Balls in tomato sauce

A classic comfort food. Perfect for a family dinner, serve with mashed potatoes, peas and carrots.
Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Course: Main course
Cuisine: Belgian
Keyword: children, ground meat, meat
Servings: 5
Calories: 550kcal


Beef broth


Tomato sauce


  • 1 tbsp madeira ( or cognac – whiskey- …)


The balls

  • Put the water on and add the cubes of beef broth
  • Mix the minced meat with the spices, egg yolks and breadcrumbs.
  • Wet your hands and roll the balls. Keeping your hands wet keeps the mince from sticking to your hands.
  • Cook the balls in the broth for up to 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the balls. Once they come up you know they are ready.
  • Take a pan. Melt a knob of butter and brown the balls briefly. Set aside.

The sauce

  • In a large bowl melt the butter and add the flour. Stir well and so you get a roux. Let it warm gently for up to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is how you get the flour taste out of the roux (and thus the sauce).
  • Pour the milk bit by bit into the roux and stir well until the roux is completely absorbed by the milk. Clumps? Don’t panic – keep stirring and if it doesn’t work just bring out your blender.
  • If necessary, pour the beef broth through a sieve. Add the strained beef broth.
  • Add the tomato paste can by can until you have a sufficient red tomato sauce (both in appearance and taste). This can be up to 3 cans.
  • Add the balls.
  • Finish with salt and pepper.


  • Add a dash of liquor to taste for a specific twist.


Calories: 550kcal


  • For a spicy touch, add a pinch of red pepper flakes and/or cayenne to the tomato sauce.
  • Replace some of the minced meat with veal or pork for a different flavor.
  • Add finely chopped vegetables such as garlic, onion, bell bell pepper or mushrooms for extra flavor and texture.
  • Add bacon bits.
  • Use less tomato paste and replace with tomato pulp or passata.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many balls per person?

Count 200g of minced meat per person. A little more if you have big eaters.

How long can I keep the balls in tomato sauce in the frig?

Freshly made balls in tomato sauce can easily be kept for 3 to 4 days in a refrigerator at 6°C.

How do you keep balls from falling apart?

Add a binder such as breadcrumbs and eggs. Make sure the mixture is neither too wet nor too dry.

Can you freeze balls in tomato sauce?

Yes. Make sure they are well cooled and well wrapped to prevent freezer burn.

What spices go well with balls in tomato sauce?

Infinite variations possible of course But typical herbs are basil, oregano, rosemary and garlic. A little red pepper flakes can also add some extra spice.

What do you serve with balls in tomato sauce?

Mashed potatoes, pasta, fries, rice certainly fit the bill. And the day after, the surplus with a slice of bread. Top!

My tomato sauce is too thin or too thick?

The thickness of a tomato sauce with roux is determined by the amount of roux relative to the amount of liquid. For a 1 l thick sauce, use a 200g roux.

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