Our Favorite Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce
How to make our easy, one-pot, and ultra flavorful spaghetti meat sauce from scratch in under 45 minutes. The kind of meat you use is up to you! Ground beef, ground turkey, sausage, pork, and ground chicken all work in this easy sauce. Jump to the Easy Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
More Easy Pasta Recipes
- This Easy Baked Spaghetti combines a simple tomato meat sauce, spaghetti, cheese, and a creamy pesto layer.
- Our readers have said that our Meaty Lasagna Recipe is the best they’ve ever made. We combine beef, sausage, and a homemade sauce.
- This Easy Fettuccine Alfredo features a silky smooth sauce made with butter and parmesan cheese, cooked sausage, and lightly wilted spinach.
- For a lighter take on spaghetti, try our Fresh Veggie Spaghetti. The sauce is simple and made 100% from scratch.
Making Our Favorite Weeknight Spaghetti Sauce
We love incorporating as many healthy, fresh ingredients into our meals as possible, which is why we love making recipes from scratch. We also don’t enjoy hovering over a hot stove for hours (who does?). Like you, we live busy lives and expect dinner on the table quickly.
Fortunately, this easy meat sauce fits right into our busy schedules! Homemade spaghetti sauce is easy to make and it can be made well in advance.
For a meatless version of spaghetti sauce, try our homemade marinara sauce. It’s light, easy to make, and delicious.
How to Use Homemade Meat Sauce
We use this homemade sauce lots of ways! Here’s a list of our favorites:
- Toss with spaghetti or other pasta shapes. We use it for making our Easy Weeknight Spaghetti Recipe
- Spoon onto zucchini noodles (zoodles), sweet potato noodles, baked spaghetti squash (my favorite) or serve over a bowl of roasted vegetables.
- You can even make lasagna with this sauce.
How to Make Spaghetti Meat Sauce From Scratch
We’ve made this sauce countless times and are always happy that we did. The sauce starts with a base of ground meat. We love keeping the sauce on the leaner side and use ground turkey, but any ground meat like beef, pork, chicken, and lamb will work.
After browning the meat in a little oil, we add chopped onion. When the onion starts to soften, more aromatics go into the pot. We add garlic, tomato paste, and spices.
Then when the aromatics are warmed and fragrant, we pour in a little liquid to help scrape any stuck bits from the bottom of the pot. There’s lots of flavor down there! For the liquid, you can use water, broth, and even wine. It’s all up to you.
When the bottom of the pot is scraped clean (which takes less than a minute), we stir in canned tomatoes and bring the sauce to a simmer. It
As the sauce simmers, we like to taste it every so often to make sure the seasoning is right. Don’t be afraid to add more spice, salt, or pepper.
If the flavor of the sauce doesn’t pop, you probably need a bit more salt. If it seems really acidic, a pinch of sugar will do the trick. If it seems light on flavor, think about adding a few dashes of fish sauce or minced anchovies (both add a rich savory flavor). Mushroom powder is also a nice addition (we use this a lot in our recipes, you can see why by clicking over to our homemade taco seasoning blend).
Storing Spaghetti Meat Sauce / Make Ahead Tips
The meat sauce can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator up to 3 days and in your freezer for about three months.
We recommend using freezer-safe glass containers, or double layers of freezer bags to store sauces. To thaw, leave it overnight in the refrigerator.
Our Favorite Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce
We’ve made this easy spaghetti meat sauce countless times and are always happy that we did. The sauce starts with a base of ground meat. We love keeping the sauce on the leaner side and use ground turkey, but any ground meat like beef, pork, chicken, and lamb will work. Some meat sauces take hours on the stove to develop a rich flavor, this recipe is more of an everyday sauce that’s perfect for serving over pasta or vegetables.
You Will NeedMeat Sauce
1 pound lean ground meat like beef, turkey, chicken or lamb
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup (130 grams) chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup water, broth or dry red wine
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for servingOptional Ingredients, See Notes
2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce
3 to 4 anchovy fillets, minced with some of their oil or use anchovy paste
1 leftover rind from a wedge of parmesan
Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat (we use a Dutch oven). Add the meat and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. As the meat cooks, use a wooden spoon to break it up into smaller crumbles.
Add the onions and cook, stirring every once and a while, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring continuously for about 1 minute.
Pour in the water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of meat or onion stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir in the tomatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and a generous pinch of black pepper. Bring the sauce to a low simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a low simmer for 25 minutes. As it cooks, stir and taste the sauce a few times so you can adjust the seasoning accordingly (see notes for suggestions). Stir in the basil just before serving.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Storing/Make-ahead: The meat sauce can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator up to 3 days and in your freezer for about three months.
- If the flavor of the sauce doesn’t pop, you probably need a bit more salt.
- If the sauce is too acidic, a pinch of sugar will do the trick.
- If the sauce tastes light on flavor, think about adding a few dashes of fish sauce or a few minced anchovies (both add a rich, savory flavor).
- Adding a leftover rind of a parmesan wedge to the sauce at the same time as adding the tomatoes adds richness and extra flavor. It won’t melt all the way, just remove what’s left before serving.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.