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Homemade Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti

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Treat your family and friends to a delicious and fun dinner with this recipe for Homemade Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti!
5 from 18 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
A serving of jumbo meatballs and spaghetti in a white bowl.

Treat your family and friends to a delicious and fun dinner with my recipe for Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti! Kids love a plate of spaghetti and tomato sauce with one giant meatball perched on top. Grate over some Parmesan cheese and let the feast begin.

I know what you’re thinking. Why “jumbo” meatballs? Why not just make regular size Italian meatballs? No real reason! Just because it’s fun, that’s why!

A serving of jumbo meatballs and spaghetti in a white bowl.

This is a great family dinner recipe. Kids just love the novelty of one huge meatball with their spaghetti. Add a fresh tossed salad and some garlic bread on the side to make this a favorite weeknight dinner.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients scare you off. My Homemade Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti is a very easy recipe. You pretty much dump everything in a bowl and mix it together. Takes very little time to do and because the meatballs are baked, there’s no messy frying!

I know a recipe is really good when BeeBop specifically comments on it. His usual response to a tasty recipe is “that’s pretty good.” So when he said, “Man, these meatballs are good!” I knew this was a winner!


  • Easy to make ahead and reheat (also freezes well!)
  • No messy frying
  • Kids love it
  • It’s delicious
  • It’s just plain fun!

Ingredient Notes

If you cook Italian-style recipes often, you’ll probably have many of the ingredients on hand. Here are some thoughts on substitutions and recommendations:

  • Italian bread (honestly, you can use just about any kind of white-ish bread – Italian bread, French bread, sourdough, even plain old white sandwich bread; just don’t use dried bread crumbs)
  • Milk (recommend whole milk for its richness and added fat)
  • Ground beef (I prefer 80-20 ground chuck; the higher fat content adds so much flavor)
  • Romano cheese (you can substitute Parmesan if you like but Romano has a sharper, tangier flavor that is really good in these meatballs)
  • Passata (this is simply uncooked, strained tomato puree; if you don’t see jars of “passata” in your grocery store, substitute canned tomato puree or pureed and strained roma tomatoes)

You’ll find detailed measurements for all ingredients in the printable version of the recipe at the bottom of this post.

How to Make Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti

Let’s Go Step-by-Step

I always like to show you the photos and step-by-step instructions for my recipes to help you picture how to make them in your own kitchen. If you just want to print out a copy, you can skip to the bottom of the post where you’ll find the recipe card.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside.

Make the Panade

Mixing bread and milk in a bowl.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cubed Italian bread and milk. Set aside for 2-3 minutes until the bread is softened. Using your fingers, a fork, or a potato masher, mix the bread and milk until thoroughly combined.

COOK’S TIP 
“Panade” is simply a mixture of bread and milk combined to form a paste. Panade is used in many ground meat recipes to keep the mixture moist and tender. Almost any kind of bread works for panade and the liquid can be milk, buttermilk, half and half, or heavy cream. Water is not a substitute for dairy in panade.

Mix the Meatballs

All ingredients for the recipe in a mixing bowl.

Add all the remaining ingredients for the meatballs. Mix until combined.

COOK’S TIP 
I use my hands for this. Just take off your rings and get right in there. However, you can actually use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment at low speed to mix the ingredients together. Whichever you choose, be sure to mix lightly just until everything is barely combined. Overmixing meatballs causes them to be tough.

Shape and Bake the Meatballs

Showing how to divide the mixture evenly into eight meatballs.

Turn the mixture out on a board and divide it into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a large meatball. They’ll be about the size of a baseball!

COOK’S TIP 
Make it easier to shape the meatballs by wetting your hands first.

Meatballs on a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil.

Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Make the Sauce

Onions and garlic cooking in a skillet.

While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce. In a large pan (large enough to hold the sauce and meatballs) heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook for 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one additional minute. I use my deep chicken fryer skillet for this.

Adding tomatoes and seasonings to the sauce.

Add the passata (or tomatoes), oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the meatballs have finished browning.

Add the Meatballs to the Sauce

Browned meatballs added to the tomato sauce.

Transfer the browned meatballs into the pan with the tomato sauce. I also add the juices from the baking pan into the sauce, but that’s optional. Spoon the tomato sauce over the meatballs, turn the heat down to a steady simmer and cover the pan.

Cook 30 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through (they should register 160 internal temperature on an instant read thermometer).

While the meatballs and sauce are simmering, cook the pasta according to its package directions.

Serve

Serve one meatball per person along with some of the sauce over a serving of pasta. Top with shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese if desired.

These meatballs are also delicious when served without the pasta. Put one in a bowl with some of the tomato sauce, top with cheese, and serve with garlic bread on the side.

A serving of jumbo meatballs and spaghetti in a white bowl.

Storage

  • Store leftover meatballs and sauce in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • To freeze, allow the meatballs and sauce to cool completely. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat gently over very low heat (you may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce).

FAQs

Can I make this recipe into regular sized meatballs?

Well, sure, but it won’t’ be nearly as much fun. To make regular meatballs, divide the meat mixture into about 24-32 pieces, form the meatballs, and bake for about 10 minutes. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Can I use lowfat milk and lean ground beef in this recipe?

For a tender, juicy, moist meatball, I really recommend you use whole milk and 80-20 ground beef. You can substitute lower fat products if you insist, but your recipe will not turn out the same.

What’s the difference between Romano and Parmesan cheeses?

Both Parmesan and Romano are traditional Italian cheeses. Parmesan is a cow’s milk cheese. Romano is a sheep’s milk cheese with a higher moisture and fat content. Romano also has a stronger, saltier taste.

What’s the secret to moist, tender meatballs?

The secret to cooking meatballs that are tender and moist with a lovely texture is — higher fat content meat, eggs, bread, and milk. Don’t skip or substitute those ingredients. Lean meats and low-fat dairy just simply won’t produce the same results.

Have you tried this recipe? I’d really appreciate you giving it a star ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating in the recipe card or in the comments section.
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Recipe

A serving of jumbo meatballs and spaghetti in a white bowl.

Homemade Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti

Treat your family and friends to a delicious and fun dinner with this recipe for Homemade Jumbo Meatballs and Spaghetti!
4.95 from 18 votes
Print It Rate It Save
Course: Pasta
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 871kcal
Author: Lana Stuart

Ingredients

For the meatballs:

  • Olive oil
  • 3 cups white Italian style bread cut in 1” dice
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 ¼ pound ground beef
  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 4 tablespoons dried parsley flakes or 1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 3 ounces finely grated Romano cheese
  • 1 cup whole milk Ricotta cheese
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

For the sauce:

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ medium onion chopped
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 24 ounces passata or 2 15 oz. cans roma tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 large basil leaves cut in chiffonade
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the cubed Italian style bread and milk. Set side for 2-3 minutes until bread is softened. Using your fingers or a potato masher, mix the bread and milk until thoroughly combined.
  • Add all remaining ingredients for meatballs. Mix until combined.
  • Turn out on a board and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into large meatballs.
  • Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  • While the meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce.
  • In a large pan (large enough to hold the sauce and meatballs) heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one additional minute. Add the passata (or tomatoes), oregano, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until you remove the meatballs from the oven.
  • Transfer the browned meatballs to the pan with the tomato sauce. Spoon tomato sauce over the meatballs, turn the heat down to a steady simmer and cover the pan. Cook 30 minutes or until meatballs are cooked through (they’ll register 160 internal temperature on an instant read thermometer).
  • While the meatballs and sauce are simmering, cook the pasta according to its package directions.
  • Serve one meatball per person along with some of the sauce over a serving of pasta. Top with shaved Parmesan or Romano cheese if desired.

Notes

Ingredient Notes:
  • Italian bread (you can use just about any kind of white-ish bread – Italian bread, French bread, sourdough, even plain old white sandwich bread; just don’t use dried bread crumbs)
  • Milk (strongly recommend whole milk for its richness and added fat)
  • Ground beef (I prefer 80-20 ground chuck; the higher fat content adds so much flavor)
  • Romano cheese (you can substitute Parmesan if you like but Romano has a sharper, tangier flavor that is really good in these meatballs)
  • Passata (this is simply uncooked, strained tomato puree; if you don’t see jars of “passata” in your grocery store, substitute canned tomato puree or pureed and strained roma tomatoes)
To mix the meatballs, you can use your hands or a stand mixer with a paddle attachment at low speed. Take care not to overmix. Overmixing meatballs causes them to be tough.
Make it easier to shape the meatballs by wetting your hands first.
Store leftover meatballs and sauce in a tightly closed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To freeze, allow the meatballs and sauce to cool completely. Transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Reheat gently over very low heat (you may need to add a few tablespoons of water to the sauce).
To make regular meatballs, divide the meat mixture into about 24-32 pieces, form the meatballs, and bake for about 10 minutes. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.

Nutrition Information

Serving: 1 | Calories: 871kcal | Carbohydrates: 61g | Protein: 39g | Fat: 52g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 144mg | Sodium: 1289mg | Potassium: 1004mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 734IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 288mg | Iron: 5mg

Nutrition information is calculated by software based on the ingredients in each recipe. It is an estimate only and is provided for informational purposes. You should consult your health care provider or a registered dietitian if precise nutrition calculations are needed for health reasons.

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Recipe Rating




14 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I didn’t have all the ingredients but what I did have still made a fantastic tasting meatball! I am sure they would be out of this world with the ricotta.

  2. 5 stars
    Great recipe. This was the first one I’ve tried with ricotta in the meat mix and we really loved it, they were rich and moist. Used up some leftover ricotta and will keep using it for meatballs in the future! I was probably making them a bit smaller, I was using closer to 3 pounds of meat and got about 28 meatballs.

  3. 5 stars
    Lana, Thanks so much! My family enjoyed big meatballs as an appetizer while out of town at an upscale Italian restaurant. Your meatballs are even better. I prepared them for a swing choir event at school and the kids raved!! Some of those teenagers ate 3 meatballs! Definitely a keeper!

  4. Glad that you used bread instead of breadcrumbs in your recipe for and making your big meatballs with spaghetti.
    . I don’t know why some Cooks use oregano in their tomato sauce for spaghetti or pasta because oregano makes it taste like pizza.
    Most Italians don’t mix milk and riccotta with meat.
    Instead we use eggs. Beef Pork and veal. Using only beef makes meatballs course and gritty and sausage has a distinct overpowering taste because of the fennel. I am sure your family loves your big meatballs and spaghetti. You might want to try mine.
    Thank you for your recipe.