Olive Garden Spaghetti and Meatballs

Make delicious Olive Garden spaghetti and meatballs at home with this easy copycat recipe. Serve this comforting and crowd-pleasing Italian meal with an Italian salad and breadsticks for a true Olive Garden experience.

Copycat Olive Garden spaghetti and meatballs on a platter.

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What Makes the Olive Garden Spaghetti and Meatballs So Good? 

Heating frozen store-bought meatballs in jarred pasta sauce may be an easy dinner, but it isn’t exactly a memorable one. This Olive Garden recipe for Spaghetti and Meatballs brings one of the chain’s most popular menu items to your home dining table. Make extra to freeze, and you’ll have a quick meal that is so much better than takeout. 

Why You Should Try This Recipe 

Spending the afternoon preparing homemade meatballs and tomato sauce from scratch may be a bit too daunting for some; however, this recipe for pasta and meatballs isn’t that difficult to make. The addition of the dried red pepper flakes in both the sauce and the meatballs adds a hint of heat to keep things interesting, while the brightness of the tomato sauce perfectly balances the all-beef meatballs. 

Olive Garden Recipe Spaghetti and Meatballs Ingredients

For the marinara sauce, you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic cloves 
  • Tomato puree, canned
  • Diced tomatoes, canned
  • Italian seasoning blend
  • Dried basil
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Sugar

For the meatballs, you’ll need:

  • Ground chuck
  • Plain bread crumbs
  • Whole milk
  • Egg, beaten
  • Italian seasoning
  • Dried parsley
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Onion powder
  • Granulated garlic
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Non-stick cooking spray or vegetable oil

To finish the meatballs and spaghetti, you’ll need:

  • Spaghetti 
  • Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Fresh parsley, chopped 
Copycat Olive Garden spaghetti and meatballs ingredients on a tray.

How to Make It 

To cook the marinara sauce:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or a dutch oven over medium heat.
  2. Slice the cloves of garlic and add to the hot oil. Saute the garlic cloves until they are golden. Use a slotted spoon to remove them from the pot. Discard or save for making garlic bread. 
Olive oil and garlic slices in a pan.
  1. Add the tomato puree and diced tomatoes to the pot. Be careful! There may be a little splattering.
  2. Use a wooden spoon to stir in the Italian seasoning, dried basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and freshly ground black pepper. 
Marinara sauce ingredients in a pan.
  1. Reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with a lid. Simmer for 30 minutes. At this point, you can start making the meatballs.
  2. After 30 minutes, taste the sauce. If it is a little too tart, stir in some sugar and cook for a few more minutes. 

To make the meatballs:

  1. Combine the meatball ingredients (ground beef, plain bread crumbs, whole milk, beaten egg, Italian seasoning, dried parsley, red pepper flakes, onion powder, granulated garlic, salt, and freshly ground black pepper) in a large bowl. 
Meatball ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  1. Use your fingertips to incorporate all the ingredients together gently. Avoid squeezing the meat if you don’t want to wind up with dense meatballs.
  2. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and stick it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  3. While the meat mixture is in the fridge, finish with the marinara sauce.
  4. After the meat has been in chilling for 30 minutes, remove it from the fridge, and preheat the oven to 425°F.
  5. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and lightly coat the foil with non-stick cooking spray or oil.
  6. Wet your hands. Form the meat mixture into one and 1/2-inch diameter balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheet.
Uncooked meatballs on a baking sheet..
  1. Bake the meatballs in the oven until browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Turn the meatballs halfway through the cooking time. Use an instant-read thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the meatballs is at least 165°F before removing them from the oven. 

If you prefer pan-fried meatballs, you can fry the meatballs in a pan instead of baking them.

To finish the pasta and meatballs:

  1. While the meatballs are in the oven, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. 
  2. Drain the pasta and add it to the warm sauce. Stir well.
  3. Plate the spaghetti and top it with warm marinara sauce and two or three meatballs.
  4. Garnish with chopped fresh parsley and grated parmesan cheese. 
copycat Olive Garden spaghetti and meatballs on a plate.

What to Serve With It 

A garden salad lightly dressed with balsamic and oil and a couple of slices of garlic bread go pretty well with this dish. Don’t forget to serve a nice bottle of red wine. The medium body and higher acidity of a Chianti make the perfect pairing for pasta and meatballs.

How to Store the Leftovers

The meatballs and the pasta sauce in this recipe keep wonderfully in the fridge or freezer. Just make sure the food is at room temperature before putting it away.

You can keep the sauce and meatballs together in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days. However, for the best results, separate the meatballs from the sauce and put them in separate containers before freezing for up to two months.

While you can toss cooked pasta with a bit of olive oil and keep it overnight in the fridge, it will have a much better consistency if you cook it fresh. 

What’s the Best Way to Reheat Spaghetti and Meatballs

The best way to reheat the meatballs and sauce is on the stovetop over medium-low heat.

Thaw the meatballs and sauce overnight in the fridge if you have the time. If you are in a hurry, try using the QUICK DEFROST setting on your microwave. 

To reheat pasta with the sauce and meatballs, place the leftovers in a shallow bowl and cover the top with a paper towel. Microwave on HIGH for one minute and 30 seconds, stir the pasta, and heat for another 30 to 45 seconds or until hot. 

Closeup of copycat Olive Garden spaghetti and meatballs.

More Olive Garden Copycat Recipes

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Check out more easy Italian food recipes and the best Olive Garden dishes on CopyKat!

Copycat Olive Garden spaghetti and meatballs on a platter.

Olive Garden Spaghetti and Meatballs

You can make Olive Garden Spaghetti and Meatballs at home with this easy copycat recipe.
5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Olive Garden Recipes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Chilling: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 1029kcal



  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • ½ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon dried parsley
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Marinara Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic thick sliced
  • 28 ounces canned tomato puree
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar if needed


  • 1 box dry spaghetti


  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  • In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients for the meatballs and gently mix until all is combined. Cover and refrigerate the mixture for at least 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, to make the marinara sauce, add the olive oil to a large stainless-steel pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes soft, slightly translucent, and very fragrant. Remove the garlic from the pot.
  • Add both cans of tomatoes, the Italian seasoning, dried basil, red chili flakes, salt, and ground black pepper and stir. Reduce the heat to low, place a lid on the pot, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Taste the sauce. If it is too acidic, add ½ tablespoon of sugar. Taste it again, and add the remaining sugar if necessary.
  • While the sauce is simmering, return to the meatballs: Preheat the oven to 425°F, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spray the foil with non-stick spray.
  • Remove the meat mixture from the refrigerator. Form the mixture into 1½-inch balls and place them on a baking sheet. Bake the meatballs for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they are browned and cooked through.
  • While the meatballs are cooking, prepare the spaghetti according to the package directions.
  • To serve, add the desired amount of pasta to a plate, spoon over the sauce, and top with meatballs. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.


Calories: 1029kcal | Carbohydrates: 127g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 38g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 17g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 134mg | Sodium: 2511mg | Potassium: 1926mg | Fiber: 11g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 1612IU | Vitamin C: 41mg | Calcium: 324mg | Iron: 11mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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