Shortcut spaghetti and meatballs pack big flavor

By Joe Stumpe | March 31, 2023

Some cooks feel meatballs must be homemade. But the tasty little spheres actually are pretty time-consuming to form and brown or bake, not to mention they require a mixing bowl and pan.

Here’s a shortcut using frozen meatballs that will save you work and produce a hearty plate of spaghetti and meatballs that would do any trattoria proud. The secret is to let the meatballs simmer much longer in the sauce — at least an hour — than most recipes call for. During that time, the meatballs will flavor the sauce and vice versa, making for flavor that truly is bigger than the sum of its parts. Since the meatballs are pre-cooked, there’s no need to thaw or brown them before starting the process. 

One caution: Don’t let the meatballs simmer indefinitely, or they will eventually absorb nearly all the sauce. However, if that happens, the sauce-swollen meatballs make a tremendous filling for a meatball sub.

Shortcut Spaghetti and Meatballs

1 lb. frozen, pre-cooked meatballs

1 large jar store-bought spaghetti sauce

1 lb. spaghetti, cooked according to package directions

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional


Put the meatballs and sauce in a Dutch
oven or heavy pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer at least 1 hour, occasionally stirring. Check to see how much sauce is left and, if necessary, continue simmering until the desired meatball-sauce ratio is reached.

Serve over spaghetti with parmesan,.