pesto meatballs and marinara sauce

pesto meatballs and marinara sauce

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Meatballs can be a meal for me and my family. And, these pesto meatballs and marinara sauce are just that. All you need to do is add maybe a salad, something crunchy! Here’s what I’d recommend! Bleu cheese coleslaw. OMG! You’re going to love the contrast of flavors. Especially, the cheeses. The tart bite of bleu and the creamy sweetness of ricotta!

Making these pesto meatballs and marinara sauce is just so so easy. Go ahead and buy your pesto premade. I love the Costco brand. It’s got freshness and depths of flavor that are outstanding. It’s imported. And, 100% Genovese Italian basil is used in it. You will not be disappointed!

Now there are only a few ingredients in these meatballs making them very easy to make when you come home from work. Of course, you can make them ahead of time, refrigerate then cook when you get home. They also freeze well when you store them in air tight glass containers.

The last thing about these meatballs. You have to get a really GOOD brand of marinara sauce. Don’t skimp on this. It will round out all the flavors and make the entire meal simply like you’re dining in a small Italian village. Again, Costco has both their Kirkland brand organic marinara and I tried with this recipe the Victoria White Linen Marinara that’s made especially for Costco. Yep, it was good, real good! When you add these meatballs and let those flavors permeate the sauce as it simmers, this sauce gets even better!

  • pesto meatballs and marinara sauce

pesto meatballs and marinara sauce

Yield: About 16-20 meatballs


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • 1 ½ pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. coarse ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp. red chili flakes
  • ¾ cup Italian bread crumbs
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup basil pesto, store bought, divided
  • ¼ cup oil
  • 1 jar (25 oz.) marinara sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese, somewhat room temperature
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped, garnish


  • In a large mixing bowl crumbled the meat. Sprinkle over the meat the salt, pepper, red chili flakes, bread crumbs. Add the egg and two thirds cup of basil pesto. Using your hands, work everything into the meat. Do this for several minutes to make sure all is incorporated and distributed.
  • Put a sheet of parchment paper in a large cookie sheet. Roll the meatballs into about ‘golf’ ball sizes.
  • Heat a large cast iron skillet (10”) on medium high heat. Let it get hot. Add the oil and let it get hot for about a minute. Add about 6 meatballs at a time and brown turning on all sides.
  • Use tongs to remove to the cookie sheet. Repeat with all meatballs Bake in a preheated 350 oven about 15-18 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, reduce heat to low on the skillet and add the marinara sauce. Stir and scrape up any of the good sticky crumbles in the skillet. Add the remaining pesto to the marinara and blend.
  • Place the cooked meatballs in the skillet and roll and cover them in the sauce. Cover with a lid. Let the meatballs simmer about 20 minutes.
  • Serve meatballs/sauce in a shallow bowl with a couple of small ice cream scoops of ricotta and sprinkle of fresh basil.
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pesto meatballs and marinara sauce


  1. Goodness gracious, Miss Ally, every time I think I’ve printed “the last recipe I’ll ever need” you come up with something totally simple and sumptuous. How wonderful is THIS recipe? You have a knack for combining flavors and a flair for understanding how “busy” we all are, but still want to EAT WELL! Love you, kiddo! xo

    P.S. Glad you won that Lamb Board contest awhile back. 😉 I’ve only experienced the flavor a couple o’ times, but I’m thinking I need to expand my repertoire… TMOFW’s too!

    • Kimmmeee!! I’ve missed you!! And, I got my surcie in the mail, just today! Thank you!! Yes, you’ll love these meatballs. Made them again last night when went to visit son/DIL and three baby boys…the 14 month old couldn’t get enough of the meatballs! You’ll love the lamb. The meatballs have a much ‘creamier’ texture than w/beef. Love you girl! xox

  2. Beverley Press

    another delicious recipe and your kitchen must of smelled amazing with this dish cooking in it. Thank you for all your recipes and for just being you xoxo

    • Awwhhhh, sweet Beverley!! Thank YOU for always being here to support me and hang out w/me in the kitchen! This recipe, well, it’s easy and full of flavor…me thinks your and your men will love! xoxoxo

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