Baked Beef Meatballs with Pasta (Spaghetti and Meatballs)

This classic comfort food is beloved by all! Make it for friends, family, and children! It is super easy to cook.

Photo by Ali Nafezarefi on

Despite what most people assume, spaghetti and meatballs did not originate in Italy. There is a spaghetti pasta and there are meatballs in Italy, but the popular dish is not something one of would find on a traditional restaurant menu there. Occasionally it can be found on a restaurant’s menu to appeal to American tourists. Meatballs in Italy are called polpettes, and the primarily eaten without any pasta. They can be made out of any kind of meat, like fish or turkey, but they are primarily made from ground beef.

Then where did spaghetti and meatballs come from? The history may surprise you. It all started with Italian immigrants coming to America during 1880 to 1920. Most of the immigrants were impoverished. Meat in the U.S. became a staple and Italian-American families were frequently making meatballs for their family tables.

Next came the marinara sauce. In the United States, “sailor sauce” was a large component of Italian-American cuisine because canned tomatoes were very available at local grocery stores. Marinara originates from Naples. The name comes from the Italian word “marinaro“, which means sailor.

Lastly, spaghetti was a popular choice of pasta for Italian-American immigrants because it was one of the only Italian ingredients available by local grocers. Then people began to eat all three components together to make a new dish. Spaghetti with meatballs and marinara together was inspired by the fact that Anglo-American diners usually had a starch accompanied by protein.

Spaghetti and meatballs has always been near and dear to my heart. My father used to love making it for us as kids, and we loved ordering it at restaurants. I thought it was one of the best foods growing up. My father had an idea that if my brother and I ate Italian style food that we would grow up to be tall. Now that we are adults we have not proven our father’s theory, but he instilled in us a love for spaghetti.

I love making spaghetti and meatballs for dinner parties because it always pleases a crowd; kids love it, as well as adults. I also believe that it brings out a childhood glee in many older guests, which is always joyful. I like to bake my meatballs because they are less greasy than making them in a pan. I have practiced making this meal many times, I hope you like this recipe. Please enjoy!

Baked Beef Meatballs with Pasta (Spaghetti and Meatballs) Recipe

Yields 16 meatballs (4 servings)

Prep Time 20 minutes

Bake Time 15 to 20 minutes

Cook Time 8 to 12 minutes

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Grigio

Beer Pairing Suggestion: Lager


oil for spraying


8 ounces ground beef

1/4 yellow onion, chopped

1 glove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley

1 tablespoon Worcester sauce

1 egg

1/4 cup dried bread crumbs


8 ounces long pasta (spaghetti or fettucine)

12 ounces marinara sauce


Freshly grated parmesan cheese

Freshly chopped basil or freshly chopped parsley

Serve with: Garlic Knots, Focaccia, salad


Preheat oven to 400 F.

Spray a 9×13 baking dish or a cookie sheet with oil.

In a large bowl add the ground beef, yellow onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, Worcester sauce, and egg.

Gently combine the ingredients together with your hands.

As you are working the meat add the bread crumbs. Do not overwork the meat.

Form the meat into 1 inch balls. You will make approximately 16 balls.

Place the balls in prepared baking dish or cookie sheet.

Bake in oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the meatballs are brown on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

While the meatballs are baking prepare the pasta.

Boil a pot of water on the stove and cook pasta to al dente according to pasta box directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat up the marinara sauce in a sauce pan to medium heat.

Toss the pasta and baked meatballs in the marinara sauce.

Garnish with freshly grated parmesan, freshly chopped basil, or freshly chopped parsley.

Serve hot with garlic knots, focaccia bread, or salad.

If you want a bit of a kick to your marinara sauce add a dash of red pepper flakes.

If you want something leaner than beef for the meatballs try using ground turkey.


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