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

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

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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



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.

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.


Calories: 671kcal

Carbohydrates: 56g

Protein: 33g

Fat: 35g

Saturated Fat: 13g

Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g

Monounsaturated Fat: 15g

Trans Fat: 2g

Cholesterol: 120mg

Sodium: 928mg

Potassium: 922mg

Fiber: 5g

Sugar: 9g

Vitamin A: 591IU

Vitamin C: 15mg

Calcium: 150mg

Iron: 6mg


One Pan

Tried this recipe?

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

One Comment on “One-Pan Spaghetti and Metaballs– Nicky’s Kitchen Sanctuary”

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