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Homemade Meatballs with Vodka Sauce and Cavatappi

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Kait's Kitchen
Cost: $15


For the Meatballs -

  • 1 pound lean ground beef you can also use 80/20 here
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup grated romano cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil or avocado oil works too

For the vodka sauce and pasta -

  • 1 jar vodka sauce I like to use Bertolli brand
  • 1 box cavatappi pasta I always use Barilla brand


Make the Meatballs -

  • Add egg to a large mixing bowl and whisk.
  • Add in breadcrumbs, romano cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and dried parsley and mix well.
  • Add in ground beef and mix together, making sure to not overwork the meat.
  • Roll into 1 ½ inch meat balls.
  • In a 12 inch cast iron skillet, add oil and let get very hot, but not yet smoking on medium high heat.
  • Add in the meatballs, making sure to not overcrowd, and brown meatballs on each side for 3-4 minutes. I normally do this step in 2 batches.
  • Remove meatballs from the skillet and let rest, don't worry if they aren't fully cooked yet.

Make the rest of the dish -

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Meanwhile, boil the cavatappi pasta for 1 minute less than the box states. Reserve ½ cup pasta water. Drain and set aside.
  • Once meatballs have been browned, turn fire to low (the cast iron skillet stays REALLY hot) and add in the full jar of vodka sauce along with pasta water and gently stir to combine.
  • Then add in meatballs and coat meatballs in sauce and let simmer for at least 5 minutes. I normally have to turn my heat back up to medium low.
  • Add in pasta and gently mix to coat the pasta in the sauce.
  • Cover with foil, carefully!! And then let bake in oven for 10-15 minutes.
  • Enjoy with an extra topping of more romano or red pepper flakes!