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best authentic Italian meatballs

Famous Traditional Italian Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Polpette)

These nutritious homemade meatballs are the perfect meal to make on a Sunday afternoon and freeze for weeks to come! This is another tried and true simple, flavorful and mouthwatering recipe from my Nonna.

  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


Units Scale

Polpette (meatballs)

  • 1 pound of 80-85% lean ground beef
  • 2 slices of stale bread
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano reggiano, finely grated
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced parsley (optional 1 Tbs fresh minced garlic)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Breadcrumbs
  • extra parmigiano for serving

Sugo (sauce)

  • 1 large can (28 oz) good quality crushed tomatoes
  • 1/2 an onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, whole


Make Sugo: 

Make Polpette: 

Cook your favorite pasta or gnocchi, as directed by package, to serve with meatballs. You can also eat without the pasta and serve on yummy bread. Try with Easy Polenta Recipe. Generously top with parmigiano and serve hot!


Freeze portions of meatballs and sauce in a freezer friendly container and have a healthy meal ready to go! Freeze up to 2 months

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: italian meatballs in tomato sauce recipe, polpette con sugo recipe