bowl of spaghetti and meatballs on white table

How to make next level spaghetti & meatballs

Make cheese-stuffed next level meatballs to serve over spaghetti. Elevate this classic pasta dish with melting mozzarella and a rich tomato sauce.

For something that looks rather easy, a lot can go wrong with a meatball. At one end of spectrum, they can disintegrate into the sauce, and at the other, they can be overworked and rubbery. But done properly, you have one of the finest dishes you can make with mince.


We’ve gone full-on Italian-American with larger meatballs and a rich tomato sauce to pile onto spaghetti. We’ve stayed reasonably true to a classic meatball but cranked up the flavour and added a next level cheese-stuffed middle.

10 tips for the perfect spaghetti & meatballs:

1. Two meats are better than one
2. Add soaked bread to make things light and plump
3. Highly seasoned for lots of flavour
4. Yeast extract for meatiness
5. Hand-mix for a loose texture
6. Cheese-stuff for indulgence
7. Choose your size
8. Simmer to flavour sauce
9. Leave to rest before serving
10. Serve over, not through, spaghetti

1. Two meats are better than one 

ground beef on white plate

Using just one meat is okay, but adds just one flavour to the sauce. For a true ‘meatball’ flavour, opt for beef and pork.

2. Get soaked

bread soaking in milk in white bowl

Bread soaked in milk keeps the meatballs light and plump. We tried skipping this step and just using breadcrumbs, but noticed the difference. The better the bread you use, the better the flavour – which is why we’ve opted for ciabatta, sourdough or baguette over sliced white.

3. Highly seasoned

shredded parmesan cheese on white plate

What stops a meatball being a mini burger is the amount of other flavours you add. We’ve upped the savouriness with garlic, parmesan and yeast extract, added intrigue with a grating of nutmeg and fresh flavours with parsley and dried oregano.

4. Make it meaty

open jar of marmite with spoon

Love it or hate it, yeast extract intensifies the meatiness of these meatballs and is well worth adding.

5. Handmade tale

stuffing meatballs with cheese by hand

The key to a loose-textured meatball that still holds its shape is to not overwork the mix. The best way to do this is to use your hands to mix until everything just comes together.

6. Get stuffed

stuffed meatballs on white plate

To take our meatballs to the next level, we’ve stuffed them with a piece of cheese that melts when it’s hot. We’ve gone for mozzarella as it’s readily available, but choose the cheaper type that isn’t in water. Fontina also works well and has more flavour but is harder to find.

7. Choose your size

three meatballs on white plate

There’s been a trend for serving single orange-sized meatballs, and while they look dramatic, they’re hard to eat. As ours are stuffed, we’ve gone with a slightly larger-than-normal three per portion.

8. The main sauce

meatballs with sauce in pan

Cooking the meatballs in the sauce is two-fold. The sauce takes on the flavours of the meatball seasonings and the meatballs take on the flavours of the sauce.

9. Pan’s not hot

pan of meatballs, bowl of spaghetti and bowl of cheese

There is nothing to be achieved by serving the meatballs and sauce scorching hot, so leave everything to cool and rest while you cook the spaghetti.

10. A touch of nostalgia

spaghetti and meatballs in white bowl

We know that the pasta is traditionally mixed into the sauce before serving (and feel free to do that if your pan is big enough) but for a bit of nostalgia, we’re spooning our sauce over to be mixed by the eater.

See the full recipe for our next level spaghetti and meatballs.

Enjoyed this spaghetti? Find more classic pasta recipes…

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Check out more next level recipes.


Have you got any tips for next level spaghetti & meatballs? Leave a comment below…