A classic Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe adapted from the fabulous Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe | shewearsmanyhats.com

It turns out, not everyone thinks of the spaghetti and meatballs version of “On Top of Old Smokey” when they think of spaghetti and meatballs. Certain people who I live with, say they’ve never even heard of the song. What?!? How can that be? While he can break out in a primeval bluegrass song at the drop of a hat, he doesn’t know “On Top of Spaghetti?”

Of course I had to change that. I decided to enlighten Randy with my rendition of “On Top of Spaghetti.” “I never fail to marvel at the wonders of what is Amy,” was his reply.

Whatever. I didn’t make up the song. It’s a thing. It’s been around forever How can he not know the song? And how can we be married all these years and me not know that he does not know the song? Crazy is what it is.

Anyways, I remember a few years ago finally getting around to making my first batch of homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs. Yes. My first batch. Yes, ever. Up until then, I had done lots of things in the kitchen, but never the meatball. But then I did. And I have to say, it was, and still is, a darn good thing.

The whole family always enjoys Spaghetti and Meatballs, even my son, who, brace yourself, does not like pasta. Plus, they are so easy and satisfying, like a truly well-made Italian meatball should be. With help from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali’s cookbook, you’ll soon be in meatball bliss too.

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe | shewearsmanyhats.com

And no, not one single meatball has ever met its fate by rolling on the floor and out the door from someone sneezing. It’s always good, happy meatball eating, y’all. Try these soon. I think you’ll be pleased.

Please note: The recipe below was adapted from “Spaghetti and Meatballs” from Lidia’s Favorite Recipes. Lidia’s original meatballs called for both ground pork and beef. I used beef only. I also cut back on the red pepper flakes in the sauce recipe below, but if you like to live on the spicy side, kick it up a notch by adding more.

Check out these delicious recipes to add your dinner menus:

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe | shewearsmanyhats.com

Classic Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yield: 6 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes

A classic spaghetti and meatballs recipe adapted from Lidia's Favorite Recipes by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.


Ingredients for the sauce:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Two 35-ounce cans plum tomatoes with their liquid (or two 28-ounce cans + one 14-ounce can; just make sure you total 70 ounces in canned plum tomatoes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 3 dried bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs, finely crumbled
  • 1 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • all-purpose flour for dredging

Additional ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 pound spaghetti (or favorite pasta)


  1. To prepare the sauce, heat 1/4 cup olive oil in heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 4 minutes.
  2. Pour in tomatoes (with their liquid), along with the red pepper flakes, bay leaves. Stir together. Bring to barely a simmer, and using a potato masher or fork, mash the heck out of the tomatoes. Stir. Salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Bring to a full simmer and let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings to preference. Continue to cook over low heat.
  4. To prepare the meatballs, loosely crumble the beef into a large bowl. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs, 1/3 cup grated parmesan, chopped parsley, garlic, salt and pepper over the beef. Add the beaten egg, and using clean hands, GENTLY combine ingredients. Try not to mash the ingredients together. I think the meatball texture is much better when they are not mashed to death.
  5. Shape the mixture into 1 1/2 inch meatballs.
  6. Lightly dredge the meatballs in the flour until evenly coated, and place on a baking sheet or plate.
  7. In a heavy skillet over medium-high, heat 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup vegetable oil.
  8. Cooking in batches, add meatballs into the skillet without crowding. Fry each batch for about 6 minutes, turning to brown all sides of each meatball. Adjust heat to prevent over-browning. Place browned meatballs on paper towel lined surface.
  9. Once all meatballs are browned, add to prepared sauce, gently stirring to coat meatballs with sauce. Continue to cook for about 30 minutes until meatballs are cooked through (no pink remaining in center).
  10. Cook spaghetti or preferred pasta according to package directions. Drain pasta and serve topped with sauce and meatballs.
  11. Garnish with grated parmesan.


Please note: The recipe below was adapted from "Spaghetti and Meatballs" from Lidia's Favorite Recipes. Lidia's original meatballs called for both ground pork and beef. I used beef only. I also cut back on the red pepper flakes in the sauce recipe below, but if you like to live on the spicy side, kick it up a notch by adding more.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Facebook

Originally published January 24, 2013.