Nonna’s Meat Sauce

There is nothing that reminds Tate’s dad of home more than a bowl of pasta with his favorite homemade meat sauce. During the holiday time, we took advantage of having family in town to watch and record the coveted process of making this delicious meat sauce. This is a recipe that has been passed down multiple generations and makes a very hearty Sunday family dinner. Note: this recipe makes A TON of sauce. Feel free to modify to the portion size that fits your family best or make this and freeze a bag or two or three!

Nonna’s Meat Sauce
Makes: 16 servings
Prep Time: 40 minutes Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes



  • ¼ cup canola oil
  • 13 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
  • ½ cup dried parsley
  • ¼ cup Italian seasoning
  • 3, 28oz cans peeled tomatoes
  • 2, 28oz cans crushed tomatoes


  • 3 lbs ground beef
  • 7 eggs
  • 4 oz pecorino romano cheese
  • 1 tbs black pepper
  • 1 tbs onion powder
  • 6 slices white bread
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 lb Italian hot sausage links
  • 1 lb Italian sweet sausage links


For the sauce

  1. Heat a large stock pot with 5 tbs canola oil. Add the garlic and saute until golden brown. Approximately 5 minutes.
  2. Add the dried parsley and Italian seasoning. Stir for one minute and remove from the heat.
  3. Add the crushed and peeled tomatoes to the stock pot. Using a wooden spatula or spoon, crush the tomatoes and break them down into smaller pieces. If you notice any pieces of tomato skin, remove the pieces and throw them out.
  4. Fill one of the cans of tomatoes half-way and run the water through all of the tomato cans to collect as much of the remaining tomato sauce as possible. Add the tomato water to the pot. Fill the can half way again and add to the pot.
  5. Turn the heat back on medium/high and bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat so that the sauce is on a low simmer. Let simmer, covered, for at least one hour.

For the meatballs

  1. Put the ground beef and eggs, cheese, black pepper and onion powder in a large bowl.
  2. Take the white bread and rinse it in cold water. Using your hands, squeeze the water out of the bread and place it in the bowl.
  3. Using your hands, blend the ingredients together. If using your hands is not for you, you can use a spoon, but we highly recommend using your hands as you will get a better mix (and it’s the Italian way!)
  4. Once the mixture is well combined, mold the meatball mix into 2-3 inch meatballs. You should get around 15-20 meatballs.
  5. Heat a large saute pan on medium and add the oil. Once hot, add the meatballs until the pan is full. Fry in the oil for 5 minutes or until the meat is browned. Flip the meatballs over and fry for an additional 5 minutes. Remove the meatballs and set aside. Repeat until all of the meatballs are cooked.
  6. Remove half of the oil from the pot. Return the oil to medium heat and add the sausage links. You will want to cook all of the sausage until browned, similar to the meatballs and add it to the tomato sauce when completed.

Bringing it all together

  1. After the sauce has simmered for at least an hour, add the meatballs and sausage, in full links, to the sauce.
  2. Cook on simmer for at least another hour to let the flavors blend and meld together.
  3. Serve with pasta and top with more cheese or parsley as desired.