Party Meatballs with Marinara


Some people are connectors, always looking to introduce people who they think should know each other, because they love bringing people together. Some people are educators, always happy to share knowledge and teach others. Others are documenters, always photographing occasions and perhaps even journaling the details.

And then there’s me. I love to feed people. Food brings people together in a shared experience, connecting them. It’s something we all need, and can transcend barriers, backgrounds and ages. Over food, conversation can bloom. But at its basest level, feeding people nourishes them. Food, as they say, is love.

Loving to feed people is a trait I inherited from my grandmother Betty. Though she didn’t enjoy cooking, she relished feeding people. Whenever people would drop by in the evening, she would implore them to stay for dinner. And if her signature spaghetti sauce, a meaty red sauce served over thick spaghetti, was on the menu, they pretty much always said yes.

That sauce, which I can make by heart, conjures happy memories of meals around my grandparent’s dining room table surrounded by family, friends and whoever happened by. One bite and I am back there on the velvet-cushioned chairs, with black olives on my fingertips and a steaming bowl of pasta before me.

Party Meatballs in Marinara

Much like my grandmother’s signature sauce, these meatballs are made for sharing. Make these as an appetizer and serve them with toothpicks for grabbing. Or make them as a meal — serve them alongside pasta or even with mashed potatoes (mashed potatoes and meatballs are a great combination).

Seasoned with a hearty dose of Worcestershire sauce, these three-bite meatballs are browned in a skillet before being simmered in an easy homemade marinara sauce, which produces a tender, juicy meatball. I’ve always been a big fan of baking meatballs, but this method produces a better result.

Meatballs in Marinara Sauce

If you are looking for a way to share these, take a clue from a former colleague of mine. She hosts a weekly Friday Night Meatballs gathering with an open invitation for guests. With a mix of friends they know well, and those they’d like to know better, she says the gatherings have helped her connect more to those around her. Have you done anything like this?

Party Meatballs with Marinara

Party Meatballs with Marinara
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: yields about 20 1-inch meatballs
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • ¾ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced and divided
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, plus additional to taste
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper, plus additional to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the ground beef, breadcrumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, 1 clove minced garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Form into 1-inch meatballs (about 20).
  2. In a mixing bowl, stir together the remaining minced garlic clove, crushed tomatoes and basil. Season gently with salt and pepper (it's better to under-season than over, as the seasoning will intensify while cooking). Set aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan set over medium heat. Add the meatballs and brown on all sides -- about 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.
  4. Add the tomato mixture to the saute pan with the meatballs and shake gently to combine. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice.
  5. Taste the sauce, and adjust seasonings as desired. If the marinara is too acidic, add ¼ tsp baking soda, stir well, cover and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.


Sarah Walker Caron

About Sarah Walker Caron

Sarah Walker Caron is editor of Bangor Metro magazine and senior features editor for the Bangor Daily News. She is the author of "The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook," (Sept. 2018, Rockridge Press) and the co-author of "Grains as Mains: Modern Recipes Using Ancient Grains" (March 2015, DK). Her recipes have appeared in the BDN, Betty Crocker publications, and more. She also writes about food at