Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

Easy weeknight friendly spaghetti and meat sauce that’s made completely from scratch. Use ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken or lamb to make this simple spaghetti recipe.

Watch the Video

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe Video

How to Make the Best Spaghetti

For this spaghetti, we turn to our favorite quick meat sauce recipe. It’s made using one-pot, is ultra flavorful, and can be made in under 45 minutes. The spaghetti sauce is also perfect for making ahead. It can be refrigerated for up to three days and stored in your freezer for about three months. 

A pot filled with the Best Spaghetti

To Cook the Best Spaghetti We Have a Few Simple Tricks

Check the package directions of the spaghetti you plan to cook. On the box, there should be an approximate cook time for “al-dente,” which means the pasta will be tender, but not mushy. It will still have a bit of a bite, which is perfect.

When you know the suggested cook time, set a timer for a minute or so before it. So if the box suggests 10 minutes, set a timer for 8 minutes.

This way, at the 8-minute mark, you can check on the spaghetti to make sure it isn’t done already. The box directions are a helpful guide, but it’s always a good idea to check the pasta early!

A plate of Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Cook the spaghetti in salted water. The water should taste salty. This seasons the pasta as it cooks and is necessary for the best-tasting pasta.

Toss the cooked spaghetti with a flavorful sauce — like our homemade spaghetti sauce. Don’t just spoon the sauce on top of the pasta.

By tossing the pasta and sauce together, the pasta starts to absorb some of the flavors in the sauce. It just tastes better this way.

If you were looking to reduce the carbohydrates in your dish, swap half or all of the pasta with zucchini noodles. Here’s our recipe for zucchini noodles pasta.

For more spaghetti recipes, look at this baked spaghetti is similar to lasagna, but easier and if you love veggies, try our easy veggie spaghetti. If you love meatballs, try spaghetti with these Italian meatballs!

How Much Salt Should I Add to Pasta Water?

We add a lot of salt to our pasta water (it makes the pasta taste delicious). For every 4 quarts (16 cups) of water, we add about one tablespoon of salt. This is perfect for cooking 1 pound of pasta.

Twirling Spaghetti with Meat Sauce onto a fork

More Easy Pasta Recipes

  • 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, vegetarian, and made 100% from scratch.
  • For more traditional meat sauce, take a look at our favorite Bolognese Recipe.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti

  • PREP
  • COOK

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.

Makes 5 cups of sauce and approximately 6 servings

Watch Us Make the Recipe

You Will Need

Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

1 pound lean ground meat like beef, turkey, chicken or lamb

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 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

12 ounces dried spaghetti or favorite pasta shape

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

Optional Ingredients, See Notes

2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce

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


  • Make Sauce
  • 1Heat 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.

    2Add the onions and cook, stirring every once and a while, until softened, about 5 minutes.

    3Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring continuously for about 1 minute.

    4Pour 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).

  • Cook Spaghetti
  • 1About 15 minutes before the sauce finishes cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and then cook pasta according to package directions, but check for doneness a minute or two before the suggested cooking time.

  • To Finish
  • 1Take the sauce off of the heat, and then stir in the basil. Toss in the cooked pasta, and then leave for a minute so that the pasta absorbs some of the sauce. Toss again, and then serve with parmesan sprinkled on top.

Adam and Joanne's Tips

  • Storing/Make-ahead: The meat sauce can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator for 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 or anchovy paste (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.
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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64 comments… Leave a Review
  • Mary Cooper January 30, 2024, 12:44 pm

    Haven’t made it yet. Spaghetti sauce

    • Joanne February 14, 2024, 7:56 pm

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

  • 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.

    • 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.


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