The Sauce; Homemade Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

I’m a believer in shortcuts…you know, the  things we do or buy to make our lives a little easier.  Examples:  laundry detergent packets, pre-diced vegetables, olive oil in a spray can (I seriously eat more vegetables because of this invention) you get the picture.  However, there is one thing I will never take the easy road on:  The Sauce.

Every Wednesday growing up, it was pasta night at the Capobianco House. Yes, don’t let the blonde hair fool you…I am in fact Italian. Well, 25%.  But, my dad is from a very Italian family, my great-grandparents were named Rockina and Salvatore (pictured below).  Apparently Rockina was a pretty feisty lady, her nickname was “The Rock”, but feisty or not that woman could cook.  Seriously, decades later my family still talks about her food.


The Rock taught my non-Italian grandmother how to cook, who taught my non-Italian mother how to cook, who taught her semi-Italian daughter how to cook.  I can practically make The Sauce with my eyes closed, but when people ask me how to make it I don’t know what to tell them… I’ve never seen a recipe for it.  It really is a “little of this a little of that” type process.  So, for the first time I measured it out to my liking…you can start here and readjust it to your own liking…that’s what’s great about The Sauce…it’s pretty hard to mess up.

The Meatballs:

1 pound ground chuck (you can also do half ground chuck, half ground pork if you prefer)

1 cup breadcrumbs (I prefer Italian Seasoned, but you can make your own or use plain)

1/2 cup fresh parmesan

1 egg

1/4 cup of water


Mush all ingredients in a large bowl, roll into medium balls, set aside


The Sauce

Olive Oil, enough to coat pot

Hot Italian Sausage, 2-4 links kept in casing

Garlic Cloves, 5-7 minced

Tomato Puree, 2 large cans or 6 small ones

Dried Basil, 1 and 1/4 Tablespoons

Garlic Salt, a little less than 1 Tablespoon

Onion Powder, 1 Teaspoon

Pepper, 1/2 Teaspoon

Sugar, 2 Teaspoons

Red Wine, a little less than 1/4 cup

Chicken Bullion Cubes, 2

1/4 c. of water


Coat pot with olive oil on medium to medium low heat (depending on your burner), put sausage in pot and brown it on both sides (be careful not to overcook), add your minced garlic to the pot.  Cook garlic for about a minute, do not let it turn brown.  Add your puree to the pot, add all of your spices and stir.  Drop the meatballs in your sauce, stir occasionally very gently (you don’t want your meatballs to break apart) and cook for about 2 hours.  Taste the sauce throughout, if you find it to be too sweet…add more garlic salt or onion powder…if you find that it’s not sweet enough…add sugar, basil or wine…make it taste the way you want it!


NOTE: If you only have an hour to cook sauce, you can put your meatballs in a pan with olive oil and brown them, but turn them over constantly…don’t let them get too brown.

NOTE: You can cook your sauce on low for several hours if you prefer as long as you stir it.

NOTE: When my mom asked The Rock if she freshly grated parmesan every time she made meatballs…she got in her face, pointed her finger and said “Every time”.  It really does make a difference.  Even if you don’t grate it, you can buy the grated imported cheese that is SO much better than the stuff that comes in the green can.

This is a great family friendly and man-pleasing meal that will give you leftovers or you can freeze half of the pot and use it for later use…just dethaw overnight in the fridge.  You’ll never go back to the jarred stuff again!

14 thoughts on “The Sauce; Homemade Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

  1. I’ve been trying to recreate your sauce for years, Jillian! Sometimes I wish I could time warp back to our college days and sit on your couch drinking some wine while “the sauce” cooks. Thanks for trying to measure it out. This will help me in my quest. XOXO


  2. There are few things better than homemade sauce. This looks delicious. “The Rock taught my non-Italian grandmother how to cook, who taught my non-Italian mother how to cook, who taught her semi-Italian daughter how to cook.” I love these lines! Do you make a homemade bolognese? I have an incredible recipe, if you need one. As for short cuts – anyone who turns up their nose at them clearly has no children, or a full-time nanny and maid – or both. I’ll try this sauce early next week! Best, Shanna


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