Grandma's Sunday Meatballs and Sauce in a bowl from the top

Grandma’s Sunday Meatballs and Sauce

  • Author: Christie
  • Prep Time: 1 hour
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Grandma’s Sunday Meatballs and Sauce is the ultimate Sunday dinner recipe! These slow cooked meatballs in sauce will take you right back to your childhood!



For the Sauce

1/4 cup olive oil

2 pounds pork neck bones (you can substitute pork spare ribs)

1 pound Italian sausage (sweet or spicy or a mixture of both) each link cut into thirds

2 cups diced onions

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons garlic, chopped (about 4 cloves)

3/4 cup red wine

1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

2 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes

2 (28 ounce) cans tomato puree

1 can water

2 teaspoons dried basil

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

For the Meatballs

1/3 cup olive oil

2 cups finely diced onions

2 tablespoons chopped garlic

4 pounds meatloaf mix (a mixture of beef, pork and veal)

4 eggs, beaten

2 cups fresh breadcrumbs soaked with 1/2 cup milk for 15 minutes (squeeze out the excess milk before adding to the meatballs)

1 1/2 cups grated parmesan cheese

2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper

1 cup chopped parsley

1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start making the meatballs first by adding the olive oil to a large skillet over medium low heat.

Add the onions and cook for 15 minutes until very soft, stirring often.

Next add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Turn the heat off and let cool.

Add the meatloaf mix, eggs, the soaked bread crumbs (squeezed out), parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, parsley, oregano and basil and cooled onions and garlic to a large bowl.

Mix well until all the ingredients are combined then make a small meatball with the mixture and fry it up in the same skillet you used to cook the onions to test for seasonings.

Adjust seasonings if needed then start to form the meatballs. (I like to make the meatballs an extra large golf ball size, about 2 inches in diameter but you can make them as big as you like)

Place the meatballs on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. The meatballs don’t have to be cooked all the way through as they’ll finish cooking in the sauce.

While the meatballs are in the oven you can start the sauce by adding the oil to a large sauce pot over medium heat.

Add the pork bones and cook for 15 minutes, turning so the bones brown on both sides then remove from the pot.

Next add the sausage and brown on all sides, about 7-8 minutes, then remove from the pot.

Add the onions to the pot and cook for 15 minutes, stirring, until softened.

Next add the garlic and salt, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes more.

Now pour in the red wine to deglaze the pot, scraping the bottom with a spoon as the wine cooks down, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the tomato paste to the pot, breaking up and stirring into the onions. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes, the tomato puree and a can of water from one of the empty tomato cans.

Add the oregano, basil, salt and pepper to the sauce and stir.

Add the cooked meatballs, sausage and pork bones to the sauce and bring to a simmer.

Partially cover the pot with a lid, stirring occasionally for 3-4 hours or even longer if you have time.

To serve, remove the meatballs and sausage from the sauce and place in a serving bowl. Remove the pork bones and either shred the meat and add back to the sauce or serve the pork bones in a serving bowl on the side.

  • Cuisine: Italian