One-Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs – Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary

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Spaghetti and Meatballs all made in ONE pan. The meatballs are juicy with a light crust, and the spaghetti absorbs so much flavour whilst it cooks in the tomato ragu. This is a winning dinner with minimal washing up!

Overhead image of spaghetti and meatballs in a large frying pan on a white background. There is a small bowl of chopped parsley at the top of the image.
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If there’s one thing I can guarantee in life, it’s that my kids will never turn down a bowl of meatballs and spaghetti.

Whilst I love meatballs too, my usual recipe involves TWO pans and a baking tray. Who can be bothered with all that washing up for a quick dinner!

So I set about coming up with a one pot recipe, and the results are delicious!!

The meatballs are lightly browned in the pan first, then in goes the veg, followed by the liquid and pasta. You can add more or less water depending on how saucy you like it. You could also add in extra veg if you like – such as peppers or mushrooms (add them in with the onion).

📋 What do we need?

Ingredients for spaghetti and meatballs on a wooden board on a white background.
  • Beef mince – I like to use a 12-20% fat mince as it gives the dish more flavour, but you can use a low-fat mince if you like.
  • Parmesan – gives the meatballs a wonderful flavour
  • Breadcrumbs – to make the meatballs more tender
  • Egg – to bind everything together
  • Finely chopped onion – for a little more flavour and texture
  • And of course a little salt and pepper
  • The rest of the ingredients here are for the sauce.

📺 Watch how to make it

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP I like to use finely chopped tinned tomatoes for a smoother sauce. You could use passata, but finely chopped tinned tomatoes still provides a little bit of texture and a richer flavour.

Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce in a white bowl on a white background. There is a gold fork in the bowl. There is a further bowl of spaghetti and meatballs just in shot at the top of the frame.

🍽️ What to serve it with


Cooking the pasta in the tomato sauce means it absorbs all the flavour as its cooking so it’s extra tasty.

Close up overhead image of spaghetti and meatballs in a large frying pan on a white background.

I managed to get this one on the table in about 30 minutes, so it makes a great mid-week meal.


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Spaghetti and meatballs in tomato sauce in a white bowl on a white background. There is a gold fork in the bowl.

One-Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs

Meatballs and spaghetti cooked together in one pan – less washing up yay!

Prep Time 10 mins

Cook Time 20 mins

Total Time 30 mins

Course Dinner

Cuisine Italian

Servings 4 servings

Calories 671 kcal

INSTRUCTIONS 

  • Place the minced beef, chopped onion, egg, parmesan, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper into a large bowl.

    500 g (1.1lb) minced beef, ½ a large onion, 1 egg, 3 tbsp grated parmesan, 3 tbsp panko breadcrumbs, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper

  • Mix together using your hands, then form the mixture into 16-20 meatballs.

  • Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan (skillet) and add in the meatballs. Cook for 5-6 minutes on a medium-to-high heat, turning two or three times, until the meatballs are browned all over. They don’t need to be fully cooked at this point, as they’ll cook further in the sauce.

    1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp unsalted butter

  • Now we start adding the sauce ingredients to the pan. Move the meatballs to one side of the pan (or just make a bit of a space). Add the onion, celery, garlic, salt and pepper.

    ½ a large onion, 2 celery sticks, 2 garlic cloves, ¼ tsp salt, ¼ tsp black pepper

  • Cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring the vegetables a few times, until the onions start to soften.

  • Add in the tin of tomatoes, tomato puree, thyme, brown sugar, crumbled stock cube and the just-boiled water. Stir everything together and bring the sauce to the boil.

    400 g (14 oz) tin of finely chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tsp dried thyme, 1 tsp light brown sugar, 1 beef stock cube, 600 ml (2 ½ cups) just-boiled water

  • Make a bit of space in the pan and add in the pasta (break in half if it’s too big to fit in your pan). Ensure the pasta is fully submerged in the sauce.

    200 g (7oz) dried spaghetti

  • Turn the heat down to low, place a lid on and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until the pasta is cooked. You will need to separate the pasta with a set of tongs to stop it sticking together when you come to stir it. Add in another splash of boiling water during cooking if required.

  • When the pasta is cooked, turn off the heat and divide the spaghetti between 4 bowls, using a set of tongs. Spoon the meatballs and sauce on top.

  • Finish with a little shaved parmesan and chopped parsley and serve.

    shaved or grated parmesan, 1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

✎ Notes


Can I make it ahead?
Yes, you can make ahead, but note: the pasta will absorb more of the liquid as it cools.
If you did want to make ahead:

  • Cook the dish, then cool quickly. Place in a covered container and refrigerate for up to two days.
  • Take out of the refrigerator about an hour before reheating to take the chill off the meatballs.
  • Reheat in a pan with a lid over a low-to-medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring a few times during reheating, until piping hot throughout. You will probably need to add a splash of boiling water to loosen the sauce a little.


Can I freeze it?
Yes, leftovers can be cooled, placed in a covered container and frozen.
Defrost overnight at room temperature, then reheat as per the instructions above.


Want to change it up?
If you make this recipe a lot and want to change it up every now and then, try:

  • Adding a teaspoon of chilli flakes or a tablespoon or sriracha to the sauce for a spicy version.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of double (heavy) cream to the sauce, once the pasta is cooked, for a creamy tomato version.
  • Top the finished dish with halved cherry tomatoes, a drizzle of pesto and some basil leaves for a fresh Summer version.
  • Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of Cajun spice on the meatballs when frying, then add in chopped chorizo with the onions and celery for a Tex-Mex twist.

Nutritional Information is per serving, not including the finishing toppings of parmesan and parsley.

Nutrition

Calories: 671kcalCarbohydrates: 56gProtein: 33gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 2gCholesterol: 120mgSodium: 928mgPotassium: 922mgFiber: 5gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 591IUVitamin C: 15mgCalcium: 150mgIron: 6mg

This post was first published in February 2016. Updated February 2023 with new photos, video, a few recipe tweaks and some housekeeping.

Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links – which means if you buy the product I get a small commission (at no extra cost to you). If you do buy, then thank you! That’s what helps us to keep Kitchen Sanctuary running. The nutritional information provided is approximate and can vary depending on several factors. For more information please see our Terms & Conditions.

Hi I’m Nicky

I love to cook and I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.

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