Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

An easy recipe for delicious cinnamon meatballs with marinara sauce.

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This recipe features my new favorite flavor combo: beef, garlic, tomato and cinnamon. Those four are an absolutely perfect match. What I did here was adapt America’s Test Kitchen’s meatball recipe, changed a few things around and – most importantly – added the cinnamon. It came out wonderfully, I hope you give it a try!


Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce Recipe

serves 4-6


  • 6 tablespoons sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 2 slices white sandwich bread, cut into cubes
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • one 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley (plus more for garnish)
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan (optional)



  1. Mix sour cream and milk together and soak the bread cubes in the mix for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add beef, parsley, egg, garlic, salt and cinnamon to the bread and mix well.
  3. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven.
  4. Form the meat into balls.
  5. Working in batches, fry the balls in the oil until brown on all sides.
  6. Take the meatballs out of the pot and set aside.
  7. Add the onions to the pot you fried the meatballs in and cook for a minute.
  8. Add the wine, cook for another minute.
  9. Add tomatoes and oregano, then add the meatballs back into the sauce.
  10. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, without a lid, for about 20 minutes.
  11. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F (if using parmesan).
  12. Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Sprinkle the cheese on and bake until it is melted.
  14. Sprinkle with more parsley for garnish.


As for the food photography and styling, I am going to tell and show you exactly how I took this (and other) shots in my upcoming eBook titled Food Photography Behind the Scenes – Bright Food, Dark Shadows! Stay tuned!! :)




  1. Kevin | keviniscooking says:

    I LOVE the gutsy 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. I am a huge fan and it’s probably my favorite spice. This sounds fantastic and I will definitely be keeping my eyes open for your eBook photography tips. Very cool. :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Haha, yeah, I looked at the teaspoon in my hand and for a brief moment thought “maybe a little less” but then just put it in and it turned out perfectly! The eBook is coming soon and there will definitely be a giveaway also. :)

  2. Kathleen | HapaNom says:

    Oh…my…gawd! This look fantastic! I make a lamb and cinnamon meatball, and the little bit of cinnamon really makes them something special. I’ll have to try beef with cinnamon next time! And that marinara sauce of yours is spot on – absolute perfection! You Rock!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Ooh, and I have to try lamb with cinnamon next time, never done that. Thank you for your kind words, always wonderful to hear such nice things! :)

  3. Pang @circahappy says:

    I am intrigued by your combination; I would NEVER have thought to add cinnamon into this delicious looking dish. I am glad you tested for us, and now I am going to try them, too. Love it, Nicole.

    P.S. So excited to see your e-book :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Pang! Always nice to see you here! The combo sounds odd at first but it tastes really good. :)

  4. Sabrina says:

    Nicole congratulations for winning the DMBLGIT.
    I love all your pictures and style.
    I will keep following you, you do inspiring recipes and blogging. thanks for sharing your food photography technique .

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