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Image of a white bowl filled with spaghetti covered with spaghetti sauce made with ground beef and topped with sausage.
4.79 from 28 votes

Grandma's Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

Hearty, meat-filled Spaghetti Sauce Recipe passed down from my grandmother to my dad, and now, to me. Made with simple ingredients, this delicious spaghetti sauce is ready in less than an hour and makes perfect leftovers.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time50 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 487kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic crushed/minced
  • 4 (15-ounce) cans tomato sauce see notes below
  • 2 (5-ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • salt + pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes optional
  • 8 links mild Italian sausage sliced into thirds
  • grated parmesan cheese if desired


  • Add the oil to a large pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and brown until nearly cooked (use a wooden spoon or metal spatula to break the ground meat into small pieces).
  • Add the onions and cook until starting to soften - about 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  • Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt + pepper, and red chili flakes, if using. Mix well and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add water to thin the sauce, if needed.
  • Add the sausage. Cover and simmer everything all together for approximately 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Serve over your favorite pasta noodle and garnish with grated parmesan cheese, if desired.


I did make a couple of modifications to my grandmother's recipe:
  • Her recipe calls for "some chopped onion - 1/2 cup or more". I simply added an entire small onion.
  • My grandmother's recipe calls for 2 (15 ounce) cans of tomato sauce. I doubled this. This way I didn't have to add as much water to thin the sauce. (Sorry, Grandma) - I also remember my dad making this recipe with jars of tomato/pasta sauce like marinara sauce or Prego (usually whatever was on sale). He would use 2 (25-ounce) jars.
If your sauce is too thick, add some water (about 1/2 cup at a time). If your sauce is too watery, gently simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
If using hot sausage, use fewer pepper flakes. 


Calories: 487kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 40g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 861mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 11IU | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 3mg
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