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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

5 from 25 votes

posted: 07/14/21

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.

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.

Guys. We are pretty much checking off every single box in the easy dinner qualification list.

red dutch oven with spaghetti meat sauce in it, with a ladle, garnished with a little parsley

How to Make Meat Sauce

  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 tomatoes: Stir in the canned tomatoes and spices.
  4. Simmer: 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 seasonings: At the end of the 15 minutes, taste the sauce and add more salt and pepper to taste.

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 family isn’t a huge fan of onions (well, mainly my husband), so I left them out. Definitely add 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 diced 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 almost none at all. 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.

How Much Spaghetti and Meat Sauce Per Person

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.

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

How Long Does this Meat Sauce Recipe Last?

Because of the ground beef in this sauce recipe, you can keep left overs in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. If you reheat the sauce, make sure to eat all of what you heated or throw it away. Do not reheat the sauce twice. (In other words, only take out from the refrigerator as much as you want to eat. Once you reheat it, thats it.)

Canning and Freezing Meat Sauce

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.

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.

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

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.

  • Easy Arugula Salad: I come back to this one time and again because arugula is such a great way to get another serving of vegetables in your diet, and this salad is to die for with only a few ingredients.
  • Crispy Brussels Sprouts: Like the salad above, this one only has a few ingredients. It’s very little hands on time, and the end result is a side dish your family will love.
  • Roasted Cauliflower Recipe: I’m adding this because it is our go to side on pasta night. All of my kids eat it up, and one of them even asks for seconds!

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.

overhead view of a white plate with spaghetti and homemade spaghetti meat sauce, two glass of red wine and french bread
red dutch oven with meat sauce being ladled out, garnished with a little parsley
5 from 25 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 sauce in the post above)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon basil
  • 1/8 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. Joannie says

    I wondered the same. I do know that you need a pressure canner to can meat.. I going to try the sauce w no meat n add the cooked ground beef when I’m preparing.

  2. Marisa says

    5 stars
    Delicious, spiced mildly with a rich flavor!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  3. Loi says

    Instructions so confusing. Are you using fresh tomatoes or cans? If it’s fresh, why said “(both cans)”? And if it’s cans, then you can’t claim it as “homemade”. Also, you buying the already ground beef? Which is never fresh?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Did you read the recipe at the bottom of this post? You must have seen it if you scrolled all the way down to leave this comment. It says “both cans” because you are using two cans of tomatoes. I feel GREAT about calling this homemade because canned tomatoes are literally just tomatoes. I am buying ground beef as I am not a rancher or a butcher. I’m really not sure what about the instructions are confusing.

  4. Jane says

    I just started looking through your recipe for spaghetti sauce with meat. I’m writing for three reasons. Love the way you present your recipes and notes; Can’t wait to try and look for more of your recipes; I apologize for you having to deal with negative responses (like Loi, I believe was the name?). You, my dear, are smart for doing all that you do here. Blessings!!!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Thanks, Jane! I hope you love this recipe!

  5. Julie says

    5 stars
    I have made this recipe 5 times since I found it. Directions are easy, it comes together quickly and is delicious. I would highly recommend this recipe (also I used lean ground Turkey and it was delicious!)
    Thank you!😊

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy you like it! Thank you for coming back to let me know.

  6. Amber Jarvis says

    I just though I’d add my 2 cents,I think you should keep doing what you are doing?some people”loi” are nuts…yes it’s still home made if u use canned tomatoes,and grocery store hamburger meat..wtf??? Most of us aren’t going to step outside n cut off a side of beef to grind up for spaghetti sauce..n fresh tomatoes don’t make very good spaghetti sauce,sorry people are so bored in there lives that I get feel the need to criticize others for ” nothing”. I have a feeling “loi” is confused about more then this recipe.what a nasty n negative person.i appreciate all of your posts. Don’t listen to that crap.

  7. Robert says

    5 stars
    Love the recipe. We try to count our calories also, so thank you for the information on the ingredients.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it!

  8. Catherine says

    Hello! thanks for your recipe, but I would like to clarify how to remove the sour taste from the sauce? thanks for the answer

    • Lisa Longley says

      The tiny bit of sugar we use should take care of any sourness from the tomatoes.

  9. Tracy lichacz says

    Iam making this for supper tonight .I added mushrooms and green pepper to it .

    • Lisa Longley says

      I hope you enjoyed it, Tracy!

  10. Leeanne says

    I made the spaghetti sauce tonight (again) and it’s so good! I make it once a month, and use it for 2 dishes. Spaghetti once and lasagna or a pasta bake next.
    I always add extra veggies, zucchini, squash, onions, fresh tomatoes, egg plant, carrots…whatever I have on hand!
    Really, this is so delicious!
    I’ve also made it without meat, and it’s really good!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you like it so much!

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5 Secrets to Stress Free Dinners