One Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs – Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary

Spaghetti and Meatballs all cooked in ONE pan. The meatballs are juicy with a light crust and the spaghetti soaks up so much taste while it cooks in the tomato ragout. This is a winning dinner with minimal washing up!

Overhead image of spaghetti and meatballs in a large skillet on a white background.  At the top of the picture is a small bowl of chopped parsley.
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If there’s one thing I can guarantee in life, it’s that my kids will never turn down a bowl of meatballs and spaghetti.

Although I also love meatballs, my usual recipe involves TWO pans and a baking sheet. Who cares about all the washing up for a quick dinner!

So I set out to come up with a one pot recipe and the results are yummy!!

The meatballs are first lightly browned in the pan, then the veggies come in, followed by the liquid and noodles. You can add more or less water depending on how spicy you like it. You can also add additional veggies if you like – like peppers or mushrooms (add them with the onion).

📋 What do we need?

Ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs on a wooden board on a white background.
  • ground beef – I like to use a 12-20% fat ground beef as it adds more flavor to the dish, but you can use a low-fat ground beef if you prefer.
  • Parmesan – gives the meatballs a wonderful taste
  • breadcrumbs – to make the meatballs more tender
  • egg – to tie everything together
  • Finely chopped onion – for a little more flavor and texture
  • And of course a little salt and pepper
  • The rest of the ingredients here are for the sauce.

📺 Check out how to do it

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP I like to use finely chopped canned tomatoes for a smoother sauce. You could use passata, but finely chopped canned tomatoes will still do a little bit of texture and a richer aroma.

Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce in a white bowl on a white background.  There is a golden fork in the bowl.  There's another bowl of spaghetti and meatballs right at the top of the frame.

🍽️ What to serve with it

Cooking the pasta in the tomato sauce means it absorbs all of the flavor as it cooks, making it extra delicious.

Close up overhead image of spaghetti and meatballs in a large pan on a white background.

I managed to get this one on the table in about 30 minutes, so it’s a great weeknight meal.

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Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce in a white bowl on a white background.  There is a golden fork in the bowl.

One pan spaghetti and meatballs

Meatballs and spaghetti cooked together in one pan – less washing up, yay!

preparation time 10 minutes

cooking time 20 minutes

total time 30 minutes

course Dinner

Kitchen Italian

portions 4 portions

calories 671 kcal


  • In a large bowl, combine ground beef, chopped onion, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper.

    500 g ground beef, ½ large onion, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan, 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper

  • Mix with your hands, then shape into 16-20 patties.

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet (skillet) and add the meatballs. Cook over medium-high heat, turning 2 or 3 times, for 5-6 minutes, until meatballs are browned all over. They don’t have to be fully cooked at this point, as they will continue to cook in the sauce.

    1 tablespoon oil, 1 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • Now let’s start adding the sauce ingredients to the pan. Move the meatballs to one side of the pan (or just make a little room). Add onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper.

    ½ large onion, 2 sticks of celery, 2 cloves of garlic, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper

  • Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring the vegetables a few times, until the onions soften.

  • Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, thyme, brown sugar, crumbled bouillon cubes and the water you just boiled to the can. Mix everything together and bring the sauce to a boil.

    400 g (14 oz) can finely chopped tomatoes, 2 tablespoons tomato puree, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp light brown sugar, 1 beef stock cube, 600 ml (2 ½ cups) just boiled water

  • Make some space in the pan and add the noodles (break them in half if they’re too big to fit in your pan). Make sure the pasta is fully submerged in the sauce.

    200 grams of dried spaghetti

  • Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring a few times, until the pasta is cooked through. You’ll need to separate the noodles with tongs so they don’t stick together when you stir them. Add another splash of boiling water while cooking, if needed.

  • When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat and use tongs to divide the spaghetti into 4 bowls. Spread meatballs and sauce on top.

  • Finish with some grated parmesan and chopped parsley and serve.

    shaved or grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

✎ Notes

Can I advance it?
Yes, you can go ahead, but note: the pasta will absorb more liquid as it cools.
If you wanted to do beforehand:

  • Boil the dish, and then quickly cool it. place in a covered container and store in the refrigerator for up to two days.
  • Take out of the fridge about an hour before reheating take off the cold the meatballs.
  • Heat in a pan with a lid over a low to medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring a few times while heating until boiling hot through. You’ll probably need to add a splash of boiling water to loosen the sauce a bit.

can i freeze it
Yes, leftovers can be refrigerated, placed in a covered container, and frozen.
Thaw overnight at room temperature, then reheat as above.

wanna change it
If you make this recipe often and want to change it up every once in a while, try the following:

  • Adding a teaspoon chili flakes or a tablespoon or sriracha in the sauce for a spicy variant.
  • Once the pasta is cooked, add 4 tablespoons double (heavy) cream to the sauce for a creamy tomato version.
  • Garnish the finished dish with halved cherry tomatoes, a sprinkle of pesto and some basil leaves for a fresh touch summer version.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning on the meatballs while frying, then add the chopped chorizo ​​with the onions and celery Tex-Mex twist.

Nutritional information is per serving, excluding final toppings of parmesan and parsley.


Calories: 671kcalCarbohydrates: 56GProtein: 33GFat: 35GSaturated Fatty Acids: 13GPolyunsaturated fat: 2GMonounsaturated fatty acids: 15GTrans fats: 2GCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 928mgPotassium: 922mgFiber: 5GSugar: 9GVitamin A: 591ieVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 150mgIron: 6mg

This post was first published in February 2016. Updated February 2023 with new photos, videos, some recipe adjustments and some housekeeping.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – this means if you purchase the product I will receive a small commission (at no additional cost to you). If you buy, then thank you! This helps us keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information given is approximate and may vary depending on factors. You can find more information in our General Terms and Conditions.

Hello, I’m Nicky

I love to cook and want to share my favorite delicious family friendly recipes with you. I want to inspire you to create amazing food for your family every day.

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