Hearty Homecooking

Spaghetti and ‘Melt in Your Mouth’ Meatballs

‘Here I share 3 incredibly simple but crucial steps to making soft and juicy meatballs. This foolproof recipe offers the most delicious spaghetti and melt in your mouth meatballs you’ll ever taste!’ – Hungry now?  Jump to Recipe

There really is nothing more disappointing in life than biting into a meatball and it being tough and dry. It’s just absolute devastation across the board. If i’m having spaghetti and meatballs it’s usually for dinner, which means i’ve been looking forward to it all day, then to be served with a dry meatball? Oh hell no, not for me, not ever. Admittedly in the early days of my cooking I saw myself as a meatball connoisseur, because I could make meatballs that weren’t dry. But in hindsight, they may not have been dry, but they certainly weren’t gorgeously soft and juicy either. Thus in recent times i’ve made it my mission to master the art of melt in your mouth meatballs (gosh, that was a mouthful) ((excuse the pun)).

Spaghetti and Melt in your mouth Meatballs

When I tell you this is one of my go-to recipes to impress I truly mean it. Not only because it’s absolutely delicious, but because it’s foolproof. Works every time.

In my journey of creating the most delicious spaghetti and meatballs, I picked up on a few tips and tricks that make a huge difference in whether you end up with melt in your mouth meatballs or not. Whilst every step of the recipe is of course important, I will highlight 3 crucial steps that’ll truly make the difference.

1. Using a Panade in Meatballs

A panade is essentially a mixture of starch and liquid that you add to meat to keep it moist. Here, and in many other authentic meatball recipes, the panade is usually made up of milk and bread (not to be confused with breadcrumbs). By allowing the pieces of bread to soak up the milk, it locks in moisture and keeps the meatballs juicy throughout the cooking process. Using breadcrumbs results in far denser meatballs in comparison to using small pieces of bread – this is something i’ve tried and tested.

Here I add grated onion & garlic and 1 tsp of Worcestershire sauce, then allow the bread to soak it up all that goodness.

Spaghetti and Melt in your mouth Meatballs - How to make Panade

2. The Best Meat To Use For Meatballs

– A combination of pork and beef works perfect. Many traditional Italian meatball recipes include veal, but honestly, using 2 different ground meats is already at my limit of convenience, so trying hunt down veal is just not the life for me. I find that a straight 50/50 ratio produces delicious meatballs. I have toyed around with different ratios in the past, but can’t really taste a huge difference and again – convenience.

– It’s also important to use non-lean meat to help keep the meatballs lubricated throughout the cooking process. I’ve popped down the percentages in the recipe notes.

– The final thing with the meat is don’t overwork it. You’ll see in the photos above i’ve already mixed together all the ingredients bar the meat. This is merely to reduce the amount of mixing you have to do to get an even spread of ingredients. Overworked ground meat simply results in a really solid, dense and dry meatball, which is certainly not what we want.

Best meat to use for meatballs

3. How To Cook Meatballs

For the softest meatballs the best method is to poach in the sauce. However the limitation with that is there’s nowhere near as much flavour in comparison to a meatball that’s been browned.

Traditionally I would fry the meatballs, but often I find it difficult to keep them uniformly cooked and in shape, especially since using a panade.

In recent times I now broil the meatballs, just enough to brown the outside, then finish off cooking in the sauce. I find this essentially offers the best ‘balance’ between browned meatballs, yet still soft and juicy in the centre. Finishing the meatballs off by poaching also adds an insane amount of flavour to the sauce from where the meatball’s have been browned.

Spaghetti and Melt in your mouth Meatballs - The best meatball sauce

And breathe.. You’ve made it.

Now the hard part – trying to actually share the meatballs. Like, is that even a thing? I honestly wouldn’t know because I ate that entire skillet of meatballs to myself. True story.

Spaghetti and Melt in your mouth Meatballs in the skillet

Then there’s the classic debate of whether you plonk the meatballs on top of your spaghetti, or mix it all in.

Whatever your decision, I can only suggest you smother the entire thing with extra parmesan. Clearly being modest in the photo below, about 5 more cups of cheese was added. Fear not.

Oh quick side note – you know these are truly melt in your mouth meatballs when you eat them after an hour of filming/photographing and they’re stone cold but STILL juicy. Literally can’t remember the last time I had a hot meal..

How To Make Spaghetti and Melt in Your Mouth Meatballs (Full Recipe & Video)

5 from 3 votes
Spaghetti and Melt in your mouth Meatballs - Foolproof recipe
Spaghetti and 'Melt in Your Mouth' Meatballs
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins

'This foolproof recipe offers the most delicious spaghetti and melt in your mouth meatballs you'll ever taste!'  (makes approx 20 meatballs)

Course: Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4
Calories: 624 kcal
Author: Chris
  • 12.3 oz (350g) Spaghetti
  • 8.8oz (250g) Ground Beef
  • 8.8oz (250g) Ground Pork
  • 2 slices Plain White Bread, sliced into small cubes (crusts removed)
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) Milk (whole, skimmed, semi-skimmed)
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley, finely diced (approx 1 handful un-chopped)
  • 1/3 cup (35g) Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1 medium White Onion, grated
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced (or finely grated)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1/2 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1 Egg
  • Good helpings of Salt & Black Pepper
  • 1 can (14oz/400g) Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 carton (14oz/400g) Tomato Passata
  • 1/2 cup (125ml) Red Wine
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Basil (approx 1 handful un-chopped)
  • 1/4 cup Fresh Parsley (approx 1 handful un-chopped)
  • 1 medium White Onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely diced
  • Olive Oil, for frying
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
To Serve
  • extra Parmesan
  • extra Basil Leaves
  1. Begin by combining your Bread, Milk, Worcestershire Sauce, Garlic and Onion in a suitably sized bowl and allow to soak for a few minutes.

  2. Add in your Parsley, Parmesan, Egg, Oregano, Salt and Pepper and stir until combined. Add in your Pork and Beef and combine with your hands. Don't overwork the meat, only combine until all the ingredients are evenly spread.

  3. Spray or lightly coat an oven tray with Oil, take a tbsp of each mixture and evenly distribute across the tray. Wet your hands and roll each dollop into balls.

  4. Broil under the grill on high for around 6-10 minutes or until golden brown on the outside. Flip once half way and shake a couple of times to ensure an even coverage.

  5. In a suitably sized pot or pan, brown of your Onions and Garlic in a drizzle of Olive Oil, then add your Wine and simmer for a few minutes to burn off some of the alcohol. Stir in your Chopped Tomatoes, Tomato Passata, Basil, Parsley, Salt & Pepper. 

  6. Add in your Meatballs and allow to simmer until the sauce thickens and the Meatballs are piping hot through the centre. (15-20mins)

  7. Meanwhile, pop your Spaghetti in salted boiling water and cook according the packet instruction. Drain when finished.

  8. Serve by mixing in your Spaghetti or plonking the Meatballs on top. Either way, sprinkle some extra Parmesan and Basil to serve!

Recipe Notes

a) Meat Fat - You don't want to use lean meat for this recipe. Using non-lean meat will help lubricate the meat and keep the meatballs from drying out. I usually use 20% fat of both meats

b) Bread - I usually use plain white bread, but feel free to use other types as preferred. However I would stay away from seeded/wholegrain types of bread as the seeds don't blend well in the meatballs.

c) Seasoning the Meatballs - I find that 1 tsp of Salt works perfectly, however every palette is different. What I always recommend when making sausages, burgers, meatballs etc is to fry up a tiny bit of your mixture before shaping them. That way your can tweak the seasoning before it's too late!

d) Broiling - You don't need to cook the meatballs all the way through, they will finish cooking in the sauce. This is just to ensure they brown on the outside. Also, if you are struggling the shape the balls, a short stint (no longer than 10mins) in the freezer should help firm up the meat.

e) Calories - Based on 20% fat meat, whole milk, 15g extra parmesan to sprinkle and 1 tbsp of olive oil to fry, divided by 4 people.

If you loved this Melt in Your Mouth Meatball Recipe be sure to Pin it for later! Already made it? Let me know how you got on in the comments below!

Spaghetti and Melt in your mouth Meatballs


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  • Reply
    February 22, 2018 at 11:34 pm

    I am so bookmarking this beautiful, simple recipe for a future meatball production! This is probably going to be a very popular blogpost b/c…back to basics meatballllls, dude! Thanks for the great recipe 🙂

    • Reply
      February 23, 2018 at 9:56 am

      Thanks so much, Traci! Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Yes! This sounds so good! Spaghetti and meatballs isn’t great if the meatballs aren’t cooked perfectly. Your’s look perfect. They sound juicy and full of flavor! You have me in the mood for spaghetti!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Thanks, April! Juicy and full of flavour is certainly the aim of the game! 🙂

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 1:41 am

    You are making me hungry just thinking about it! My husband has had too many bad meatballs, but this is sure to win him back over!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2018 at 9:58 am

      Haha! You’ve got this!!

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 2:34 am

    I agree with you this looks melt in mouth meatballs, that too with perfectly flavored and sauce sounds great with spaghetti, ultimate comfort food.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2018 at 9:58 am

      You’re so right, the ultimate comfort food!

  • Reply
    Denisse Salinas
    February 23, 2018 at 3:04 am

    Wow, you truly have done your research and are a meatball expert! These meatballs look absolutely perfect, and I learned a lot reading this post! Can’t wait to try.

    • Reply
      February 23, 2018 at 9:59 am

      So good to know the post is useful!! Enjoy 🙂

  • Reply
    February 23, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    This looks so awesome! Will need to try this real soon!

    • Reply
      February 23, 2018 at 3:24 pm

      Thanks, Karly! I’m confident you’ll love them 🙂

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