Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

My family’s favorite weeknight friendly spaghetti recipe is quick and simple. The super flavorful spaghetti sauce is ready in 45 minutes and you can use your favorite ground meat to make it (beef, turkey, and chicken are all excellent).

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe Video

I love pasta for quick weeknight dinners, and this spaghetti tossed with my quick and easy meat sauce fits the bill! You can use any ground meat for this sauce. I love ground turkey, but ground beef, pork, and chicken are all excellent in this recipe.

Of all the pasta recipes on Inspired Taste, my family makes this one the most. If you prefer meatballs over meat sauce, see our spaghetti and meatballs recipe. I also love our delicious baked spaghetti.

My favorite Spaghetti Recipe with Meat Sauce

Key Ingredients

  • Spaghetti: I love spaghetti for this recipe, but you can use any pasta shape you love. To cook spaghetti, check the package directions. The box should have an approximate cooking time listed. Set a timer 1 to 2 minutes less than the suggested cooking time, and check your spaghetti. I often find that pasta is perfectly al dente before the recommended cooking time.
  • Ground meat: Really any ground meat will work in this recipe. Ground turkey and chicken are usually a bit leaner, while ground beef and pork will have more fat. Use what you have and love. For a vegetable pasta sauce, see this veggie spaghetti recipe.
  • Tomatoes and tomato paste: These make the base of our spaghetti sauce. I use canned crushed tomatoes to keep things easy, but you can use store-bought spaghetti sauce or this homemade red pasta sauce (both add more flavor, but in the very best way).
  • Onion, garlic, and spices: These add flavor to our sauce. I keep things as simple as possible since this is an easy everyday kind of recipe. Most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry. For a more intensely flavored sauce, see our homemade bolognese.

How to Make the Best Spaghetti

You’ll start by making the easy meat sauce. Brown your meat in a bit of oil, and then stir in onions until they soften. Then add lots of flavor with garlic, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes. To finish the sauce, add a bit of water (or broth) and crushed tomatoes. Our easy sauce simmers for about 25 minutes, so about 15 minutes before it is ready, you can cook your spaghetti.

For the best spaghetti, cook it in salted water. Pasta water should taste salty. I add a lot of salt to our pasta water (it makes the pasta taste delicious). I add about one tablespoon of salt for every four quarts (16 cups) of water, which is perfect for cooking one pound of pasta.

If you still have it, check your package instructions. If you’ve tossed the package already, spaghetti takes 8 to 12 minutes. We recommend setting a timer for 8 minutes and then checking your spaghetti to see if it needs longer.

A pot filled with the Best Spaghetti

There’s no need to rinse spaghetti after cooking, especially if you plan to toss it with a sauce. Rinsing removes the starch, which helps our sauce cling to the noodles. My only caveat to this is when I’m making cold pasta dishes, like pasta salad or macaroni salad.

When your spaghetti is ready, toss it with your delicious homemade meat sauce and serve with some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top. Yum!

Twirling Spaghetti with Meat Sauce onto a fork

What to Serve with Weeknight Spaghetti

This spaghetti recipe is on regular rotation in our house. Our family loves serving it with cheese garlic bread or this roasted garlic bread. I also love adding a salad on the side. Caesar salad is classic, but you can toss your favorite salad greens into a bowl and toss with one of our homemade salad dressings. I especially love our simple balsamic vinaigrette.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

  • PREP
  • COOK
  • TOTAL

Our favorite weeknight friendly spaghetti recipe with a meat sauce that is made completely from scratch. Use ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken or lamb to make this simple spaghetti.

If you want to reduce the carbohydrates in your dish, swap half or all of the pasta with zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. Here’s our recipe for zucchini noodles, which includes a tutorial for turning zucchini into pasta. Here’s our tutorial for how to cook spaghetti squash.

Makes 5 cups of sauce and approximately 6 servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

1 pound (450g) dried spaghetti

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

Parmesan cheese, for serving

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).

    8About 15 minutes before the spaghetti sauce finishes cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Then, cook the pasta according to the package directions, but check for doneness a minute or two before the suggested cooking time.

    9Remove the sauce from the heat and stir in the basil. Toss in the cooked pasta and leave for a minute so that it absorbs some of the sauce. Toss again, and then serve with grated parmesan cheese on top.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Storing/Make-ahead: Leftover spaghetti and meat sauce last in the fridge for 3 days. You can also make the meat sauce in advance and store it in your refrigerator for up to 3 days or 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, add a pinch of sugar.
  • If the sauce lacks flavor, consider adding a few dashes of fish sauce, mushroom powder, minced anchovies, or anchovy paste (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, just remove what’s left before serving.
  • The nutrition facts provided below are estimates.
Nutrition Per Serving Serving Size 1/6 of the recipe / Calories 486 / Total Fat 16.7g / Saturated Fat 4g / Cholesterol 58.1mg / Sodium 977.4mg / Carbohydrate 58.2g / Dietary Fiber 4.7g / Total Sugars 10.3g / Protein 27.3g
AUTHOR:  Adam and Joanne Gallagher
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66 comments… Leave a Review
  • Andrea C July 9, 2024, 6:12 pm

    I was surprised at how good this was, usually, I load my spaghetti sauce with all sorts of ingredients, this was very basic and delicious

    Reply
  • Kate May 18, 2024, 5:54 am

    This is so yum. Made it tonight and didn’t have any tinned tomatoes so just chopped up some cooking tomatoes. Added oyster sauce-just a dash, a dash of sesame oil, soy sauce and some spicy red sauce to boost the tomatoes. Used lots of olive oil and left out the Basil. Didn’t have and Oregano so substituted Thyme and Marjoram leaves instead. Even hubby liked it and he’s not great for spaghetti.

    Reply
  • Mary Cooper January 30, 2024, 12:44 pm

    Haven’t made it yet. Spaghetti sauce

    Reply
    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 7:56 pm

      I hope you enjoy it! If you have any questions while making it, just let me know.

      Reply
  • Charneil Stroebel December 15, 2023, 7:57 am

    I say experiment away do what you heart desires when it come to cooking. Taste it feel it and best of all make it your own.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 7:56 pm

      You’re absolutely right! The best recipes come from fearless experimentation. Don’t be afraid to put your own twist on things.

      Reply
  • Jenica July 24, 2023, 8:49 am

    This is my go to spaghetti recipe. I’ve made it several times now and I love it. I really appreciate the additional tips on how to adjust the flavor. You can really make it to suit your taste. Personally, I make mine a bit sweeter than most since that’s what I grew up with as a typical Filipino.

    Reply
    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 7:57 pm

      I’m so glad you enjoy the recipe! It’s always wonderful to hear from people who have made it and loved it. Thank you for sharing your tip about making it a bit sweeter – that’s a great way to personalize it to your taste. I love that you mentioned your Filipino heritage and how it influences your preferences.

      Reply

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