Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
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. Jump to the Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
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.
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!
- 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.
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 1 tablespoon of salt. This is perfect for cooking 1 pound of pasta.
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, vegetarian, and made 100% from scratch.
Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
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.
You Will NeedSpaghetti and Meat 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 serving
12 ounces dried spaghetti or favorite pasta shape
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheeseOptional 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
- Make Sauce
- Cook Spaghetti
- To Finish
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).
About 15 minutes before the sauce is finished cooking, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil then cook pasta according to package directions, but check for doneness a minute or two before the suggested cooking time.
Take 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 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.