My Gluten Free Spaghetti and Meatballs pairs my legendary meatballs with my mom's ultimate meat sauce. It's the meal that won my husband's heart!
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According to my husband, my spaghetti and meatballs is the best meal he's ever had! And what's crazy about that is I had never even made spaghetti and meatballs until I met him. Since the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and I knew what his favorite meal was, I found a recipe online for meatballs right after we met. I changed it up pretty drastically to suit my own tastes, added them to my mom's meat sauce, and the rest is history.
This is the meal I make for him when he's coming home from a work trip, for his birthday, Father's Day, or another special occasion, or even just because! He loves the sauce (and the meatballs of course), but he doesn't love store bought gluten free pasta. The only gluten free pasta he will eat is my homemade gluten free pasta. His favorite kind of pasta is angel hair, so when I do happen to have time to make pasta from scratch, I will always make angel hair for him.
The meatballs I use in my spaghetti and meatballs are my Out of This World Gluten Free Meatballs. They are the BEST meatballs you'll ever have, and once you make them you'll see why!
list of ingredients for the sauce
What you see in the picture below is for a double batch of meat sauce. I always make a double batch, but the recipe card shows measurements for a single batch.
- Ground beef
- Italian sausage
- Fresh garlic
- Beef marrow bone -- this is a (no longer) secret ingredient that I use to add an extra meaty flavor. When the bone simmers slowly in the sauce for hours, the marrow softens and seeps into the sauce, creating a flavor like no other.
- Oregano -- you will see what looks like an obscene amount of dried oregano in this recipe, but trust me. It works.
- Tomato sauce -- my mom has always used Contadina (affiliate link) and that's what I use.
- Tomato paste -- same as the sauce, we always use Contadina tomato paste (affiliate link).
- Red wine -- cabernet sauvignon is what I use. Merlot would also work well.
- Sugar -- just a very small amount (1 tsp) helps take away some of the acidity from the tomatoes.
how to make the best meat sauce
- Brown ground beef and sausage; drain any fat off and set browned meat aside.
- Add olive oil to same pot and saute garlic in oil briefly.
- Add tomato paste and marrow bone (if using) followed by oregano, thyme, basil, sugar (if using), and salt and pepper. Saute until fragrant.
- Deglaze pan with wine, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
- Return the browned meat back to the pan.
- Add the tomato sauce and water and bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer, place the lid on, slightly ajar. Allow the sauce to reduce, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 hours, or until thickened.
- Add cooked meatballs and allow to simmer for another 30 minutes, or until meatballs are fully heated through.
spaghetti and meatballs frequently asked questions
Yes, you certainly can find some gluten free meatballs in the freezer section of most stores. However, if you get a chance to make them from scratch, they're so much better.
No, you don't absolutely need both beef and sausage in spaghetti sauce, but if you try it once with sausage, you'll never eat it another way.
You can definitely use pork sausage (something like Jimmy Dean brand) instead of Italian. In fact, pork sausage is the type of sausage my mom uses in her sauce, and this recipe is based on her original recipe.
can the meatballs and sauce be made ahead?
One of the best parts about making my meatballs and sauce is that they freeze beautifully! That's why ever time I make this dish, I ALWAYS make a double batch. We love it so much that we're likely to eat spaghetti and meatballs at least two nights in a row, sometimes even three. But I can take the rest of it and freeze it into manageable portions for me and my husband. So when I'm really busy on a weeknight, I'll just grab a portion out of the freezer, plop it into a saucepan and reheat it from frozen (on low heat). Easy peasy and oh so tasty, it's like I just made it that day!
Another option, however, is to freeze the meatballs separate from the sauce. When I make a double batch of my meatballs, I will freeze the meatballs in a separate container from the sauce because I might want to serve the meatballs as an appetizer (coming soon!). Also, my mom doesn't usually make her own meatballs, but she makes the sauce all the time and freezes it ALL.THE.TIME. She not only uses it to serve over spaghetti or even short pasta, but also uses it in her homemade lasagna recipe, which is legendary in our family (also coming soon on the blog!).
more gluten free pasta recipes
For a warm, hearty meal that sticks to the ribs, look no further than this gluten free spaghetti and meatballs. I serve it up with a salad and a piece of fresh-baked gluten free artisan bread and my "famous" easy incredible chive butter spread. This meal is perfect for feeding a crowd and can be made in advance, and even gets better with time.
Gluten Free Spaghetti and Meatballs
- 1 pound (454 g) ground beef
- 1 pound (454 g) hot or mild Italian bulk Italian sausage (you can remove sausage from casings if that's all you can find)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 6-ounce (170 g) can tomato paste
- 1 beef marrow bone, optional
- ¼ cup dried oregano (sounds like a lot, but trust me)
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup (120ml) red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot)
- 2 15-ounce (425 g) cans tomato sauce
- 1 pound (454 g) gluten free pasta, homemade (or store bought)
- Parmigiano Reggiano, for serving
- fresh parsley, for serving
- 1 recipe Out of This World Meatballs
- Brown sausage and ground beef; drain of any grease. Set browned meat aside.
- Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and saute briefly, but don't allow it to brown. Add tomato paste, beef marrow bone (if using), herbs, salt & pepper, and sugar (if using). Saute until spices are fragrant, 2-3 minutes.
- Add red wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits from the bottom.
- Add the browned meat, followed by the cans of tomato sauce. Fill both empty tomato sauce cans with water and add that water to the sauce mixture.
- Bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover with a lid, and simmer for roughly 3-4 hours, depending on how thick you like your sauce. Stir every 20-30 minutes.
- Add meatballs to the sauce and continue to cook for another 30 minutes, just until meatballs are warmed through. Remove marrow bone from sauce and discard.
- Serve over pasta. Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and fresh parsley.
- If you don't want to make meatballs, you can always just serve this wonderful meat sauce over pasta, or it can be made into baked ziti, lasagna, or any other dish calling for meat sauce. My mom never made meatballs when we were growing up. She did it this way and we all loved it! Her lasagna, though, is legendary in our entire extended family (recipe coming soon).
- Leftover sauce can be frozen. Cool to room temperature and put sauce in gallon ziploc baggies. Lie them flat in the freezer. When reheating, cut sides of bag and add to large saucepan with about ½ cup of water. Heat on medium low until warmed through.
Did you make this recipe? Snap a pic and tag @letthemeatglutenfreecake on Instagram so I can see your creation!
Spaghetti and meatballs was originally posted in October 2018 and has been updated with new pictures, a video, new copy, and updated recipe card.