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Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)
The best meatballs

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, or Čufti in Slovenian, is a recipe we grew up eating. This family favorite feeds the crowd, or we can freeze it for later.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)
When our kids come home from kindergarten every day, we ask them two questions. First, what was your favorite thing today in kindergarten, and second, what was your least favorite? A couple of days ago, we couldn’t even ask the second one because our oldest, three-year-old Adam, kept raving about how delicious Čufti or Meatballs in tomato sauce were. He was so cute and inspired us to make our all-time favorite kindergarten recipe for our blog, too. This dish is well known to be better if you cook it in larger quantities. So, even though we are a family of four, we always make eight or more portions to place in the freezer for later use. These meatballs with tomato sauce freeze well and taste just as delicious when reheated.

The best "Slovenian" Meatballs - Čufti

These Slovenian-style meatballs are our all-time favorite. They are irresistible, and we love making extra portions to freeze and have them at hand when needed. These are the top reasons why we love these meatballs so much:

  • The meatballs are soft, juicy, and not too big
  • this recipe is perfect to feed the crowd
  • the sauce is rich, flavorful, and not too runny or too thick
  • store them in the fridge or the freezer
  • the ideal family meal (our kids adore them)
  • great for any day of the year

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)

Essential ingredients

These are the essential ingredients you will need to make this recipe. They are all easily accessible all around the globe.

Bread - use white sandwich bread without the crust. Cut into small pieces and add to the meat mixture. This will make the meatballs softer.

Meat - use ground beef or a mixture of ground beef (75%) and pork (25%).

Spices - fresh parsley, thyme, marjoram, salt, and pepper are essential in this recipe.

Homemade tomato sauce - making homemade tomato sauce from scratch is always a good idea, and this is how we make it:

  1. Cook the onion and flour with a bit of oil. Adding flour will make the sauce slightly thicker.
  2. Add the garlic and sugar. Don't worry; the sauce won't be sweet, but the sugar will balance out the acidity of the tomatoes.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and pan-fried meatballs and cook until tender and delicious.

What to serve with Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

Serve these juicy Meatballs with a generous amount of that delicious tomato sauce and one of these sides:

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce (Čufti)

Storing and freezing

Feel free to store or freeze Meatballs in Tomato Sauce. We can easily make them ahead and freeze them for later. This way, we can have them ready for a quick meal any day of the week. 

Keep the Meatballs in Tomato Sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Before serving, reheat.

We can freeze the cooked Meatballs in Tomato Sauce, too. First, let the meatballs cool, then place them in a freezer bag or airtight container, seal and keep them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost, then reheat in a pan on the stove or in a microwave.

How to make Meatballs in Tomato Sauce at home (video)

Check this quick tutorial to see how we made these Meatballs in Tomato Sauce at home.



Next, try these delicious meatball recipes


Lets get cooking!

  • serves
  • preparation:
  • cook:
  • total time:
    hour 15 minutes


  • meatball mixture

    Cut the bread into small cubes and place in a small bowl. Pour the hot milk over the bread and set aside for 5 minutes for the bread to soak up the liquid. Add meatball ingredients (eggs, onion, parsley, thyme, marjoram, salt, and pepper) to a bowl and knead until combined. Add the bread and knead into a meatball mixture. Divide the mixture into 26 equal parts, then shape them into balls and place them on a baking sheet or plate.

  • fry the meat

    Place a large skillet with olive oil over medium-high heat. Add half the meatballs and fry on each side for 2 - 3 minutes. Make sure there are enough meatballs between them while frying. Transfer the baked meatballs to a large plate and repeat the process with the rest.

  • Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

    Place a large pot on low heat. Add the olive oil, diced onion, and flour. Saute for 5 minutes over low heat. Add the minced garlic and sugar. Cook for 1 - 2 minutes, then add the tomato passata. Stir well to get a smooth sauce. Pour in the water, add the parsley basil, and season with salt and pepper. Increase the heat, bring to a boil, then lower the heat. Add the fried meatballs, cover with a lid, and cook for 45 - 60 minutes. Uncover for the last 15 minutes of cooking. The meatballs should be soft and juicy, and the sauce should be flavorful and thick.

  • serve

    Serve the Meatballs in Tomato Sauce with mashed potatoes. We usually serve three meatballs per person, or if we're really hungry, we serve four meatballs per person. Optionally freeze the rest of the meatballs with the sauce for later.


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