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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

5 from 34 votes
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posted: 07/14/21

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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.  

READER REVIEW

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 34 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!

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

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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  1. Heather R. says

    5 stars
    This is a great recipe and so easy! My family really enjoyed it. Thank you!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Heather, I’m so happy that you enjoyed it so much!

  2. Kelly says

    Would a small can of tomato paste be good to add?

    • Lisa Longley says

      I don’t personally think it is necessary for this recipe, I love it as written.

  3. Amanda Alfaro says

    This is exactly what I was looking for! I added ground beef and half a yellow onion to it. I love a garlicky spaghetti sauce and this was it. I was a little nervous about adding sugar bc I don’t like a sweet sauce, but it’s definitely needed to get the bitterness under control. Well done, ma’am and thanks!

    • Lisa Longley says

      You made my day with that bit about the sugar, Amanda! Thank you! As much as I try to convince others that it’s just to control bitterness without bringing sweetness, it might just take trying it – or reading from someone who has – to see what I mean. Thanks!

  4. Melanie says

    I love this recipe although I am not a fan of biting into diced tomatoes. I’m weird with textures unfortunately. Could I use two cans of crushed tomatoes rather than the diced tomatoes? Love your recipes!

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Melanie! Yes! Absolutely use two cans of crushed. That is what I do for my husband too. I’m so sorry, I thought that note was in there.

  5. Marcelle Cassada says

    I’m fixing it for my supper it sound so good can’t wait to try it I know it will be good, thank you

    • Lisa Longley says

      I hope you enjoyed it, Marcelle!

  6. Vanesa says

    5 stars
    This was an amazing recipe. I ended up adding an onion with the garlic and it came out superb.

    Thank you for sharing your recipe!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it, Vanessa!

  7. Mario says

    5 stars
    Hi Lisa,

    I will be using your recipe once again. I love the 30 minutes part and the sauce is just so delicious. Thank you for sharing this with the internet community.

    • Lisa Longley says

      You are very welcome!

  8. Connie fortner says

    5 stars
    I made this tonight, I couldn’t find a jarred sauce so went with what I had on hand. It is delish, I’m ruined now for the stuff in the jar. I can never leave well enough alone so I did sauté one whole onion, also had abundance of canned mushrooms in the pantry. Thank you so much for sharing, I had no idea it made this much difference.

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so happy that you enjoyed it! Ruined for the stuff in the jar is now my favorite sentence ever.

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