Penne Pasta with Meatballs

Penne pasta with meatballs is a hearty and comforting dish that combines al dente penne pasta with savory, juicy meatballs, all coated in a rich tomato sauce. This classic Italian-American meal is perfect for family dinners or gatherings, providing a satisfying and delicious experience for everyone. Follow this detailed recipe to create a flavorful and crowd-pleasing dish.



For the Meatballs:

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 tablespoon dried)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For the Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Pasta:

  • 1 lb penne pasta
  • Salt for boiling water

Optional Garnishes:

  • Fresh basil or parsley, chopped
  • Grated Parmesan cheese



Prepare the Meatballs:

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, milk, egg, minced garlic, parsley, salt, pepper, and oregano until well combined.
  2. Form Meatballs: Shape the mixture into 1-inch meatballs, placing them on a baking sheet or plate.
  3. Cook Meatballs: Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the meatballs in batches, turning them occasionally until browned on all sides and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Remove meatballs from the skillet and set aside.

Prepare the Sauce:

  1. Sauté Aromatics: In the same skillet, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Sauté the chopped onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Simmer Sauce: Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, dried basil, and oregano to the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld together.
  3. Add Meatballs: Return the meatballs to the skillet with the sauce. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes, ensuring the meatballs are heated through and infused with the sauce.

Prepare the Pasta:

  1. Cook Penne: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the penne pasta and cook according to the package instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.

Combine and Serve:

  1. Mix Together: Pour the meatballs and sauce over the cooked penne pasta. Gently toss to combine, ensuring the pasta is well coated with the sauce and meatballs are evenly distributed.
  2. Serve: Transfer the pasta and meatballs to serving plates. Garnish with freshly chopped basil or parsley and a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese if desired.



  • Consistency: Adjust the consistency of the sauce by adding a little pasta water if it’s too thick.
  • Make Ahead: Both the meatballs and sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 3 months.
  • Flavor: For extra flavor, consider adding a splash of red wine to the sauce while it simmers.



  • Spicy Meatballs: Add crushed red pepper flakes to the meatball mixture for a spicy kick.
  • Cheese-Stuffed Meatballs: Insert a small cube of mozzarella cheese into the center of each meatball before cooking.
  • Vegetarian Option: Substitute meatballs with vegetarian meatballs or use roasted vegetables in the sauce.


Penne pasta with meatballs is a timeless dish that brings together the comforting flavors of pasta, meat, and tomato sauce. This recipe provides a straightforward way to create a delicious and satisfying meal that is sure to please any crowd. Enjoy the rich flavors and hearty textures of this classic dish, and don’t hesitate to experiment with the variations to make it your own!

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