Mains

Juicy Italian Meatballs In A Rich Tomato Sauce (Polpette)

Juicy Italian meatballs made with delicious herbs and spices and cooked in a simple, rich tomato sauce. These Italian polpette are served as they are with some fresh crusty bread to mop up the best bits! Easy, delicious and full of flavour!

Three Italian meatballs on a plate with tomato sauce and basil leaves

Ever have a craving for juicy Italian meatballs but they turn out dry, tasteless and a damn disappointment? Uggh, how annoying is that?

Well….I have an amazing recipe that will make all your meatball dreams come true (is it just me that dreams about meatballs?). They are soft, extra juicy and packed…I mean packed with delicious flavour.

Making The Best Italian Meatballs – Tips

There are a few tricks and tips to making the very best Italian meatballs (called Polpette in Italian in case you were wondering).

  • First, choose the best quality beef you can get ahold of. I use Aberdeen Angus premium quality ground beef because I live in Scotland and it’s the best quality.
  • Use fresh breadcrumbs rather than hard store bought crumbs. Fresh crumbs are fluffier and soak up more juice and flavour.
  • Add dried seasonings such as fennel seeds (my fave), oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper.
  • Brown the meatballs first to create a crust on the outside then simmer slowly in the best tomato sauce. Why go to the effort of making the best meatballs and then plonk them in a so-so average sauce, right?

How To Make Italian Meatballs – Step By Step

All the meatball ingredients are placed in a food processor and blitzed until thoroughly combined and smooth. Next using your hands, shape the mixture into meatballs by rolling them one by one in the palms of your hands (photos 1-3).

Top Tip: When rolling the meatballs they should be shiny and smooth with minimal to no cracks on the surface.

Step by step photos for making Italian meatballs

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and brown the meatballs on all sides, set aside on a plate. Next, saute the chopped onion in the same pan until soft (photos 4 & 5).

Place the cooked onion in a blender with good quality canned chopped tomatoes and blitz until smooth. Add the sauce to the pan with salt, pepper, tomato paste and a small pinch of sugar. Simmer the sauce on a low heat for 10 minutes.

Add the meatballs back to the sauce and gently toss them so they are covered in the sauce, simmer slowly for 30 minutes (photos 7-9).

My Italian Meatball Mixture – What You Need

  • Ground BeefAlways high quality
  • EggTo help bind
  • Fresh Breadcrumbs – To help bind everything together and keep them extra juicy
  • Oregano, Marjoram & Fennel Seedsthis combo is SO delicious especially the fennel…don’t skip that part
  • Pine NutsUsed in many meatball recipes in the north of Italy and tastes delicious
  • GarlicFor extra flavour & to keep the vampires away
  • Salt and PepperSeasoning your meatballs is just as important than any other ingredient!

A close up of Italian meatballs on a plate with tomato sauce

Traditionally in Italy meatballs are served as a main course without pasta. They are usually served with creamy polenta (which is to die for, recipe coming soon) or with crusty bread.

P.S If you do love meatballs then you NEED my recipe for mozzarella stuffed meatballs in your life, they are insane and so easy to make.

More Italian Recipes You Might Like;

If you’ve tried these Italian Meatballs or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOKTWITTERINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

A square image of Italian meatballs on a plate
Print Pin
5 from 2 votes

Juicy Italian Meatballs In A Rich Tomato Sauce

Juicy Italian meatballs made with delicious herbs and spices and cooked in a simple, rich tomato sauce. These Italian polpette are served as they are with some fresh crusty bread to mop up the best bits! Easy, delicious and full of flavour!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Italian Meatballs, Meatballs with Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 4 Servings
Calories 398kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

For The Meatballs

  • 1.1 lbs (500g) ground beef high quality such as Aberdeen Angus
  • 1 Egg free range
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 1/4 cup (60g) fresh breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to season

For The Sauce

  • 1 white/yellow onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 2 14 oz cans (800g) chopped/diced canned tomatoes high quality
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (puree in UK)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to season

For Serving

  • Freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese
  • Torn fresh basil leaves

Instructions

  • All the meatball ingredients are placed in a food processor and blitz until thoroughly combined and smooth. Next using your hands, shape the mixture into meatballs by rolling them one by one in the palms of your hands. This should make 12-13 meatballs.
  • Top Tip: When rolling the meatballs they should be shiny and smooth with minimal to no cracks on the surface.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a pan and brown the meatballs on all sides, set aside on a plate. Next, saute the chopped onion in the same pan until soft.
  • Place the cooked onion in a blender with good quality canned chopped tomatoes and blitz until smooth. Add the sauce to the pan with salt, pepper, tomato paste and a small pinch of sugar. Rinse out the tomato cans with a little water and add that to the sauce (fill each can about 1/4 full) Simmer the sauce on a low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Add the meatballs back to the sauce and gently toss them so they are covered in the sauce, simmer slowly for 30 minutes.
  • Serve with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese and torn basil leaves.

Notes

There are a few tricks and tips to making the very best Italian meatballs;

  • First, choose the best quality beef you can get ahold of. I use Aberdeen Angus premium quality ground beef because I live in Scotland and it's the best quality I can get.
  • Use fresh breadcrumbs rather than hard store bought fine hard crumbs. Fresh crumbs are fluffier and soak up more juice and flavour.
  • Add dried seasonings such as fennel seeds (my fave), oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Don't skip the fennel seeds if you can they add a ton of flavour.
  • Brown the meatballs first to create a crust on the outside then simmer slowly in the best tomato sauce. The crust creates a seal on the outside that helps keep all the flavour and juices inside.
Nutrition Facts
Juicy Italian Meatballs In A Rich Tomato Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 398 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 45%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 129mg 43%
Sodium 165mg 7%
Potassium 528mg 15%
Total Carbohydrates 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 24g 48%
Vitamin A 4.7%
Vitamin C 5.8%
Calcium 8.4%
Iron 22.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Juicy Italian Meatballs In A Rich Tomato Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 398 Calories from Fat 261
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 29g 45%
Saturated Fat 10g 50%
Cholesterol 129mg 43%
Sodium 165mg 7%
Potassium 528mg 15%
Total Carbohydrates 7g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 3g
Protein 24g 48%
Vitamin A 4.7%
Vitamin C 5.8%
Calcium 8.4%
Iron 22.9%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Helpful Info For All Recipes 
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan oven
  • Read more about how the nutritional information is calculated here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!
Juicy Italian Meatballs made in a simple rich tomato sauce. These homemade meatballs are so easy to make and taste insane. They're soft, juicy & delicious. Try serving them with polenta for an authentic Italian meal. | Authentic Italian Recipes | Meatballs Recipe | #insidetherustickitchen #meatballs #Italianfood #Italianrecipes

Newsletter

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Diana
    September 21, 2018 at 3:07 pm

    Looks fantastic! Only thing – I think you missed breadcrumbs in the ingredient list of the recipe 🙂

    • Reply
      Inside the rustic kitchen
      September 21, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      Uggh, I had ONE job! Haha thanks so much for pointing that out Diana I’ve just added it in now!

  • Reply
    Alia @ Everyday Easy Eats
    September 20, 2018 at 2:29 am

    Hi Emily! Your Italian meatballs look so tasty! I love the step-by-step photos and how you’ve organized them…super helpful!! I just ate and now you’re making me hungry again, lol!

  • Reply
    Angelita
    September 19, 2018 at 1:14 pm

    Mmm! What could be more delicious than a plate of tasty meatballs..food to make you go ooooh yesss!!

  • Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.