Dorie Greenspan’s Spaghetti and Meatballs

This spaghetti and meatballs recipe is everything you’d expect from Dorie Greenspan. It’s easy, utterly delicious, and a crowd pleaser. The meatballs take on a unique taste and texture thanks to stealth ingredients oats and walnuts.

A white bowl of spaghetti and meatballs next to a skillet of spaghetti and meatballs by Dorie Greenspan

These stand-out, flavor-packed, gotta-make-them-again meatballs from Dorie Greenspan sneak in a few stealth ingredients (hello, oats and walnuts!) while remaining light and tender. And, in classic Dorie Greenspan fashion, they’re both easy and unforgettable. First try them straight up simmered in this incredibly easy tomato sauce that packs its own ingredient surprise. Then have your way with the leftovers, whether you pile them atop a sub sandwich or make another batch of pasta or simply fork them up straight from the fridge when the craving hits.–Jenny Howard

Dorie Greenspan's Spaghetti and Meatballs

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 2 H, 15 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Everyday Dorie cookbook

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  • For the sauce
  • One (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, undrained (or substitute diced tomatoes)
  • One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • For the meatballs
  • 1 pound ground beef, not too lean
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage meat
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats, not instant
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mixed herbs, such as thyme, oregano, rosemary and basil, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • For serving (optional)
  • 1 pound spaghetti or linguine
  • Grated Parmesan or Grana Padano
  • Finely chopped herbs


  • Make the sauce
  • 1. Pour the whole tomatoes into a large Dutch oven and use your hands or a pair of kitchen scissors to break them into bite-size pieces.
  • 2. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Place the Dutch oven over very low heat, cover, and gently simmer while you make the meatballs.
  • Make the meatballs
  • 3. In a large bowl, combine the beef, sausage, onion, oats, walnuts, herbs, and salt and pepper and mix gently by hand. Add the lightly beaten egg and work it in just until combined. Using a medium (1 1/2 tablespoon) cookie scoop or your hands, form the mixture into 24 to 28 small meatballs about 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in diameter. Be careful not to compact the meat too much.
  • 4. In a large skillet set over medium heat, warm the oil. Add half the meatballs and cook, turning as needed, until they’re browned on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes. (You just want to sear the outside of the meatballs; you’re not looking to cook them through.) Transfer the meatballs to a paper-towel lined plate and pat them lightly with additional paper towels to remove as much oil as possible. Repeat with the remaining meatballs, adding more oil to the skillet if needed.
  • 5. Place the browned meatballs in the sauce, pushing the meatballs around to make sure that they’re submerged. Cover the pan and cook at the lowest possible simmer, with just an occasional bubble reaching the surface, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. This long, gentle simmer keeps the meatballs tender and imparts even more flavor to the sauce. (The meatballs and sauce can be made in advance and refrigerated for up to 3 days. Before serving, simmer everything together in a covered pot over low heat for about 30 minutes.)
  • To serve
  • 6. When the meatballs are almost ready, set a large pot of heavily salted water over high heat and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and cook according to package directions until al dente. Drain the pasta and turn it out into the Dutch oven along with the sauce and meatballs, tossing well to coat. (If your Dutch oven isn’t large enough for this, put the pasta in a large bowl and pour over the meatballs and sauce.)
  • 7. Finish with cheese and herbs, if using, and get this to the table—it’s a dish that should reach the table steaming hot, looking like it’s sending out smoke signals.

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