Tender Meatballs in a Rich Tomato-Wine Sauce

Welcome to my kitchen! Today, I am excited to share one of my all-time favorite recipes with you. It’s the kind of dish that will make your whole house smell delicious and leave you feeling full and satisfied.

This recipe is for meatballs in tomato-wine sauce. It’s a classic Italian-American dish that should be in every home cook’s repertoire. I’ve made this recipe dozens of times over the years, perfecting it along the way, and I’m confident that you’ll love it just as much as I do.

There’s something special about meatballs in tomato-wine sauce. The meatballs are tender and flavorful, seasoned with allspice, parsley, oregano, basil, salt and pepper. And the tomato-wine sauce is just perfect. Made with garlic, onion, diced tomatoes with juice, tomato paste and dry red wine, it’s bursting with flavor and just the right amount of acidity.

Not only is this recipe delicious, but it’s also versatile. You can serve these meatballs with spaghetti and plenty of extra sauce on top for an Italian classic. Or you can serve them on their own as an appetizer or even as a main course paired with a fresh green salad.

So grab your apron and let’s get started!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Meatballs in Tomato-Wine Sauce
Meatballs in Tomato-Wine Sauce

Are you looking for a delicious dinner that the whole family will love? Look no further! This meatballs in tomato-wine sauce recipe is perfect for every occasion.

Firstly, the combination of ground beef, pork, and flavorful spices such as dried oregano and allspice make the meatballs incredibly juicy and tender. The addition of parmesan cheese and fresh herbs adds a burst of flavor that everyone will enjoy.

Secondly, the tomato-wine sauce is a true standout element. The use of red wine adds depth and richness to the sauce, while the diced tomatoes and tomato paste give it a sweet and tangy taste. When it all comes together, you’re left with a hearty and satisfying meal that is perfect to enjoy on any night of the week.

Lastly, this recipe is incredibly versatile. You can serve the meatballs over spaghetti or with crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce. Or you can even turn it into a tapas-style dish by making smaller meatballs for appetizers or party snacks.

In conclusion, this recipe is perfect for those who want to impress their guests or simply have a comforting dinner at home. The blend of spices, juicy meatballs and rich wine-tomato sauce will leave everyone wanting more. Give it a try and you’ll see why this meatballs in tomato-wine sauce recipe will become your new go-to for dinner!

Ingredient List

 These meatballs are swimming in a delectable pool of tomato-wine sauce.
These meatballs are swimming in a delectable pool of tomato-wine sauce.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make these flavorful meatballs in tomato-wine sauce:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes with juice (28 ounce can)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup dry red wine

Note: For a vegan version, you can substitute the meat with lentils or vegan meatballs. For Greek style meatballs, use lamb instead of beef and pork. For Italian style meatballs, add fennel seeds and use red wine instead of dry. For Spanish style meatballs, add smoked paprika and use white wine instead of red.

Make sure to read the entire recipe for more information on how to prepare this delicious meal!

The Recipe How-To

 Who needs spaghetti when you can have meatballs drowned in tomato-wine heaven?
Who needs spaghetti when you can have meatballs drowned in tomato-wine heaven?

Step 1: Making the Meatballs

  • Ingredients:
  • 200g ground beef
  • 200g ground pork
  • 2/3 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F.

  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the ground beef, ground pork, breadcrumbs and milk. Mix well.

  • Add the onion, garlic cloves and parsley to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Use your hands to mix the ingredients until well combined.

  • Shape the mixture into small balls (about one inch in diameter) and place them on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

  • Bake in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes or until they are browned and cooked through.

Step 2: Making the Tomato-Wine Sauce

  • Ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • One can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
  • One can (6 ounces) tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One bay leaf
  • Two teaspoons dried oregano

    • Two teaspoons dried basil
    • One cup dry red wine
  • In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat two tablespoons of olive oil.

  • Add diced onions and minced garlic to the pan and cook until soft but not browned.

  • Add diced tomatoes with their juices, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, bay leaf , dried oregano, dried basil and red wine to the pan.

  • Stir to combine all ingredients.

  • Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil.

  • Once it reaches a boil, decrease the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes or until it thickens.

Step 3: Braising the Meatballs in Tomato-Wine Sauce

  • Ingredients
  • 2 cups of tomato-wine sauce
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

  • Once the meatballs are done, remove them from the oven.

  • In a Dutch oven or large pot, pour two cups of tomato-wine sauce.

  • Add braised meatballs to the pot and turn up the heat to medium-low.

  • Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Once it’s ready, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil before serving hot.

Note: The tomato-wine sauce is versatile and can be used as a base sauce for many other dishes such as

Substitutions and Variations

 This hearty dish is perfect for a night in with the family or a cozy dinner with friends.
This hearty dish is perfect for a night in with the family or a cozy dinner with friends.

One of the best things about meatballs in tomato-wine sauce is how versatile they are with ingredients. If you don’t have some of the items on your hand, there are many substitutions you can make that will still result in a delicious meal. Here are some suggestions for easy substitutions and variations:

– Ground Beef and Pork: Try using ground lamb or turkey as a substitute for beef and pork. They both add their own unique flavor that’s perfect with the meatball’s Italian seasoning blend.

– Cheese: Parmesan cheese is a traditional cheese to use in meatballs, but if you don’t have it or want to try something different, you can swap it out with pecorino romano or asiago. Or you can omit the cheese entirely for a dairy-free or vegan option.

– Bread Crumbs: Fresh breadcrumbs are always best in this recipe, but if you don’t have them, dried bread crumbs work perfectly fine as well. You can use plain or seasoned breadcrumbs, depending on how much flavor you want to add.

– Herbs: If you don’t have fresh parsley, substitute it with dried parsley with a ratio of 1 tablespoon of dried parsley equals 3 tablespoons of fresh parsley.

– Red Wine: While red wine is preferred for this recipe, you can easily substitute white wine to add an acidic element. You could also forego the wine entirely and replace it with beef broth or water.

– Tomato Sauce: Canned diced tomatoes combined with tomato paste can be used to create a less smooth sauce that will hold chunks of vegetables and herbs well.

– Vegan Meatballs: Substitute the meat entirely with vegetable components like lentils, mushrooms and mashed beans

Remember that while substitutions are great, they may alter the overall taste profile of the dish slightly. The recipe is flexible and using substitutes will yield different but equally tasty results so feel free to experiment to find what works best for your palate.

Serving and Pairing

 Get ready to indulge in rich tomato sauce, juicy meatballs, and a hint of wine.
Get ready to indulge in rich tomato sauce, juicy meatballs, and a hint of wine.

This meatballs in tomato-wine sauce recipe is a flavor-packed dish that can be enjoyed on its own, over spaghetti or as a meatball sub. The red wine sauce gives the meatballs a beautiful depth of flavor while the tomato adds a hint of tanginess.

To accompany this rich and hearty meal, I recommend serving it with some garlic bread or a light salad to balance out the flavors. For those looking for a vegan option, try substituting the ground beef and pork with lentils for vegan meatballs. Top it off with some freshly grated parmesan cheese to enhance the dish’s overall umami sensation.

Pairing wine with this dish can be tricky, but an excellent pairing is a dry red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot. The robust flavor and depth of these wines are perfect for balancing out the richness of the tomato-wine sauce and complementing the savory meatballs.

If you prefer white wine, try pairing it with a fruity Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. This will create a delightful contrast between the richness of the meatballs and the fresh acidity of the wine.

Overall, this dish is satisfying and pairs well with both red and white wines, making it an ideal choice for either casual dinners or get-togethers with friends and family.

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 The sweet and tangy notes of the tomato sauce pair perfectly with the subtle undertones of the wine.
The sweet and tangy notes of the tomato sauce pair perfectly with the subtle undertones of the wine.

The beauty of this meatballs in tomato-wine sauce recipe is that it can be made ahead of time and reheated with little fuss. In fact, I strongly recommend making it a day ahead, as the flavors will more fully develop overnight, resulting in an even more delicious dish.

To make ahead, simply allow the meatballs and tomato-wine sauce to cool completely, then transfer them to an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. When ready to serve, reheat the meatballs and sauce on low heat on the stove or in a slow cooker until heated through.

If you have leftovers, they can also be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to four days. To reheat, simply microwave individual servings for 1-2 minutes or heat on low on the stove until heated through.

It’s worth noting that due to the creamy texture of the sauce from the combination of tomatoes and wine, it will thicken upon cooling but will easily loosen up when being reheated. If you find it too thick, add a bit of water or broth until desired consistency is achieved.

So go ahead and make a big batch of these savory meatballs in tomato-wine sauce ahead of time – they’re perfect for meal prep or entertaining friends and family without spending too much time in the kitchen.

Tips for Perfect Results

 You'll want to lick the bowl clean after trying this meatball recipe.
You’ll want to lick the bowl clean after trying this meatball recipe.

To achieve perfect meatballs in tomato-wine sauce, there are several tips that you can apply. First, when making the meatballs, it’s important to combine the ingredients well without overmixing. Overmixing can make the meatballs dense and tough.

Another tip is to brown the meatballs first before braising them in the tomato-wine sauce. Browning the meatballs gives them a crispy texture on the outside while retaining their moisture inside.

Additionally, choose lean ground beef rather than fatty ones to avoid having too much oil in your meatballs. For richer flavor and texture, you may substitute some of the ground beef with ground pork.

When making the sauce, using dry red wine provides a deeper and more complex flavor than other types of wine. You can also add a bay leaf for an extra layer of aroma.

Lastly, for best results, simmer the sauce with the meatballs over low heat for at least an hour. This slow cooking process allows the flavors to develop and blend together, resulting in a savory and tender dish. Remember to stir occasionally to prevent sticking or burning.

By following these tips, your meatballs in tomato-wine sauce will turn out perfectly every time. Enjoy this classic Italian dish with your favorite pasta or crusty bread for a truly satisfying meal.


Bottom Line

Now that you know how to make these delicious meatballs in tomato-wine sauce, there’s no excuse not to try them out at home. Whether you’re looking for a quick and easy weeknight meal or something more special to impress your guests, this recipe is perfect.

The juicy meatballs packed with parmesan, parsley, and allspice, combined with the tangy tomato wine sauce are sure to be a crowd-pleaser at any dinner party. Not only is it delicious and flavorful, but it’s also very versatile. You can enjoy them served over spaghetti noodles, with crusty bread or on their own.

One of the best aspects of this recipe is that it can be customized to suit different dietary needs or preferences. You can substitute pork or lamb for beef meatball. Vegan? Opt for a plant-based option with lentil or vegetable meatballs.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a hearty and delicious meal that’s full of flavor, then this recipe for meatballs in tomato-wine sauce is definitely worth trying. So let’s gather all the ingredients mentioned in the article and embrace the culinary experience by serving up some tasty homemade meatballs tonight!

Meatballs in Tomato-Wine Sauce

Meatballs in Tomato-Wine Sauce Recipe

Makes enough for 1 lb. of pasta. You can use spaghetti, penne, or another chunky pasta
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Prep Time 1 hr 15 mins
Cook Time 6 hrs
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Calories 482 kcal



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 -3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (or can use 28 oz. can tomato puree)
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 T. minced fresh)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1 T. minced fresh)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley


  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 1 cup plain breadcrumbs
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 dash ground allspice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine


  • To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.
  • Add in the onion and garlic; stir/saute for a few minutes or until well softened but not browned.
  • Add in the wine; bring to a boil; continue boiling 1-2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
  • Transfer mixture to the slow cooker.
  • Add in tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, allspice, and bay leaf; stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on HIGH while you prepare the meatballs.
  • To make the meatballs: add the ground beef to a large mixing bowl, breaking it up a bit with your fingers or a large fork.
  • Add in the breadcrumbs, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, and allspice.
  • Gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients, using your hands or a large fork.
  • Be careful not to compact the meat, which will make your meatballs tough.
  • Gently shape the mixture into 12 meatballs, each a little bigger than a golf ball.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat; add in the meatballs and brown on all sides, 6-10 minutes, turning carefully.
  • Using a slotted spoon, transfer meatballs to the slowcooker.
  • Pour off any fat from the skillet, return to the stove and add the wine.
  • Cover over high heat for 2-3 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck to the pan.
  • Pour over the meatballs.
  • If the meatballs are not covered by tomato sauce, carefully spoon some sauce over them.
  • Cover and cook on LOW for 5-6 hours.
  • Remove the bay leaf and serve meatballs and sauce over pasta.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 390gCalories: 482kcalCarbohydrates: 31.5gProtein: 30.9gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6.9gCholesterol: 146.4mgSodium: 1561.2mgFiber: 4.7gSugar: 11g
Keyword Meat
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