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There’s no need to purchase store-bought sauce, with this hearty and flavorful Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. Simple ingredients such as ground beef, onion, garlic, and spices of oregano and basil bring a bold flavor to this simple sauce.

This recipe is extremely simple. If you like easy Italian-inspired recipes then make sure to also try this Cajun Chicken Alfredo Pasta or this Prosciutto Mozzarella Pizza recipe.

classic spaghetti sauce over noodles

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Homemade spaghetti sauce is a classic recipe that can be prepared quickly and one everyone will love. This simple sauce is not only nostalgic but classic for a good reason. Everyone has their favorite recipe, but the best sauces are often the most basic. You can easily prepare this sauce and have plenty for leftovers or for freezing and using later.

Ingredients in Spaghetti Meat Sauce

  • Olive Oil: choose a high-quality olive oil to brown the meat and sauté the onions and garlic. This will only add to the flavor.
  • Ground Beef: the type of ground beef is entirely up to and you can also switch out the ground beef for ground sausage.
  • Yellow Onion: the onion brings a mild bite to the sauce that is a key flavor in spaghetti sauce.
  • Garlic Cloves: these minced cloves bring the most powerful flavor that is so common in Italian recipes. Using freshly minced garlic will also bring about the best flavor.
  • Tomato Paste: adding the tomato paste helps to thicken the sauce, but it also brings a strong flavor that is heightened when stirred in and cooked after the onions and garlic are cooked.
  • Diced Tomatoes or Crushed Tomatoes: for a smoother sauce use crushed tomatoes and for a chunkier sauce go with diced tomatoes. Either one makes a delicious sauce.
  • Water: this helps to bring the sauce together and you can use more or less to thicken it.
  • Dried Oregano: this classic spice adds a peppery flavor to the sauce.
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese: Adding parmesan cheese is optional, but strongly suggested for that delicious cheesy flavor.
  • Fresh Basil: the fresh aroma of this peppery flavored leaf also adds a small hint of mint.

ground beef for sauce

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce

  1. Brown the Meat: heat half of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large iron skillet. Break the meat apart as it brown and then use a slotted spoon to remove the meat and set aside on a plate.
  2. Sauté the Onions and Garlic: add the remaining olive oil and reduce the heat to medium. Sauté the onions until translucent and then add the garlic.
  3. Simmer the Sauce: stir in the crushed tomatoes, water, tomato paste, ground beef, oregano, and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce thickens.
  4. Stir in Cheese: add the grated cheese and any additional seasoning. Garnish with fresh basil.

onions and garlic in skillet

How to Store Spaghetti Sauce

Place the spaghetti sauce in an air-tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze it for up to 18 months.

Can I make spaghetti sauce without the meat?

You can easily leave the meat out of this sauce for more of a marinara type sauce. If you choose to leave out the meat I suggest using both 1 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes and 1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes.

Can I freeze this spaghetti meat sauce?

Yes. This sauce can easily be frozen and saved for later. In order to freeze the sauce let it come to room temperature before placing it in a ziptop bag or an air-tight storage container. Make sure to include the date. The sauce will last for about 18 months stored in the freezer.

Can I use ground sausage instead of ground beef?

Yes. Changing the ground beef for sausage is an easy swap and one that will add a unique flavor.

Can I make this spaghetti sauce in the Instant Pot?

Yes. To make this easy spaghetti sauce in the Instant Pot,

  • Push the “sauté” button to heat the olive oil. Brown the meat and use a slotted spoon to remove the beef.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and then sauté the onions for 4 minutes and then add the garlic to cook for an additional 1 minute.
  • Add the remaining ingredients except for the parmesan and basil.
  • Cover and seal the lid. Set the manual/pressure cook button to 10 minutes. When the time is up let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes and move the valve to vent.
  • Remove the lid and stir in the grated parmesan.

Easy Spaghetti Sauce Over Pasta

Tips for making the best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

  • Use crushed tomatoes for a smoother sauce that has a thicker base to it.
  • For a thinner sauce, that big on tomato and beef chunks use canned diced tomatoes.
  • To add even more bold flavor increase the garlic. You can really use as much as you prefer, however, unless you have an aversion or allergy to garlic I wouldn’t use less than 4 close.
  • Stir some parmesan cheese directly into the sauce.

More delicious pasta recipes to try:

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

By: Aimee Mars
There's no need to purchase store-bought sauce, with this hearty and flavorful Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. Simple ingredients such as ground beef, onion, garlic, and spices of oregano and basil bring a bold flavor to this simple sauce.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 33 minutes
Total Time: 43 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings



  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef and break it into 4 equal parts to brown for 3 minutes. Begin breaking the ground beef down into bits and cooking until it's completely browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the beef from the skillet and transfer it to a side plate. If using a fattier version of ground beef drain half the grease leaving about 1 to 2 tablespoons.
  • Bring the heat down to medium and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and chopped onions. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions become fragrant and translucent. Place the minced garlic in the skillet and cook for an additional 1 minute.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute, which brings out the flavors of the paste.
  • Pour the crushed (or diced) tomatoes, water, dried oregano, salt, and pepper into the skillet and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.
  • Stir in the grated parmesan to the sauce and serve over pasta. Garnish with fresh basil.


For a thicker sauce: add additional tomato paste and continue to let simmer until it begins to thicken.
For a thinner sauce: stir in more water and let it heat.


Calories: 271kcalCarbohydrates: 5gProtein: 15gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 57mgSodium: 568mgPotassium: 331mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 207IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 84mgIron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian American
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic!



About Aimee Mars

Spending time in the kitchen is a childhood memory that stems as far back as I can remember. The dots connecting those days to recipe development and food photography though, are winding and loopy. Just months after my clothing line in New York City, which was a childhood dream, came to a screeching halt I found myself at home as a new mom with a newborn. Desperately seeking a creative outlet, I began with the familiar and comforting act of cooking. A new passion of recipe development was ignited, and my blog became a place to break bread and to share these recipes with everyone. My family of four and one very convincing dog who loves to beg now enjoy our meals, and scraps, in Charleston.

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