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Spaghetti and meatballs are a family dinner all-star. Loved by all generations, they’re quick and simply to make, but always packed with flavour.

Store-bought meatballs or tomato sauce can be a good option if you’re pressed for time, but making them at home can be surprisingly simple. It can also be less expensive and more tasty, and a great way to hide some grated vegetables like carrots in there, too!

Just ask any Italian Nonna, everyone has a different secret recipe. To help get you started, here are a few tips and tricks as well as two of our favourite recipes. But don’t take our word for it! Once you’ve tried making these, let your creativity take over and experiment with your own meat mix or sauce combinations to make it your own family classic recipe.





  • Start with a great meat blend. Organic, grass-fed beef is always a great start because the meat is more flavourful. Some recipes swear by equal parts beef, pork and veal mix for the authentic “italian flavour”. Although veal does add an extra layer of gluten, it can be harder to come by or more expensive, so equal parts beef and pork can be just as delicious.
  • A great tomato sauce base is also a must. The secret to a rich, flavourful sauce is, mostly, time. Simmering on low heat for more than an hour allows the flavours and acids in the crushed tomatoes or tomato paste to develop. If you’re short on time though, this is often the step that you can reduce to 15 minutes with great result – just might need to add more garlic or aromatics to “punch up” the sauce.
  • Don’t pack the meatballs too tightly. Loosely packed meatballs, like burgers, have a better texture than those that are packed too tightly. Gently combine the meat mixture with your hands to keep it soft and be careful not to overmix. Season with a pinch of salt per serving while mixing to add more texture to the meat.
  • Undercook the spaghetti slightly: you’re often going to toss the spaghetti through the sauce and meatballs anyway, which will give it another moment to cook. Make sure to boil the pasta in boiling salted water as “salty as the sea”. This will season your pasta as you cook. If you’re worried about the sodium, don’t worry. The majority of the salt goes down the drain after you cook the pasta anyway.


Here’s our favourite recipe to get you started. This recipe uses the oven instead of pan-frying to keep the meatballs juicy.


Tomato Sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 large brown onions, finely chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 340g tomato paste
  • 2 cans crushed tomato
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley


  • 500g Cleaver’s Organic Ground Beef
  • 500g ground pork
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup ricotta cheese
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup milk
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper

To Serve

  • 1 packet of dried spaghetti
  • fresh basil, chopped
  • parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C. Set a wire rack over a baking sheet and grease with nonstick spray.
  2. In a large saucepan or frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the onions and garlic. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook for about 15 minutes, or until soft and caramelised. Allow 50g of the cooked onions and garlic to cool before using in the meatballs. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are browned and aromatic, around 3-5 minutes.
  3. Combine the crushed tomatoes, dried basil, dried oregano, and dried parsley in a large mixing bowl. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce to a low heat, cover, and cook for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Combine the ground beef, ground pork, onion and garlic mixture, bread crumbs, ricotta, parsley, eggs, Parmesan, milk, salt, and pepper in a big mixing bowl. Mix all together with your hands until everything is well combined.
  5. Form meat into balls, roughly the size of a golf ball – about 50g each, and place on the wire rack.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the outsides are browned and the centres are tender and juicy.
  7. Bring a big pot of water to a boil with a good pinch of salt in it. Cook spaghetti according to the package directions – usually for 7-10 minutes until al dente. To stop the noodles from sticking together, stir them periodically.
  8. Drain the spaghetti – keeping about a cup of pasta water – and toss it into the marinara sauce while it’s still hot. The pasta water is great to have on hand in case you need to loosen the sauce. Toss the spaghetti in the sauce until it is fully covered.
  9. Fill serving bowls halfway with spaghetti, add meatballs and sprinkle with Parmesan, fresh basil leaves, and cracked pepper.


Sometimes, you just don’t have the time but don’t want to do another night of take-out. Here’s a super-fast version of this classic recipe that will be ready in just 15 minutes.


  • 500g of Cleaver’s Organic Beef Mince
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 can of tomato puree
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced or finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving  
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 packet of dried spaghetti
  • Salt to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Combine 2 garlic cloves, parmesan, parsley,egg, 1 tsp salt, and 1 tsp pepper in a mixing bowl. Mix in the beef and breadcrumbs gently and roll gently into balls- roughly the size of golf balls.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy frying pan or dutch oven. When it reaches medium heat add the meatballs. Cook, turning occasionally, until they are browned, around 8 to 10 minutes. Bring to a boil with the tomatoes. Reduce to a low heat, partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes, or until meatballs are cooked through. Add salt and pepper and taste to your liking.
  3. In the meantime, cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions until al dente. Drain, then return to the pot with the meatballs and sauce, tossing gently. Serve with a sprinkling of Parmesan.