Meatballs baked in Tomato sauce on Polenta

Meatballs baked in tomato sauce on polenta

When I saw this recipe on one of my favourite blogs, Souvlaki for the Soul, a while ago, I knew I’d be giving it a go soon. I was just waiting for a cold day where the only comfort can be found in a bowl filled with delicious food.

Meatballs baked in tomato sauce on polenta

This recipe combines two of my absolute favourite things; Meatballs and soft polenta. I am a little obsessed with Polenta and I try to make use of this simple, versatile ingredient as much as possible during the colder months. It is perfect served with saucy, meaty dishes. I’ve heard a lot of people saying they don’t like polenta because of the texture and this is simply because they have not used enough liquid and they haven’t cooked the polenta for long enough. When undercooked, polenta will be quite grainy but when cooked properly, the grains are allowed to swell fully and the texture is rich, creamy and scrumptious.

Meatballs baked in tomato sauce on polenta

For the meatballs, I used the same recipe as for my Cheesy Meatballs baked in tomato sauce but left out the cheese as I wanted to top the finished dish with lots of grated Pecorino and fresh parsley. The end result was a delicious bowl of comfort food, perfect for the colder months.

Meatballs baked in tomato sauce on polenta

Meatballs baked in Tomato sauce on Polenta

4.63 from 27 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Entree, Main
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Author: Alida Ryder
Servings: 4 -6


for the meatballs

  • 500 g beef mince
  • 1 onion finely chopped and sauteed
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • salt & black pepper to taste

for the sauce

  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 x 400g tin tomato puree
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • salt & pepper to taste

for the polenta

  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 cups stock
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 50 ml cream
  • salt to taste

to serve

  • Pecorino grated
  • fresh parsley finely chopped


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
  • For the meatballs, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
  • Combine all the sauce ingredients and pour into a deep roasting dish/casserole dish.
  • Form medium sized meatballs and place into the roasting dish.
  • Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly and the meatballs are cooked.
  • To make the polenta, bring the stock and milk to a simmer and whisk in the polenta. Continue whisking until the polenta has started thickening then turn down the heat and allow the polenta to gently cook for 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the butter, cream and season with salt.
  • Serve the polenta with the meatballs and sauce topped with grated Pecorino and parsley.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I want to know where I can buy polenta….I live in Port Elizabeth, ZA…I have never seen anything on the shelves marked Polenta, only maize meal…are these two things similar? I would love to try polenta, especially this dish of yours…it sounds amazing but not sure what to use for polenta…

  2. We have now had this twice for dinner because we had meatballs from one of the meat boxes we get delivered. I can honestly say that based on my two renderings of this meal, it works with both beef and lamb meatballs and is just as delicious over polenta and creamy mashed potatoes. Thank you for another delicious recipe Alida. This has been copied in to our family cookbook (and referenced to you of course).

  3. I made these meatballs last night with only minor tweaking as I used shawarma spice mix, already made up instead of the individual ones you specified. I was late and in a rush to get dinner done
    I liked the look of the recipe because it didn’t require frying meatballs or cooking down a sauce and to be honest wasn’t sure if it would be tasty enough. I did add some peperoncini to the tomato mix
    And I will say emphatically, this was a seriously delicious meal. The meatballs and sauce were truly wonderful. And wow, the aromas in the kitchen were beautiful.
    And it is true comfort good with the polenta.
    So thank you for a simple but amazing recipe for a meal.

  4. This really didn’t work for me. The tomato sauce didn’t thicken much at the low temperature and the polenta was very runny. In the end, I cooked it for 30 minutes and eventually gave up and served the meatballs with pasta. What did I do wrong?

    1. It could be that the tomatoes you used were very liquidy, which would explain it not thickening. Different brands of polenta can sometimes behave differently. This is meant to be a softer consistency but definitely not runny. Add more polenta next time and it will firm right up.

  5. Would it be possible to prep and freeze the meatballs like a few weeks ahead of time? If so, would you make any adjustments to the recipe or cooking times?

    1. Yes, of course. I would cook them from frozen and would add around 10 minutes to the cooking time. The sauce might get a little watery from the frozen meatballs so you might want to simmer it uncovered to reduce a little.

  6. I don’t know where the polenta went wrong.. It was too damn liquidy! Was I was supposed to let the milk and stock boil and then add the polenta then let it simmer? Also saying to cube it first would have helped!

    1. Gvela, did you use ready-cooked polenta? The polenta I used in this recipe did not need to be cubed as it is in raw form (almost like grits if you are from the States). And yep, you bring the milk and stock to a simmer and then whisk in the polenta before allowing it to cook until thick.

  7. I have to try polenta like this. I’ve only ever had Polenta that other people made, and it was horrible. I couldn’t understand why people would eat it. For me it tasted as if I was eating pap straight out of the packet.

    1. Rene, this happens so often as people don’t cook polenta for long enough or with enough liquid. This way of cooking ensures soft, luscious polenta. 🙂

  8. Yum this looks divine. Never though to serve meatballs over polenta but it makes perfect sense now!