Hearty Meatball and Italian Sausage Sauce for a Crowd

Spaghetti and Meatballs
Diana Rattray
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Total: 2 hrs 55 mins
Servings: 12 to 15 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
546 Calories
33g Fat
25g Carbs
39g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12 to 15
Amount per serving
Calories 546
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 33g 42%
Saturated Fat 11g 55%
Cholesterol 132mg 44%
Sodium 1278mg 56%
Total Carbohydrate 25g 9%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 39g
Vitamin C 23mg 114%
Calcium 132mg 10%
Iron 7mg 38%
Potassium 1529mg 33%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This is a hearty sauce with both meatballs and Italian sausage. It's the perfect sauce to make if you have to feed a crowd. 

Make this for a game day gathering, family or guests, or a potluck event. It's also an excellent recipe to make and freeze.


For the Meatballs:

  • 1 large egg

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

  • 1 cup breadcrumbs

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes, or 2 to 3 teaspoons freshly chopped

  • 1/2 cup water

  • 3 pounds lean ground beef, preferably 90 percent

For the Sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage

  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 3 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

  • 3 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 teaspoon basil dried

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 tablespoon parsley fresh

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese

Steps to Make It

For Meatballs

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Beat the egg in a large bowl.

  3. Stir in the 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese, breadcrumbs, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon parsley, and 1/2 cup of water.

  4. Add the ground beef and mix to combine. Shape into small balls. Set aside.

For Sauce

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Heat the olive oil in Dutch oven. Remove sausages from casings and add to the Dutch oven with the garlic, Cook, stirring with a fork to break up sausage, until it loses its pink color and garlic is tender. Drain and discard excess fat.

  3. Stir in all of the remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Add meatballs, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours. Stir frequently.

  4. Enjoy!


  • If you prefer to cook the meatballs outside of the sauce, line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack in the pan. Arrange the raw meatballs on the rack and bake in a preheated 350° F oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Add them to the sauce and simmer in the sauce for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or more.
  • This is an excellent sauce to use with just about any type of pasta, or use it as a sauce for lasagna or a pasta casserole. Make it for a crowd, or freeze the sauce in batches.​

Recipe Variations

  • Add 1 to 2 pounds of sliced sauteed mushrooms to the sauce.
  • Chop 1 or 2 bell peppers and add to the sauce.
  • Shredded carrot can add some natural sweetness to the sauce. I usually add one shredded carrot.