Healthier Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs


This healthier spaghetti and meatballs dish uses fresh ingredients like carrots and fresh garlic in the sauce and whole wheat bread crumbs and fresh parsley in the meatballs. Serve over any whole grain pasta.

Prep Time:
25 mins
Cook Time:
1 hrs 40 mins
Total Time:
2 hrs 5 mins



  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

  • 1 clove garlic, minced

  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ¾ cup chopped onion

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes

  • 2 teaspoons salt

  • 1 teaspoon white sugar

  • 1 large bay leaf

  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 2 basil leaves, torn, plus additional for sprinkling on top


  1. Make the meatballs: Mix ground beef, bread crumbs, parsley, beaten egg, Parmesan cheese, garlic, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. Form into 12 balls. Cover and refrigerate until needed.

  2. Make the sauce: Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion; cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, salt, sugar, and bay leaf. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour.

  3. Stir in tomato paste, pepper, and basil; stir in meatballs. Simmer on low heat until meatballs are cooked through, about 30 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (71 degrees C).

  4. Discard bay leaf before serving.

Editor's Note:

This recipe is a healthier version of Italian Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

374 Calories
21g Fat
29g Carbs
22g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 6
Calories 374
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 6g 28%
Cholesterol 81mg 27%
Sodium 1552mg 67%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 11%
Dietary Fiber 6g 20%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 22g
Vitamin C 36mg 182%
Calcium 141mg 11%
Iron 6mg 33%
Potassium 1078mg 23%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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