How to make Cheesy meatballs in a tomato sauce

MasterChef champion Jane Devonshire’s fool-proof recipe is a firm family favourite.

“This is a real favourite family dish. I used to cook it when the children were small and it evolved from what they love and what I usually had in the cupboard mid-week.

“I used to get the children making the meatballs and have very fond memories of little hands all trying to get it right then eating some quite weird shapes. I love this recipe because of those happy mum memories,” Jane said.

How to make Cheesy meatballs in a tomato sauce


  • 900gm Minced beef
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 litre Passata
  • 2 Balls Mozzarella
  • 150 gm strong Cheddar Cheese
  • 50gm Flat Leaf Parsley finely chopped including stalks
  • 10gm Thyme leaves picked from stalks
  • 4 large garlic cloves finely chopped or grated
  • 1 x large Spanish onion finely chopped
  • Salt and Black Pepper
  • Teaspoon of sugar
  • Olive Oil
  • Vegetable Oil for frying
  • Spaghetti – roughly 90gm per adult


Put the chopped onion and garlic into a small saucepan and gently saute in a little olive oil until translucent but no colouring.                                      

Chop the cheddar and the mozzarella into small chunks about .5cm to 1cm big.

Put the passata into a saucepan with half of the thyme and half the chopped parsley (leave a little parsley to one side if you want for sprinkling on the finished dish when serving), salt pepper and the teaspoon of sugar simmer until the passata reduced and thickened and about 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl combine the mince about half the chopped parsley and half the picked thyme, the egg and the cooked onion and garlic mixture, salt and black pepper I like to be generous with the pepper in this dish.  Using your hands combine thoroughly.

Once combined get a large plate or baking tray and start to make the meatballs. Take a small lump of the mince mixture about the size of a cherry tomato flatten in your hand and make a small dimple in the middle. Put a piece of the cheese I use alternate mozzarella and  cheddar and put into the centre of the mince mixture shape your meatball around the cheese, try to make sure cheese is completely encased, place the meatball on the baking tray.  Repeat until all of the mince mixture is used up you should still have extra cheese we will use it all in the recipe.                                                                                          

Once the meatballs are made get a frying pan and an oven ready dish or casserole pot.  Put some oil into the frying pan so it is about 1cm deep.  Heat the oil until you can put a little of the mince mixture in and it sizzles gently.  Fry off the meatballs until golden in colour, turning halfway through.  We are going to bake in the oven so don’t worry if not cooked all the way through.  I do this in batches and put straight into the casserole dish as I have done them.                          

Once meatballs all made pour over the tomato sauce. Sprinkle over all the remaining cheese and put in oven gas mark 6, 180. For about 30 – 45 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and golden.                                

Remove from oven I like to rest them whilst I cook the pasta mince like all meat is better for this. Also people don’t get burnt with red hot cheese!

Cook spaghetti as per instructions. I put the spaghetti in big dish pile on the meatballs and sprinkle with some parsley and let everyone dig in.

Tilda is once again partnering with the World Food Programme and donating a meal for every bag of Pure Basmati Dry (5kg, 1kg) and TSB sold in the UK to new and expectant mums in Bangladesh.

To support the campaign, a host of personalities have donated recipes to create the Mums Helping Mums cookbook, which can be downloaded at

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