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Italian meatballs in tomato sauce

Italian meatballs in tomato sauce

Italian meatballs in tomato sauce is a typical recipe from Southern Italy, particularly from that Apulia (Puglia in Italian, or “the heel”).

Meatballs can be prepared in thousands of different ways. Usually in the North we fry them, with no tomato, while in the South it is more common to have them slowly cooked in tomato sauce.

Here I share with you a recipe I received from an old lady living close to me, famous for her meatballs :). I am sure you will love them as much as I do!

A final note on meatballs and pasta, or meatballs and spaghetti. Well, they are not Italian at all, here we would never have meatballs on top of pasta 🙂 . When fried, we eat them with a side of vegetables, when cooked in tomato sauce… we simply love having them with a lot of crusty bread.

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But now stop losing time and let’s start cooking our Italian meatballs in tomato sauce!

Italian meatballs in tomato sauce

A great classic of Southern Italy cuisine, meatballs in tomato sauce is one comfort food that will make your dinner with friends happier. Here an old Italian lady's recipe!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Resting1 hour
Total Time2 hours 50 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword: delicious, Meat, tasty, tomato, tradition
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 350kcal
Author: Roberto
Cost: $4


  • Large bowl
  • mixer
  • pan


  • 600 gr minced beef
  • 1 egg
  • 80 gr bread crumbs
  • 2 pinches dried garlic
  • 1 pinch dried onion
  • 1 pinch parsley
  • 2 tbsp tomato concentrate
  • 0.5 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • q.s. black pepper
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 onion
  • 800 gr peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pinch oregano


  • Prepare the "trito", i.e. chopped carrots, onion and celery. Half of it will be part of meatballs mix, remaining will be used to prepare the sauce.
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Mix the ingredients in a bowl: the minced beef, the egg, the bread crumbs, the dried onion, the dried garlic, the parsley, the tomato concentrate, the vinegar, salt and black pepper.
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Add half of the trito.
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Work by hand the ingredients until you obtain a well formed meatloaf (see video below). Cover it and let it rest while you prepare the sauce.
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Use peeled tomatoes to prepare the sauce, since they give the best results. You will need to mix them to obtain a sauce.
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce
  • In a pan, gently fry the remaining trito in extra virgin olive oil, and when it's ready (see picture) add the tomato sauce. When it starts boiling, it is ready for the meatballs.
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce
  • Prepare the meatballs (the size of a large walnut) and drop them into the boiling sauce. It should be enough to cover them. Let them cook at low heat, covered, for about 1 hour and a half, adding a pinch of salt and oregano, according to taste. And.. enjoy!
    Italian meatballs in tomato sauce


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Buon appetito!

Suggested wine pairings

I love having this meatballs with a still red wine. Primitivo di Manduria is one of my favorites and it pairs really well, since it is a typical red wine from Apulia. It is a wine still mostly unknown abroad, but I strongly suggest you try it. Pay attention, since it is really strong 🙂

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