Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Published August 10, 2018. Updated March 18, 2020

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Thanks to this easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe you’ll now have no need to take the shortcut with a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce. This version is so much better! Made with hearty beef, crushed tomatoes and lots of fresh basil. It’s packed with flavor and sure to please even the pickiest eaters!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

The Best Easy Spaghetti Sauce!

Spaghetti was always one of my favorite foods growing up. Spaghetti and ground beef tacos. And my mom made them both regularly.

Spaghetti Sauce Video


Her spaghetti started with a jar of sauce (which is fine) but the funny thing is that she’d melt butter over the noodles, add sauce, then add a layer of cheddar or mozzarella over the top and melt it in the microwave lol!

Since then we’ve both learned quite a bit about spaghetti and the best way to make it. Here’s my idea of the best quick and easy spaghetti sauce!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

What Ingredients go into Homemade Spaghetti Sauce?

  • Olive oil – use for sauteing.
  • Lean ground beef – I recommend 85% lean ground Angus beef.
  • Salt and pepper – to season the beef and sauce and highlight its flavors.
  • Onion and garlic – these build a flavor foundation for the sauce. Always use fresh.
  • Canned crushed tomatoes – I’ve actually done a side by side taste taste with several brands and Hunt’s is best. If you want to puree a can of San Marzano tomatoes that would be delicious too.
  • Tomato Paste – this adds lots of tomato flavor and helps thicken up the sauce.
  • Fresh basil and fresh parsley – this gives the sauce so much fresh flavor. Fresh basil in spaghetti sauce is a must in my book.
  • Dried oregano – since you won’t be using much we go with dried, but feel free to substitute fresh if you’ve got it (use 2 1/4 tsp minced fresh).

Spaghetti Sauce ingredients shown here including ground beef, olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil, fresh parsley, dried oregano, onion, garlic, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and parmesan.

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch

  • Brown the beef: heating 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef in large crumbles, leaving space between.
  • Season with salt and let beef brown nicely on bottom.

Showing how to make spaghetti sauce, browning beef in dark non-stick skillet in portions.

  • Crumble beef: Then begin breaking beef up (I like to use a bamboo spatula with a flat end like pictured). Let it continue to cook until it has cooked through (again you can sort of create pockets of space which will help heat circulate and escape so the beef doesn’t steam).

Ground beef in skillet after crumbled and cooked.

  • Drain beef: Transfer browned beef to a paper towel lined plate, leave about 1 Tbsp fat in pan. Or add 1 Tbsp olive oil.
  • Saute aromatics: Add onion and saute 4 minutes or until almost softened, then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Sauteing onion and garlic in dark skillet for easy spaghetti sauce

  • Add other ingredients: stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, beef, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Simmer sauce: Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to low (2nd to lowest setting about), cover with lid and let simmer until onions have softened through, about 15 minutes.

Adding basil and oregano to beefy tomato spaghetti sauce in pan.

  • Adjust consistency as desired: If you have more time let it simmer longer. Thin with a little water as needed, thicken with a little tomato paste as needed (a little goes a long way).
  • Finish with cheese: Stir in parmesan at the very end and let melt through. Serve over pasta of choice topped with more parmesan and parsley.

Overhead close up image of the best spaghetti sauce from scratch in a skillet with basil leaves in the center.

Can I Make This Sauce Less Meaty?

Note that if you don’t like a meaty sauce you can cut the beef portion in half. You can also add in other things like sauteed mushrooms too.

How Can I Make it a Vegetarian Spaghetti Sauce?

Make my Marinara Sauce recipe, it’s so delicious!

Can I Double the Recipe?

Yes, but I recommend browning 2 lbs of ground beef separately, 1 lb at a time and use a pot. It won’t fit in a skillet or saute pan.

How Can I Make it Faster?

To make the best use of time, prep ingredients while the sauce cooks. Chop onion, garlic and basil while beef is cooking. Grate the parmesan and mince the parsley while sauce is cooking.

Can I Freeze this Spaghetti Sauce?

Yes! I freeze it all the time. I like to freeze in batches then let thaw overnight for lunch the next day.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Tips for the Best Spaghetti Sauce

Since spaghetti has long been one of my favorite foods I’ve picked up on lots of different things here and there to perfect it. Here’s my tips:

  • Really brown the beef. Don’t add it all in one thin layer and toss and turn it constantly. Instead add it in large clumps, let the bottom really sear and brown then
    start to break it up.
  • Use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce or puree. It has a better, more tomato-y flavor.
  • Don’t be skimpy with the garlic, and add a fair amount of onion. These really build flavor here.
  • Preferably use fresh basil.
  • Allow time to simmer. This will offer time for those flavors to meld and compliment each other and time for the sauce to reduce and thicken a bit.
  • Stir parmesan right into the sauce. Again we are building flavor and even though it’s only 1/4 cup it gives it special something.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese

What Should I Serve with Spaghetti?

Here’s a few of my favorite sides to serve with spaghetti:

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
4.94 from 31 votes

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

The easiest and tastiest homemade spaghetti sauce! Packed with fresh flavor and sure to please the pickiest eaters. It also freezes well and makes delicious leftovers!
Servings: 6
Prep10 minutes
Cook30 minutes
Ready in: 35 minutes



  • Heat olive oil in a 12-inch (and deep) skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Add beef in crumbles, leaving space between them, and let sear on bottom until golden brown, about 3 minutes. 
  • Then start crumbling beef and continue to cook, tossing and crumbling occasionally until fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.
  • Transfer beef to a large plate lined with paper towels, leave 1 Tbsp rendered fat in skillet (or add 1 Tbsp olive oil).
  • Reduce skillet heat to medium, add onion and saute 4 minutes. Add garlic saute 1 minute longer.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, water, tomatoes paste, cooked beef, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 
  • Bring to a light boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until onions are tender, about 15 - 20 minutes.** Thin with a little more water as needed (or thicken with a little more tomato paste as needed).
  • Stir in parmesan. Serve warm with cooked spaghetti, garnish with more parmesan and parsley.


  • *If you can't get fresh basil try with 2 tsp dried basil, add more to taste. If you love that basil flavor then double up on the fresh basil.
  • **If you have a parmesan rind in the fridge you can simmer with the sauce, then remove at the end.
  • For more added richness you can stir some butter, extra virgin olive oil, or cream in at the end.
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 220 Calories from Fat 126
% Daily Value*
Fat 14g22%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Cholesterol 55mg18%
Sodium 169mg7%
Potassium 335mg10%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 16g32%
Vitamin A 190IU4%
Vitamin C 4mg5%
Calcium 73mg7%
Iron 1.9mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition values are estimates only. See full disclaimer here.

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  • Lori

    Wow, is there nothing you can’t do? I love all your Mexican food recipes… and now this great spaghetti sauce! Thank you.

  • Michael

    Fantastic! This is my go to sauce. I make it both as a marinara and as a meat sauce. I’ve added some ingredients such as wine, a parmesan rind, fish sauce and a carrot cut in half for sweetness. That doesn’t take away from this being a first rate recipe!

    • Lori

      Thanks for the suggestion of adding carrot. Brilliant. I added a pinch of sugar at the end. Love her recipes.

  • Lauren

    Can I use fresh garden tomatoes and peel and crush them in place of the canned crushed tomatoes?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      That should be ok you may need a bit more tomato paste to thicken though, depending on how juicy they are.

  • Lorissa

    Please specify what amount is the serving size that correlates to the calories of you list as “220 per serving”. Either in ounces or by cup measure. Please.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      Sorry I forgot to measure final yield in cups, it would be 1/6th of the final volume or weight.

  • Lauren Poling

    Please let me know a general idea of how much salt to use for this volume of sauce. I’m not good with salting “to taste”.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It really varies based on how salty your canned ingredients are per brand. I would start small like 1/4 tsp and just keep adding a little more until it tastes right to you.

  • Dawn

    This recipe makes a good base for the type of sauce you’d like – I also added garlic powder, onion powder, more dried and fresh basil, salt, pepper, and sugar to cut down on the acid of the tomatoes and tomato paste. This really could be dependent on the type of canned tomatoes and tomato paste you use. I’m not using the best quality of either of those things, so next time I’ll splurge and test out this recipe again. Thanks again for another lovely recipe!