Latest recipes

Our site's Best Spaghetti and Meatballs

Our site's Best Spaghetti and Meatballs

Saying these are better than our nonna’s would be a bad idea, but she’ll never know if we just think it…


Tomato Sauce

  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper

Meatballs and Assembly

  • 3 thick slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh whole-milk ricotta
  • ¼ cup finely chopped prosciutto
  • ¼ cup finely chopped parsley
  • ⅓ cup grated Parmesan, plus more
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 pound ground beef chuck, preferably 20% fat
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more
  • Torn basil (for serving; optional)

Special Equipment

  • A spice mill or mortar and pestle

Recipe Preparation

Tomato Sauce

  • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-low. Cook garlic, stirring occasionally, until a few pieces are golden brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add basil sprigs and stir to wilt. Add tomatoes, crushing with your hands as you go, and their juices; season with salt and pepper. Increase heat to medium-high; bring mixture to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain a very gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened and flavors have concentrated, 60–75 minutes.

  • Do Ahead: Sauce can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Meatballs and Assembly

  • Run bread under cold running water until completely soaked. Firmly wring out to expel as much water as possible. Finely chop, then mix in a large bowl with eggs, garlic, ricotta, prosciutto, parsley, and ⅓ cup Parmesan.

  • Finely grind fennel seeds in spice mill or with mortar and pestle; add to bread mixture along with oregano, nutmeg, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1¼ tsp. salt. Mix well (it should resemble a coarse, wet paste). Add beef and break up into small pieces (a couple of forks work well). Mix gently with your hands until smooth and ingredients are evenly incorporated; be careful not to overmix.

  • Lightly oil your hands. Working one at a time, scoop out portions of meat mixture with a ¼-cup measuring cup; roll gently between your hands into balls. Arrange on a rimmed baking sheet.

  • This is the point where you should get the sauce reheating, if needed, so it’s warm by the time you add the meatballs.

  • Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium. Add half of the meatballs and cook, turning and rolling occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Add meatballs to warm sauce. Repeat with remaining 1 Tbsp. oil and remaining meatballs.

  • Cook meatballs in sauce (they should be mostly submerged) at a gentle simmer, carefully scraping bottom of pot and adding a splash of water if sauce begins to stick, until meatballs are cooked through and tender and sauce tastes rich and meaty, 40–50 minutes.

  • Transfer meatballs to a clean baking sheet; cover with foil to keep warm. Pluck out and discard basil from sauce. Use a potato masher or immersion blender to break up any large pieces of tomato and smooth out sauce. Transfer 2 cups sauce to a small bowl; set aside for serving.

  • Cook spaghetti in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Using tongs, transfer to pot with sauce. Gently stir, adding pasta cooking liquid by the tablespoonful as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Transfer spaghetti to a serving dish and top with meatballs and 1 cup reserved sauce. Sprinkle with more Parmesan and serve with some basil (if using) and remaining sauce alongside for topping.

  • Do Ahead: Meatballs can be formed 1 day ahead; cover and chill. Meatballs can be cooked in sauce 3 days ahead; let cool, then cover and chill.

Reviews SectionIts, of course, the best spaghetti I've ever made, because everything I've made from BA is the best I've ever made. BUT, it isn't the best spaghetti I've ever tasted. The meatballs left something to be desired texture-wise, but the flavor of everything was on point! Would definitely make again. I may use the same recipe but look to see how to make my meatballs have that smooth texture like they do in restaurants. Also worth mentioning that some of my meatballs fell apart, but it was basically my fault because I definitely stirred too vigorously.AnonymousLafayette, LA07/03/20so easy. so delish. so NOT falling apart, yet light and fluffy. made mix sizes too...I have now made this recipe 3 times in the past six weeks and it is absolutely THE BEST! I follow the meatball recipe exactly as shown, but when I read the reviews and found that some people had a problem with then falling apart during browning I decided to bake them on a cooling rack set in a sheet pan, 400 degrees for 10 minutes, no problem with them not holding their shape. I like to saute onions in my tomato sauce and cook a bit longer. Wonderful recipe. Thank you bon appetit!AnonymousEvansville, IN05/15/20Decided to make this recipe for my wife's birthday (her fav meal) total disaster - the meatballs were falling part during the initial searing, then completely crumbled in the sauce. Ended breaking them down for a meat sauce. Good flavor but the whole idea was spaghetti and meatballs. Love BA. Usual experiences with BA recipes are Great. This was Disappointing.AnonymousLos Angeles, CA05/15/20Another knockout by Chris Morocco! Honestly the best meatballs I have ever made. Wonderful taste and texture with well balanced spices. The simple sauce really allows the meatballs in the recipe to be the star. I borrowed a technique from America's Test Kitchen that works well for the bread portion of the meatballs which is to tear your bread slices into smallish pieces and soak in milk/buttermilk what have you- I used about 1/4 cup. Let this sit while you prep the spice mix and after about 10 minutes you can use a fork to mash into a paste. In the essence of time, I made the meatballs one day ahead and stored them in the fridge to let them firm up and let the flavors mesh and to make the process the actual day of cooking much faster and pretty much hands off. I brought them out of the fridge when I started the sauce to come up in temperature a bit before I started cooking them. While simmering the sauce for the first 30 minutes, I preheated a large cast iron pan in my oven at 450F. I added the meatballs to the pan and baked for about 5 minutes, undisturbed. I took them out, carefully flipped them, and repeated baking for 5-8 minutes so I got a nice dark color on two sides of the meatballs and extracted some of the fat I didn't want in the tomato sauce. These went into the sauce and simmered for another 45 minutes per the recipe. One note, next time I would definitely thin the sauce a tiny bit with pasta water BEFORE adding the noodles as it was a bit difficult to maneuver.alexandra01baBothell, WA04/23/20I’ve made this recipe over and over again and it’s wonderful every time! It’s so good, my father-in-law asks for these meatballs for Christmas (frozen so he can heat a few at a time). I’ve used ground venison, ground beef, and Italian sausage...depending on what I have. I also soak the bread in heavy cream instead of water and I broil instead of fry. I find that I always need to triple the sauce since what’s called for here never seems to be enough. Great recipe that I come back to over and over again!bchywoSarasota, FL04/23/20These meatballs are honestly one of the absolute most delicious, exquisite things I have ever eaten in my life.... I couldn’t believe I made them! I followed the recipe as is, except that I made Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce recipe (with the butter and onion) instead of the one here. It would have just been too much garlic for me and my stomach is pretty sensitive to garlic. But the meatballs were incredibly tender, I mean, they just fell apart as soon as I ran my fork in them! And they stayed together perfectly. I just found one of my new favorite recipes!AnonymousDenver, CO04/13/20I know Chris and the BA kitchen people don't like onion in their tomato sauce (and are garlic-happy)...but I can't even IMAGINE that omission. And if you have issues with the tried and true wet bread meat ball method, you're doing something wrong. Make a TEST meatball like all experienced cooks do before throwing them ALL in there! Also, I bake my meatballs, I don't fry.AnonymousPalm Beach11/20/19Holy meatball, Batman. I had to change my meatball recipe slightly to fit what I had on hand: I used panko hydrated in heavy cream in place of the bread and ricotta, and I had to use ground pork instead of beef, as I can't eat beef. My meatballs stayed together beautifully and managed to be the moistest, softest meatballs I've ever had, and the sauce was so simple, I was worried it would be bland. But I resisted the urge to add a million herbs like I usually do for spaghetti (I trust the BA team with my life), and it turned out simply amazing. Don't skimp on the sauce cooking time. Is it worth two hours of my life? Absolutely. The simmering time also gave me an excellent chance to wash the dishes, meaning that once dinner was served, the only dishes left to wash were the pans for the sauce and noodles.honeybeebutchMinneapolis09/05/19Good flavor. After reading the comments I made the decision to use one egg instead of two. My meatballs STILL fell apart so badly I decided to mix it up with the tomato sauce, creating more of a meat sauce than meat balls. I'm very sad about it but it still tastes very good. This was my first time making homemade tomato sauce and I'm pleased with the results. Next time I'm going to add breadcrumbs to the meat mixture to dry them up a bit.AnonymousYpsilanti, MI08/11/19This recipe has made spaghetti (a long time least favorite meal) my favorite dish to make! I paired this with yalls best garlic bread recipe for an all around fantastic meal!!! Olive Garden who????Not impressed - actually disappointing - meatballs also fell apart and the taste of the sauce was ok but not extraordinary to meAnonymousNew York04/27/19The meatballs fell apart when I was browning them. They were more like meat patties. This did make it challenging to finish them off in the sauce. However, the flavor was excellent. I think perhaps more bread or less egg was needed.This recipe is BOMB! The sauce gets incredibly flavourful and rich from the meatballs, and the meatballs are tender af and have such an interesting taste with all the spices. I made 12 meatballs for me and my roomie and we were so full after only eating 2 each. Since I get a migraine from wheat products, I used bread made from spelt flour instead. Also I followed a previous comment's advice and browned the meatballs using a broiler for 5-10 minutes, flipped them over, and got a nice brown color on all sides while still remaining the beautifully round ball shape. They also didn't fall apart at all and held their shape very well this way.NhibiiHamburg, Germany02/23/19After listening to the podcast, I made this recipe and it is delicious. The only thing I would do to enhance would be to take the spices (not the salt or garlic) that go in the meatballs, and duplicate them and also put them in the sauce. I bet that would be even better. Also, the prosciutto is rather expensive. I wonder if there is a lower cost alternative like a tiny block of smoked bacon you freeze a little to cut in sliver size pieces. I bought 3 oz prosciutto and that will do for about 2 recipes.Trees WhitbeckConnecticut01/02/19I’ve made this twice now, each time better than the last. It’s even better the next day as left overs...the flavors become rich and complex, almost like a dry aged steak. The title does not lie - these are the best meatballs, ever! Better than anything I’ve ever had at a restaurant.Anonymous Los Angeles12/08/18I tried this recipe and it tastes delicious! I made it today and am not serving it until tomorrow to let the sauce and meatballs "age" a day together to get even better tasting. But I'm having trouble keeping my husband from "sampling" it! I followed the recipe exactly as it was written and it worked out fine in all regards. The meatball structure held up. This is going to appear in my recipe rotation on a regular basis!margaretmosurebutlerDublin, OH01/08/18I have tried many similar recipes over the years and this, unquestionably, was the most delicious. The taste of the meatballs and the sauce was unassuming while also being flavorful. After reviewing a couple of recipes similar to this one, I made two small adjustments which only serve to enhance and simplify the recipe. Instead of browning in the pan, as suggested, I simply placed the meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet and placed them under the broiler for approximately 7 minutes. Also, I used 5 pieces of white sandwich bread rather than three thick-cut pieces and soaked them in heavy cream. The resulting ball of creamed dough, while visually unappealing, added such a wonderful layer of richness and complexity. This is one of the best dishes I have prepared in a very long time. And, moving forward, will be the only one of its kind I will use as it is very nearly perfect.I haven't made this yet. Read reviews. I HAVE A QUESTION FOR PALO ALTO. When you said 1 egg helps with the structure issue, did you mean use one egg instead of two, or add an egg and use three?AnonymousMinneapolis12/31/17Made this before Thanksgiving. It was my first meatballs dish ever, and I hit the jackpot! Yes, meatballs are soft. I think I'll use less broth the next time I make this. I love the feel of the meatball texture in my mouth. Also, I'll slightly spice up the sauce with chili flakes. Thanks BA!HermiaAnonymousSacramento, CA12/29/17Yes. I soak bread in half n half or heavy cream, whichever I happen to have on hand. Also, one egg helps with meatball structure issue.AnonymousPalo Alto, CA12/27/17I did a double batch this weekend and it packed a solid punch of flavor and deliciousness! Great recipe! However, I too had a problem with structure, and the meatballs somehow crashed while browning in the pan, they looked more like a thick disk after cooking and a couple of them collapsed and blended in the sauce. I may had a little breadcrumbs to the wet bread next time.The flavors here were great--the prosciutto and freshly ground fennel are fantasic additions to the meatballs. My only complaint is that my meatballs didn't fare well structurally; a couple of them had fallen apart completely by the end. Not sure I like the wet-bread method; I may skip that part next time and just whack up the bread in a food processor.AnonymousCentreville, VA11/14/17Such a simple sauce that packed plenty of flavor. I plan to make a triple or quadruple batch next time and can the extra. The meatballs were also very tasty - I wasn't sure how much of a difference the prosciutto would make, but you could definitely taste it and it added a great layer of flavor. Everyone in my family loved it, with my 6 1/2 year old spaghetti connoisseur proclaiming it the best he's ever had!Made these for a dinner party last night as part of The Ultimate Spaghetti and Meatballs Sunday Supper meal and also made the Ricotta Pie with Amarena Cherries for dessert. Made exactly as directed, no changes. The meatballs were light and super tasty and the sauce was rich and perfectly seasoned. I used 16 oz of pasta instead of 12 oz and tossed as directed and there was planty of sauce to cover it. It’s a bit labor intensive but is totally worth it. Perfect for a cold, rainy night. My guests loved it!

Watch the video: Ultimate Vegetable Curry. Chetna Makan. #MyFoodMemories. AD (October 2021).