How to Make Sunday Sauce like a Pro
Recipes

How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs Like a Pro

Do you love Italian food as much as I do? Learn how to make Sunday sauce with meatballs like a pro!

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.

Sunday Sauce

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?

Making Sunday Sauce with Sweet Italian Sausage

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.

Making Sunday sauce with 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.

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.

Making meatballs for Sunday sauce

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

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.

Makinng meatballs for Sunday sauce

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.

Making meatballs for Sunday sauce

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.

Sunday Sauce

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.

How to Make Sunday Sauce like a Pro
How to Make Sunday Sauce like a Pro

Sunday Sauce

How to Make Sunday Sauce with Meatballs
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 d
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 people

Equipment

  • Large Stock Pot
  • Wooden Spoon
  • baking sheet
  • Aluminium Foil

Ingredients
  

  • 5 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • Meatballs See Recipe Below
  • 16 links Sweet Italian Sausage

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.
Keyword Meatballs in Italian Gravy, Sunday Sauce, Sweet Italian Sausage

How to Make Meatballs in Italian Gravy

My family loves how I make meatballs and I almost never make them the same.

That’s partially because I generally don’t work with measured ingredients and eyeball it instead. So the recipe ingredients below are a rough estimate based on how we like it.

If I’m feeling lazy about it, I’ll swap out real onions and garlic for the prepared spices so there is some flexibility when making these. They just won’t taste the same.

To me, meatballs in Italian gravy taste better when they have more seasonings in the mix.

This recipe makes about 20-25 meatballs depending on how big you make them.

Meatballs

Meatballs in Italian Gravy
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 10 people

Equipment

  • Large Stock Pot
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Oversized Bowl
  • baking sheet
  • aluminum foil

Ingredients
  

  • 3 lb ground beef
  • 3/4 cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk Whatever you have on hand is OK
  • 2-3 dash worcester sauce
  • 2 tbsp basil
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds

Instructions
 

  • Pre-heat oven to 400
  • Grab an oversized bowl and dump all the ingredients in
  • Mix it up with hands until fully mixed
  • Make meatballs to be a little bigger than a golf ball
  • Place on baking sheet
  • Bake for 25 minutes
  • Remove from oven and add to sauce.

Notes

These meatballs can also be sauteed, but it is less work and lower in calories if you bake them. They are just as good baked as they are fried.
Meatballs can also be cooked directly in the sauce but I prefer them pre-cooked before going in the sauce.
Keyword Meatballs in Italian Gravy

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

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8 Comments

  1. 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

    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

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