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Meatballs Marinara

  • Yield: 6 1x



For the marinara:

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 (6oz) can tomato paste
  • 23 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh basil (or 1 1/2tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef (I’ve used 85% and 93% lean with good results)
  • 1/3c fresh breadcrumbs*
  • 2 Tbsp fresh parmesan*
  • 1 Tbsp fresh basil (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 egg


  1. Start by making the sauce. Heat olive oil in a large, deep pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion and saute until translucent and tender, 3-5 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes & their juices and tomato paste. Stir until smooth. Add 2 Tbsp sugar, the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder and stir to combine. Taste and add additional sugar if desired. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat while you make the meatballs.
  2. To make meatballs, break up ground beef in a large bowl. Sprinkle over breadcrumbs, parmesan, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Beat egg in a small bowl and pour over ground meat/breadcrumb mixture. Use a fork or your hands to stir the mixture until just combined. (Try not to over-mix the meatball mixture, just make sure everything’s pretty evenly distributed. If your mixture feels a little dry, you may add 1-2 Tbsp milk.)
  3. Make 1 – 1 1/2 inch diameter meatballs and drop them directly into the simmering sauce. I’ve gotten between 14-18 meatballs out of this recipe. You may get more or less depending on the size you make. Cover sauce and meatballs and simmer over medium-low heat for 45-50 minutes.
  4. Serve with pasta or on buns for sandwiches.


* For a gluten free version, sub gluten free breadcrumbs or make your own by pulsing a slice of gluten free bread in a food processor. For dairy free, just skip the parmesan. It won’t affect anything.