Beef/ Italian/ Pasta/Noodles

Macaroni and Mini Meatballs

Macaroni and Mini Meatballs ~ The Complete Savorist

 There is one thing I cannot make.  That is my grandma’s macaroni.  Every extended family member of mine and any close family friends know exactly what dish I am referring to.  It’s the simply made elbow macaroni and red sauce with a thick layer of finely grated Parmesan cheese.  She made it for every family reunion, and as a side dish to almost any meal.  I am not sure why I can’t get it right as I have probably consumed this one dish more than any other dish from any relative or even my own kitchen ever.
I won’t give up.  I will keep playing with ratios and ingredients until I get it right.   But in the meantime, I sure do love all the experiments in trying to make her macaroni, as it was plainly called. However, this attempt wasn’t a full-hearted attempt.  I added some veggies to my sauce that I know were not in hers. I needed to sneak them in because my 4-year old is going through an incredibly picky phase as of late.Since I was making macaroni, I decided why not a meatball.  Who doesn’t love a meatball?  They are a personal favorite and they pair perfectly with the macaroni.  While this is not my grandma’s macaroni, I definitely channeled her with this one.

Macaroni and Mini Meatballs

Author: Michelle De La Cerda



  • 1 lb . lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese; finely grated
  • 2 tbsp . onion; grated (about 1/4 an onion)
  • 1 tsp . dried basil
  • 1 tsp . dried parsley
  • 1 tbsp . breadcrumbs


  • 1 rib celery; finely diced
  • 1 cup onion; finely diced
  • 1/2 cup carrot; finely diced
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (2-8 oz. cans)
  • 1-6 oz . can tomato paste
  • 11/2-2 cups water (depending on desired thickness of the sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp . dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 lb . dried elbow macaroni


  1. Mix all the ingredients for the meatballs together; making sure it is well mixed.  Set aside.
  2. In a large pot, heat the oil over medium high heat.
  3. Once the pan/oil is hot, add the celery, onions, carrots, and garlic.
  4. Sauté for 2 minutes or until the veggies begin to soften.
  5. Add the oregano, salt, pepper, and bay leaves and allow them to bloom, about 1 minute.
  6. Add the tomato sauce, stir well, and then add the tomato paste.
  7. Stir until the paste has been fully incorporated into the sauce.
  8. Slowly add the water until the desired consistency has been reached.
  9. Bring the sauce to a high simmer, taste, and add any salt or pepper.
  10. Once the sauce has come to a low boil, using a kitchen tablespoon, form small meatballs and gently drop them into the sauce.
  11. Reduce the heat to medium.
  12. Cover and allow the meatballs to remain in the sauce undisturbed for 15 minutes.
  13. After 15 minutes, gently stir the sauce, replace the cover and continue to cook, another 10 minutes or until the meatballs are cooked through.
  14. Once the meatballs have gone into the sauce, cook the pasta according to package directions.
  15. Once cooked, strain, and return to the pot.
  16. Add several ladles-full of sauce (no meatballs) to the pasta.
  17. Stir until all the pasta is lightly coated in the sauce.
  18. Serve the pasta with meatballs and more sauce.
  19. Generously sprinkle Parmesan cheese over it all.
Macaroni and Mini Meatballs ~ The Complete Savorist
Macaroni and Mini Meatballs ~ The Complete Savorist
Macaroni and Mini Meatballs ~ The Complete Savorist
Macaroni and Mini Meatballs ~ The Complete Savorist

Thank you for sharing!

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 6:14 am

    this is a fab idea, and I will definitely give this a try! I see this being good the next day for lunch too.

    • Reply
      August 12, 2014 at 11:27 am

      It’s even better the second day!

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 8:48 am

    This looks just like something I would eat as a kid. Who doesn’t love “mini” foods!

    • Reply
      August 12, 2014 at 11:28 am

      It is a dish reminiscent of my own childhood. 🙂 And I love mini too. I feel like I am being indulgent having a few, when I am still eating well within the realm of good reason. 😉

  • Reply
    Healing Tomato
    August 12, 2014 at 10:06 am

    LOVE your styling method and I love how you always have the 2 elephants in every pic.

    • Reply
      August 12, 2014 at 11:30 am

      The meatball on a fork is called a ‘lollipop’. Something my grandma gave me when she made meatballs. Thank you for the elephants comment. I love elephants and these s/p shakers have become a signature of sorts.

  • Reply
    August 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    OMG totally drooling. I love, love, love good meatballs. This recipe looks so good I am starving. Will make this over the weekend with gluten free breadcrumbs 🙂

    • Reply
      August 13, 2014 at 9:04 pm

      These meatballs were tender and juicy. I did a bit more milk than I normally do and it was a success. Hope you enjoy them.

  • Reply
    susan @ the wimpy vegetarian
    August 12, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    This would be such a hit with my family. Our 7 grandkids come often to visit, and this is going on the menu for their next visit!!!

    • Reply
      August 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      Pasta is the easiest thing to make when you have an army to feed. Hope they all enjoy it. Thank you.

  • Reply
    Kim - Liv Life
    August 12, 2014 at 8:48 pm

    Oh, how my son would LOVE this recipe!! He loves meatballs of all types, add pasta and he’d probably like to be adopted!!

    • Reply
      August 13, 2014 at 9:05 pm

      He’s always welcome. He’d fit in well with me. I am a sucker for a meatball of any kind.

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    August 18, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    This is kind of like an “all-inclusive” spaghetti dish. Love that it’s a one-bite meal but with nutrient dense layers. Pinned. =) #savoringsaturdays

    • Reply
      August 19, 2014 at 1:55 pm

      Thank you Jessica. I love slipping in the veggies where I can.

  • Reply
    Beth (OMG! Yummy)
    December 4, 2014 at 8:47 am

    This is terrific – all my family’s comfort food favorites in one dish. I recently made a barley beef flanken soup in an attempt to recreate something my grandmother made. It didn’t taste the same but it was fun trying and I’ll do it again and again!

    • Reply
      December 4, 2014 at 10:10 am

      It is fun to recreate the recipes for childhood. I call it ‘eating memories.’

  • Reply
    Dan from Platter Talk
    December 5, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Looks terrific! Our boys will love this creation; thanks so much for sharing!

    • Reply
      December 5, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      Thank you Dan…I’d make a double batch with all those growing boys.

  • Reply
    Betsy @ Desserts Required
    December 5, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Well, this may not be Grandma’s but it sure does look delicious!

  • Reply
    Christina Lakey | Food Apparel
    December 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    What a fun memory of your Grandma! My grandma had a few trademark dishes as well, but despite the recipe book that my uncle put together, they just don’t seem to taste quite the same……

    So, those mini meatballs look amazing and don’t even get me started on that sauce! I’m hungry, RIGHT NOW!

    • Reply
      December 8, 2014 at 12:54 am

      Thank you Christina! I am not sure why recreating is so difficult. I know a lot of it has to do with the lack of measuring they did and we have to do. Hope you enjoy it!

  • Reply
    Best Food Blogger Recipes of 2014 | Seduction in the Kitchen
    December 28, 2014 at 1:15 pm

    […] Macaroni and Mini Meatballs from The Complete Savorist […]

  • Reply
    July 28, 2015 at 7:22 am

    What a delicious looking dish! My little one would love this!

    • Reply
      July 29, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      Wonderful, my little one loves it too.

  • Reply
    Neli @ Delicious Meets Healthy
    July 28, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    I love meatballs and this dish looks amazing!! I have always loved my grandma’s cooking as well, and now i enjoy being able to cook for her when we visit together.

    • Reply
      July 29, 2015 at 12:22 pm

      Cooking for my grandparents is a pleasure for me as well.

  • Reply
    Susan | LunaCafe
    July 28, 2015 at 10:01 pm

    Who doesn’t love a meatball indeed! I’v been craving meatballs lately. And then this recipe appears. Coincidence? I think not. 🙂

    • Reply
      July 29, 2015 at 12:23 pm

      Well then my timing was perfect.

  • Reply
    Grilled Pork Chops Adobo
    August 24, 2015 at 11:04 am

    […] to make Mexican marinated meats like carne asada or this pork adobo but yet be served a big bowl of macaroni. But to me, there is no other way. My grandma was Italian, dinner wasn’t dinner if there […]

  • Reply
    Italian Meatballs - The Complete Savorist
    May 31, 2019 at 3:17 pm

    […] weeknight meatballs just consisted of ground beef, no other meats were involved in the ball making process.  […]

  • Leave a Reply

    Recipe Rating

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.