Italian Baked Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

  • Author: Recipe Winners, recipe slightly adapted from Bill Granger
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 18-20 meatballs 1x


Homemade meatballs are very easy to make, and as we bake the meatballs in the same pan that the sauce is cooked in, it becomes a one pan wonder. Perfect for a quick midweek meal where the oven does most of the work.



  • 1/3 cup full cream milkĀ 
  • 1 thick slice of white bread, crusts removed and sliced into small cubes
  • 500 g (1 pound) beef mince (ground)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced – 2 for meatballs, and 2 for the sauce
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (or less)
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x 400g (140z) cans diced tomatoes
  • 12 teaspoons white sugar – see notes
  • 34 stems of basil leaves, crushed by hand – see notes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, finely sliced
  • 500 g (1 pound) fettucine, linguine or spaghetti
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve


  • preheat oven to 220 c (425F)
  • place bread and milk in a small bowl and allow bread to soak up all of the milk
  • combine mince, onion, parsley, thyme, egg, Parmesan, 2 cloves of minced garlic, chilli and bread mixture along with salt and pepper into a large bowl
  • gently mix mixture with your hands, then shape into even sized balls ( just smaller than a golf ball)
  • heat oil in a large frying pan till hot and add meatballs allowing space between each meatball
  • cook meatballs in the oven for 8-9 minutes and remove pan from oven, drain off excess oil
  • return pan to oven and bake for a further 8-9 minutes
  • remove pan from oven and add in tomatoes, garlic, sugar and basil leaves, season to taste with salt and pepper
  • stir tomato mixture and spoon mixture over the meatballs
  • finish sauce on the stove top over medium heat for 10 minutes or until sauce is thickish and coating the meatballs
  • remove basil stems and discard, and add fresh sliced basil leaves to the finished dish
  • serve with pasta of your choice and freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • enjoy!


  • add 1-2 teaspoons of white sugar to tomatoes to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes
  • infusing the stems of crushed basil leaves into the sauce releases the basil flavour
  • Category: pasta
  • Method: stove top and baking
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Italian baked meatballs with tomato sauce