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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

5 from 67 votes
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posted: 02/22/23

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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.

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

FAQ

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 67 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 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 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.

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  1. Mary says

    What size is a ‘large’ Dutch oven?

    • Lisa Longley says

      The one you see here is 9 quarts. But as you can see it’s not full, so a slightly smaller size would also work.

  2. Joyce says

    5 stars
    Hey Lisa
    Great recipe and the ingredients just right! When I make my cabbage rolls I add several sliced carrots on top or mixed in with the rolls. Makes a delicious taste to the rolls and you also get a veg to go. This was a recipe years ago when there wasn’t much to cook during the war. So it was all tossed in with the rolls. Thanks for the recipe. Jel

    • Lisa Longley says

      You’re welcome, Joyce!

  3. Peggy Leigh Kondoff says

    Do you have any gluten-free recipes? I have celiac disease.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Peggy! We have some, not a ton. You can find them here: Gluten Free Recipes.

  4. Catherine says

    Please bring back the BEETS i a Jar recipe

    • Lisa Longley says

      Hi Catherine, you can find them here: Pickled Beets.

  5. Jeremy says

    5 stars
    I have made this sauce many times and it is wonderful. But now I have a question I plan to make it tonight and my Dutch oven can’t be used, can I use a stock pot instead of a Dutch oven? Please answer thank you for all your wonderful recipes.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Yes! This will work just fine in a stock pot.

  6. Carmen says

    Hi Lisa,
    I’m looking forward to making your spaghetti sauce recipe my question is can I make the sauce in the crock pot making the meat ahead and adding it and all the rest of the ingredients to the crock pot?

  7. rabi Mohammed says

    I love getting more of your simple recipes . please keep sending them . Thanks alot

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m glad you are enjoying them!

  8. GmaDee says

    I’m gonna try this recipe in my crockpot. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lisa Longley says

      I hope you love it!

  9. Carole says

    Hi there, I’m planning to make your sauce tonight but I will be tripling the recipe. Do I put triple of everything including the sugar?

    • Lisa Longley says

      Triple everything and you can wait until the end, measure out triple the sugar and add it slowly until you get the flavor you want. It shouldn’t taste acidic or sweet.

  10. Cathy says

    I made this and it’s a bit salty
    Anything I can add to cut salt?

    • Lisa Longley says

      With only 1/2 teaspoon of salt in 7 cups of sauce, I’m a bit surprised you found it salty. That being said, acid (vinegar, lemon juice, tomatoes) balance salt in recipes. I would be extremely hesitant to add acid here because tomatoes are so acidic as it is.

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