Homemade Italian Meatballs & Tomato Sauce
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4.86 from 7 votes

Authentic Homemade Italian Meatballs & Tomato Sauce

This homemade recipe includes step-by-step recipe and storage instructions and blog post has commonly asked questions about making meatballs and sauce. Hope your family and friends enjoy this traditional, authentic Italian recipe! See recipe notes also. 
Course lunch, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword homemade Italian meatballs
Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 35 minutes
Servings 34 meatballs
Calories 176cal
Author Joanne Schweitzer


  • 3 lb ground beef, 85%
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped you may use a food processor
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup Italian style bread crumbs I use Progresso
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese you may use grated Parmesan cheese
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced you may use a food processor
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder yes, more garlic
  • 1/3 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Tomato Sauce (Gravy)


  • First, in a large stock pot (with lid), add extra virgin olive oil, onions and garlic for sauce and simmer on med/high heat for two minutes or until it begins to simmer. Then, add tomato sauce slowly followed by parsley. Stir well  while always stirring the bottom, middle so it doesn't stick or use a heat diffuser. Cook on med/high heat until it begins to boil. Lower heat to very low.
  • Next add the raw meatballs, a few at a time, until all of them are in the pot. Cover the pot and leave heat on very low for 2 3/4 hours for a total cooking time of about 3 hours. Stir to the bottom every 10-15 minutes to avoid sticking. If it sticks, don't scratch the burnt sauce off of the bottom of the pot with a long spoon or it will mix in with your sauce and won't taste as good. 

How to Store the Homemade Italian Meatballs and Sauce

  • After the sauce has cooled on your stove, away from heat, which will take hours, you may begin to put the leftovers in plastic containers to freeze or refrigerate.
    Don't put hot sauce directly in the refrigerator or freezer!
    This homemade tomato sauce will keep in your refrigerator for up to one week and several months in the freezer. If you plan on not using it within that time, freeze it but, remember, if you freeze it on day 5, when you thaw it, it may not last another 5 days in your fridge. Freeze it while it's still fresh for maximum flavor and longevity.
    Put small batches into 16 oz. plastic containers or 32 oz plastic containers (which you can order from Amazon) and freeze them. Simply pull them out when you want to make pasta and serve tomato sauce with it.


NOTE: Nutrition label is estimated and may vary.
This tomato sauce (gravy) needs to cook for about 3 hours total. The meatballs will flavor the sauce and vice versa as the sauce and meatballs cook. There is no need to bake these meatballs first, unless you want the crispy brown edges.
Alternatively, you can fry the meatballs in EVOO or vegetable oil but, that will make a big mess of your stove however, they taste really good.
You must stir this sauce every 10-15 min or it will stick to the pot. If the sauce sticks, don't scratch the burnt sauce off of the bottom of the pot with a long spoon or it will mix in with your sauce and won't taste as good. 

How to Make Meatballs in the Slow Cooker:

  1. First, add all of the tomato sauce ingredients into the slow cooker and set to high.
  2. Next, make the meatballs using the meatball ingredients and roll them.
  3. Then, add the meatballs to the sauce, cover and cook on high for a total of 6 hours.


Serving: 0g | Calories: 176cal | Carbohydrates: 10g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 53mg | Sodium: 787mg | Potassium: 539mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 635IU | Vitamin C: 10mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg