Spaghetti and Shrimp Meatballs

shrimp meatballs
Prep Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 35 mins

No beef or pork here! Just succulent shrimp amped up with panko, Pecorino Romano, fresh basil, and scallions and formed into balls. They're paired with our classic five-ingredient red sauce.


Red Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 cups finely chopped onion (from 1 large)

  • Kosher salt

  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 to 5 cloves)

  • ½ teaspoon red-pepper flakes

  • 2 cans (each 28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes in juice, pureed in a blender or food processor

Shrimp Meatballs

  • 1 ½ pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined

  • ¾ cup panko flakes

  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • cup finely grated Pecorino Romano (1 ounce), plus more for serving

  • ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

  • ¼ cup chopped scallions, plus more green tops for serving (from 1 bunch)

  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 1 pound spaghetti, spaghettini, or bucatini


  1. Red Sauce: Heat a straight-sided skillet over medium. Swirl in oil; add onion and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is soft and translucent, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in garlic and red-pepper flakes; cook 30 seconds. Transfer one-third of onion mixture to a bowl and reserve for meatballs. Add tomatoes to skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until reduced and thickened slightly, about 20 minutes.

  2. Shrimp Meatballs: While sauce simmers, pulse shrimp to a paste in a food processor. Transfer to bowl with reserved onion mixture. Stir panko and milk into shrimp mixture until milk is absorbed. Add cheese, basil, scallions, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

  3. Use an ice cream scoop, or roll heaping tablespoons between dampened palms, to form thirty 1 1/2-inch balls. Drop into a pot of boiling salted water; cook until they turn opaque and float to top, 3 to 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer shrimp meatballs to skillet with red sauce and simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, cook pasta in same pot of boiling water until al dente, about 2 minutes less than per package instructions. Drain pasta and return to pot; toss with 1 1/2 cups sauce. Serve, topped with meatballs, more sauce, cheese, basil, and scallion tops.

Related Articles