Marinara Meatballs Recipe (4 Ingredients) (2024)

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This recipe for meatballs in marinara sauce uses premade meatballs, marinara, and cheese to make a low-prep dish. Be sure to keep this in your pocket for busy weeknights!

Marinara Meatballs Recipe (4 Ingredients) (1)

Hot tip: Did you already use up your last jar of marinara sauce? Don’t fret — make your own homemade marinara sauce with tomatoes, olive oil, marsala wine, and basil leaves. It takes a mere five minutes!

How To Make Marinara Meatballs

Marinara meatballs is the perfect weekday dinner for busy people — it takes minimal prep and comes together so quickly.

  • Prep the ingredients: Take out all four of the ingredients for the recipe, including the fresh basil (if using).
  • Assemble the meatballs: Place the meatballs on the bottom of a large skillet or baking pan, then cover them with marinara sauce.
  • Top with cheese and bake: Top the mixture with mozzarella cheese, then cover and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
  • Remove the lid: Remove the lid from the pan and bake for an additional five minutes. Serve!

Hot tip: For a more hands-off cooking experience, use a crock pot or slow cooker. Place the sauce and meatballs into the slow cooker and cook on high for 2.5 hours, or on the low setting for four hours. Then, add the cheese on top and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese melts.

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Tips For A Great Meatball Dish

We’ll be honest — there are very few ways to mess this recipe up. However, we have a couple of tips to ensure the end result “meats” your expectations.

  • Use your favorite cooked meatballs: Feel free to use any frozen meatballs you and your family love. We like Farm Rich meatballs, but any ground beef, ground chicken, ground pork, or ground turkey meatballs are great. If using fresh meatballs, make sure to cook them first, then continue with this recipe.
  • Cover the pan: For even cooking and a mess-free experience, cover your pan. The marinara does tend to pop and splatter quite a bit!
  • Add more flavors: For more flavor, sauté half a diced onion and a few garlic cloves prior to adding in the meatballs. For more herby flavor, instead of topping the dish with basil, add in fresh parsley or dried oregano.

How To Serve Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

Marinara meatballs are not only easy to make, but also convenient. Use these meatballs in a variety of dishes including appetizers, sandwiches, salads, and more.

  • As an appetizer: For a quick, protein-filled appetizer, skewer each meatball with a toothpick to allow your guests to quickly grab one at a time.
  • In a sub: Make a marinara meatball sub by placing the meatballs into French rolls or hoagies. Top with provolone cheese, sauteéd bell peppers, and onions. Place the subs open-faced on a lined baking sheet and broil them in the oven until the cheese melts.
  • With spaghetti: Who doesn’t love a good old bowl of spaghetti? Mix the meatballs with freshly made pasta, and sprinkle on freshly grated parmesan cheese! Make sure to have flatbread or garlic knots to dip into all the delicious leftover sauce!
  • As a topping/side for a salad: Marinara meatballs are an exciting departure from the traditional chicken breast as a salad topping. Add them on top of a large bowl of garden salad or serve them next to your side salad.
  • On the side with veggies: If you’re looking for a way to add more veggies to your diet, or sauteéd veggies and meatballs are a great choice. Cheesy zucchini breadsticks or zucchini and squash casserole are also a great pairing.
  • With zoodles (zucchini noodles): For a lower carb option, use zucchini noodles instead of pasta. With a mandoline slicer, cut a few zucchinis into long, noodle-like strips. Sauté them in olive oil until they become soft, but not soggy.
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How To Store & Reheat Leftovers

With all the different ways to enjoy meatballs in marinara sauce, it’s a genius move to make a large batch and serve them in different dishes throughout the week. For the best taste, follow these tips on how to store and reheat your meatball leftovers.

  • Refrigerator: To store for up to four days, place the cooled leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Freezer: To store for up to four months, transfer the cooled meatballs and marinara into an airtight container and freeze. Thaw in the fridge when ready to eat again.
  • Reheating: Reheat leftover meatballs and marinara in a nonstick skillet set over medium-low heat and covered. Every few minutes, give the mixture a stir to distribute the heat evenly. Or for a quick reheat, use a microwave.

More Meatball Recipes

  • Baked Lamb Meatballs — Packed with savory ground lamb and spiced herb flavor
  • Tomato Lentil Soup With Meatballs — A hearty, comforting soup perfect for cold weather
  • Air Fryer Turkey Meatballs — Make your own meatballs with ground turkey, breadcrumbs, and eggs
  • Meatball Kale Soup — A light chicken broth-based soup with potatoes, meatballs, and kale


Marinara Meatballs Recipe (4 Ingredients) (7)

Marinara Meatballs Recipe


8 servings

Prep Time 5 minutes mins

Cook Time 25 minutes mins

Total Time 30 minutes mins

Recipe contributed by: Natalya Drozhzhin

This recipe for meatballs in marinara sauce uses premade meatballs, marinara, and cheese to make a low-prep dish. Be sure to keep this in your pocket for busy weeknights!


  • 26 oz meatballs
  • 16 oz marinara sauce
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil


  • Prepare all ingredients for the recipe. Fresh basil is optional, but a refreshing addition.

  • Place the meatballs in the bottom of a baking pan. Cover them with marinara sauce.

  • Top off the mixture with mozzarella cheese. Cover with a lid or foil and bake for 20 minutes at 350°F.

  • Remove lid/foil and bake for another 5 minutes. Serve with your favorite salad, pasta, or bread.

Nutrition Facts

Marinara Meatballs Recipe

Amount Per Serving

Calories 298 Calories from Fat 207

% Daily Value*

Fat 23g35%

Saturated Fat 9g45%

Polyunsaturated Fat 2g

Monounsaturated Fat 10g

Cholesterol 77mg26%

Sodium 408mg17%

Potassium 448mg13%

Carbohydrates 3g1%

Fiber 1g4%

Sugar 2g2%

Protein 19g38%

Vitamin A 426IU9%

Vitamin C 5mg6%

Calcium 94mg9%

Iron 1mg6%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Marinara Meatballs Recipe (4 Ingredients) (2024)


Do you bake or fry meatballs before putting in sauce? ›

You can brown the uncooked meatballs in a sauté pan before adding them to the sauce. You can brown them in the oven. Or you can skip browning altogether and put the raw meatballs straight into the sauce to cook.

How does Gordon Ramsay make meatball sauce? ›

To make the tomato sauce, heat the olive oil in a pan and gently fry the shallots, garlic and chilli for 2-3 minutes until soft. Deglaze the pan with a splash of white wine, then add the tinned tomatoes along with the basil, oregano and some seasoning.

How to make meatballs that don t fall apart in sauce? ›

Add a lightly beaten egg, but not too much. Egg acts as a binder for the ingredients, but you only need a small amount. One small egg will do for one pound of minced meat. Alternatively, if you're following an egg-free diet, you could soak fresh bread in milk, squeezing out any excess milk, to use as a binder.

Is it better to bake meatballs at 350 or 400? ›

After all of the Italian meatballs I've been making lately, I consider myself a meatball expert. A good rule of thumb is to bake meatballs for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees fahrenheit.

Can you cook raw meatballs directly in the sauce? ›

Some people like to drop the raw meatballs directly in a pot of Italian tomato sauce and let them simmer. Some people like to cook the meatballs in the oven first and then put the browned meatballs in the tomato sauce.

What does Bobby Flay put in his meatballs? ›

3-Meat Combo

Bobby Flay's meatball recipe calls for an even combination of ground beef, pork, and veal which makes for the best flavor and texture.

What's the difference between Italian style meatballs and regular meatballs? ›

Italian-style meatballs often include additional ingredients such as milk, olive oil, ground pork, fresh parsley, red pepper flakes, Italian herb seasoning, and sometimes a combination of ground beef, veal, and pork [2].

Do meatballs get more tender the longer they cook in sauce? ›

As the collagen in the meat dissolves over time, it transforms into gelatin, which not only adds a silky texture to the sauce but also contributes to the overall richness and depth of flavor. The longer the simmer, the more tender and succulent the meatballs become.

What not to do when making meatballs? ›

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Making Meatballs
  1. Not seasoning the meat.
  2. Not adding any moisture to the meat.
  3. Over-mixing the meat.
  4. Not shaping the meatballs correctly.
  5. Not forming evenly-sized meatballs.
May 1, 2019

What is the secret to making tender meatballs? ›

Consider the other ingredients.

Egg and breadcrumbs are common mix-ins to add moisture and tenderness. Another binder option that people swear by is a panade, which is fresh or dry breadcrumbs that have been soaked in milk.

Why add milk to meatballs? ›

When it comes to adding liquid to meatball mixtures, milk is often used for its versatility, depth of flavor, and richness. Without the use of milk, you may be faced with a plate of dry meatballs. Milk adds a certain level of moisture that helps produce perfectly tender meatballs.

How do real Italians eat meatballs? ›

Although meatballs cooked in tomato sauce and served with pasta is likely what most Americans first imagine when they think of them, this meatball preparation is virtually nonexistent in Italy. In most regions, meatballs are just fried and eaten as is—enjoyed as a snack or served as a second course without any sauce.

What are Spanish meatballs made of? ›

My albondigas recipe is made from minced beef and pork blended with fried onions, cumin and smokey paprika and shaped into large Spanish meatballs that are slowly cooked in a rich tomato sauce made with roasted red peppers and Rioja wine.

What are Maggianos meatballs made of? ›

Our meatballs and meat sauce are made with 100% ground beef. They do not contain any pork.

How long to simmer meatballs in sauce after baking? ›

The meatballs can be baked on a sheet pan with wire rack at 375f for 25-30 minutes or until brown in the middle of oven. Place the browned meatballs in the sauce and cook for a minimum of 1 hour on low heat to allow the meatballs to absorb the flavor of and braise in the sauce.

How long does it take to cook meatballs from raw in sauce? ›

How long does it take to cook raw meatballs in sauce? Beef meatballs take a bit longer to become tender, so let them simmer for at least one to one and a half, preferably two hours. Pork meatballs only need about 45 minutes of simmering in the sauce.

Is it better to fry meatballs? ›

There's a good argument that frying meatballs is the best way to cook them. Deep frying them creates a nice crust on the outside that is really flavorful and holds in a lot of moisture. What I like about deep-fried meatballs is that they are really versatile. You can use them for your classic meatballs and spaghetti.

Do you cook meat before adding simmer sauce? ›

It is often preferable to cook the meat and vegetables separate from the simmer sauce at high heat first. Then add the sauce, cover, and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes and using the time you saved in preparation to make a salad or even catch up on social media.

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