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Rich and meaty homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe
An easy, meaty sauce that tastes like it simmered all day
When you want a flavorful and meaty sauce to serve with your favorite pasta, this recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce answers the call, and then some!
We adore a simple marinara sauce and use it as a base for many of our pasta-centric recipes. However, we also love a meaty, flavor packed stick-to-the-pasta kind of sauce that satisfies the entire family.
This recipe for real deal homemade spaghetti sauce is easy to make and is on the table in under an hour. The beef is tender and juicy, the tomato flavor is clean and loaded with fresh herbs and Italian flavor.
Our meaty pasta sauce recipe is better than store-bought and even better than our local Italian restaurant sauce. We love it and bet you will too.
Overview of ingredients:
For the sauce:
- Use one pound of lean ground beef (85% to 90% fat) or a combination of ground beef and Italian sausage. If using ground beef with a higher percentage of fat, you may not need to add water to the sauce.
- Baking soda – this may seem like a strange ingredient but makes a big difference in the juiciness of the beef. The ground beef is tossed with a mixture of water and baking soda and set aside to marinate while preparing the other ingredients.
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil for sautéing the onion and aromatics.
- One large sweet onion finely diced.
- Fresh cloves of garlic, minced.
- Crushed red pepper flakes to add a little zing to the sauce. This is optional but highly recommended.
- Tomato paste
- Dried Italian seasoning or oregano
- Canned crushed San Marzano tomatoes or canned tomato sauce can be used in this recipe. We prefer the crushed tomatoes because of the fresh flavor and lack of added ingredients. However this sauce is equally terrific made with a combination of crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce.
- One large sprig of basil with leaves and stem attached. This fresh herb is added to the sauce as it cooks then removed and discarded before serving.
- Fresh basil leaves or parsley for garnish
- Parmesan cheese
- Hot cooked spaghetti noodles or other pasta.
How to make homemade spaghetti sauce:
TIP: If serving this sauce with spaghetti or pasta, start heating a large pot of water until boiling. Once boiling, reduce the heat and keep warm until needed.
- First mix one tablespoon water with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl. In a large bowl gently toss the ground beef with the baking soda water mixture and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until combined. Set aside while preparing the other ingredients.
- Next warm olive oil in a large Dutch oven or deep skillet on medium high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes.
- Pour in the remaining olive oil and tomato paste and cook stirring frequently until the paste forms a fond on the bottom of the pan and darkens in color.
- Add the beef and cook while breaking up any clumps of meat with a wooden spoon. Continue cooking until the beef is no longer pink.
- Finally add the Italian seasoning, black pepper and tomatoes. Stir in 1/2 cup of water until incorporated then submerge a sprig of fresh basil into the sauce.
- Bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook and drain the pasta and grate plenty of fresh Parmesan for serving.
- Remove the wilted basil sprig and discard. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Feel free to thin the sauce with 1/4 cup of hot pasta water if needed.
- Serve over hot cooked spaghetti garnished with fresh basil leaves and Parmesan.
How to serve
This recipe makes enough sauce to serve with one pound of cooked pasta.
It can be spooned over individual bowls or all the sauce and pasta can be tossed together and served in one large bowl.
Be sure to add fresh grated Parmesan cheese and basil before serving.
Have some crusty Artisan bread or cheesy garlic bread on hand for dipping and a nice green salad with a tangy Italian dressing to complete the meal.
Make ahead for serving later
This sauce actually seems to get better over time. If well chilled and stored without pasta, this sauce will keep for up to 4 days.
If storing already tossed with pasta, you may need a little water to thin while reheating. The spaghetti will absorb some of the liquid but is still terrific to eat and not too mushy.
We don’t recommend freezing this sauce combined with spaghetti, but leftover sauce and will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Spaghetti meat sauce is a great addition to many recipes
Leftover spaghetti sauce is terrific as the base for our French Bread Pizza, or as a meaty layer in our Baked Gnocchi with Ricotta.
Make it a weekend cooking project and whip up some amazing homemade pasta to pair with this sauce.
Finally, skip the pasta and serve this sauce over spaghetti squash instead for a delicious low-carb option.
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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 pound 85% lean ground beef or a combination of ground beef and Italian sausage
- 1 tablespoon water + 1/2 cup divided
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 1 large onion finely diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 28 ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes or tomato sauce
- 1 large sprig of fresh basil stems and leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- fresh basil leaves
- Parmesan cheese
- hot cooked spaghetti noodles or other pasta
- TIP: If serving with spaghetti or pasta, start heating a large pot of water until boiling. Reduce heat and keep warm until needed.
- Mix 1 tablespoon water with ½ teaspoon baking soda in a small bowl. In a large bowl gently toss the ground beef with the baking soda water mixture and ½ teaspoon of salt until combined. Set aside.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a Dutch oven or large skillet on medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally until the onion starts to soften. Stir in the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and cook stirring constantly until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and the tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, until the paste darkens in color and a fond starts to form on the bottom, about 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add the beef and cook while breaking up any clumps with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Add the Italian seasoning, black pepper, and tomatoes with juice. Add ½ cup of water and stir until incorporated. Submerge the basil sprig into the sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions and grate fresh Parmesan for serving.
- Remove the wilted basil sprig and discard. Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Loosen or thin the sauce with about 1/4 cup hot pasta water, if needed, and serve over hot cooked spaghetti. Garnish with additional basil leaves and Parmesan.
- Makes enough sauce to serve with one pound of pasta
A delicious, meaty spaghetti sauce the whole family will love
This recipe is easy to make, keeps well for days and may even taste better over time. For anybody that loves a meat sauce, this simple recipe is a must-make.
Serve with your favorite hearty pasta like spaghetti, penne, pappardelle or Bucatini. This sauce may remind you of the easiest ragù or bolognese you’ve ever made! It’s so good and hearty and perfect anytime.
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