This is the best Italian meat sauce you’ll ever taste. The best part is that it is made with just a few simple ingredients! A delicious, homemade pasta sauce that tastes amazing? Yes, please!
I grew up with my mom making homemade spaghetti meat sauce and it was the perfect comfort food.
She would often make it for new mothers from church that needed a quick meal while they were resting.
As a young wife and mom, I always grabbed the jarred pasta sauce.
Maybe it was because I assumed homemade meat sauce would be hard and dumping a jar was just… easier.
I had no idea how easy homemade spaghetti sauce was to throw together.
There was a time when I was working hard on getting all of the yucky ingredients out of our home and out of my kitchen.
That’s when I decided to give from-scratch pasta sauce a try.
Wouldn’t you know it, it is so simple and delicious!
Why you’ll love this meat sauce
- As a busy home cook, it’s important for my recipes to be simple, yet satisfying.
- This great recipe comes together quickly, simmers on the stove until it’s suppertime, and is a family favorite.
- Perfect for busy weeknights that require an easy weeknight dinner for a family
- Italian meat sauce and pasta is a one-pot meal that is easy to clean up, too!
- It is versatile. You can use ground beef, Italian sausage, ground turkey, or leave out the meat altogether and enjoy a simple tomato sauce.
- Meat sauce can be cooked on the stove top or in the slow cooker.
- This is an easy recipe to hide veggies or fresh herbs in, such as green bell peppers or even shredded carrots that are cooked down.
- It tastes fantastic every time. Serve it alongside a simple sourdough garlic bread and green salad for a perfect meal.
Tell me about this meat sauce
- Texture– This sauce is made from whole tomatoes that break down as the sauce simmers. A great part of this process is that the sauce has the perfect thickness and consistency.
- Flavor– You will love the subtle tomato flavor paired with the deep undertones of bay leaves, garlic, Italian seasoning, and a hint of sweetness from the sugar.
- Ease- This is the icing on the proverbial cake. You, essentially, dump things in a pot and let it simmer into the best meat sauce. If you don’t want a meat sauce, leave the meat out and it’ll still be amazing.
- Time– While this sauce does take time, it’s not hands on time. Every good homemade sauce requires a bit of time as the sauce cooks down and the flavors meld together. The secret to any tomato sauce is to simmer long and slow.
Ingredients for Italian Meat Sauce
- Whole, Organic Tomatoes– You can use whole tomatoes or crushed tomatoes, depending on what you have available.
- A Can of Tomato paste– This is an inexpensive way to thicken the sauce and add a rich, red color to the final product. This also adds the acidity of the tomatoes without it being too overpowering.
- Finely chopped Onion– This brings in a bit of umami flavor and a subtle sweetness that doesn’t slap you in the face, but your taste buds notice.
- Garlic– Every good Italian recipe needs garlic. Use fresh garlic or garlic powder.
- Sugar– You can use white sugar or brown sugar for this recipe. I tend to use white sugar because it is easier for me to grab and use. This balances out the acidity found in the tomatoes.
- Olive Oil– To sauté the onion and garlic in before adding the other ingredients.
- Herbs– Bay leaf, basil, black pepper, salt
- Meat– This is optional, but my family loves this sauce with meat in it.
Simple steps for making Italian Meat Sauce
- Sauté– In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté onion with the fresh garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent. If you are using garlic powder, add the garlic powder in the next step.
- Simmer– Stir in the two cans of whole tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leaf. Cover the sauce and allow it to simmer for 90 minutes. The tomatoes will soften and break down during this time.
- Thicken– Stir in tomato paste, basil, 1/2 teaspoon pepper with a wooden spoon and simmer for 30 more minutes.
- Puree– This step is completely optional, but I like to take an immersion blender and puree the sauce just a tad. Add in your browned beef after your puree.
Add ins for Meat Sauce
This is the best homemade meat sauce recipe because you can make it your own. It is such a versatile sauce.
If your family likes a savory flavor, add in two tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce.
To get a bit of spice and kick, add in 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Top your meat sauce with thick flakes of parmesan cheese.
How to make Italian Meat Sauce in a slow cooker
- Brown the lean ground beef in a skillet and drain with it is no longer pink.
- Sauté the onion and cloves of garlic on the stove until the onion is translucent.
- Add the cooked meat, onion, garlic and rest of the ingredients to a slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours.
How to use leftover Spaghetti Meat Sauce
I am all about making one dish and figuring out a way to transform it into something else for another meal.
I do that with my leftover taco meat all of the time!
This spaghetti meat sauce recipe is great for this, too.
- Sloppy Joes– Add in 1/2 pound of cooked ground beef and 1/4 cup of ketchup to create an Italian sloppy joe. Serve it on hamburger buns.
- Bolognese Sauce– An easy way to reuse leftover meat sauce is to add in 1/2 pound of cooked ground meat, plus 1/2 cup of red wine. Allow the mixture to reheat on the stove for an hour. Serve over pasta.
- Homemade Pizza– Whip up a homemade pizza crust, or buy some from the store. Top it with this meat sauce and the toppings of your choice and bake until gooey and crispy.
How to store leftover meat sauce
Let the meat sauce cool completely before adding it to an airtight container.
Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Can you freeze spaghetti sauce
Yes, you can freeze meat sauce.
Let me meat sauce cool completely and add it to an airtight container or ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
To use leftover meat sauce, allow it to thaw on the kitchen counter for 2 hours before dumping it into a saucepan to reheat over medium heat.
Meat Sauce Recipe
Easy Meat Sauce for Spaghetti
- 1 large sauce pan
- 1 pound ground beef
- ¾ cup diced onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 cans organic, whole peeled tomatoes 28 ounce cans
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Brown your ground beef in a large skillet over medium high heat. Drain the beef.
- Add olive oil to a large stock pot and sauté the onion and garlic until fragrant.
- Stir in the cans of whole tomatoes, salt, sugar and bay leafs. Cover and let simmer on low for 1 ½ hours.
- Add in the tomato paste, basil, Italian seasoning, pepper and browned meat to the sauce and simmer for an additional 30 minutes covered.
- Serve over noodles.