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Italian Sausage Meatballs Recipe (In Sauce)

Italian Sausage Meatballs Recipe (In Sauce)- is a simple Italian dish that is comforting, hearty, and tastes like nonna's home cooking. The sausage meatballs are stewed in a simple tomato sauce and melt in your mouth; they are so tender! Trust me, this is the only Italian sausage meatball recipe you will ever need.

  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4-6 servings 1x


Units Scale
  • 1 pound of Italian sausages
  • 1 cup stale bread cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup water or milk
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese or Parmigiano Reggiano (Parmesan cheese)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, mined
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 28 ounces of canned crushed tomatoes
  • 5 leaves of fresh basil


Make the Meatballs

  1. To keep the meatballs, prepare a large baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. 
  2. In a small bowl, add the milk and bread cubes. Let soak for a few minutes. 
  3. Peel the skin off the sausages and crumble them into a medium mixing bowl.
  4. Add bread mixture, cheese, egg, salt, pepper, garlic, and parsley to the crumbled sausage. Combine well with a fork or wooden spoon.
  5. Grease hands with olive oil and use a small cookie scoop, or small spoon to take about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the meatball mixture. Roll the sausage mixture into small, even balls. Place on the prepared baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. 

Make the Sauce 

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet, or heavy-bottomed pot on medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes or until softened. Add crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine.
  2. Gently add the meatballs to the tomato sauce. Cook for a few minutes and turn over to coat the meatballs in the sauce.
  3. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Cover with the lid slightly ajar so that excess steam escapes.
  4. Cook for 25-30 minutes. Check regularly that the sauce doesn't dry out. If it seems to reduce too much, add some hot water. Make sure the meatballs don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add fresh basil during the last 5 minutes of cooking. 
  5. Serve with crusty bread or pasta of choice.


  • Soak the bread for soft meatballs. Bread soaked in milk will puff up when cooked, creating little air pockets that make these meatballs extra soft. Our family prefers breadcrumbs that make meatballs tough or dry (panko breadcrumbs are an okay variation). Use day-old bread for the best results.
  • Use fresh herbs - This highlights the meatballs. Using fresh herbs adds incredible flavor to the meatballs and broth.
  • Fresh Parmiggiano Reggiano Cheese - Use the real deal here. It makes such a difference. Read TOP 5 Reasons Why You Should Grate Your Own Cheese.
  • Oil your hands, or use a little water to help roll the meatballs. This prevents the meatball mixture from sticking to your hands.
  • Author: Elena Davis
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: meatballs, sausage meatballs, tomato sauce, sugo al pomodoro, Italian recipe