Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

Slow cooked just like grandma’s, Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs is classic Italian comfort food at its best. Simmering on the stove for hours the sweet aroma of Italian seasonings will fill your home. This recipe makes enough to feed a big family, serve for family gatherings or save for future meals. 

Pasta is one of my favorite foods. How about you? I’m sure all the pasta lovers out there agree with me when I say that pasta is so wonderful because of the variation. You can make pasta into vastly different meals. Take for example, a classic red spaghetti sauce. I went to an Italian festival last year and was fortunate enough to sample pasta sauce. I tasted so many samples of red sauce and no two tasted the same! It was amazing! I myself make red sauce different depending on the meal.

When I make Chicken Parmesan I use a simple marinara sauce. And during tomato season I’ll often use fresh tomatoes, sometimes I’ll even roast them. Yum! Now, I can’t wait for tomato season! (Roasted tomatoes also make an excellent pizza sauce.) Basically, varying one ingredient can really change the flavor of the sauce.

Here’s my all time favorite red sauce – Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs.

I have eaten this meal countless times in my life. I’m talking since high chair days. 🙂 Nothing like a toddler with red sauce all over her face!

It’s my favorite because it’s my comfort food. It reminds me of childhood. And when memories are attached to food it just makes the meal taste even better. Don’t you agree?

But, I must say this Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs is absolutely delicious. It’s Italian comfort food at it’s best. It slow cooks on the stove for a few hours which fills the house with the classic Italian spice aroma. You know, onion, garlic, oregano, fennel, and the list goes on.

This is a similar recipe to my great-grandmother’s. My great-grandmother was from Genoa, Italy and this is very similar to how she made it. In all honesty I can’t say it’s exactly the same because it’s been passed down and every cook changes things a bit. But I’d say it’s real close.

Traditionally, my great-grandmother referred to this meal as gravy and meatballs, she never used the term sauce or tomato sauce. I’ve researched this a bit and apparently it is an eternal debate as to whether or not the correct term is gravy or sauce. Italian immigrants seemed to use both terms and there’s been a lot of discussion as to who is right. It seems we’ll never know!

Now that you’ve had a little history of the recipe, let me tell you what makes this spaghetti and meatballs stand out from the rest.

First, it’s slow cooked. Every step is slow cooked — browning of the meat, cooking the onions, simmering the sauce. This cooking method ensures the complexity and depth of flavor. It also makes the sauce kid friendly as the slow cooking method makes ingredients, such as onions, almost disappear. I remember my mom spent quite some time finely chopping the onions and slow cooking them to ensure that they disappeared in the sauce. But every now and then I’d spot one and push it to the side of my plate. Kids can be so silly!

Here’s the other neat thing about this version of Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs – the meatballs are cooked the traditional way, in the sauce. I promise you; once you cook meatballs in your sauce you will never again do it any other way. When a meatball cooks this way it becomes one with the sauce. The end result is a moist, soft meatball with all the depth of flavor of the spaghetti sauce.

Plus, these meatballs have an extra “surprise” as my little chef calls it. My daughter and I like to stuff each meatballs with a little bit of fresh mozzarella cheese. The melty, stringy cheese in the center makes these the perfect meatballs.

I serve spaghetti and meatballs topped with a little parmesan cheese and sometimes alongside a salad, kid friendly broccoli and some garlic bread. But it’s also great just on its own.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce. It’s one part of the recipe that was passed down throughout the generations. Because if you’re going to spend hours making a meal, you might as well have lots of leftovers. And with this recipe you have many options for leftovers – meatball sandwiches, lasagna, stuffed shells, or you can just freeze it for another day. But I think my favorite way will always be the classic. Twirling spaghetti noodles around my fork will always make me happy.

Here are links to some of the products I love:

Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven | Rachael Ray Spoons | Cuisinart Mini Prep Food Processor |

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Print Recipe
Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs
Slow cooked just like grandma's, Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs is classic Italian comfort food at its best. Simmering on the stove for hours the sweet aroma of Italian seasonings will fill your home. The recipe makes enough to feed a big family or save for future meals. 
Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs
Course Dinner, Holiday, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Holiday, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Sauce
Meatballs
Course Dinner, Holiday, Main Dish
Cuisine American, Holiday, Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Sauce
Meatballs
Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs
Instructions
Sauce
  1. Grind the oregano, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning and fennel with a mortar and pestle.
  2. Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over low-medium heat and add one pound hamburger meat and the grinded spices and salt and pepper.
  3. Slowly brown the meat, occasionally stirring, for about 15 minutes. During this time make the meatballs. Recipe follows.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and cook another 15 minutes until the onion is soft and translucent.
  5. Add the tomato paste, tomato sauce, meatballs and the bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn to low heat. Cook for 2-2 ½ hours, stirring halfway through. Serve on top of spaghetti noodles and topped with fresh parmesan cheese.
Meatballs- makes 15-20 small meatballs
  1. In a large bowl whisk the egg, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, basil, salt and pepper.
  2. Add 1 pound hamburger meat, parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Use hands to combine and roll into 15-20 small balls, placing a half of a mozzarella ball in each meat ball. Be careful not to over work the meat, it’ll result in a tough meatball.
Recipe Notes

I always use 7 or 8 percent hamburger meat, preferably grass-fed. A higher percentage of fat will make the sauce greasy and any lower and your meatballs will be tough and your sauce not as flavorful.

To make breadcrumbs, use stale bread and run it through a food processor. Or toast the bread a bit in the oven and then chop it up in the food processor.

Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

I’m sharing my Whole Grain Macaroni and Cheese on the following pages:

Cook Once Eat Twice hosted by Corina at Searching for Spice.

Cook Blog Share hosted by Kristy at Hijacked By Twins, Eb at Easy Peasy Foodie, Jacqui at Recipes Made Easy, and Monkia at Everyday Healthy Recipes.

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5 comments on “Italian Spaghetti and Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs

  1. I think meatballs stuffed with mozzarella are amazing! I love them but am a bit too lazy to make them but really should give them a go. Thanks for sharing with #CookOnceEatTwice!

    • I totally get that. Making meatballs etc. are time consuming. That’s why I like making enough for leftovers, they freeze great!

  2. I have no Italian Heritage but meatballs and spaghetti are still one of my all time favourite dishes. as you say great comfort food. I like the idea of the hidden Mozzarella too. I must try these!

  3. We all adore Italian cuisine so this would be a hit in our house! Thank you for sharing with #CookBlogShare x

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