Grown-Up SpaghettiOs & Meatballs

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These homemade SpaghettiOs with meatballs offer a grown-up twist on the childhood classic, yet they still earn the kids’ seal of approval. What sets our version apart? The secret ingredient: cheddar cheese. It adds that extra oomph of flavor, along with a sprinkle of Parmesan for a touch of sophistication.

Traditionally, SpaghettiOs meatballs are a blend of pork, chicken, and beef. To keep things simple, we opted for all-beef meatballs. However, feel free to mix it up by using a combination of beef, chicken, and pork if you prefer.

By blending whole-peeled tomatoes, you achieve that perfect texture for the sauce, making it worth the extra step.

Now, let’s gather our ingredients:

Grown-Up SpaghettiOs & Meatballs

Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Dinner
Servings 8


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound anelletti or similar small round pasta
  • 1 can 28 ounces whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pound 90% lean ground beef chuck
  • 1/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
  • 1 can 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese about 4 ounces
  • 1/4 cup half-and-half
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese plus more for serving


  • Boil the pasta until just al dente, then set aside.
  • Blend the whole peeled tomatoes until smooth.
  • Mix the beef, panko, egg, oregano, garlic powder, and salt to form meatballs.
  • Brown the meatballs in a pot, then set aside.
  • In the same pot, cook garlic until golden, then add the blended tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, and salt.
  • Return the meatballs to the pot and simmer until cooked through.
  • Stir in the cheddar, half-and-half, and Parmesan until melted.
  • Add the pasta and toss to coat, adjusting the sauce consistency with reserved pasta water if needed.
  • Serve the pasta and meatballs in bowls, topped with extra Parmesan. Enjoy!

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