Homemade Ricotta Meatballs with All-Day Tomato Sauce

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Homemade ricotta meatballs with an all-day simmered tomato sauce make the perfect weekend dinner before a busy week.
Okay, so this meal took all day people. All. Day. But it was worth every minute.
If this sounds intimidating, don’t be worried. The bulk of the cooking was the sauce, which is mostly hands-off. There were a lot of dishes, though. Sigh.
ricotta meatballs
Let me tell you about the sauce. The sauce comes from Serious Eats, and if you follow the directions exactly, you will never want to eat another sauce. It’s deep in color and flavor. The tomatoes turn to an almost jam-like consistency for the best flavor you can imagine. I’ve made this sauce many times, and while I’ve never not eaten it, I can tell you that you need to follow the directions exactly. Use whole San Marzano tomatoes. Four large cans seem like a lot, but it cooks down so much that you need that many. Hand crush them. And don’t leave out the fish sauce. This sauce takes all of 6 hours to make, so you definitely need to start it well before the meatballs.
homemade ricotta meatballs
For the meatballs, I learned the secret to extra tender meatballs — ricotta cheese instead of milk. You’ll mix some panko breadcrumbs with ricotta and let it sit, just like you might with bread and milk.
For these, I used a combination of Impossible beef and Impossible pork because I don’t eat meat, and they came out amazing. A friend of mine that I had over said she couldn’t believe they weren’t meat. There are so many layers of flavor that it doesn’t matter. But you can certainly use either beef only or a combination of beef and pork.
I baked these and then simmered in the sauce, then ate them with garlic bread. I didn’t even need any pasta. We had plenty of meatballs for a few days (although not enough sauce) so subs, spaghetti, whatever you like is on the table.
homemade ricotta meatballs
ricotta meatballs

Ricotta Meatballs with All Day Tomato Sauce

Homemade ricotta meatballs are tender, moist, and how a meatball should be. With an all day simmered sauce, this is perfection.
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Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 6 hours
Servings 6
Calories 453 kcal


  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef pork, or combination
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped basil leaves
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
  • All Day Sauce


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  • In a large bowl add the ricotta and panko breadcrumbs. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the onions. Cook until softened and add the garlic. Stir and cook for about a minute and turn off heat. Let cool for a few minutes.
  • Add the ground meat, eggs, onion mixture, cheese, and herbs to the bowl.
  • Mix using your hands until just combined.
  • Scoop out a tiny bit and cook in a bit of oil in a frying pan to test seasoning and adjust.
  • Using a cooking scoop, scoop out 2 inch meatballs onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for another 10 minutes until browned.
  • Serve the meatballs with the sauce —you can simmer them in the sauce or spoon the sauce overtop, whichever you prefer.


Storing leftovers: Leftovers can be stored in the fridge for several days.


Calories: 453kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 27gFat: 34gSaturated Fat: 13gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 156mgSodium: 169mgPotassium: 418mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 262IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 132mgIron: 3mg
Nutrition information is only an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. View full nutrition disclousre.
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