This Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe is so hearty, delicious, and easy to prepare you’ll never want to buy the jarred stuff again. Made with simple ingredients like ground beef, onions, and tomatoes, Learn How to Make Spaghetti Sauce right at home and enjoy with pasta or cooked into your favorite recipes like stuffed peppers and lasagna.
Best Spaghetti Sauce Recipe
I grew up eating some version of “homemade” spaghetti sauce at least once a week growing up. It was one of my dad’s favorite dinners to prepare (and it was one of my favorite things to eat). Not much has changed in the past two-plus decades. I still love pasta, and carbs, and hearty meat sauces, and my dad still loves to make his very own spaghetti sauce creations.
In this recipe, you’ll find all the things you’d expect in a homemade spaghetti sauce: ground beef, onions, garlic, tomatoes, and simple seasoning. No wild fillers or preservatives, just simple, delicious, meaty homemade sauce perfect for all your favorite recipes.
Ingredients in Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
For the full list and amounts of ingredients, scroll down to the recipe card at the bottom of the page.
Ground Beef – There’s no “best” type of ground beef for spaghetti sauce so go with whatever works for you and your family. If you find ground beef on sale, awesome! In general, I typically purchase 85-90% lean ground beef. All out of ground beef but stocked up with Italian sausage and chicken? Feel free to use that instead!
Onions, Green Bell Pepper, Garlic – Your “mirepoix”, this collection of aromatics is the first (and arguably most important) layer of flavor for the entire sauce. The green bell pepper is completely optional. I wasn’t a fan of the addition as a kid, but now as an adult it’s a must-have in all my spaghetti sauce recipes.
Tomato Paste – Tomato paste helps thicken your sauce. Start with less and add more as needed.
Tomatoes (diced, crushed, sauce) – Plain, simple, tomatoes you guys. There is no need to get fancy here. I added 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, and 1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce.
Seasoning – Aside from a sprinkle of fresh chopped parsley just before serving, I prefer to add dried herbs to my spaghetti sauce instead of fresh. You don’t need to add as much as the flavors are more potent. In this sauce, I added dried oregano, thyme, and basil. If it’s easier, feel free to add a heaping tablespoon of your favorite Italian seasoning blend.
Worcestershire sauce – is a funny ingredient that is hard to describe. While it’s not a mandatory addition, the added umami flavor is a huge flavor upgrade.
Sugar – If you’ve ever looked at the nutritional information for your favorite jarred spaghetti, you may be surprised by how much sugar is in each serving. While so much sugar isn’t necessary, some sugar is helpful to help balance the acidity from all those tomatoes. Like salt, it helps all the flavors really shine – just be careful not to add too much.
Optional additions – Looking for a deeper, more complex pasta sauce? Try adding one or more of the following,
- red wine
- fresh basil
- bay leaves
- balsamic vinegar
- red pepper flakes
- additional veggies: carrots, celery, kale, spinach, mushrooms
How to Make Spaghetti Sauce
To make this easy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe you’ll need the following tools and equipment: A large Dutch Oven or pot and a can opener. A chef’s knife, cutting board, spatula, and ladle are also pretty important.
Step 1. Brown the ground beef
As I explained in this chili recipe, I almost always cook my ground beef (or turkey, pork, lamb) first and separately whenever it’s being adding to soups, stews, or sauces. I firmly feel that the extra 5 minutes is worth it. If, however, you’re a little short on time, feel free to cook your ground beef with the onions. OK, now for the cooking part…
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or large pot set over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef, break apart into small crumbles with a wooden spoon or spatula, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to season. Once your meat is fully cooked, transfer to a clean plate and set aside.
Step 2. Cook the onions, green pepper, and garlic
To the same pot add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and set over medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until soft and translucent, stirring often to prevent browning. Mix in the diced bell pepper and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and stir in the minced garlic cloves. Cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.
- What is Mirepoix? Mirepoix is a mix of aromatics, made from finely diced vegetables (the mix of vegetables will often vary by country and cuisine) that are cooked in butter or oil, low and slow as to sweeten the ingredients rather than caramelize them. These slow-cooked aromatic vegetables form the first layer of flavor to many recipes.
- In this recipe, the mirepoix is onions, green bell pepper, and minced garlic.
Step 3. Tomato paste and seasoning
- Pro tip– If you don’t feel like purchasing individual dried herbs for basil, thyme, and oregano, a simple mix of store-bought or homemade Italian seasoning will work.
Step 4. Spaghetti sauce needs tomatoes
To this recipe, I added:
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (14-ounce) can tomato sauce
All of these tomatoes are plain. In other words, they are not jarred sauces, they’re not fire-roasted or flavored with basil. Simple, plain, canned tomatoes. The texture and consistency you choose for your own sauce is entirely up to you. I like my spaghetti sauce to have some tomato chunks but, for the most part, I prefer my tomatoes to be pureed. Play around and find what works for you.
At this stage simply stir in the tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, water, and return the cooked ground beef back to the pot. Mix well to combine. Bring sauce to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes (or up to 1 hour). As the sauce is simmering, prepare your spaghetti.
Step 5. Season and Serve
Season with additional salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, or sugar, to taste. Serve with cooked spaghetti noodles or other pasta of choice. Garnish with chopped parsley and shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.
What is the Difference Between Marinara Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce?
There is one key difference between marinara and spaghetti sauce and that is – MEAT! Marinara sauce is meat-free and made primarily from onions, garlic, seasoning, and tomatoes. Spaghetti sauce, on the other hand, comes filled with yummy chunks of meat in a thick and savory tomato sauce.
How Can I Thicken My Sauce?
The easiest way to thicken spaghetti sauce is by adding more tomato paste, 1 tablespoon at a time, or by allowing your sauce to simmer, uncovered, until the desired consistency is reached.
Can I cook this in the slow cooker?
Yes. For best results, however, brown your ground beef and saute your onions, green pepper, and garlic in a large Dutch oven or stockpot. Transfer to a large crockpot and add the tomato paste, seasonings, tomatoes, and other ingredients. Mix well and cook on low for up to 4-6 hours, high for 2-3 hours.
What to do with Leftover Spaghetti Sauce?
- Meal-prep or enjoy the next night for spaghetti dinner round two.
- Serve with frozen or homemade meatballs.
- Make some cheesy stuffed shells and top with leftover spaghetti sauce.
- Grab a bunch of bell peppers and make stuffed peppers.
- Pizza! All you need is a crust and shredded cheese.
- Add it to your favorite chili recipe.
- Roast a few spaghetti squashes, mix with sauce, cover with cheese, and bake until golden and bubbly.
- One word – lasagna.
How Long Does Spaghetti Sauce Last in the Fridge?
Stored in the refrigerator, spaghetti sauce will last for up to 5-7 days. As always, I recommend fully reheating in a small saucepot over medium heat or in the microwave before serving.
Can You Freeze Spaghetti Sauce?
First, before freezing any leftovers, allow your sauce to cool to room temperature before transferring to freezer bags or containers. You may choose to freeze your leftovers as individual servings (enough for one or two) or all together in one gallon-sized ziplock bag- this is up to you. Remove as much air as possible and transfer to the refrigerator to cool overnight. The next morning, transfer your spaghetti sauce to the freezer and store for up to three months.
To reheat, allow your sauce to thaw in the refrigerator overnight. The next day, transfer to a pot and gently heat over medium heat, adding more water or broth as needed. You may also heat in the microwave at high heat for 1-2 minutes. Serve with cooked spaghetti noodles or other favorites as desired.
More Pasta Recipes,
If you try making this Spaghetti Sauce Recipe, please leave me a comment and let me know! I always love to hear your thoughts.
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Best Spaghetti Sauce Recipe - How to Make Spaghetti Sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil - divided
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 2 medium yellow onions - diced
- 1 green bell pepper - stem removed, seeded, and diced (optional)
- 5 cloves garlic - minced
- 2-3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Salt + Pepper - to season
- 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1-2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3/4 cup water - plus more as needed
- 1 pound spaghetti noodles - cooked according to package instructions
- Brown the ground beef - Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or saucepot set over medium-high heat. Brown the ground beef and sprinkle with salt and pepper, to season. Transfer beef to a clean plate and set aside.
- Cook the onions, bell pepper, and garlic - To the same pot add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and return to medium heat. Add the onions and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until soft and translucent, stirring often. Mix in the diced bell pepper and continue to cook for 3-4 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and stir in the minced garlic. Cook, stirring continuously, for 1 minute.
- Mix the onions with the tomato paste and seasoning - Add the tomato paste to the vegetables, mixing thoroughly until combined. Add the basil, thyme, oregano, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Add tomatoes - Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, water, and return the cooked ground beef back to the pot. Mix well to combine. Bring sauce to a low boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow the sauce to simmer for at least 20 minutes.
- Season to taste - Season with additional salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, or sugar, to taste. Serve with cooked spaghetti noodles or other pasta of choice. Garnish with chopped parsley and shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.
- This recipe is teriffic with all ground beef or substituted for ground pork, lamb, chicken or turkey.
- Thin sauce by adding additional water, chicken stock, or even salted pasta water. To thicken sauce stir in more tomato paste 1 tablespoon at a time.
- Crushed tomatoes vs. tomato sauce
- As written, this recipe is dairy-free and gluten-free (double check with your Worcestershire sauce to confirm as each brand is different)