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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    I have been searching for a good spaghetti recipe for years. This recipe is amazing and its everything that I have been searching for. I have tried so many different recipes over the years, but I can now happily report my search is finally over. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Maria

    This was so bland, never add water to any Italian sauce. Add red wine or beef broth instead. Season the beef while it sears then add the onion and garlic (more than the recipe calls for), drain the fat and proceed with the tomatoes/paste etc.. It HAS to simmer for at least an hour to incorporate all the flavours.

  • Ellie J

    I’ve been looking for an easy, sugar-free spaghetti sauce recipe for my 1 year old and this fits the bill! I cannot wait to try it!

    Do you think this would still turn out well if I omit the cheese? We have some lactose intolerant family members, and I would love to keep it out, but I’m afraid it will greatly impact the flavor.

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      It would taste rather plain without it, I would maybe try adding in some vegan parmesan cheese.

  • Mary Putman

    Loved this sauce. I added mushrooms because I love mushrooms and dried basil because my store didn’t have fresh and it was outstanding. Thank you so much for sharing. This is a keeper.

  • Lauryn

    How many ounces of spaghetti noodles would you recommend to cook for 6 servings?

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      12 to 16 oz (the box lists 2 oz per person but people usually want a little more).

  • Cindy E

    Oh my gosh! This was the best and nearly effortless! I doubt I will ever buy canned sauce from the store again!

    • Jaclyn

      Jaclyn Bell

      I love to hear you were happy with the outcome of the recipe Cindy! Thanks for reviewing!

  • Phyllis Field

    This spaghetti sauce is the bomb! I have been making my own sauce for over 50 years and wanted to change it up. Lucky for me, I found this recipe. OMG! This was so delicious. This is now my go-to recipe! Thank you! Out of a 1-10 score, this is a 50! My chef hat 🎩 s off to you!!

    • Rolanda

      I always enjoyed making my own sauce but I tried your recipe and it was delicious! I only used 1 tbsp of tomato paste and added a can of fire roasted tomatoes. Very good recipe. I will make it again.