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Grandma Lil's Meatball Sauce

Prep Time:

10 minutes

Cook Time:

1 hour





About the Recipe

The key to Lil's meatball sauce is the texture: kinda like a ragu, but with hefty meatballs still holding their shape. Don't be afraid to let them stick to the pan a bit, just be careful not to let the tomato sauce burn.


2 lb kosher ground beef, 80/20

1 c plain breadcrumbs

2 ea egg

1 ea white onion, grated

2 tsp garlic powder

4 tsp kosher salt, divided

2 Tbs canola oil

2 14-oz can crushed tomatoes

2 6-oz can tomato paste

1-2 lb egg noodles


Place the ground beef in a large bowl. Add the breadcrumbs, egg, onion, garlic powder, and 2 tsp of salt. Use your hands to combine well, without overworking. 

Form the meatball mixture into golf ball-sized balls, placing on a plate as you go. Don’t overpack or over-roll them, they do not need to be perfect balls.

In a large heavy-bottomed pot, heat the canola oil over medium low heat. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and the last 2 teaspoons of salt, making sure that they are well mixed. 

Once the the sauce starts to bubble, stir again, then add in the meatballs and cover. After about 2 minutes, drop the heat to low, and gently stir the meatballs, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, but trying not to break up the meatballs. Re-cover.

Continue to cook over low heat, stirring about every 5-10 minutes, to make sure the sauce doesn’t burn at the bottom. After about 20 minutes, you can stir a bit more aggressively, to allow the edges of the meatballs to start to break down into the sauce. Cook for about 45 min, stirring every 10-15 minutes to scrape the bottom of the pot, and let the edge of the meatballs crumble into the sauce.

About 15-20 minutes before the sauce is done, bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the egg noodles according to package instructions. Set aside.

The end sauce should look like a meat sauce with larger meatballs in it. Serve with egg noodles.

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