Mix the ingredients: Place all ingredients EXCEPT for the oil in a large bowl. Using a handheld mixer, mix very well until everything is evenly incorporated and sticks together. If you don't have a handheld mixer, you'll have to use your hands to knead the ingredients together very well.
Shape meatballs: Preheat the oven to 410°F. Using about 2-3 teaspoons of meat mix per meatball, shape meatballs and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet or a 9x13 inch pan.
Bake meatballs: Bake the meatballs for 10-12 minutes or until browned.
While the meatballs are baking, make the sauce:
Sauté the onion: Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes or until starting to soften.
Season and deglaze the pan: Stir in the tomato paste, Italian seasoning and garlic powder. Cook for another minute or until it smells amazing. Pour the red wine (or broth/water) into the pan, scratching the browned bits off the bottom.
Simmer the sauce: Add both tomatoes and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a few minutes on medium-low heat, stirring from time to time.
Finish the dish:
Stir the baked meatballs into the finished tomato sauce. Bake for another 10-15 minutes, or until bubbly and the meatballs are no longer pink in the middle. You can sprinkle on some Parmesan cheese before baking. If you want a thinner sauce, cover the skillet with a lid in the oven. For a thicker, chunkier sauce, leave the skillet uncovered.
Let me add this little disclaimer: This is not an authentic Italian recipe, as in I didn’t consult any actual Italians when making this. This is how I like to make meatballs in tomato sauce, and since the most common name for it is "Italian meatballs", that's what this recipe is called.
Beef: Can also use regular ground beef – a higher fat percentage will still be OK since the meatballs end up in a sauce, they’ll just taste very rich. You can also swap in ground turkey if you prefer.Instead of using dried parsley and garlic powder: You can also use chopped fresh parsley and freshly minced garlic.Wine: If you don’t want to cook with wine, you can just use some broth (or even water in a pinch…) to deglaze the pan. If you want to cook with wine but aren't sure which one to use, a Merlot or Pinot Noir works great.Tomatoes: I usually only have regular diced tomatoes on hand, so the sauce is perfectly delicious with those. But if you have fire roasted ones, they’ll add even more depth! And if you don’t have any tomato sauce handy, try combining about ⅔ cup water with ⅓ cup tomato paste.
To make the meatballs:
there’s no need to combine or beat any ingredients separately – just throw all the ingredients in a bowl!
use a hand mixer with the hook attachments to combine the meat mix – it’s quick, easy and mess-free
if you hate touching raw meat, wear disposable rubber gloves to roll the meatballs
use a cookie scoop to scoop the meat mix, that way you’ll have even meatballs
> We prefer smaller meatballs. I just can’t wrap my head around “dinner sized” meatballs. They’re basically mini meatloaves, no? I use about 2 – 3 teaspoons of meat mix per meatball, so keep that in mind when making this recipe. If you choose to make large meatballs, they’ll obviously need more time to cook and there will be less meatballs than you can see in the photos.(If you need video instructions for the exact steps to make meatballs, see this post on how to make meatballs from scratch!)Cooking the meatballs: If you prefer, you can brown them in a little olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat for 8-10 minutes, turning a few times.Sauce:Lid on or lid off? If you put a lid on the skillet in the oven or not depends entirely on your personal preferences. Adding a lid will leave the sauce on the thinner side, while baking uncovered will make for a thicker, chunkier but also richer sauce. Your call! Personally, I like the thicker sauce better.If you like, you can sprinkle grated parmesan over the meatballs in the sauce before baking them.
You should freeze the sauce and meatballs in separate containers, so the meatballs don’t get soggy while thawing.Just place them together in your freezer in separate containers as a little meal kit and you’ll be ready for those busy weeknights! Make sure to label the bag with name and use-by date (freeze for up to 3 months).I usually freeze the meatballs cooked. That way I end up defrosting the sauce, but not the meatballs to reheat. I just plop the frozen meatballs into the sauce and gently simmer until they’re thawed and piping hot all the way through.