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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

5 from 72 votes

posted: 02/22/23

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Spaghetti Meat Sauce recipe is an easy and quick recipe that can be the beginning of an easy weeknight dinner. Make this 30 minute meat sauce and watch your family fall in love!

white plate with spaghetti topped with spaghetti meat sauce recipe, two red wines and bread in the background, fork in the foreground

The other day, as I was planning what dinner recipes I’m going to make for you this fall, I asked on my personal Facebook page, what people consider “easy” dinners. Oh my gosh. For a busy day in the life of working parents, so many chimed in! It was everything from number of ingredients, to how many pots and pans are used, to how long it takes to make.  


I made this for supper tonight and OMG it is soooo good!! Fiancé said to buy this brand again. LOL! So definitely will make it again.

overhead photo of ground beef, spices in small bowls, garlic, and two cans of tomatoes to make meat sauce recipe

What Makes This Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe so Easy

Based on everything that my family, friends, and neighbors told me, this Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe is easy. A simple riff on my Homemade Spaghetti sauce, let me tell you why this is so easy.

  • This spaghetti meat sauce is done in just one pot. Yes, if you are serving it with spaghetti you need to use one more pot. But when all is said and done, not very many dishes.
  • Your new favorite meat sauce is done in 30 minutes. For so many of the people I talked to, this was a big key to the easy dinner label.
  • There are no complicated ingredients in this meat sauce recipe. In fact, all but one ingredient can be bought in bulk and stored in your pantry ready for use. That was a huge factor for a lot of friends.

How to Make Meat Sauce

This is a brief overview to show you how easy it is to make this sauce. For the full recipe with all of the measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Measure your ingredients. Normally I am a measure as I go person. But this recipe moves quickly. I suggest measuring everything out before you start cooking.
  2. Brown the meat. Break up the ground beef and brown it in a dutch oven. Once browned, drain all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the beef.
  3. Add the tomatoes. Stir in the canned tomatoes and spices.
  4. Simmer the sauce. Now bring it all to a boil, and then reduce it to a simmer. Simmering for 15 minutes brings all the flavors together.
  5. Adjust the seasonings. At the end of the 15 minutes, taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste.
red dutch oven with spaghetti meat sauce in it, with a ladle, garnished with a little parsley

Additions and Substitutions

Another key to easy dinners that someone mentioned was flexibility. They like recipes that are flexible. You can take things out, add other things, and it’s not going to make a huge difference in the final product. Ding ding ding! This meat sauce wins again! 

  • Add in onions! My husband doesn’t like onions, so I left them out. And I love that nothing here needs to be diced. But if you love them, throw them in right after the meat is browned but before you drain off the fat.
  • Make it less chunky! If your family doesn’t like tomato chunks, substitute one can of crushed tomatoes for the can of diced tomatoes (making it two cans of crushed tomatoes).
  • Bring more heat to your spaghetti meat sauce recipe. Add in more crushed red pepper flakes. This recipe only calls for 1/8 a teaspoon. That is perfect for my kids who can’t tolerate spice. Bump it up to 1/4 teaspoon or even a little more to add some heat.
  • Use ground turkey! If your family doesn’t care for the taste of beef, make your homemade spaghetti meat sauce with ground turkey instead. If you find that there isn’t 2 tablespoons worth of grease at the end, add a little olive oil in before adding your garlic.  

If you change things up and find a variation that you love, leave me a comment and let me know!

Why Add Sugar To Spaghetti Sauce

When you are making spaghetti sauce using canned tomatoes, like we are doing here, they add quite a bid of acidity to the recipe. A small pinch of sugar will balance this acidity without making the sauce taste sweet. If you are nervous about doing this, start with 1 teaspoon of sugar, taste the sauce and add more as you feel it is needed.

An alternative to adding sugar is to add a whole carrot cut up in large pieces. It will balance the acidity of the tomatoes as the sauce cooks and the carrots can be pulled out at the end.

red dutch oven with meat sauce being ladled out, garnished with a little parsley

Storing, Freezing, and Reheating Leftovers

Because of the ground beef in this sauce recipe, you can keep left overs in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat the sauce over medium low heat on the stove top, stirring often. Whatever sauce is reheated should be eaten or thrown away. This sauce should not be reheated more than once. As with all recipes, use your best discretion when it comes to leftovers.

This meat sauce will freeze perfectly. Once it has cooled, transfer it to a jar or freezer safe container. Make sure that you leave a solid 2 inches of room in the jar you put it in to account for expanding. Store it in the freezer for up to a month.

ball jar filled with meat sauce for pasta, with a plate of pasta blurred in the background and a french baguette, parsley in the foreground


How many people does this recipe serve?

I would recommend about a cup and a half per person. This recipe, as listed, makes 7 cups. That means you will have enough for four servings with some left over.

Can you can meat sauce?

I do not have experience with canning. Because this contains meat, proceed with caution. I suggest visiting the USDA’s website, specifically their section on canning meat.

Do I have to use diced tomatoes?

No! For a smoother sauce, you can replace the can of diced tomatoes with a second can of crushed tomatoes.

Can I add onions and green peppers?

Absolutely! You can add them when you are done browning the meat but before you drain the fat. Sauté them for 5 to 7 minutes.

overhead view of a white plate with spaghetti and homemade spaghetti meat sauce, two glass of red wine and french bread

What to Serve with Spaghetti Meat Sauce

This is technically a condiment, but once you boil some water and make some spaghetti, you almost have a full blown meal. Whip up a side item or two to make this a well rounded meal. I am listing a few below that I think would add very little hands on time and would compliment spaghetti with meat sauce by adding in some vegetables.

As always, if you make this spaghetti meat sauce recipe or any of my others, leave me a comment! I’d love to hear what you think.

red dutch oven with meat sauce being ladled out, garnished with a little parsley
5 from 72 votes

Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

Serves: 7 cups
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
This Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe is an easy and quick recipe that can be the beginning of an easy weeknight dinner. Make this 30 minute meat sauce and watch your family fall in love!


  • 1 pound ground beef (I used 80/20)
  • 6 garlic cloves minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (read about why we add sugar to spaghetti meat sauce)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • Before starting, measure out all of your spices and sugar and set them aside. Open your canned tomatoes and set them aside as well. (See note.)
  • In a large dutch oven over medium heat, break up the beef. Cook until browned and no longer pink. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of grease from the pot.
  • Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Be careful not to burn.
  • Add in the tomatoes (both cans). Then stir in the spices and salt.
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook on low for about 15 minutes or until the sauce is thickens, stirring intermittently.
  • Once finished, taste and add more salt and pepper (just a litlte at a time) to taste.


The reason for getting everything prepared before starting is because you don’t want your garlic to burn. If you want to get everything ready until the garlic is cooking, chances are decent you will get distracted and the garlic will burn, ruining the dish.
Serving: 1cup Calories: 190kcal (10%) Carbohydrates: 16g (5%) Protein: 16g (32%) Fat: 7g (11%) Saturated Fat: 3g (19%) Cholesterol: 40mg (13%) Sodium: 544mg (24%) Potassium: 573mg (16%) Fiber: 4g (17%) Sugar: 4g (4%) Vitamin A: 1200IU (24%) Vitamin C: 34.7mg (42%) Calcium: 130mg (13%) Iron: 3.2mg (18%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
red dutch oven with meat sauce being ladled out, garnished with a little parsley

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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

Reader Interactions


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    Rate This Recipe:

  1. Chris Connolly says

    I have both heart disease and kidney disease. I am VERY restricted with my foods. A no no for the kidneys are tomato products and the heart sodium. I have found the greatest substitute for tomatoes and will use for this recipe. Red bell peppers! You roast them til skin is burnt. Remove skin, put meat and juice in blender and blend away! On its own it has a sweet taste! It is absolutely delicious! As for sodium, I use Mrs Dash spices. Of course I use ground turkey. I’m excited to see how this turns out! Thanks for the recipe!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you found a way to make this recipe work for you!

  2. Joe B says

    5 stars
    My husband said he wanted a good old fashioned spaghetti. I normally just brown meat, dump in a jar of sauce and then make some noodles. I decided to google “best spaghetti sauce recipe” and this was one of the first options. I made it, as is, and it was delicious. So simple, perfectly balanced and hit that “traditional spaghetti” spot. Thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy to hear that you guys enjoyed it!

  3. Vanessa says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight and my two boys absolutely loved it. Neither of them love meat sauce and they both had two servings. Thank you for the recipe!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yay!! I love wining over kids!

  4. Johanna Carter says

    5 stars
    Sounds easy enough. Thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      You’re welcome, I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Skip Schmid says

    5 stars
    I didn’t expect a meat sauce that was not made the day before to be this good….I served it 20 minutes after it was ready. It was excellent and so easy, thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Evelyn says

    5 stars
    Thank you for this delicious recipe. It turned out delicious 😋

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Evelyn!

  7. Sydney says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight for our spaghetti and it was delicious. I did not have any crushed tomatoes but I had a jar of tomato sauce so I used that and 2 cans of diced tomatoes. My boyfriend said that is was really good. Thank you so very much for the recipe! 10/10! Will make again!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad that you liked it!

  8. Monika says

    If after making this could i add noodles and through in crockpot for church potluck?

    • Lisa Longley says

      You could, keeping in mind that if kept over heat for a long time any food isn’t going to be as good as it was when first made. So I would keep it on warm and not low or high.

  9. Dani Keller says

    5 stars
    Love this recipe. The sauce is delicious. I do saute onion and green bell pepper and add a little more sugar.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you like it!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners