Spaghetti and Meatballs

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Nothing’s quite as comforting as pasta flooded with rich marinara sauce and meatballs and this gluten free spaghetti and meatballs recipe is no exception. At some point in our lives, we’ve had the luxury of savoring this mouthwatering treat. Here’s a spaghetti and meatballs recipe that’s savory and rich, reminding you of home.

How To Make Spaghetti and Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs has always been my husbands favorite meal… and who can blame him. But the first time we ever ate at Maggiano’s Little Italy restaurant he took one bite and announced “this is the best marinara I’ve ever had!”

I knew I was going to have to learn how to make that marinara.

The next time I made spaghetti I searched online for the recipe and sure enough found a copycat version of it. So I gave it a shot. His response “it’s good, but it’s not quite it.”

On my second attempt I remember him saying “this one’s better than last time but still not quite right.”

I don’t remember if it was my third or fourth attempt before he said “damn dear, I think this one’s even better than Maggiano’s!” And that’s the recipe I’ll be sharing today.

Please note that I didn’t change the copycat recipe I found as far as the basic ingredients go. I just changed other aspects like how long I cooked the marinara, my meatballs, etc.

Achieving Gluten Free Pasta Perfection

If you’ve been cooking gluten free for long you know that gluten free pasta tends to get sticky when you cook it and it can sometimes fall apart.

Cooking time

The suggested cooking time on the packaging is just a general suggestion. Truthfully, cooking times vary according to the pasta’s shape, amount, and type. Betty Crocker has a detailed guide for pasta cooking time. Read it here.

The biggest key to cooking pasta is not to over cook it. Follow the directions closely. Keep in mind that once it’s close to being done it might only take 15-30 seconds to reach perfection and another 30 seconds to ruin.

Another tip is to make sure you have enough water in the pot. Too little water will cause the pasta to stick together as it bunches up. So read your instructions and if it says 4-6 quarts of water use 6 quarts to be safe.

Do not add oil to the pot

Most people are under the false assumption that oil prevents pasta strands from clumping in the pot while cooking. Oil actually makes pasta too slick, preventing it to marinate and bind with the sauce. To prevent pasta clumping, simply stir the pasta while cooking.

Drain the pasta well but do not rinse

Draining the water from your pasta by straining will ensure you do not end up with runny marinara. But do not rinse the pasta with fresh water after cooking. Rinsing cooked pasta washes away starch that helps it bind to the sauce. After straining the pasta, simply set it aside.

Meatball Preference

There are so many different styles and approaches to making meatballs. Some people like them big, others like them small, some like them more dense while others like them softer.

My preference is a medium sized meatball, think a standard size ice cream scoop, that’s not too dense. It should easily break apart with a fork and it should still resemble ground beef (not pureed meat).

Making the Perfect Marinara

The right texture and flavor makes the perfect marinara. Here are some quick tips on how to properly cook marinara for that rich and tasty flavor.

Nailing the Texture

Contrary to popular belief, marinara sauce shouldn’t be completely smooth. Leaving a little texture makes the sauce more interesting as it adheres better to the pasta. For a chunkier sauce, you can simply crush tomatoes with a spatula. You can even cut them into pieces with kitchen shears.

Mixing the Sauce

A little bit of pasta water results in an ideal consistency that makes the marinara bind to the pasta. Preserve around two tablespoons of pasta water per serving. Let it simmer with the coated pasta and  sauce for a great consistency.

Marinara Cooking Time

Marinara doesn’t take a long time to cook. However, some ingredients yield better texture and flavor when cooked for a bit more time. Ingredients such as onions and other vegetables should be cooked first before adding tomatoes. Once the tomatoes have been added, you can allow the mixture to simmer for around 20 minutes. However, be careful you don’t overcook the sauce as you risk evaporating too much liquid.

Homemade Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

This homemade recipe is perfect for special occasions from birthdays to anniversaries!
Print Pin Rate
Servings: 5
Calories: 1104kcal


  • Stock Pot
  • Oven
  • Ice Cream Scooper
  • Broiler Pan


Marinara Sauce

  • 3 Medium onions, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp Oregano
  • 1 tbsp Parsley
  • 1 tsp Basil
  • 1 tsp Majoram
  • 28 oz Canned tomato purée
  • 12 oz Canned tomato paste
  • 15 oz Canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 dash Cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 3 tbsp olive oil


  • 2 lbs Ground beef
  • 1 lb Ground pork
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 3 Egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Minced garlic
  • 4 tbsp Fresh parsley, shopped
  • 3 slices Gluten-free bread, breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp Black pepper
  • 1 Small onion, diced and sautéed



  • Add oil into a stock pot under medium heat
  • Add oil and pepper, sautée until softened
  • Add the rest of the ingredients
  • Turn the heat to low and cook for a minimum of 1hr.


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  • In a large bowl mix the salt, pepper, buttermilk, egg yolks and breadcrumbs. Allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and mix.
  • Using an ice cream scoop, create uniform 2" or 3" meatballs and place on a broiler pan.
  • Cook for 20-25 minutes or until brown
  • Add to your favorite marinara sauce and serve over pasta.



This homemade and gluten-free spaghetti and meatballs recipe makes large portions! Pro-tip: make meatball subs for left overs.


Calories: 1104kcal | Carbohydrates: 47g | Protein: 65g | Fat: 75g | Saturated Fat: 28g | Trans Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 330mg | Sodium: 2123mg | Potassium: 2396mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 27g | Vitamin A: 2332IU | Vitamin C: 71mg | Calcium: 515mg | Iron: 11mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @TheSaltyCooker or tag #thesaltycooker!

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