Home » Recipes » How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Like a Pro

How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Like a Pro

Do you love Italian food as much as I do? There is nothing better than Italian gravy that simmers on the stove all day long. Learn how to make Sunday sauce with meatballs like a pro with these tips!

I love Italian food don’t you? My mother’s side of the family is Italian.

In fact, my great grandparents immigrated here from Italy.

And years ago, we had their names engraved at Ellis Island.

Isn’t that so cool?

So anyway, I’ve grown up eating lots of Italian food. My grandfather was a butcher for most of his life, and for my family, it has always been about the food.

Living in New Jersey, there is no shortage of really good authentic Italian food.

There are thousands and thousands of really good restaurants in New Jersey and the surrounding states.

But the best Italian food is homemade from the heart.

Every Sunday, my mother and grandmother made Italian gravy, also known as Sunday sauce.

Growing up, we called it gravy.

But as an adult, I started calling it Sunday sauce so I use them both interchangeably.

What do you call it?

(Posts on stacyling.com may contain affiliate links. Click HERE for full disclosure.)

Why is It Called Sunday Sauce?

Although Italian gravy is really a ragu (sauce with meat in it), people started calling it Sunday sauce because their grandmother’s would serve it at big Sunday gatherings with the family after mass.

raw sweet italian sausage links on baking sheet
Baking sweet Italian sausage for Sunday Sauce
Making Sunday sauce with sweet Italian sausage
After removing the sausage from the oven to add to Sunday sauce

What is Sunday Sauce or Italian Gravy?

Whether you call it Italian gravy or Sunday sauce, it brings up lots of memories of Sunday family gatherings where either my mother or grandmother stirred a huge pot of tomato sauce and meat all day long. 

Sunday sauce is tomato sauce that has been stewing meatballs, sausages and any other kind of meat you can throw in there.

For me, I typically make it with meatballs and sweet Italian sausage.

Some cook the meat right in the sauce. But I prefer to pre-cook the meat so it’s browned.

I start my Sunday sauce in the morning and let it sit on the stove top all day long so the flavors can marinate.

And my family loves it.

mixing ground beef with bread mixture and eggs to make sunday sauce with meatballs
Mixing the meatball ingredients in a bowl to make Italian gravy
Making meatballs for Sunday Sauce
Hand mixing the ingredients to make Italian gravy
Making the meatballs for Sunday sauce
Making meatballs for Sunday sauce

Baking both the sausages and meatballs before fully cooking in the sauce is so much easier than frying them up.

But making the meatballs will always be a messy endeavor now matter which way you make them.

I try to remember to take my rings off while I’m making them so they don’t get all cruddy.

But half the time I forget before it’s too late!

Do you do that too?

Making meatballs for Sunday sauce
Roll the meatballs in palm of hand

Making the meatballs is a good way to get the kids involved with the dish too.

They love rolling them and knowing they helped make dinner.

And I love the crispy outside of the meatballs.

Of course its not the same as fried, but it’s still really good.

And a lot healthier for you too.

Makinng meatballs for Sunday sauce on baking sheet instead of frying
Placing meatballs on baking sheet to bake instead of frying

How to Make Sunday Sauce

I typically make a big pot of Sunday sauce on, well…Sundays. But also love to make it when we are up at the Vermont cabin skiing or before a good snowstorm.

It’s a great dish to make because it feeds many and you have lots of versatility with serving options.

Sometimes I’ll keep it simple and we’ll make sandwiches.

Others times I’ll serve it over some sort of pasta.

We love to make pizzas out of the leftovers.

The possibilities are almost endless.

after removing meatballs from oven before adding to sunday sauce
After removing meatballs from oven before adding to sunday sauce

How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Like a Pro

While it’s pretty easy to make this recipe for Sunday sauce, it is a little time consuming because you have to make it early enough in the day so the flavors simmer and meld together all day long.

I usually start it around 9 or 10AM so it’s ready to serve by early evening.

Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Ingredients

When making Italian gravy, the fresher the ingredients the better, but I usually make mine from cans of crushed tomatoes.

If you aren’t sure how to make meatballs, click here for my easy recipe.

close up Sunday Sauce with meatballs and sausages
Periodically throughout the day, mix up the Italian gravy to help the flavors come together

Directions to Make Italian Gravy

Making Sunday sauce is pretty easy to do and takes no time to make. But you need to allow it several hours to simmer on the stove.

Here’s how to make Italian gravy.

  • Pre-heat oven to 400.
  • Saute garlic in extra virgin olive oil over medium high heat.
  • When the garlic releases that smell (about 30 seconds), add crushed tomatoes.
  • Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Taste as you go – the amounts recommended above or estimates.
  • Heat for a few minutes, then allow to simmer.
  • Place sausage on a baking sheet.
  • Pierce sausages with a fork.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from oven, then add to tomato sauce.
  • Make meatballs and add to same baking sheet.
  • Bake meatballs for 25 minutes.
  • Remove from oven then add to sauce.
  • Simmer all day stirring pot occasionally.
  • Heat up and serve with your favorite pasta or make sandwiches.
close up of sunday sauce with meatballs How to Make Sunday Sauce like a Pro
Sunday Sauce with Meatballs
close up of sunday sauce with meatballs How to Make Sunday Sauce like a Pro

How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Like a Pro

Stacy Ling
Do you love Italian food as much as I do? Learn how to make Sunday sauce with meatballs like a pro!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 d
Total Time 1 d 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 people
Calories 695 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Saute garlic in EVOO over medium high heat
  • When the garlic releases that smell (about 30 seconds), add crushed tomatoes
  • Season with oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Taste as you go – the amounts recommended above or estimates.
  • Heat for a few minutes, then allow to simmer
  • Place sausage on a baking sheet.
  • Pierce sausages with a fork
  • Bake for 30 minutes
  • Remove from oven, then add to tomato sauce
  • Make meatballs and add to same baking sheet.
  • Bake meatballs for 25 minutes
  • Remove from oven then add to sauce
  • Simmer all day stirring pot occasionally
  • Heat up and serve with your favorite pasta or make sandwiches

Notes

The sausage can be browned and cooked on the stovetop too. For me, it’s less messy to bake it in the oven. I’ve also grilled them before and then dropped them in the sauce.
For my yummy meatball recipe, click here.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gramsCalories: 695kcalCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 28gFat: 60gSaturated Fat: 21gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 28gCholesterol: 136mgSodium: 1477mgPotassium: 779mgFiber: 2gSugar: 5gVitamin A: 303IUVitamin C: 14mgCalcium: 91mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Meatballs in Italian Gravy, Sunday Sauce, Sweet Italian Sausage
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Shop for Cooking Supplies

More Italian Recipe Ideas

I’m a huge fan of Italian food and make dishes all the time for my family.

It’s part of my heritage and the food is delicious!

Here are some easy recipes to try.

Close up of The Best Bruschetta Tomatoes Recipe
The Best Bruschetta Tomatoes Recipe

Sign Me Up!

Sign up for my free newsletter to get blog posts, seasonal tips, recipes, and more delivered straight to your inbox!

Plus, get free VIP access to my Resource Library where you’ll find insider freebies not readily available to the public.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!

Enjoy your day! xoxo

Let’s Connect!

If you like this post, please follow me @bricksnblooms on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Tik Tok. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel. Or join my Facebook Group.

How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs
How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs
How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Like a Pro

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. We make our meatballs almost the same…except for 1 ingredient, and I have boys so have to make at least 5 lbs at a whack.😂

  2. Hi Stacy,

    We have more in common than both living in NJ. I’m 100% Italian and my great grandparents immigrated from Italy too.

    We make Sunday gravy too. Yes, gravy works for me. I love making a double batch and freezing it for whenever we want it and that’s once a week. Our recipes are similar and baking the meat is the way to go.

    I also grew up with country pork ribs in the gravy, awesome. My husband loves gravy and can’t get enough.

    Cindy

    1. That’s the best right? We did that too – my grandfather used to bring all kinds of stuff home to cook in the gravy. xoxo

  3. I am so making this, meatballs, sauce, all of it! Thanks for sharing Stacy. You’ve made me so hungry!

    1. I’m so glad you are going to try it! My family loves it! And you can freeze leftovers (if you have any) too! xoxo

  4. 5 stars
    This list is simply awesome and incredible. I wanna try this!! Or is there another method? Love this post! Thanks for sharing this awesome recipe!