Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs Recipe


This recipe is as sacred as they come.  I’ve been keeping it tucked away in a box on a top cupboard shelf for safe keeping, bringing out only for special occasions for these past 18 or so years.  To disrespect or disregard the wonderfulness of this recipe, is, simply put, a crime.

As the title says, this is indeed Grandma’s recipe, passed down from mother to daughter, to daughter again.  But not my grandmother.  I happened to be at the right place at the right time, with just the right amount of charm mixed with desperation to have begged a copy of this recipe from my friend and neighbor.  I was the Kramer in this situation, mooching a meal and coming away with the grand prize.

You will not believe the simplicity of the recipe, and you’ll be completely surprised by how good it is.  Just trust me.

Now the first thing you are going to need is a day off. This baby cooks slowly, simmering on your stove top for four hours.  The second thing you will need is a big pot, it’s a large batch that feeds a crowd, splits to share with neighbors, or takes care of a couple of hungry teenagers.  Best over spaghetti, or tucked into a roll for incomparable meatball subs.  You can make the sauce and not make the meatballs, but it really won’t be anywhere close to being as good as with because the meatballs are cooked in the sauce and marry with it, changing it completely.

Don’t be put off be the fact that the sauce uses tomato juice, or by how it looks initially when you dump everything in.  Like grandma, the sauce gets better with age and turns out magnificent.  Well, at least when I’m a grandma I plan on being magnificent.

Sauce Ingredients:

-1 chopped onion

-1 can of tomato juice (the big one)

-1 can of tomato paste

-1 can of diced tomatoes (28 oz)

-1 tsp salt

-1 tsp pepper

-2 tbsp brown sugar

-3 bay leaves

-sprinkle of cinnamon

-sprinkle of basil

Directions: Put everything into a large pot.  Bring it to a boil and then reduce heat to simmering.  Simmer for 4 hours, not a typo FOUR hours.  Very importantly, you must simmer the sauce with the lid off and on over the four hour period.  One hour lid on, one hour lid off, one hour lid one, one hour lid off.  It’s kitchen magic, don’t question grandma, just do it.

Meatball Ingredients

-3 lbs of ground beef

-1 cup of dry bread crumbs

-1 clove of garlic

-1 small minced onion

-1/2 cup of milk

-2 eggs

-salt and pepper to taste

-dash of allspice

Directions: Put everything in a bowl and mixed together with your hands.  Form 2 inch meatballs and brown them in a frying pan. (Note this is where I break with grandma’s tradition, I don’t fry them, I throw the meatballs on a foil lined pan and brown them in the oven, it’s faster and doesn’t splatter all over my stove).  Put the meatballs into the sauce for the last 30 to 45 minutes of simmering.

Serve over spaghetti or in rolls for meatball subs.

I seriously do keep this recipe on the original paper that I copied it out on way back in…1997 or 98.  Folded in quarters and tucked away I only bring this out when I want a family pleasing hearty meal that is also budget friendly.  It has never failed me. Never.

My original handwritten copy. “Nen’s G” was my 1998 shorthand for “Jennifer’s Grandmother’s to die for meatball recipe but I don’t have time to write that because the kids are going to wake up from their nap soon”
This handwritten recipe and maybe one other are as precious in my recipe collection as the dead sea scrolls are to the archives where they are stored.


3 comments on “Grandma’s Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs Recipe”

  1. This is awesome! Isn’t it funny how we start a food blog and share the secret family recipes. LOL! I’m totally guilty!!! I was really bad and shared a secret recipe from a family that owns a well known San Francisco Bay restaurant. My only saving grace is that the restaurant is no longer open. I still felt so very guilty!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My family loves spaghetti and meatballs. I am going to try this for sure! I have a gas stove, simmering doesn’t ever seem like simmering…may be a problem. Plus, I have to get the day off.

    Liked by 1 person

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