Homemade Meatballs and Sauce

Mangia! Mangia! That’s Italian for “get your grub on!” What’s more Italian than meatballs and sauce? When my kids were little Sunday was usually a consistent pasta day with meatballs and sauce.  It was our time to sit down to a family dinner and savor the day before the crazy week began again.

Now that they are grown it’s not something I make as often. Although you couldn’t tell by my waistline.  The smell wafting through the house brings me back to the days the kids were little and elicits fond memories.

I still remember the first time I attempted my home made sauce at the tender age of 21.  I didn’t have the internet or google to look up an easy recipe. So I did what technology back then allowed me to do which was get on the horn and call up my sister-in-law. She gave me the basics and over the years I perfected it to my own unique ingredients and taste.

Everyone has their own secret ingredient that makes their sauce unique. Mine is cream cheese and brown sugar.  It gives the sauce a creamy sweet taste.  I’ve been adding it to my sauce since my son was a baby.

I hope you enjoy my family meatballs and sauce recipe as much as my family does.

Homemade Meatballs and Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 to 8
I'm sharing my family secret sauce.I also add some hot sausage to flavor the sauce with a spicy kick. Mangia! Mangia!
  • 1 lb of ground beef 80/20 (you can mix pork for a leaner meatball)
  • 1 small chopped red or yellow onion
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs (I usually just eyeball mine so I'm giving you an estimate)
  • ¼ cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • 1 large minced garlic clove (you can use more or less of any of the ingredients)
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 2-3 teaspoons fresh chopped oregano
  • pinch of garlic salt
  • 3-4 Tablespoons milk
  • 3 HOT SAUSAGE LINKS/INGREDIENTS: (cooked separately to flavor sauce)
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic clove
  • drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • pinch sea salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • tablespoon small chopped red onion
  • 1 large can of Dei Fratelli Sauce (add ½ can of water after emptied into pan)
  • 1 large can of Dei Fratelli Puree
  • 1 small can tomato paste (smallest can available)
  • 1 small chopped red onion
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning to taste
  • Fresh chopped Oregano to taste
  • 2 chopped basil leaves
  • approximately ½ cup of fresh grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • ½ teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 -3 teaspoons spoonfuls soft cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar (add to you get your desired sweetness)
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  3. prepare cookie sheet with tin foil
  4. put all meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl
  5. mix all ingredients with freshly washed hands
  6. roll meatballs and place on cookie sheet
  7. bake at 350 for about 12 to 15 minutes
  9. Preheat large stock pot on med heat on burner
  10. Drizzle pan with Extra Virgin Olive oil
  11. Slice each sausage link diagonally into about 4 pieces and add to pan
  12. add onion, garlic, and seasonings.
  13. Cook until just about done (will finish cooking in sauce)
  14. Add your tomato paste to pan to marry all the flavors and cook on high for about 2 minutes stirring constantly
  16. Turn burner back to medium heat
  17. Add remaining onions and garlic reserved for sauce
  18. Add can of tomato sauce and tomato puree and
  19. Add ½ can of water
  20. Stir the sauce and mix together
  21. Add all your seasonings and taste (it's better to add less initially and then add more if you need it)
  22. Add Parmesan cheese
  23. Add cream cheese
  24. Add brown sugar
  25. you can add a small carrot to soak up the acidity of the sauce too. It's an old Italian trick my sister in law taught me.
  26. Stir all your ingredients and make sure all lumps are out and and cheeses are melted.
  27. When meatballs are done drain off any grease and add to sauce.
  28. Cover sauce and simmer for at least 2 to 3 hours. I let mine simmer almost 4 and stir every so often.
  29. Serve over top your favorite pasta

The finished product? Mmmmmm so goooooood!

What’s your secret sauce ingredient?


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  1. avatar

    Oh, that looks so good! I’m going to make this. I usually buy Schwans frozen meatballs and Prego or Ragu tomato & basil sauce, with no secret ingredients. You are going to spoil me and my whole family. Thank you!

  2. avatar

    Thanks Jean. I hope you and your family enjoy it. Take note I eyeball everything so all the measurements are estimates.

  3. avatar

    The meatballs ended up a nice brown color, they were not over cooked and I think putting them in before browning allowed some of the meat flavor to seep into the sauce.


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