Smokey Spaghetti and Meatballs

Who doesn't love spaghetti and meatballs? It's peak comfort food. I decided to whip up a giant pot the other night (I'm on a bit of a pasta kick). I didn't want to stray too far from the classic, but I did have a few spices in my pantry I'd been looking to use. The balls are a combo of ground pork and beef, flavored with basil, garlic, Parmesan, and smoked paprika. The secret ingredient in the meatballs and the sauce is Urfa pepper flakes, a smoky and spicy Turkish pepper that adds the perfect kick to this dish. The finished bowl of spaghetti and meatballs is perfectly balanced between sweet, spicy, savory and salty for one killer pasta dinner.

Here's where we get into the personal preferences. I'm all about a smooth tomato sauce, but some like their sauce to be a lil' chunky (you do you, hun). Feel free to swap out the tomato puree for crushed tomatoes or whole peeled tomatoes to reach your desired level of chunkiness. Same goes for the pepper flakes. I'm tend to stay on the conservative side, but feel free to amp up the heat!

Smokey Spaghetti and Meatballs

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour and 40 minutes


For the Meatballs:

1 1/2 pounds ground pork

1 pound ground beef

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs 

1/4 cup whole milk

1/4 grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons minced basil

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon Urfa pepper flakes

1 garlic clove, finely grated

For the Sauce:

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1/4 teaspoon Urfa pepper flakes

1/4 cup red wine

One 28-ounce can tomato purée

1/4 cup chicken stock or water 

2 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

2 teaspoons thyme leaves 

Kosher salt, to taste

For the Pasta:

Kosher salt, to taste

1 pound spaghetti

Grated Parmesan, for garnish 

Basil leaves, for garnish


  1. Make the meatballs: In a bowl, combine the meatball ingredients and with your hands, mix lightly until combined. Scoop into ten-1/2 cup balls.
  2. Make the sauce: In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the meatballs and cook, turning as need, until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. 
  3. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and add the Urfa chile and garlic to the pot. Cook until lightly golden and aromatic, 1 minute, then deglaze the pan with the wine. 
  4. Once the wine has reduced, stir in the tomato puree, stock, honey, paprika, thyme and salt. Add the meatballs and bring the sauce to a simmer. Cook, covered for 1 hour. 
  5. Meanwhile, make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. When the meatballs are 10 minutes from completion, add the spaghetti to the water and cook until al dente, 9 to 10 minutes, then drain.
  6. Transfer the meatballs to a plate and add the cooked pasta to the sauce. Toss to coat, then adjust for salt. Divide the pasta between bowls and top with meatballs. Garnish with more grated Parmesan and basil leaves, then serve.