This hearty and flavorful homemade spaghetti sauce that uses simple pantry ingredients is sure to become a family favorite dinner staple. It’s freezer-friendly and is great over pasta or lasagna.
Today we’re making a lovingly simmered homemade spaghetti sauce made from scratch. While the store-bought jarred kind is pretty convenient, it is missing a whole lot of flavor you can get by building on a tomato base with a few extra ingredients. Add a few pantry staples like ground beef, onions, garlic, bell peppers, tomatoes and some seasonings like Worcestershire sauce, red pepper flakes, basil, oregano and Italian seasoning for the best go-to spaghetti sauce.
Serve with some garlic bread or garlic knots and enjoy a fun pasta night. If you like Italian-inspired recipes, try out this spinach and three cheese manicotti, lasagna roll-ups, creamy sun-dried tomato and spinach pasta, or some slow cooker spaghetti bolognese. Let’s start cooking!
HOMEMADE SPAGHETTI SAUCE RECIPE TIPS
Ground beef – You can substitute 1 lb. ground beef with 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 lb. Italian sausage. I like using a meat smasher to break up any clumps.
Tomato paste – I used a can of Miur Glen tomato paste but if you prefer the tube kind, go with that instead. I use the Cento brand for tomato paste in a tube. We’re sauteing the tomato paste after the onions, garlic and peppers so that it caramelizes. This little secret makes a pasta sauce much more robust, with deeper flavors.
San Marzano tomatoes – San Marzano tomatoes are said to be sweeter than others so you’ll end up with a spaghetti sauce that isn’t too tart. If you’re not a fan, you can go with your favorite whole peeled tomatoes instead. The meat smasher I used to break up the ground beef comes in pretty handy to smash these whole peeled tomatoes as well. You can also use a wooden spoon, just get them mashed into the sauce. The only chunks you should have left are from the diced tomatoes.
Diced tomatoes – I used Hunt’s basil, garlic and oregano diced tomatoes for more flavor but fire-roasted diced tomatoes or any other kinds will work too. You do not need to drain the can.
Pasta water – Pasta water contains the starch from the pasta which helps thicken and bind the sauce. It’s a wonderful pro tip to a good pasta sauce so save some of this and use it instead of beef broth or water! One cup should be enough.
Sugar – I like adding sugar to balance the tartness of the tomatoes. Feel free to adjust or leave out if needed.
Garnish – Garnish with freshly chopped basil leaves or parsley to add a pop of green when serving.
Simmering – The recipe calls for 30 minutes of simmering but you can simmer the sauce in a covered pot for up to a few hours. If you would like to simmer it even longer, it’s probably a better idea to make the sauce in a slow cooker instead.
Make it in the slow cooker – Transfer the spaghetti sauce to the slow cooker after Step 6 and cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
Add more veggies – Bulk up the sauce a little with mushrooms, olives, or fresh spinach. Black olives go great with a red pasta sauce and so does baby spinach.
Beef it up – I like adding some meatiness to the sauce with one or two crumbled beef bouillon cubes.
Red wine – Add a splash of red wine to give the sauce some nuance.
MORE MEATY PASTA RECIPES TO TRY
- Pepperoni and Olive Penne Pasta
- Cheesy Hot Italian Sausage Bake
- Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese
- Slow Cooker Beef and Cheese Pasta