Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Preparation time



4 servings

Some days I like to go super exotic and elaborate with my dinner. And some days I just want something meaty and pasta-y, familiar and simple. And to at least pretend I put in some effort, I form the meat into balls before frying (because, that counts as effort, right?).

These meatballs in tomato sauce are also super versatile as a main course and could be combined with a variety of (starchy) side dished. See notes for some ideas.



  • 500 g minced meat (I like half beef, half pork)
  • 1 egg
  • 20 g breadcrumbs
  • 30 ml milk
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • paprika powder
  • chili powder
  • fresh parsley
  • pepper
  • salt


  • 1 large onion

  • 500 g crushed/pureed tomatoes

  • 100 ml water

  • salt

  • pepper

  • basil

  • oregano

  • bay leaves

  • any kind of stock (optional)


  1. In a large bowl throw together all the meatball ingredients. I intentionally haven't given any exact measurements for the spices, as this is completely up to your personal preference and you could also omit some or add additional ones. Mix everything together by hand, only until a homogenous mass forms. Make sure not to work the meat too much though, as that can make the meatballs a bit tough.
  2. Form small balls out of the mix (about 3-4cm in diameter, for roughly two bites each), and put them on a plate.
  3. Add enough oil to large pot to cover its bottom completely, then bring to a medium-high heat.
  4. Add the meatballs to the pot and fry them, making sure to brown them well on one side, then flip them over at least once. The meatballs don't need to cook fully at this point, they just need to form a nice outer crust, so they don't fall apart in the sauce. If you need to, cook them in several batches, to prevent overcrowding the pot or making the meatballs stick together.
  5. Remove the meatballs from the pot.
  6. Finely chop an onion, then add it to the same pot the meatballs were cooked in. Simmer on medium heat until the onion becomes soft and translucent.
  7. Add the tomatoes, water, spices and any stock you might want to use. Bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the meatballs into the sauce, cover the pot with a lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Uncover the pot and continue simmering until desired sauce thickness. If you're unsure whether the meat is cooked through, check with a meat thermometer at this point (for the beef/pork mix I used, it needed to reach 71°C).
  10. Serve with chosen sides, some grated parmesan and fresh parsley.


What to serve this with?

  • The most obvious (and quite delicious!) answer would be spaghetti. Cook your spaghetti a minute less than needed, then add to the sauce and cook for an additional minute, to help the pasta absorb as much liquid as desired.
  • Make some fluffy or creamy mashed potatoes (recipe coming soon) and ladle the meatballs and sauce on top of them.
  • Buy (or bake) some soft baguettes, cut them open, top with meatballs and some nice cheese, heat until the cheese is melted and enjoy your homemade meatball sub (that's guaranteed to be better than the ones from Subway).

Does crushed or pureed tomato matter? Not really, it's only a matter of the type of tomato sauce you prefer. If you like a bit of chunky action, go for the crushed ones, if you like your sauce silky smooth, stick to the puree. ♪ But in the end it doesn't even matter ... ♪