Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs are a family favorite no matter where you go. This is a super delicious recipe that pairs a thick, rich tomato sauce with moist, light, and juicy meatballs. The deep flavor of the sauce develops as tomatoes and vegetables enjoy a long, slow simmer while a blend of ground beef, pork, and veal produce light, melt-in-your-mouth meatballs. Check out Sweet Daddy D's Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe. This simple, no-angst recipe will become a favorite of your family too!
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Is Spaghetti and Meatballs Creole?
In the Crescent City, it's the family-owned neighborhood restaurants that are the go-to places for locals. In operation for decades, these restaurants not only offer a broad menu of Creole and Cajun classics, they often provide a substantial offering of Italian dishes. Italian in New Orleans? Absolutely. While French, African, and Caribbean immigrants get most of the press when discussing Creole Cuisine, Italian immigrants played a major role in establishing New Orleans as a food mecca. So much so that to many, Creole Italian Cuisine is widely recognized as a major component of the New Orleans food scene.
Sweet Daddy D’s Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe features a thick tomato sauce full of onions, peppers, and garlic in the fashion of Southern Italian and Sicilian fare. Most of the impactful Italian immigrants that landed in New Orleans in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were from Sicily and other areas of Southern Italy. Their imprint on New Orleans and South Louisiana is forever in the region’s DNA.
Here's What You Need
Here are some of the key ingredients for this recipe:
Note on the Meatballs: This recipe will make about 13 to 15 meatballs depending on the size you roll them. This is about a half-recipe of Sweet Daddy D's Meatball Recipe.
For a little extra Creole, add some Le Bon Papa's Creole Seasoning to the Herb and Spice Blend. We're talking New Dimension!
Here is some of the equipment I used to prepare this recipe:
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Here's What You Do
First...you have a beer. Even though you're making two recipes at the same time, it doesn't have to be complicated. This recipe is simple if you are properly prepared. That's the cook as well as the ingredients. Start by having a beer to get in the right frame of mind, then read the recipe all the way through. Learn what you need, make sure you have everything, and learn what you will do with each ingredient and piece of equipment. Once you go through the mise en place, all that's left is assembling the recipe like a pro.
Mise en Place
For the meatballs: Unpack the meats and set them out to start getting the chill off. Grate the onion and retain all the juices. Put the garlic cloves through a garlic press and set them aside. Alternately, the onions and garlic could be done in a small food processor. Measure the wine, bread crumbs, and parmesan cheese. Mix the Herb and Spice Blend in a small prep bowl.
For the Sauce: Chop the yellow onion, bell pepper, and garlic. You can use a rough chop on these so that the vegetables are somewhat chunky. They will simmer for a long time. Open the cans of tomato paste, tomato sauce, and whole tomatoes. Measure the dry red wine. Place the sugar in a small prep bowl and the Herb and Spice Blend in a separate prep bowl.
Ready to go, how's your beer?
Make the Sauce
What happens in this step? This rich, thick sauce is the result of a long slow simmer. The richness of flavor comes from two key elements: (1) slightly browning the tomato paste and (2) the long simmer. Simple ingredients transform into a tangy gravy with a slightly sweet undertone as the sauce simmers. Don't rush this part.
Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven with a heavy lid over medium heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, sauté the onions and pepper until starting to caramelize, this should take about 15 minutes but don't rush it.
Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute or two until it is aromatic.
Add in the tomato paste, stirring constantly to begin browning the paste a little. Don’t rush, this can take about 5 minutes. If needed, use a little water to deglaze the pan. Stir well and let the water reduce.
Add in the Herb and Spice Blend and stir together to mix.
Take the whole tomatoes and add them one at a time, crushing each tomato in your hand as you add it. (Alternately, put the tomatoes and juice in a bowl and use a potato masher to crush them). When all the tomatoes are added, add the juice from the can and the tomato sauce. Mix well.
Use the wine to rinse out the tomato cans, then add the wine to the Dutch oven. Add the sugar and stir everything together.
Bring the sauce to a low boil, then reduce it to a low simmer and cover the pot. Simmer the sauce in the Dutch oven, covered, for three hours. Stir every 30 minutes so it does not stick.
Now, Make the Meatballs
What happens in this step? Beginning with the end in mind, our light and moist meatballs start here. It's important that each ingredient is completely blended into all the other ingredients so that the meatball's texture and flavor are show-stoppers. That is so important that I completely blend each ingredient (or maybe a few ingredients) at a time instead of adding them all at once.
Note on the meatball recipe: This is approximately a half-recipe of Sweet Daddy D's Homemade Meatballs Recipe. For this Homemade Spaghetti and Meatball recipe, we will make about 13 to 15 meatballs depending on the size you roll.
Combine the meats together in a large glass bowl. I like to use my hands for this to make sure they are completely incorporated with each other. Add the eggs, and mix them into the meats.
Add the grated yellow onions and garlic into the meat and mix well. Next, incorporate the red wine into the mixture.
Finally, add the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, and the Herb and Spice Blend. Combine all the ingredients thoroughly so they are evenly distributed. You don't want a pocket of breadcrumbs or onions, you want a homogenous mixture of all the ingredients.
Roll 'em Up!
What happens in this step? Hand-rolling the meatballs will give you the consistent size that you want. Gently handle the meat mixture so that there is still some air in them and the meat mixture is not smashed together.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water to the meat mixture so that it is a little sticky and easy to press into a ball. To get the consistency you want, add more water or more breadcrumbs if needed.
Pro Tip: Have some fun with this recipe. Get some help in forming the meatballs and you can get it done pretty quickly. One person does a rough scoop of meat with an ice cream scoop and the next person rolls them to perfection!
Form the meatballs by hand into 1 to 1 ½" diameter balls. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper.
Pro Tip: Make the meatballs any size you'd like, just adjust the cooking time for the size.
Bake in the 400-degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, turning over about halfway through.
Pro Tip: An alternate method to cooking the meatballs is to fry them in a skillet over medium heat for about 20 minutes. Make sure to let the skillet heat up before adding the meatballs. Turn the meatballs every 3 or 4 minutes so that even browning occurs. The downside of frying is that it's messier than baking.
Simmer the Meatballs in the Sauce
After the sauce has simmered for two hours, add the meatballs so they finish cooking with the sauce. The meatballs make the sauce better and the sauce makes the meatball better.
Remove the bay leaves and serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
Leftover Spaghetti and Meatballs can be stored in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. They can also be frozen for up to 3 months for best quality. Make sure that you allow it to cool down, then place it in an airtight container. If freezing, it's best to store the leftovers as flat as possible. A vacuum-sealed bag is perfect for this. Defrost in the fridge overnight or in a bowl of cold water that is changed regularly. Reheat in a saucepan over medium heat until warmed through.
Combining ground beef, pork, and veal creates a delicious blend great for meatballs and meatloaf. Ground chuck brings a rich flavor and some fat, the pork adds sweetness and lots of flavorful fat while the veal adds a smooth, almost creamy texture. Its flavor is mild and really adds to the blend. When combined with the breadcrumbs and other ingredients, the three-meat blend makes a light and moist meatball without the high density that only beef would give you.
Not necessary, but recommended. I have cooked this recipe many times, and sometimes I just don't have three hours. It's still delicious, but it seems that if I can go for three hours it reaches a new dimension.
If you like your sauce a little thinner, add some chicken stock or even water in the last hour until you get the thickness you desire.
Yes, you can make the sauce recipe the day before and store it in the fridge in an airtight container. You can decide to simmer the recipe for an hour or two, then finish the rest of the simmering before serving.
The meatball recipe can also be made the day before and held in the fridge in an airtight container. Remove them from the fridge an hour before adding them to the simmering sauce.
Here are some other great Creole Italian Recipes from Sweet Daddy D:
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Yeah You Right!
Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs
Here's What You Need
For the Sauce
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 small green pepper chopped
- 4 - 5 cloves garlic chopped
- 12 ounces tomato paste
- 28 ounces whole tomatoes in sauce
- 16 ounces Tomato Sauce
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup dry red wine
Herb and Spice Blend-Sauce
- 1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning Optional
- 1 teaspoon Oregano
- 1 teaspoon Basil
- ½ teaspoon Thyme
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 bay leaves
For the Meatballs
- ½ lbs ground chuck
- ½ lbs ground veal
- ½ lbs ground pork
- 1 cup yellow onion grated
- 4 cloves garlic pressed
- ½ cup Italian Bread Crumbs
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese grated
- ¼ cup dry red wine
- ¼ cup water
- 1 eggs
Herb and Spice Blend-Meatballs
- ½ teaspoon Creole Seasoning Optional
- ½ teaspoon Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Basil
- ¼ teaspoon Thyme
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh parsley chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
Here's What You Do
To Make the Sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven with a heavy lid over medium heat.
- Once the oil begins to shimmer, sauté the onions and pepper until starting to caramelize, about 15 minutes.
- Add the garlic. Sauté for about a minute or two until it is aromatic.
- Add in the tomato paste. Stir constantly to begin browning the paste a little. This should take about 5 minutes. If needed, use a little water to deglaze the pan. Stir well and let the water cook off.
- Stir in the Herb and Spice Blend.
- Add the whole tomatoes one at a time, crushing each tomato by hand as you add it. When all the tomatoes are added, add the juice from the can and the tomato sauce. Mix well.
- Use the wine to rinse out the tomato cans, then add the wine to the Dutch oven.
- Stir all the ingredients together and bring the sauce to a low boil. Reduce the Dutch oven to a slow simmer and cover pot. Simmer covered for three hours, stirring occasionally so it does not stick.
- While the sauce is simmering, prepare the meatballs. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make the Meatballs
- Grate the yellow onion and retain all the juices. Put the garlic cloves through a garlic press and set aside. Alternately, this could be done in a small food processor.
- Incorporate the three types of ground meat together completely
- Add the eggs, combine with the meat.
- Add the onions and garlic. Combine those with the meat and eggs.
- Blend the wine with the meat mixture.
- Next, blend in the bread crumbs and cheese.
- Add some water to make the meatball a little sticky and easy to press into a ball. To get the consistency you want, add a little more water or a little more breadcrumbs.
- Form meatballs by hand into 1 to 1 ½" diameter balls. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray or lined with parchment paper. Bake in the 400-degree oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, turning over about halfway through.
- When the meatballs are done and the sauce has simmered for two hours, add the meatballs to the sauce and let them simmer until the sauce is ready.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve over spaghetti or your favorite pasta.