Beef/ Pasta

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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.

Pasta on a white plate topped with homemade spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Today we’re making a lovingly simmered homemade spaghetti sauce. 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!

A big batch of homemade spaghetti sauce in a dutch oven.

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.

Pasta on a white plate topped with homemade spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley.

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.


Pasta on a white plate topped with homemade spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Make It Your Own

Add more veggies – Bulk up the sauce a little with mushrooms, olives, or fresh spinach. I used to use canned mushrooms but fresh will work just as well. 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 beef bouillon cubes.

Red wine – Add a splash of red wine to give the sauce some nuance.

And that’s about it. Pair it with some buttery garlic bread, garlic knots, or a salad to start. Have fun digging in!

MORE MEATY PASTA RECIPES TO TRY

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Pasta on a white plate topped with homemade spaghetti sauce, Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce


  • Author: The Cooking Jar
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 46 1x

Description

This hearty and flavorful homemade spaghetti sauce that uses simple pantry ingredients is sure to become a family favorite dinner staple.


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz.) can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup pasta water/ beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (optional)
  • Red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 lb. pasta for serving

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef until evenly cooked. Drain any excess grease and remove beef from the pot.
  2. Saute the onions and garlic in some olive oil until fragrant.
  3. Toss in green peppers and sweat with the onions and garlic until soft.
  4. Add tomato paste and saute until it caramelizes and turns brick red, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and add whole peeled tomatoes, diced tomatoes and reserved pasta water/beef broth.
  6. Season with Worcestershire sauce, sugar,  red pepper flakes, basil, oregano,  Italian seasoning and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes to a few hours.
  8. Do a taste test and adjust seasonings as needed.
  9. Dish and serve hot over your favorite pasta.
  10. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins

♡ Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn commissions from qualifying purchases from Amazon.com. You can learn more about it here.

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