Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

08.10.2018

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.

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.
  • Use fresh basil! I never make spaghetti sauce now unless I have fresh basil. The flavor difference is incomparable.
  • 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:

More Italian Recipes You’ll Love:

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

5 from 6 votes

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
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped (1 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 Tbsp)
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (recommend Hunt's for best flavor and consistency)
  • 3/4 cup water, or as needed
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch (and deep) skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Add beef in crumbles, leaving space between them, and let sear on bottom until golden brown, about 3 minutes. 

  3. Then start crumbling beef and continue to cook, tossing and crumbling occasionally until fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

  4. Transfer beef to a large plate lined with paper towels, leave 1 Tbsp rendered fat in skillet (or add 1 Tbsp olive oil).

  5. Reduce skillet heat to medium, add onion and saute 4 minutes. Add garlic saute 1 minute longer.

  6. Stir in crushed tomatoes, water, tomatoes paste, cooked beef, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

  7. 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).

  8. Stir in parmesan. Serve warm with cooked spaghetti, garnish with more parmesan and parsley.

  9. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Recipe Notes

*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*
Total Fat 14g 22%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 55mg 18%
Sodium 169mg 7%
Potassium 335mg 10%
Total Carbohydrates 4g 1%
Sugars 2g
Protein 16g 32%
Vitamin A 3.8%
Vitamin C 4.9%
Calcium 7.3%
Iron 10.8%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Spaghetti Sauce
Calories: 220 kcal
Author: Jaclyn

15 comments

  • Ann Baker: So incredibly easy and delicious and much fresher tasting with the crushed tomatoes and fresh basil, than any sauce that comes from a jar. This will be on the regular rotation at my house! September 8, 2018 at 8:06am Reply

  • Jocelyn: We loved this! It makes a lot, which is no problem, because it reheats wonderfully. Thank you. August 25, 2018 at 9:29pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks for leaving 5 stars! August 27, 2018 at 9:57am Reply

  • anna: Wow..this is great recipe, I really love pasta. Aside for the spaghetti style thanks for the tips to put a fresh tomato and basil.
    Thanks for sharing. August 25, 2018 at 1:33am Reply

  • Jocelyn: I am making this for dinner tonight. I know it will be delicious.

    I have a silly question. Do you typically serve your sauce on top of the noodles, as shown in the photo, or do you toss it with the noodles, including a bit of the starchy pasta water to help meld the sauce with the noodles?

    Thanks! August 23, 2018 at 9:12am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I usually serve on top because that’s how I grew up eating it but I know if you want to do it the proper way like the Italians you’ll toss the pasta with the sauce and a little pasta water like you said :). Either way is great in my book. August 24, 2018 at 9:22am Reply

  • Jill Wright: Sounds delish, can’t wait to try! Thanks! August 15, 2018 at 12:30pm Reply

    • Katie: Can this be done in the crockpot? And does the meat need to be cooked before or can it all be thrown in at the same time? March 21, 2019 at 10:30am Reply

      • Jaclyn: Yes that should be fine. Cook the meat first. March 21, 2019 at 11:11am Reply

  • Sandra: This was so easy and so good! Adding this to the dinner rotation. Thanks! August 15, 2018 at 12:09pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for your review Sandra! August 15, 2018 at 9:32pm Reply

  • Kevin Johnson: If they are available Try RED GOLD WHOLE PEELED TOMATOES they are always great and priced similar to Hunt’s. August 15, 2018 at 4:16am Reply

  • Sue: Do you think this could be adapted to my instant pot? August 11, 2018 at 2:36pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes definitely. I’d saute the beef and onion first then cook on high pressure maybe 8 minutes. August 11, 2018 at 5:52pm Reply

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