Weeknight Spaghetti Sauce

I love this easy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe! It is ready in under 45 minutes, and you can use your favorite ground meat to make it. I love ground beef, turkey, or sausage!

Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce

Like you, we live busy lives and need dinner on the table quickly. That’s why I love this easy homemade spaghetti sauce. It’s quick and easy to make, plus it lasts in the freezer for months, which means I have a delicious meal anytime I need it.

This simple meat sauce can be made in about 45 minutes. For a more authentic, slowly cooked meat sauce, try my favorite bolognese recipe with ground beef, milk, white wine, and tomato.

Pot of Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Key Ingredients

  • Ground meat: You can use any ground meat for this recipe. Ground turkey or chicken are great choices if you prefer a leaner option. Ground beef and pork offer a richer flavor. Choose whichever you like and have available. Check out our veggie spaghetti recipe if you want a meatless option.
  • Tomatoes and tomato paste: Canned crushed tomatoes are the foundation of this spaghetti sauce, and they make it super easy to prepare.
  • Onion, garlic, and spices: We like to keep this recipe simple because it’s a quick and easy weeknight meal. You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry.
  • Broth or wine: After browning our meat, we deglaze the pot with a bit of liquid. Water is fine, but for more flavor try chicken broth or your favorite dry wine (red or white will do the trick). I use white wine when making this homemade bolognese.

How to Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

We make this spaghetti sauce all the time, and it never disappoints. We start by browning ground meat in a little oil. We prefer ground turkey to keep things lean, but any ground meat, such as beef, pork, chicken, or even lamb, works great.

Once the meat is browned, we add chopped onion and cook until it softens. Then we toss in garlic, tomato paste, and spices to build even more flavor.

Next, we deglaze the pot with a splash of liquid to capture all those tasty bits stuck on the bottom. You can use water, broth, or even wine (whatever you have on hand). Just be sure to scrape the bottom well! Once the pot is clean, we stir in canned tomatoes and let everything simmer for 20 to 30 minutes or until the sauce thickens.

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce - Adding tomatoes to the pot with browned meat

As the sauce simmers, we taste it regularly and adjust the seasoning. Don’t be afraid to add more salt, pepper, or spices. If the sauce tastes too acidic, a pinch of sugar can balance it out. If it seems bland, add a dash of fish sauce, minced anchovies, or even mushroom powder for a rich and savory flavor.

Ways to Use Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

We use this homemade sauce in so many ways. It’s perfect tossed with cooked spaghetti (like in this spaghetti recipe) or other pasta shapes. I love it with homemade gnocchi or ricotta gnocchi. It’s also excellent spooned over veggie noodles, like roasted spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. I also love serving it next to some homemade garlic bread or focaccia bread and a side salad.

Weeknight Spaghetti Sauce

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

We’ve made this easy homemade 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, sausage, pork, chicken, and lamb will work.

Makes about 5 cups of sauce

You Will Need

1 pound (450g) lean ground meat like ground beef or ground turkey

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup (130g) 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 (28oz) can crushed tomatoes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Handful of fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

Optional Ingredients, See Tips

2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce

1 to 2 teaspoons mushroom powder, try homemade mushroom powder

3 to 4 anchovy fillets, minced with some of their oil or use anchovy paste

Pinch sugar

1 leftover rind from a wedge of parmesan

Directions

    1Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat (we use a Dutch oven).

    2Add the meat and cook until browned, about 8 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to break the meat into smaller crumbles as the meat cooks.

    3Add the onions and cook, stirring every once in a while, until softened, about 5 minutes.

    4Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring continuously for about 1 minute.

    5Pour in the water and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits of meat or onion stuck to the bottom of the pot.

    6Stir in the tomatoes, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and a generous pinch of black pepper.

    7Bring the sauce to a low simmer. Cook uncovered for 25 minutes. As it cooks, stir and taste the sauce a few times so you can adjust the seasoning accordingly (see notes for seasoning suggestions).

    8Remove the spaghetti sauce from the heat and stir in the basil.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Storing: This homemade spaghetti sauce can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator for up to 3 days and in your freezer for about 3 months.
  • If the sauce’s flavor doesn’t pop, you need more salt.
  • If the sauce is too acidic, a pinch of sugar will do the trick.
  • If the sauce is lacking in flavor, consider 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 while adding the tomatoes adds richness and extra flavor. It won’t melt all the way. Remove what’s left before serving.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 2/3 cup sauce / Calories 167 / Total Fat 9.9g / Saturated Fat 1.9g / Cholesterol 39.1mg / Sodium 500.2mg / Carbohydrate 8.7g / Dietary Fiber 2.1g / Total Sugars 4.8g / Protein 12.9g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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2 comments… Leave a Review
  • Jennie December 28, 2022, 10:16 pm

    Just made this recipe and it was so tasty! I added a teaspoon of werstershire sauce. I have enjoyed many of your recipes. Thanks for making things simple and delicious!

    Reply
  • Gregory A Anderson March 7, 2019, 12:54 am

    You had me trusting this recipe when I read about the process, as well as the tips about umami (fish sauce, anchovies…) and the pinch of sugar. How delightful.

    Reply

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