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A classic Italian meal, this Sunday Sauce (or gravy, depending on who you ask) with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage feeds an army- with tender, cheese and bread stuffed steak, moist and flavorful meatballs and spicy Italian sausage. Don’t forget the garlic bread and pasta!


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First- let’s clear the air on the title. I grew up calling it “sauce.” That’s what my mom always called it, and it stuck. You could also call this “gravy,” if it suits you. The only real name is needs is delicious.

Growing up, this was in my top 5 meals my mom would make, and was always my birthday dinner pick, right behind roast chicken (which I NEVER got, because they went and had me right after Thanksgiving!). 

sunday sauce bracciole meatballs sausage

So naturally, when I moved out on my own, I made my mom teach me this recipe. And while I’ve made my own tweaks and changes here and there, it still hold true to the recipe I grew up with and loved.

For this recipe, I always start by getting my sauce going. After the onions and garlic are sautéd, the tomatoes, spices and wine are added, and the sausage is cooking away in there, I can move on to making all the meatballs and Bracciole.


There are a lot of opinions out there on what meat combo makes the best meatball. For mine, I like to make them with 2/3 ground beef and 1/3 Italian sausage. I find this gives me the moistest, most flavorful meatballs.

To that mixture, I add plenty of grated bread, fresh parsley, parmesan cheese and an egg.

Then comes the tedious (but well worth it) task of forming the meatballs. This recipe makes about 35.

Sunday Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage

Getting the Bracciole just right

The key to great Bracciole is, aside from patience, getting the right consistency for the bready filling so that it JUST holds together. Not too wet, not too dry. It should come together when firmly squeezed into your palm. Then, you just need to tuck the small sides up, wrap and roll the longer edges and secure the whole thing horizontally and vertically with toothpicks so they stay together during the long cooking process.

Don’t be afraid to use too many toothpicks- better safe than sorry! You don’t want to lose that precious, cheesy stuffing in your sauce. Just let your guests know to be on the lookout while eating.

As a kid, my mom always warned us to watch for the toothpicks when she made Bracciole. It became a running gag, but it’s best to warn everyone- gnawing on a toothpick is not a pleasant experience! 

Sunday Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage

Building flavor for your Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs, and Sausage.

Once all your meatballs and Bracciole are ready to go, it’s time to build some great flavor by browning those bad boys in some canola or olive oil before they take a swim in the sauce-pot.

Just a few minutes per side before you throw them in the sauce makes a world of difference in “flavor country” (hat tip, Guy Fieri). 

Once everybody is in the sauce-pot, aside from a few stirs there isn’t much else to do but wait.

I am, however, a firm believer in building flavors as you go, so in this recipe (and a lot of my other recipes, particularly those that cook a long time), you’ll notice I ask that you add in a bit more wine and spices halfway through the sauce cooking time. It really does make a huge difference, and I highly recommend it. Hey- you’re going to be stirring it ANYWAY.

Once the glorious pot of tender, melt-in-your-mouth Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage is FINALLY ready, serve it up on a big bowl of your favorite pasta (tossed in our hot, delicious sauce, of course), with crusty garlic bread and a great salad, and dinner is served. Mangia!

Want to give this recipe a try?

If you make my Sunday Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage, please be sure to leave me a comment! I would love to hear from you, and value your feedback! Lastly, if you make the recipe and love it, please tag me on Instagram! I love to see your photos!

Looking for more great recipes? Why not try my Instant Pot Honey-Chipotle Pulled Pork SandwichesSouth Philly Pork BurgersEasy Crockpot Carnitas, or Rueben Egg Rolls!

Sunday Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage

Sunday Sauce with Bracciole, Meatballs and Sausage

Prep Time1 hr
Cook Time4 hrs 30 mins
Total Time5 hrs 30 mins
Course: Dinner, Holiday
Keyword: Bracciole, gravy, Italian sausage, meat sauce, meatballs, sunday sauce



  • 5 cups grated bread, such as Italian bread or sourdough*
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1 cup fresh shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 12 thin slices steak*


  • 2 lbs ground beef (I like 80/20)
  • 1 lb sweet Italian sausage*
  • 1 cup grated bread, such as Italian bread or sourdough*
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese


  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 4

    hot Italian sausage link cut into 4 equal pieces

  • 2 cups red wine (I like to use a red blend), plus 1/2 cup*
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 28 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan-romano cheese
  • 1/2 tbsp dry basil, plus 1 tsp*
  • 1/2 tbsp garlic powder, plus 1/2 tsp*
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dry oregano, plus 1/2 tsp*
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Browning Meatballs/Bracciole:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil or olive oil


  • Get your sauce going: In a large stockpot, heat olive oil on medium-low. Add onions and salt and pepper to taste, and cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally- until onions are slightly softened and translucent. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add 2 cups wine (reserve the remaining 1/2 cup for later), tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir. Stir in 1/2 tbsp dry basil (reserve 1 tsp for later), 1/2 tbsp garlic powder (reserve remaining 1/2 tsp for later),1 1/2 tsp dry oregano (reserve remaining 1/2 tsp for later), chopped parsley, bay leaves, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Add raw, quartered hot Italian sausages and parmesan to the pot, stir and cover. Leave to simmer.
    2. Make the Bracciole: Combine all ingredients (except steak) in a medium mixing bowl. Mix together (with your hands is best), until mixture just comes together when squeezed in your palm to form. If mixture is a bit too dry and isn't coming together easily, add a bit more olive oil. This should be a somewhat dry mixture, not wet or moist, and you will need to squeeze the filling together with your hands before rolling in steak to make sure it stays secure when rolling.
    3. Once the Bracciole filling is ready, place pressed filling in a small ball (about 2 tbsp or so) into the center of the thinly sliced steak- leaving room on all sides for overlap. Use your judgement, as steak sizing will vary. Gently press in the (shorter) left and right sides, and fold one of the long edges over mixture. Roll Bracciole toward unclosed edge of steak, and secure horizontally and vertically with toothpicks, making sure steak overlaps filling on all sides to ensure it stays inside while cooking. Steak sizes vary, so use anywhere from 4-6 toothpicks to make sure they are very secure.
    4. Make the Meatballs: Combine all ingredients is a large mixing bowl (again, using your hands is best). Once all ingredients are well combined, use a small ice cream scoop to measure the balls. Roll each ball with your hands until smooth and well shaped, and place onto a parchment lined tray so that they don’t stick as they sit. Continue until all meatballs are formed. Makes about 35 meatballs.
    5. Brown the Meatballs and Bracciole: In a large, deep frying pan, heat your browning oil (caola or olive oi) over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown Bracciole and meatballs, until well browned on all sides, about 2 minutes per side. As soon as each piece is browned, immediate transfer to pot with sauce with tongs, stirring (very gently) to make sure all are well coated in sauce as you go.
    6. Once everything is in the sauce pot, allow to cook covered, over low heat for 2 hours, stirring occasionally to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
    7. Finish the sauce: After 2 hours, add reserved wine, basil, garlic powder and oregano. Stir to combine, and cook another 2 hours, covered, stirring occasionally. Serve with your favorite pasta, garlic bread, and a big salad.


Bread for Bracciole and Meatballs: For this recipe, if you are making both the Bracciole and Meatballs, you will need 6 cups of grated bread. I use my food processor to grate the bread, which is super fast and easy. Alternatively, you could use a box grater.

Steak for Bracciole: I buy thinly sliced steak at my local grocery store. They are typically marked “thin sliced steak” or “sandwich steak,” however, these are NOT the shaved variety sold for cheesesteaks. These are usually about 1/8″ thick.

Sausage for Meatballs: For this recipe, I used uncased ground sweet Italian sausage sod at my local grocery, however, you could use 1 lb. of sweet Italian sausage in casings, just remove the meat from the casings and add to the meatball mixture.

Sauce: For the sauce, I add a majority of the wine and spices when I first begin cooking, then halfway through, I add a bit more wine, basil, garlic powder and oregano. I find building the flavor this way makes for a more flavorful sauce.

© Jawns I Cooked. All images & content are the sole property of Jawns I Cooked. Please ask permission prior to using my photos. If you would like to share one of my recipes, please link back to this post and re-write the instructions in your own words.