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For the Easiest Meatballs, Drop Them

In just 45 minutes you can have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner—and the kids can help make it.

Published Jan. 4, 2023.

As of today, there are 182 results when you search “meatball” on the America’s Test Kitchen website. How does one choose? 

Well, do you want meatballs fast? Then this recipe is for you. In just 45 minutes your family can be digging into a spaghetti and meatball dinner. The secret? Drop em, don’t brown em. 

We cook these meatballs by “dropping” them right into the cold sauce, turning on the heat, and bringing everything to a simmer for about 15 minutes. (I mean, don’t actually drop them unless you want tomato sauce splattering everywhere. It’s more of a “gentle nestling” situation.) 

As they cook, the beef-based meatballs also impart their savory flavor to the simple sauce that’s made from pantry ingredients. 

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10 ingredients. 45 minutes. Quick, easy, and fresh weeknight recipes.

To round out your dinner, bring a large pot of water to a boil before you start making the meatballs. When you add the meatballs to the pot, add 2 tablespoons table salt and 12 ounces of spaghetti to the boiling water. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spaghetti is al dente. Drain the pasta and toss it with the finished meatballs and sauce. (Or serve your cooked meatballs on Italian sub rolls.)

ATK Kids Recipe: Meatballs

“I liked getting to mix the meatballs and roll them out!”—Amelia, ATK Kids recipe tester, age 5
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Got kids in the kitchen? This recipe was designed for them! They can stir together the sauce ingredients, mix and shape the meatballs, and add them to the (cold) sauce. Then, grown-ups can take the lead on cooking. Maybe the kids can set the table? 


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