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 Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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.

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.

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.

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

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

  • 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 (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 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
  • 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).

    • Cook Spaghetti
    • About 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
      • 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 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.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

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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34 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Maria May 29, 2021, 4:31 pm

    I made this and it was delicious. You are my kind of cooks. I’ve never come across anyone who made cooking so easy, nutritious and delicious. I want to make the food you present, and I will. Thank you so very much for sharing your talents and hard work. The very best to you.

  • Shizuka Hummel May 22, 2021, 8:10 pm

    My family and friends have fallen in love with your brownie recipe. Since then we love to cook your recipes. Tonight I made this new spaghetti recipe for dinner, and it turns out that it’s hard to stop to have another one! I definitely have to share this recipe with my friends 🙂

  • Floridere May 19, 2021, 10:42 pm

    I want to cook everything I see on this channel and also it started on YouTube. Cant get enough you guys aren’t getting your proper dues.

  • Alex Lindsay May 19, 2021, 3:54 pm

    Yum. Will make this. Thank you!

  • Beth November 25, 2020, 8:25 pm

    I cooked the onions with the meat, separately. Then I melted the anchovies when I sautéed the garlic for a Umami flavor. I’m learning the value of using anchovies correctly.

  • Freda November 10, 2020, 9:24 pm

    Very good, I used Bucatini, so tasty, will definitely make again!!

  • Shahnaz Simon October 29, 2020, 9:54 am

    What else can I replace with other than broth and dry red wine?

    • Joanne June 18, 2021, 4:42 pm

      You can try water. The sauce will have enough flavor without the broth or wine.

  • B Perez October 22, 2020, 5:45 pm

    I love this recipe!! We’ve changed up the meat and the pasta and it always tastes good!! I wanted to ask an alternative because my wife and pregnant and can’t tolerate any meat now. Is there a sauce with meatballs on the side recipe alternative?

    • Adam October 22, 2020, 6:54 pm

      Hi Perez, so glad you love this recipe. If you would like a recipe that doesn’t have meat I would suggest you try our veggie spaghetti.

  • McKensie September 20, 2020, 3:21 pm

    I’ve made this recently and making again tonight!! This will be the only way I make spaghetti for now on! This is a must try

  • Ginza George June 17, 2020, 11:50 am

    Delicious n quick to make. My family loved it. My preparation was not as red as yours. Is it because I used homemade tomato crush?

    • Adam October 22, 2020, 7:01 pm

      The color of the sauce will depend on the tomatoes used. Most canned tomatoes rely on bright red tomatoes so this could be why your sauce was a different color.

  • Jasmin morgan March 19, 2020, 8:10 pm

    can vegetables be added to this

  • Victoria Stratton February 19, 2020, 2:32 pm

    Very tasty!! And unusually quick!

  • Samantha Chazaretta August 30, 2019, 12:34 pm

    my family loved this recipe , “tastes like a Italian woman made it ”
    not sure that they have ever had food from an italian woman , but they loved it. My picky daughter who claims she dislikes onions cleaned it up , so ???? going to add my own twist per usual. Thank you so much

  • Gina June 27, 2019, 6:05 pm

    Do you drain the fat after browning the meat?

    • Joanne June 27, 2019, 7:30 pm

      If there is a lot of fat left in the pan, we will remove some. That said, the fat does add quite a bit of flavor, so some left in the pan is a good thing.

  • Andrea March 16, 2019, 3:15 am

    Closest to restaurant-style Spagetti Bolognese I’ve ever made.


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