Chef's Hat: Fire up the grill for spaghetti and meatballs

That bit of smoke from the grill enhances the flavor and makes for an amazing spaghetti sauce.

Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Some weekends are just perfect for firing up the grill - like this past weekend. Not too hot or too cold, a light breeze and the bugs have not begun to swarm.

The only problem was the cupboard was a bit bare. There was no chicken, no pork, no steak. There was an overwhelming amount of hamburger, but a plain old burger just didn’t sound appealing.

Hamburgers didn’t sound appetizing, but for some reason it felt like meatballs would hit the spot. And why stop there? A bit of searching and there were numerous recipes on how to cook spaghetti sauce on the grill too.

Things did not go perfect when trying out these recipes. There are a couple of different ways you can cook meatballs on a grill. You can use some type of grate or grill basket so the meatballs don’t fall through the large openings that are on most grill racks. Or you can put them on skewers, which sounds simple, but it didn’t turn out to be easy.

While transferring one of the skewers to the grill, one meatball fell off and hit the dirt, where it stayed. Once on the grill several meatballs decided to split in half and fell off the skewer. The meatballs were large enough so they did not fall through the openings, but lesson learned - pack them a little tighter and try wooden and not metal skewers.


The sauce was a bit of a surprise. Very easy to put together and nothing to fall through the grill slots as it was in an aluminum pan. The surprise was the taste was amazing. These are the same ingredients that would be used if you cooked a batch of sauce on a stovetop. But that bit of smoke enhanced the flavor and made for an amazing sauce.

Forget about brats or burgers. Kick start your grilling adventures by whipping up a batch of spaghetti over some outdoor heat. Happy Eating.

Spaghetti and meatballs isn't a dish that has to be made in the kitchen. Use your grill to heat the sauce and cook the meatballs. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Grilled Spaghetti Sauce

  • 2 pounds (4 to 5) large tomatoes, cut into pieces (can use canned tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons jarred garlic
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons basil
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes, if desired to add a bit of heat
  • Angel hair or spaghetti type pasta
  • Parmesan cheese, freshly grated or canned

Combine all ingredients, except pasta and Parmesan cheese, in a medium sized bowl and mix well.
Heat a grill to medium heat.

Pour the sauce into an 11x2x2 (or similar sized) disposable foil pan. Place the pan onto the grill grate. After about 5 minutes on the grill, the sauce should be simmering. Stir after 15 minutes. Cook for 25 to 35 minutes until it reaches desired thickness.

While the sauce is cooking, prepare the pasta according to the package directions.


Remove the sauce from heat and remove the bay leaf. Place ample amounts of pasta on to plates and top with the sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Use care when cooking meatballs on the grill so they don't fall between the grill slots. Donna Evans / Echo Journal Correspondent

Grilled Meatballs

  • 1 pound hamburger
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup Parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons jarred garlic
  • 3 teaspoons parsley
  • 3 teaspoons chives
  • 2 teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • Nonstick cooking spray

In a medium sized bowl combine all ingredients, except the cooking spray. Mix well with your hands or a large spoon. Form into 1- to 1 1/2-inch meatballs. Place on a plate and put in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Heat a grill to medium heat. Spray the grill grate with the cooking spray and then wipe with paper towels. Place the meatballs on a skewer. If using wood skewers they should be soaked in water for 15 minutes before placing the meatballs on a skewer. You can also place meatballs into a wire type grill basket.

Place on the grill and cook 5 to 7 minutes until lightly browned on one side. Flip over and cook an additional 5 to 7 minutes until browned on the other side. Remove from grill and let cool a few minutes before serving.

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