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Meatball Marinara

Craving a hearty dinner without the fuss? This Meatball Marinara Rotini is your answer. Juicy homemade meatballs in a rich tomato sauce, all tangled with perfectly cooked pasta and parmesan? Comfort food heaven made easy.

Meatball Marinara Rotini

Meatball Marinara with Rotini

A good, homemade, hearty pasta dish is something you can put on the table that you know everyone is going to love. The combination of lean ground beef meatballs are perfectly seasoned and then simmered in a homemade marinara sauce, tossed with rotini pasta, and sprinkled with freshly grated parmesan. The combination makes for a hearty dish that’s both comforting and delicious. This recipe is versatile, allowing for various ingredient substitutions and cooking techniques, making it a fantastic option for any home cook.

The meatballs are the star of the show, seasoned with garlic, onion powder, and herbs, and then pan-fried. They’re juicy, flavorful, and blend seamlessly with the marinara sauce, which boasts the richness of San Marzano tomatoes and a blend of Italian seasonings.

I love using Rotini for this dish, with its spiral shape, it does an excellent job of holding onto the sauce, ensuring that each forkful is packed with flavor.

Why you’ll love this dish…

  • Quick & Effortless: Forget complicated instructions and exotic ingredients. This recipe cooks up in a few simple steps, leaving you more time to relax and savor the deliciousness.
  • Family-Approved: Packed with protein and bursting with flavor, this dish is a guaranteed hit with kids and adults alike. The classic combo of pasta, meatballs, and sauce is a crowd-pleaser that never disappoints.
  • Budget-Friendly Champion: Don’t let affordability stop your comfort food cravings! This recipe relies on readily available ingredients, making it an economical way to feed the whole gang.

Try our Smoked Italian Meatballs!

Meatball Marinara

Meatball Marinara shopping list

Wondering if you have to hit the store? Here’s the list of items you’ll need to make this recipe. For specific amounts, please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post.

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  • Lean Ground Beef
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Minced Garlic
  • Onion Powder
  • Egg
  • Panko Bread Crumbs
  • Whole Milk
  • Olive Oil
  • Yellow Onion
  • San Marzano Tomatoes
  • Tomato Puree
  • Italian Seasoning Blend
  • Sugar (optional)
  • Rotini Pasta
  • Freshly Grated Parmesan

How about a Homemade Bolognese Sauce?

Meatball Marinara

How to make Meatball Marinara with Rotini

Wondering what you’re getting yourself into when you make this dish? Here’s a quick overview of the process! Make sure you follow the instructions at the recipe card at the bottom of the post while you’re cooking.

  • Mix Meatballs
    Mix all meatball ingredients and form into 1-inch diameter balls.
  • Brown
    Brown the meatballs in a skillet and set aside.
  • Simmer
    Sauté onion in the same skillet, add garlic, then tomatoes, puree, seasoning, and salt. Simmer.
  • Simmer Meatballs
    Return meatballs to the sauce and cook until done.
  • Cook Pasta
    Cook pasta, toss with sauce and meatballs, garnish with parmesan, and serve.

Our Lasagna Recipe is amazing too!

Meatball Marinara

Meatball Marinara FAQ

Can this recipe be made in advance?

Sure! I wouldn’t mix the pasta and sauce together in advance if you don’t have to, though. Pasta always reheats better separately and doesn’t get too soft and absorbs too much of the sauce during storage.

What’s the best way to reheat the leftovers?

Since it is pasta and sauce, we typically just use the microwave. You could also use a pan on the stovetop in a pinch, though. Want it to reheat faster?? Cut the meatballs in half before hitting the microwave.

Substitutions and Variations

Add some Italian Sausage to the ground beef mix for a flavor boost! A few extra cloves of garlic are never a bad idea, either. Sometimes I toss in a few slices of sliced red pepper and a few shakes of red pepper flakes. If you have one hanging around, a glug of red wine in the sauce tastes great.

Viral Recipe – TikTok Feta Pasta

Rotini with Meatball Marinara

Serve this with…

Meatball Marinara

More great pasta recipes to love!

Meatball Marinara Rotini
Yield: 6 servings

Rotini with Meatball Marinara

Rotini with Meatball Marinara

Our homemade Rotini with Meatball Marinara is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner, to make ahead of time and bring to a friend, or for a big weekend gathering!

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes



  • 2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup whole milk


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes
  • 48-ounces tomato puree*
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt** (see note!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (optional)


  • 2 pounds rotini pasta
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan


  1. Combine all of the meatball ingredients and mix together until they are evenly distributed through the meat. Don't overmix.
  2. Roll into balls that are about 1 inch in diameter.
  3. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the meatballs in batches. Once browned, remove from the pan.
  4. It is okay if they aren't cooked all the way through. They'll cook more in the sauce.
  5. Add olive oil and minced yellow onion to the same pan. Sauté for 4-5 minutes and add the garlic. Stir for a minute before adding the tomatoes, tomato puree, Italian seasoning blend, and salt (to taste, see notes.) Add the sugar, if using.
  6. Bring the mixture up to a simmer over low to medium-low heat.
  7. Simmer for 45 minutes until the sauce has cooked down some and the meatballs are fully cooked.
  8. While the sauce is cooking, cook the noodles in a pot of well-salted water and cook according to package directions. Drain well, and toss with the meatball marinara.
  9. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan and enjoy while hot!


* This is kind of an odd number of ounces. I use the Mutti tomato puree, which comes in 24.5-ounce jars. If you use a different brand, get close-ish to this amount of tomato puree, and you'll be good.

** Start sparingly with the salt and increase as needed. How much salt you need depends on what type of tomatoes you use.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 469Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 167mgSodium: 605mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 49g

Nutrition data provided here is only an estimate. If you are tracking these things for medical purposes please consult an outside, trusted source. Thanks!

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Nicole Johnson

Nicole Johnson, a self-taught expert in grilling and outdoor cooking, launched Or Whatever You Do in 2010. Her blog, renowned for its comprehensive and creative outdoor cooking recipes, has garnered a vast audience of millions. Nicole's hands-on experience and passion for grilling shine through her work. Her husband, Jeremiah Johnson, also plays a pivotal role in recipe development, adding his culinary flair to the mix. Together, they form a dynamic duo, offering a rich and varied outdoor cooking experience to their followers.

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