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Homemade SpaghettiOs with Mini Meatballs

Homemade SpaghettiOs with Mini Meatballs
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This recipe and photography were provided by local blogger Abby Thome of The Thome Home.

Growing up, the quintessential lunch or dinner in a pinch was a bowl of SpaghettiOs. I remember it feeling like a huge treat when my mother would let me and my siblings indulge in that can-packed pasta.

Dare I say, I would even eat it cold if no one was watching me!

The addition of mini meatballs makes this dish absolutely delicious. Honestly, it tastes just like the original!

Homemade Mini Meatballs

Let’s graduate from this nostalgic processed pasta and make it from scratch, in under 20 minutes!

Yes, you read that right! This recipe is super fast, uses minimal ingredients and turns into a belly-warming bowl of scratch-made SpaghettiOs that will transport you straight to your 90’s pantry.

Homemade SpaghettiOs with Mini Meatballs

Homemade SpaghettiOs with Mini Meatballs


For the SpaghettiOs

  • 1 box of ditalini pasta (sub for small shells)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 28 oz. tomato puree
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup pasta water (reserved)

For the Meatballs

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 lb. ground mild Italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. milk


  1. In a large bowl, mix all of the meatball ingredients together with your hands until fully incorporated.
  2. Roll the mixture into tiny meatballs (about 2 tsp. of meat per meatball). Place on a plate and set to the side.
  3. Bring a pot of water to a boil.
  4. In a second large pot, or Dutch oven, over medium-low heat, melt the butter and add the finely chopped onion and minced garlic. All to cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion becomes translucent.
  5. Add the meatballs over the melted butter and onions in a single layer. Let them sit and gently brown for a few minutes, then gently turn them over to brown the other side. They will be fragile until they brown, so be careful.
  6. Once the meatballs have browned, add the tomato paste, tomato puree, sugar, salt, pepper, garlic and Parmesan cheese. Give it a good stir and put the lid on to let the meatballs finish cooking over medium heat for 10 minutes.
  7. When the water in the other pot is boiling, add the pasta and cook according to package instructions. Before draining, reserve one cup of pasta water to thin out the tomato sauce later on. Drain and set pasta to the side.
  8. Once 10 minutes is up, the meatballs will be cooked, so add one cup of reserved pasta water to the tomato sauce and stir to thin it out.
  9. Add the ditalini pasta to the tomato sauce and gently stir everything together.
  10. Serve with extra minced parsley and Parmesan cheese.

Homemade SpaghettiOs

Heinen's Grocery Store

By Heinen's Grocery Store

In 1929, Joe Heinen opened the doors of a small butcher shop on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, aiming to establish himself as the city’s purveyor of quality meats. As customers came into Heinen’s new shop for their meat purchases, they began asking him to carry groceries as well. Joe added homemade peanut butter, pickles and donuts and by 1933, business had grown enough to include a line of produce and canned goods. Heinen’s Grocery Store was born.

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