Excellent one-pot dinner dish! These flavorful baked meatballs in tomato sauce will indeed become a family favorite. Adults and kids will be asking for seconds!
Meatballs are always a crowd-pleaser. That’s why they’re great as appetizers or snacks, but they tick all the right boxes when served as a main dish — cooked in the oven, with tomato sauce.
I used my Italian mini meatballs recipe for this but replacing fresh parsley with dried ones. I reckon this is alright since there are other herbs in the sauce anyway. So, give this one a try and let me know what you think, yeah?
Oh! If you haven’t tried cooking meatballs in the oven yet, you cannot go wrong starting with this one. 🙂
- A mix of ground beef and ground pork
- Breadcrumbs – prepare half a cup but note that you might not be using all of it.
- Garlic – this is for the sauce, so fresh garlic would be excellent.
- Oil – for lightly frying the meatballs. You can either use vegetable oil or olive oil.
- Salt and pepper
- Herbs – I use dried parsley for the meatballs and dried oregano and basil for the tomato.
- Egg – you need this to bind everything to form meatballs
- Sugar – just a tiny bit to balance the tanginess of the tomato sauce. Feel free to skip this if you are OK with the tomato sauce that you are using.
- Tomato sauce
- Parmigiano Reggiano – freshly grated, if possible.
- Mozzarella – drained and grated as well.
Using a medium bowl, combine all the meatball mixture ingredients: mixed ground meat, salt, pepper, dried parsley, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, and breadcrumbs (photo 1).
Mix until evenly combined
Use a tablespoon to take a portion of the meatball mix and start forming the meatballs with your hands — this recipe generally makes about twenty-five meatballs (photo 2).
Place a skillet over medium-high heat and pour oil.
Once the oil is ready, start browning the meatballs (photo 3).
Set browned meatballs aside and cover with aluminum foil.
Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F).
Remove some of the oil left in the skillet, leave only about two to three tablespoons of oil.
Add garlic into the skillet and cook until fragrant (photo 4).
Add tomato sauce, dried oregano, dried basil, sugar, and season with salt and pepper (photo 5).
Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and simmer for ten minutes.
Add the meatballs and mix (photo 6).
Add remaining Parmigiano Reggiano, followed by the grated mozzarella (photo 7).
Cook meatballs in the oven for twenty-five minutes, and make sure you place the skillet in the lower part of your oven.
Turn the oven off but keep the skillet inside for five more minutes.
Take baked meatballs in sauce out of the oven and serve.
- Do not add all the breadcrumbs at once. Start with half of it first, then if the mixture is still too wet, slowly add the rest of the breadcrumbs. You might not need to use the entire thing.
- You can certainly use a baking dish instead of a cast-iron pan.
- Cover the top with an aluminum foil if you feel that it’s getting too dark, too soon.
- Is it OK to put raw meatballs in the sauce?
Although the meatballs are not cooked yet when they’re added back to the sauce, they are not that totally raw either.
They’ve been browned earlier, and while cooking the tomato sauce, the meatballs are still hot, covered with aluminum foil.
- What goes with meatballs instead of pasta?
Crusty bread or toasted bread slices will be great.
It does not have to be garlic bread — the meatballs and the sauce are packed with flavor, so you need something that will not clash with that.
- You can add or use different kinds of dried herbs in the sauce: parsley, rosemary, fennel, whichever you preferred.
- If you want a slight heat in your tomato sauce, add some chili flakes as well.
So what are you waiting for? Give it a try now! 🙂
LOOKING FOR MORE MAIN DISH RECIPES? THEN YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THESE POSTS!
Baked Meatballs in Tomato Sauce
For the meatballs:
- 1 lb mixed ground meat (beef and pork), about 1/2 kg
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano, grated
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, (1/4 cup first, then 3 tbsp, etc.)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients: ground beef, ground pork, salt, pepper, dried parsley, egg, Parmigiano Reggiano, and breadcrumbs. (Take note that you might not need the entire 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs.)
- Mix evenly.
- Take a tablespoon of the meatball mix and start forming the meatballs with your hands — this recipe typically makes 25 meatballs.
- When almost finished forming the meatballs, place a pan over medium-high heat.
- Add oil, and once ready, gently add the meatballs to start browning them — this will be in batches.
- Set browned meatballs aside and cover with aluminum foil.
- Preheat oven to 200°C (375°F).
- Carefully remove some of the oil left in the skillet, leave only about 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil.
- Add garlic into the skillet and cook until fragrant.
- Add tomato sauce, dried oregano, dried basil, sugar, and season with salt and pepper.
- Cover with a lid and bring to a boil.
- Adjust heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the meatballs and mix.
- Add remaining Parmigiano Reggiano and the grated mozzarella.
- Place skillet in the lower part of the oven for 25 minutes.
- Turn the oven off but keep the skillet inside for 5 more minutes.
- Take baked meatballs in tomato sauce out of the oven and serve.
- Cook’s Tip #1: Make sure you do not add all the breadcrumbs in the meatball mix at once. Start with half of it first, then if the mixture is still too wet, slowly add the rest of the breadcrumbs. Chances are, you do not need to use the entire thing.
- Cook’s Tip #2: Feel free to use any oven-proof dish that you have instead of a cast-iron pan.
- Cook’s Tip #3:Do not hesitate to cover the top with an aluminum foil if it’s getting too dark, too quickly.
- Variation #1: Add or use different kinds of dried herbs in the sauce: parsley, rosemary, fennel, whichever you preferred.
- Variation #2: If you want a spicy tomato sauce, add some chili flakes together with the rest of the seasonings.