Meatballs with Tomato Sauce

This is the Christiano family recipe. A traditional Italian-American recipe that is usually served with pasta and also makes a great sandwich on Italian bread.
Prep Time1 hour 50 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time3 hours 30 minutes
Course: Main Course - Beef, Pasta, Prepare Ahead - Serve Later, Sauces, Salad Dressings, Gravies
Keyword: Freezes Well
Servings: 40 1 1/2" meatballs
Author: Christiano family


Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion minced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 cans 28 ounces each of unsalted crushed tomatoes in thick puree (Red Pack brand is recommended)
  • 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 8 ounces red wine Motepulcian de Abruzzo or Cabernet Sauvignon recommeded
  • 14 ounces beef broth
  • 3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt to taste


  • canola oil spray
  • 1 1/2 cups Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 pounds 93% lean ground beef
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons basil finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Italian parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Tomato Sauce

  • In an 8 quart stock pot heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and saute until soft, approximately 5 minutes. Add in all remaining ingredients for the tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a maintain low simmer, for about 2 hours, or while preparing the meatballs.


  • Place oven rack in the middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with canola oil.
  • In a large bowl, moisten Italian bread crumbs with 1/3 cup of water. Add all remaining ingredients for the meatballs. Mix until uniform.
  • Use a tablespoon to shape the meat mixture into 1 1/2 - 2 inch balls and place on baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, add to pot of tomato sauce. Simmer on low heat for 1 hour. Serve with pasta, passing grated Parmesan cheese. Stores well in the refrigerator or freezer.


To minimize prep time, use a food processor to chop onions and garlic.
Copyright 2023, Catherine Christiano. Website by Catherine Christiano.