Baked Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

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Cinnamon makes a great spice for savory dishes, especially when paired with beef, garlic and tomato. The flavor combination is perfect in these baked cinnamon meatballs that also have a slight tang from sour cream/milk-soaked bread cubes.

A bowl filled with beef meatballs in marinara sauce topped with melted cheese and garnished with parsley.

This post was originally published on March 18, 2015.

How to make baked cinnamon meatballs step by step:

For the meatballs:

Step 1. Start by cutting 2 slices of sandwich bread into cubes and soak them in a mix of 6 tablespoons sour cream and 2 tablespoons milk for 10 minutes. The sour cream adds a hint of tanginess to the meatballs that works really well with all the other flavors.

Step 2. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Then mix together the remaining meatball ingredients:*

  • 1 pound ground beef (90 percent lean/10 percent fat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 minced or pressed garlic cloves
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

*RECIPE NOTE: I like to use a serving fork for the mixing, it is large and sturdy enough to mash everything together easily.

A small bowl with bread cubes in a mix of sour cream and milk and a bowl with ground beef, chopped parsley, one raw egg, minced garlic, salt and ground cinnamon.

Step 3. Mix the soaked bread cubes into the meat. (There’s no need to drain the bread, if any unabsorbed liquid is in the bowl, just add that in too).

Step 4. Form 18 to 20 meatballs using a metal scoop or your hands and set them directly on non-stick baking sheets. Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through (about 20 minutes).

Ground beef being mixed with the remaining meatball ingredients in a bowl and two non-stick baking sheets with raw meatballs.

For the marinara sauce:

Step 5. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven until shimmering. Add 1/4 cup diced onion to the oil and saute for 5 minutes.

Step 6. Add 1/2 cup dry red wine, 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces), 1 tablespoon dried oregano and the baked meatballs. Bring everything to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

A Dutch oven with sauteed minced onion and with marinara sauce and meatballs.

If you want to, sprinkle a bit of grated Parmesan on the meatballs and briefly melt it in the oven but this last step is optional.


Related Post:

Love the cinnamon/beef flavor combination? Check out these Homemade Gnocchi with Cinnamon Clove Beef Stroganoff:

A large bowl filled with potato gnocchi and beef stroganoff on a rustic wood table.
A bowl filled with beef meatballs in marinara sauce topped with melted cheese and garnished with parsley.
Print Recipe
5 from 5 votes

Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Cinnamon makes a great spice for savory dishes, especially when paired with beef, garlic and tomato. The flavor combination is perfect in these baked cinnamon meatballs that also have a slight tang from sour cream/milk-soaked bread cubes.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: cinnamon meatballs, marinara sauce
Servings: 4
Calories: 438kcal

Ingredients:

For the meatballs:

  • 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

For the marinara sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, plus more for garnish
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan, optional

Instructions:

For the meatballs:

  • Mix sour cream and milk together and soak the bread cubes in the mix for about 10 minutes.
  • In a separate bowl, mix beef, parsley, egg, garlic, salt and cinnamon with a large fork. (I like to use a serving fork).
  • Add the soaked bread cubes into the beef. (There is no need to drain the bread cubes, if there is any unabsorbed liquid in the bowl, add that in too).
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Form the meat into 18 to 20 meatballs and set them directly on non-stick baking sheets.
  • Bake the meatballs for 20 minutes.

For the marinara sauce:

  • Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven.
  • Add the onions to the Dutch oven and saute for a few minutes, until they are starting to soften.
  • Add wine, tomatoes and oregano, then add the meatballs back into the sauce.
  • Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, without a lid, for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. (if using parmesan).
  • Stir in the parsley and season with salt and pepper.
  • Sprinkle the cheese on and bake until it is melted.
  • Sprinkle with more parsley for garnish.

Notes:

*This recipe is best with 90 percent lean/10 percent fat ground beef.

Nutrition

Calories: 438kcal | Carbohydrates: 24.1g | Protein: 34.6g | Fat: 20.2g | Saturated Fat: 7.8g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 813mg | Potassium: 534mg | Fiber: 7.8g | Sugar: 13.8g | Calcium: 188mg | Iron: 7mg

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A bowl filled with beef meatballs in marinara sauce topped with melted cheese and garnished with parsley.

24 comments

  1. 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 .

  2. 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. :)

  3. 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! :)

  4. 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. :)

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