Sleep Love Eat

Mamma’s Meatballs and Marinara Sauce

I am always using my mom’s recipes, or someone’s grandmother’s old recipes…this is one of mine…I am the MAMMA!

Marinara Sauce Ingredients (recipe inspired by Giada De Laurentiis, but tweaked a bit)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion-diced
  • 4 cloves garlic-crushed, diced, chopped…however you like it
  • Bunch of basil
  • 2 28 0z. cans of whole organic tomatoes with their juice
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine both cans of whole tomatoes with their juice and the bunch of basil in a food processor or blender-like this…

 Pulse until smooth and set aside.  Place olive oil, onions and garlic in a saute pan and cook over medium heat until translucent and soft…about 10 minutes….

As tomato sauce, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once boiling, let the sauce simmer on low  for about an hour.

I find the longer you simmer, the better it tastes…if I am home I will just let it sit for a couple hours on low, stirring occasionally.  If you don’t have time, it’s still delicious after 30 minutes! It makes a lot.

Meatball Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground pork (feel free to use ground turkey or chicken…whatever you feel like I am sure will work)
  • 1/2 onion – diced
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil
  • 1/2 cup parsley
  • 1 cup loose-leaf spinach
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup tomato/marinara sauce
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place basil, parsley, and spinach in food processor…give it a couple pulses to chop and mix it up…

Place all ingredients in mixing bowl and mix together…I use my hands…I find it is the best way to get everything mixed evenly. Next I use my scoop to make golf ball sized meatballs. 

Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.  I then place them in the sauce for another 30-60 minutes, but if you don’t want to do that, cook them for 25 minutes.


This recipe makes about 3 dozen. I put half in the sauce to continue cooking and the rest I froze for later.

Sauce bath...

Sauce bath...

Enjoy!  Shelley

For printable recipe click here.


  1. Kelly C.

    We had them last night and they were delicious! I love that there were enough meatballs to put half in the freezer for next week. It was also a perfect meal for a very busy night. Next time we will try it over spaghetti squasH. Thanks for the great recipes!

    • Shelley

      Thanks Kelly! Yes, we ate our leftovers from the freezer this week with the spaghetti squash…the sauce over the squash is delicious! Take care,

  2. Sarah

    I made these last night! They were a little time-intensive, but it was a fun activity for me and my boyfriend. They also tasted delicious and I have the leftovers for lunch today! Thanks for a great recipe.

    • Shelley

      That is great Sarah! I agree…they take a little time, but I love having extra to freeze and use the next week or on a busy evening when I need a quick meal!
      Take care,

  3. Barb

    I agree – these taste delicious! Made them today and my picky girls kept asking what was smelling so great. They had some for lunch and asked for seconds! Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Shelley

      Yeah for picky girls wanting seconds! Glad you all enjoyed. It is a great meal to make ahead and freeze too!
      Take care and thanks for the feedback,

  4. Jill M

    Just wanted to let you know that I made this last night and it was fantastic! A hit with the whole family (which rarely happens). This will definitely go into our regular rotation. Thanks for sharing!

  5. My bf and I recently went Paleo and this was one of the first recipes we tried. They were delish and we had sauce leftover for an eggplant crust pizza the next day. Thanks!

  6. Megri

    Found your website and love it. I have been gluten free for a while but just recently switched to Paleo for the 30-day challenge. I have never made meatballs in my life. Never attempted. They turned out great! Thank you!!

  7. Jessica

    Made these last night and served them over spaghetti squash, they were awesome! Will be making these again! (Although probably on a night where i have more time to prep them)

  8. I didn’t make the meatballs but I did make the marinara sauce. Oh, boy! What a yummy treat this is. Such a great sauce and it tasted great with my zucchini “noodles” that I paired with some pork meatballs I had left over. This will be my go-to spaghetti sauce from now on! Thank you.

    • justin

      I am making these right now it smells fantastic a wicked receipe I am useing them though to make into a cheesy meay ball sub , its gonna be so good

  9. Katie

    Loved these too but I had a mess of goop surrounding each meatball…luckily my husband wasn’t home to see all that and I quickly got them in the sauce!

  10. Hi. I just made these and the sauce is coming out great. But the meat came out very watery. Do you know why this could have happened? Also, do you freeze the meatballs after they are cooked?

  11. Stacy

    Was looking for a paleo meatballs to put in Italian Wedding Soup. These were perfect! Kids loved them. Thanks for the great recipe.

  12. Hayley

    Excited to make these tonight to go with some spaghetti squash. Wondering the best way to heat these up after they’ve been frozen?

  13. erin

    I want to make this will the 3 dozen meatballs and freeze about 3/4 of the sauce and meatballs. can I still put the meatballs to cook in the sauce for 30-40 min and then freeze the meatballs in the sauce? i noticed you said you froze them before putting them in the sauce.

  14. Italian chef

    Recipe did not turn out as planned :-( 4 eggs was WAY too many for all the fresh herbs and spinach. It became very soupy and the eggs separated from the meatballs upon baking. I actually need to manually remove egg pools from the partially cooked meatballs. I should have trusted my gut instinct about this.

  15. Erin

    Hi Shelley
    This is one of my favorite recipes. I actually am doubling it today to freeze atleast half of them. Can I ask why I should freeze the meatballs out of the oven instead of letting them simmer in the sauce and then freezing? I was also planning to freeze some sauce

    • I would love to know if it’s better to freeze the meatballs already cooked. I bought some at trader joes that are already cooked and they were so good. I made these once and these were so much better. If I could make these and freeze them I wouldn’t buy trader joes meatballs again. But do tell what is the best way to freeze them as well. In a ziplock bag? Or a container? I would like for them to stay as yummy and fresh as possible. Thanks so much!

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