Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

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Cinnamon works beautifully in savory dishes, especially in combination with beef, garlic and tomato. The flavor combination is perfect in these cinnamon meatballs that also have a slight tang from sour cream/milk-soaked bread cubes.

cinnamon meatballs with marinara sauce

I adapted America’s Test Kitchen’s meatball recipe here but changed a few things around and – most importantly – added the cinnamon.

How to make cinnamon meatballs:

You start this recipe by cutting 2 slices of sandwich bread into cubes and soaking them in a mix of 6 tablespoons sour cream and 2 tablespoons milk. The sour cream adds a delicious hint of tanginess to these meatballs that works really well with all the other flavors.

how to make cinnamon meatballs step by step

Next you mix together the remaining meatball ingredients: 1 pound ground beef, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley1 egg, 2 minced or pressed garlic cloves, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon.

how to make cinnamon meatballs step by step

Mix the soaked bread cubes along with the sour cream/milk mix into the meat.

how to make cinnamon meatballs step by step

You fry the meatballs on all sides in a Dutch oven (I like to use the Dutch oven for frying meat because of its high sides that keep all the splatter in).

how to make cinnamon meatballs step by step

Once the meatballs are cooked you make the marinara sauce in the same Dutch oven. (That way all the delicious browned bits from the meat will cook into the sauce).

Pour off all but one tablespoon of the fat, then saute 1/4 cup diced onion in it.

how to make cinnamon meatballs step by step

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

how to make cinnamon meatballs step by step

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

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Related Post:

Love the cinnamon/beef flavor combination? I also recommend this Cinnamon Clove Beef Stroganoff:

cinnamon clove beef stroganoff

cinnamon meatballs with marinara sauce
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5 from 5 votes

Cinnamon Meatballs with Marinara Sauce

Cinnamon works beautifully in savory dishes, especially in combination with beef, garlic and tomato. The flavor combination is perfect in these 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: 538kcal

Ingredients:

  • 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
  • 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:

  • 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.
  • Add the soaked bread cubes along with the sour cream mix into the beef.
  • Heat the oil in a Dutch oven.
  • Form the meat into balls.
  • Working in batches, fry the balls in the oil until brown on all sides.
  • Take the meatballs out of the pot and set aside.
  • Pour off all but one tablespoon of the fat that's in the Dutch oven.
  • Add the onions to the Dutch oven and cook for a minute.
  • 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 538kcal

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cinnamon meatballs

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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