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The BEST homemade Italian Spaghetti Sauce

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My Italian Spaghetti Sauce is THE BEST Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe, and comes from a secret family recipe which combines ground beef with sausage, tomatoes and lots of delicious herbs and seasoning. Cook it low and slow for the best flavored sauce, which your family are sure to enjoy.

Italian Spaghetti Sauce

My Authentic Italian Spaghetti sauce with meat recipe is a family favorite recipe, and one I cook regularly. My husband Nick is Italian, so we eat many Italian themed meals with pasta in our house.

It is by far The BEST homemade Italian Spaghetti Sauce I’ve ever had, and the vast majority of friends and family that I’ve made it for would agree.

This Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce is one I use as a base for several meals. This recipe makes a huge pan of sauce, so there is always extra that I can freeze for another day.

Please don’t be deterred by the length of the cooking time on this recipe, as the hands on prep time is minimal. All the work is done in the first 10-15 minutes, then for the additional 4 hours it’s just simmering away, with a quick stir periodically to stop it sticking.

Cooking the sauce low and slow like this only adds to the flavor of the finished sauce. Trust me, this is not a recipe you want to rush and what you’re left with is the Best Italian Spaghetti sauce you will ever taste.

How to make Classic Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Place a large saucepan over a medium high heat and brown the ground beef and sausage.

Now add diced onions and continue to cook until the onions become transparent. *UPDATE: The photos show the onions being cooked with the meat, but for best results, cook separately and combine after. Why? I explain below in the tips, but cooking the onions in a bit of butter with seasonings really elevates the flavor. 

Now add all of the remaining ingredients into the saucepan and heat until it starts to bubble.

Then reduce the heat to low/medium low, cover the saucepan with a lid and simmer gently. Keep the pan covered, except when stirring.

About every 20 minutes, I remove the lid and stir, to prevent burning/sticking to my sauce pot. I usually let it simmer on low for about 4-6 hours.

When the sauce is ready, I start boiling my water to make the PLUS Angel Hair Pasta.

While waiting for the water to boil, I butter some Italian Bread, and sprinkle garlic salt on top. I bake it in the oven while the pasta is boiling, so they’re ready to serve at the same time.

When I plate the spaghetti, I add some freshly grated Parmesan Cheese on top, then serve!

Recipe ingredients:

  • MEAT: I use a combination of lean ground beef and maple flavored breakfast sausage in this pasta sauce. You could also use a combination of ground beef and ground pork, or any other flavored sausage. Italian Sausage also works well. My father in law immigrated to the US from Italy, and lived with us for a short time. Our Italian Sausage was substituted in our grocery order with Jimmy Dean Maple Sausage, so we tried it, and he declared he liked it better than Italian Sausage so we just stuck with it from that point forward. 
  • TOMATO: I use both tomato sauce and tomato paste in this spaghetti sauce. I prefer the Basil, Garlic, and Oregano flavored tomato sauce and paste as it adds lots of extra flavor, but plain works also. 
  • * UPDATE: Since taking the photos for this post, we’ve also tried adding Hunt’s Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes to ur sauce, and the guys loved it, so we now add that, too – this is not in the recipe card.
  • VEGETABLES: diced onion and fresh minced garlic are used in this sauce. For ease, you can buy ready diced onion from the store, but a freshly diced whole onion works best. Saute with a bit of butter, salt, pepper, and garlic powder for great flavor.
  • SEASONING: I use a combination of basil, cilantro, garlic powder, Italian seasoning and oregano. Feel free to add a dash of red pepper to taste, if preferred – this is not in the recipe card. Dried herbs are ok and what is listed in the recipe card for convenience, but if you have access to fresh herbs, the fresh basil, fresh cilantro, and fresh oregano elevate the flavor profile. 
  • SUGAR: 1 teaspoon of sugar is added for a little sweetness and to balance out the acidity in the tomatoes. If you are sensitive to the acidity, you can add more to taste, as desired.
  • PASTA NOODLES: Our favorite pasta to use is PLUS (yellow box) Barilla Pastas whenever possible because it adds needed protein, ALA Omega 3, and extra fiber into the dish. For this recipe, I’m featuring the PLUS Angel Hair Pasta, but you can use any variety of pasta with this slow-cooked tomato sauce.

Flavor variations:

  • Swap the ground beef and sausage, for equal quantities of ground beef and ground pork.
  • Use any flavor of sausage, I’ve opted for maple flavored, but a good Italian sausage would work a treat too.
  • I’ve used angel pasta, but this authentic Italian spaghetti sauce can work with any shape of pasta.
  • If you like your sauce on the spicy side, add some red pepper flakes, or some chili powder.
  • When I make batches of  spaghetti sauce, I sometimes add in extra veggies, such as broccoli, spinach, cauliflower. I cook them first then place them into a blender and blitz to a puree. I then add the veggies to the finished sauce and no one but me knows they are in there. It’s a great way of adding to our 5-a-day without the kids noticing!

Serving suggestion:

When it’s dinnertime, I simply prepare a box of Barilla pasta, top it with this delicious sauce and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Then serve it with a slice of garlic toast alongside, dinner is served!

Be sure to try making these Homemade Meatballs to serve with this homemade spaghetti sauce recipe, and save some to use with Meatball Sliders, too!

Recipe hints & tips:

  • Don’t be tempted to rush cooking this sauce, it really benefits from being cooked low and slow. Be sure to stir frequently so the sauce doesn’t burn on the bottom of the pan.
  • This is a great make ahead dish, and dare I say it, tastes even better the next day once the flavors have had a change to meld together overnight.
  • If the pasta sauce feels a little thick, use a ladle of your pasta cooking water to loosen it a little just before serving. If it feels to thin, add extra tomato paste as it simmers.
  • If you enjoy canning, this is a perfect homemade canned spaghetti sauce recipe. Just make it like normal, allow it to cool, and then follow your normal canning procedures. Later, when you need to use it, you won’t need to buy canned spaghetti sauce as you’ll have some in your pantry!
  • When you saute the onions, you can add minced garlic cloves, if desired. Be sure to season! We use a Sea Salt Grinder and Fresh Black Pepper Grinder and salted butter.
  • If you prefer, you can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes to make your own tomato sauce or as the diced tomatoes.
  • Red Sauce can be known by many names. My father in law called it Sunday Sauce or Sunday Gravy. Others call it Bolognese Sauce. This Italian Tomato Sauce has been declared the “perfect sauce” by my kids and they all have learned how to prepare it. This simple recipe for easy spaghetti sauce is simply delicious.
  • Prepare our Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce using the best quality ingredients that fit your budget from the grocery store.
  • I have not tried preparing this in a slow cooker, but I do use it when making Slow Cooker Lasagna. I simply reheat my frozen (and thawed) sauce from the freezer on the stove top over low heat. Then I layer it in the crockpot with no boil lasagna noodles and Italian Cheese. It’s a great recipe to use with our homemade sauce – and it’s just one of many different ways we use our slow cooked tomato sauce.
  • When boiling the water for your pasta, add a bit of extra virgin olive oil to the water and some sea salt to help prevent the noodles from sticking together. Most prefer their pasta cooked al dente, but prepare to your taste preference. 

FAQs

Can Italian spaghetti sauce be made ahead?

This is a great make ahead dish and can be doubled or trebled if you are feeding a crowd. Make it up earlier in the day, or the day before and once cool, store it in the refrigerator until you are ready to warm up and serve.

How to store leftover pasta sauce?

Leftover sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 3 days.

Can I freeze Italian spaghetti sauce?

I often make a double batch of sauce, enjoying some now and saving some for another day. Once cooked and cooled, place the spaghetti sauce into an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to enjoy, defrost in the refrigerator overnight then heat up in a saucepan over the stove until piping hot.

Don’t miss these additional delicious Pasta Recipes here at When Is Dinner:

Yield: 12

The BEST homemade Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti with Barilla PLUS Angel Hair Pasta
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb maple flavored breakfast sausage
  • 2 29 oz cans of tomato sauce
  • 2 6 oz cans of tomato paste I prefer the Basil, Garlic, and Oregano flavored
  • 1 med onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp basil
  • 1 tbsp cilantro
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tbsp oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar

Instructions

Brown meat and sausage, and add diced onions until meat is browned and onions are clear.

Combine tomato sauce, tomato paste, and all seasonings/spices in a large saucepan on the stove.

Start the heat on medium until it bubbles, and reduce heat to low/medium low. Keep covered, except when stirring.

About every 30 minutes, I remove the lid and stir, to prevent burning/sticking to my sauce pot. I usually let it simmer on low for about 4 hours.

When the sauce is ready, I start boiling my water to make the PLUS Angel Hair Pasta.

While waiting for the water to boil, I butter some Italian Bread, and sprinkle garlic salt on top. I bake it in the oven while the pasta is boiling, so they're ready to serve at the same time.

When I plate the spaghetti, I add some freshly grated Parmesan Cheese on top, then serve!

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

12

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 280Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 66mgSodium: 1060mgCarbohydrates: 16gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 21g

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment below & if you recreate this recipe, be sure to share a photo on Instagram. Tag me @when.is.dinner and hashtag #whenisdinner!

These are a few items I find helpful in my own kitchen when preparing this Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe:

Cuisinart 622-30G Chef's Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass CoverCuisinart 622-30G Chef’s Classic Nonstick Hard-Anodized 12-Inch Skillet with Glass CoverCalphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, Sauce Pot, 5-quart, BlackCalphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, Sauce Pot, 5-quart, BlackChef Craft, 5-Quart, Deep Colander, White, 11 by 5 inchChef Craft, 5-Quart, Deep Colander, White, 11 by 5 inchCuisipro 13-Inch Silicone Pasta Tongs, RedCuisipro 13-Inch Silicone Pasta Tongs, RedOXO Good Grips Nylon Spaghetti ServerOXO Good Grips Nylon Spaghetti ServerCorelle Livingware 20-Ounce Salad/Pasta Bowl, Winter Frost White (6) by World KitchenCorelle Livingware 20-Ounce Salad/Pasta Bowl, Winter Frost White (6) by World KitchenBarilla Protein Plus Angel Hair Pasta 14.5 Ounce - 2 PackBarilla Protein Plus Angel Hair Pasta 14.5 Ounce – 2 Pack

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Carolyn

Friday 6th of October 2023

Can I swap out San marzano tomatoes instead of the 28oz can of tomato sauce

Karen

Sunday 8th of October 2023

We have never tried that, but it should work. Let me know how it turns out!

Pam

Sunday 7th of May 2023

This sauce is the best! We subbed ground venison for the beef and used homemade tomato sauce from our garden tomatoes. Kids loved it too!

Roxanne

Saturday 23rd of December 2017

Awesome recipe wouldn’t change a thing

Trisha McKee

Monday 20th of November 2017

I absolutely love the idea of putting vegetables in the sauce but pureeing them so your kids do not notice. I have a seventeen year old and believe it or not, i still have to do this trick with her.

Jerry Marquardt

Monday 20th of November 2017

Because the Sunday Spaghetti Sauce looks as delicious as it does, I can't wait to try this special recipe on my spaghetti out. I only hope I will be able do as good as you did in the heartwarming photos.

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