When you have leftover meatballs and sauce, you may wish to freeze them to store and consume at a later date. However, you may wonder if you can freeze meatballs in the sauce or if you’re better off storing and freezing them separately.
Meatballs can be frozen in sauce with no problems. Freezing meatballs and sauce together is actually beneficial in that it will give you a complete main dish ready to thaw and eat. There may be instances, however, where it will be better to freeze the meatballs and sauce separately.
In this article, I will tell you all you need to know about freezing meatballs both in sauce and separately.
How To Freeze Cooked Meatballs In Sauce
There are three basic steps to freezing meatballs in spaghetti sauce. They are:
Cool The Meatballs and Sauce
The first step is to let the meatballs and sauce cool down completely. It’s never a good idea to freeze food when it’s hot; that will result in freezer burn and significantly affect the texture and flavor.
Place The Sauce and Meatballs In Containers
Once cooled, you can simply place the sauce and meatballs in a freezer bag or airtight container. If you’re using a freezer bag, ensure it’s tightly sealed with any excess air pushed out to prevent moisture from ruining the texture.
Divide Meatballs and Sauce Into Portions (Optional)
If you have plenty of leftovers, you may want to consider dividing them up into serving-sized portions of sauce and meatballs and placing them in several freezer bags or containers. This will enable you just to grab and thaw the amount you want later on.
How Long Can You Freeze Meatballs In Sauce?
Meatballs and sauce will retain their ideal freshness for up to 3 months in the freezer. However, they can be kept safely and remain edible in the freezer for up to 12 months, although they will gradually lose their taste and texture.
It does not matter whether you store the sauce and meatballs together or separately. You can enjoy them for a long while if you ensure good freezing conditions.
How To Thaw Meatballs And Sauce?
The most effective way to defrost frozen meatballs and sauce is to place it in the fridge overnight. This way, the meal will thaw slowly, which will result in the best texture.
You can also speed up the process by floating the sauce and meatball container in a large bowl of cool water. Replace the water in the bowl every 30 minutes or so until thawed.
How To Reheat Meatballs And Sauce Without Thawing?
If you’d like to go straight from the freezer to cooking, you can skip the thawing process and reheat the sauce and meatballs directly. For this purpose, it’s best to use a slow cooker.
- A slow cooker or crockpot will thaw and reheat the dish at the same time. A key advantage of using a slow cooker is that you can add ingredients as you cook and end up with a more tasty meatball recipe.
- Alternatively, if you’d like a faster approach, you can simply put the meatballs in sauce in a pan on the stove and cook it on low or medium heat. Once the meatballs and sauce are piping hot, you can remove them and enjoy your meal.
- You can also place the frozen meatballs and sauce in a baking dish and into the oven. Ensure it’s set at low or medium heat for the best quality.
Using the microwave is not recommended, especially for frozen meatballs, because the texture can be significantly affected. You can still do that if you’re in a hurry, preferably after the sauce and meatballs are thawed.
How To Freeze Meatballs Separately (Cooked & Uncooked)
The process of freezing meatballs on their own is slightly more involved and can be used for freezing both cooked and uncooked meatballs.
Remember, if your meatballs have been cooked, it’s important that everything has had time to cool down completely before you begin this process.
Flash Freezing The Meatballs
Start by preparing a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Then place the cooled meatballs in a single layer on the baking sheet. When you lay out the meatballs, make sure that they aren’t touching so that they don’t stick together when frozen.
Place the baking sheet into the freezer for three to four hours or until the meatballs are frozen solid.
Freeze The Meatballs
Once the initial freezing is complete, you can remove the baking sheet and put the meatballs inside a safe container or freezer bag and freeze them as you normally would.
Divide Meatballs Into Portions (Optional)
Again, you can always divide the meatballs into portions and place them in different freezer bags. This way, you don’t have to take out all the frozen meatballs from the freezer at once.
Is It Better To Freeze Uncooked or Cooked Meatballs?
You don’t have to worry about freezing meatballs regardless of whether they’re cooked or not. You can freeze cooked meatballs just as well as a raw meatball mixture. Generally, a raw meat mixture lasts slightly longer than cooked meat in the freezer (3 or 4 months).
If you haven’t started cooking and think you will have plenty of leftovers, consider freezing the raw meatball mixture. This way, you can be certain that they’ll be fresh whenever you’re ready to cook them. Otherwise, you can freeze meatballs after they’re cooked, and they will still taste great.
Do Meatballs Freeze Well?
Meatballs make great freezer meals. Whether cooked or uncooked, meatballs can retain their freshness and exquisite taste for up to 3 months, assuming they’re properly frozen. To help achieve that, you should also defrost and reheat them as described above.
Does Meat Sauce Freeze Well?
Most sauces can be kept in the freezer for a long time, especially tomato-based sauces. Meat sauce, just like a classic marinara sauce, freezes exceptionally well and will easily retain its freshness and flavor.
Of course, the texture can be slightly altered depending on how long it is kept in the freezer. Even then, it can easily be restored when you reheat it by adding a few extra spices.
How Long Will Meatballs In Sauce Last In the Fridge?
If you’re not planning to store them for a long time, it will be better to keep your meatballs and sauce in the refrigerator. Meatballs in sauce will last up to a week in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F.
Is It Better To Store Meatballs And Sauce In The Freezer Or The Fridge?
If you plan to eat your meatballs and sauce within the next 3-5 days, it is better to keep it in the refrigerator. If, however, you’d like to store the sauce and meatballs for longer, you will want to keep it in the freezer.
Freezing Meatballs In Sauce – Final Thoughts
Freezing meatballs in the sauce is easy and convenient, as both components freeze well. This way, you can enjoy fresh meatballs and sauce whenever you’d like. They will stay fresh for several months if properly prepared, frozen, thawed, and reheated.