they prepared. So when I asked my then 88-year-old mother for her family’s spaghetti sauce and meatballs recipe, I knew I had to share it with you. But there were holes in my grandma’s authentic Italian recipe.

I needed to fill in the blanks, because my mother just cooks from memory. She can make a recipe sing with the most harmonious flavors, so I tried multiple variations until I got it right. Now my freezer is filled with enough sauce and meatballs for months. I must admit, I had fun cooking like my mother and grandmother, making large pots of sauce and tons of meatballs. Usually I’m disappointed with the results when I make traditional Italian recipes from my childhood. My meals never taste as wonderful as I remember. Yet I conquered the challenge and perfected this classic recipe!

I’ve included links to my favorite ingredients when possible, but feel free to use any brand you love. I also recommend this KitchenAid Professional Stand Mixer for a great cooking experience.


Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs Recipe


Ingredients for Sauce:

  • 2 cans of tomatoes (28 or 35 oz.)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup finely chopped onions
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 1 cup stale bread, crust removed and broken into small pieces, or 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil, for cooking


Before we start cooking, let’s talk tomatoes. My mother says you can use crushed tomatoes if you want to cut out a step, such as Pastene ground, peeled, and kitchen ready tomatoes. Over the years she’s used good Italian tomatoes like Red Pack or Tuttoroso. Now I know that many will say you can only make good sauce with San Marzano DOP tomatoes. Others swear by Muir Glen, or Cento, or Pom. I am not such a purist when it comes to tomatoes, because I was spoiled by my grandmother’s home grown preserved tomatoes. Nothing compares to her plum tomatoes, so use what you want. If I use whole peeled tomatoes, I chop them up and add them, along with the juice, to the recipe. You can also put tomatoes and their liquid through a food mill fitted with a fine disk.

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Sauce Preparation:

1. In a large pot heat olive oil. Then add onions and cook until lightly translucent, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic and cook for two more minutes.
3. Add tomatoes (chopped if whole) with liquid and seasonings. Simmer for one hour. Add a little water or white wine if the sauce gets too thick.

Meatballs Preparation:

1. Moisten bread with milk. Combine the moistened bread with all of the other ingredients except olive oil. Mix meat mixture very well.
2. Form into meatballs and fry in oil for only a few minutes on each side.
3. Add meatballs, along with one tablespoon of oil that was cooked with the meatballs, to your sauce. Cook sauce and meatballs on low for one hour.

Bake Instead of Fry:

1. If you want to bake your meatballs like my mother, start by preheating your oven to 450 degrees F. Then line a baking pan with aluminum foil.
2. Coat meatballs with olive oil and bake for 10-12 minutes.
3. Add meatballs, along with one tablespoon of oil that the meatballs were baked in, to your sauce. Cook sauce and meatballs on low for one hour.


The Results

Good cooks really put passion into what they make. Cooking is an art and skill that gets better with practice and time. The best advice I can give is to have no fear. Just cook. Try all different recipes and add your own touches that will make the meal special.

What I found out over the years is that making a recipe your own is what makes that recipe special to you and your family. I have tried so many different dishes from magazines and cook books that were not very good. So I just started from scratch and made each recipe how I thought it would be better and it was. So give it a try and just cook!

Enjoy your homemade Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs recipe!




More from the Chef:


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