One Pan Spaghetti and Meatballs

A hearty one-pan spaghetti and meatballs that’s always a favourite family dinner, with my handy hack for quick and easy meatballs!

A white bowl of spaghetti in tomato sauce, topped with sausage meatballs and chopped fresh basil leaves

A big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs is a wonderfully comforting meal, especially when it’s topped with plenty of grated parmesan or fragrant fresh basil.

This recipe puts a spin on the family favourite by cooking the pasta, meatballs and sauce all together in a single pan. So there’s less washing up and only one pan to heat up as well – perfect for anyone who is keeping an eye on their energy bills!

Although I have made this recipe with regular beef meatballs before, I love using sausages to make the meatballs instead. They’re really quick and easy to prepare and budget friendly, and you can experiment with different varieties of sausages.

Anything with black pepper and herbs is good, like a Cumberland or Lincolnshire sausage. But I really love using sausages that contain sweet chilli or chorizo for a spicy twist on the family favourite.

Do try and get sausages with a 75% or higher meat content though. It doesn’t work as well if you use sausages that are bulked out with a lot of rusk and filler.

Overhead view of a white china bowl full of spaghetti, sausage meatballs and tomato sauce, topped with fresh basil

Recipe Variations

  • This recipe feeds four, quite generously, but you may want to cook it for fewer people. To feed three people, I would just reduce the sausages and spaghetti, but leave everything else the same. For two people, halve all the ingredients, but use a smaller pan so the liquid doesn’t boil away too quickly. 
  • If you don’t have any fresh basil, you can replace it with a teaspoon of dried basil or oregano. Or leave it out entirely – the recipe will still taste great without it.
  • Instead of sausages, you could either make up some meatballs (this meatball recipe works well) or use store-bought meatballs. Brown them for 2-3 minutes before moving them around, as they can break up more easily than the sausage meatballs.
Overhead view of a white bowl, filled with spaghetti in tomato sauce, topped with sausage meatballs and chopped fresh basil leaves
One-pan Spaghetti and Meatballs
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins

A hearty one-pan spaghetti and meatballs that's always a favourite family dinner, with a handy hack for quick and easy meatballs!

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: One Pan
Servings: 4
Author: Sally Akins
  • 1 tbsp oil – olive, sunflower or rapeseed
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 sausages
  • 2 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp white sugar
  • 400 ml water
  • 1 large handful of chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 300 g spaghetti
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan to serve (optional)
  1. Pour the oil into a wide, deep frying pan (I use a flat based wok) and heat it over a medium heat.

  2. Add the onion to the pan and soften for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t brown. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes, making sure that the garlic doesn’t brown as it will become bitter.

  3. While the onion and garlic are softening, prepare the meatballs. Run a sharp knife along the length of each sausage and peel off the casing. Cut each sausage into four equal pieces and then roll each piece between your hands to form a meatball. If the sausagemeat is too sticky, dampening your hands with a little cold water can help.

  4. Add the sausage meatballs to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until sealed all over and starting to brown.

  5. Turn the heat up to high and add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, sugar and water. Stir to combine and season with salt and pepper.

  6. Bring the pan to the boil, then break the spaghetti in two and add it to the pan. Carefully stir the pan to break up any clumps of pasta and then cook for the time indicated on the packet.

  7. After 5 minutes, stir in the chopped basil (if using) and check that there aren’t any clumps of spaghetti remaining. Cook for the remainder of the time, stirring occasionally and pushing any errant strands of spaghetti back into the sauce.

  8. When you reach the shorter cooking time indicated on your packet, check a strand of spaghetti to see if it's cooked yet. I generally find that it needs the longer cooking time, and you may need to add a splash more water if you think it is reducing too quickly.

  9. When the spaghetti is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and allow it to stand for a couple of minutes. Check the seasoning and then serve in bowls, generously sprinkled with more chopped basil, grated parmesan or both!

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