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A square image of Italian meatballs on a plate
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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!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 5 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 Servings
Calories: 398kcal
Author: Emily Kemp


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


Calories: 398kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 29g | Saturated Fat: 10g | Cholesterol: 129mg | Sodium: 165mg | Potassium: 528mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 235IU | Vitamin C: 4.8mg | Calcium: 84mg | Iron: 4.1mg