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!
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!
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).
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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
What Should I Serve with Spaghetti?
Here’s a few of my favorite sides to serve with spaghetti:
- Garlic Parmesan Roasted Zucchini Squash and Tomatoes
- Cheesy Garlic Bread
- Side salad with Creamy Pesto Salad Dressing (Spaghetti Factory Copycat)
- Steamed broccoli with browned butter and shredded mizithra or parmesan cheese
- Roasted broccoli, green beans or asparagus
More Italian Recipes You’ll Love:
- Pasta Carbonara
- Lasagna Roll Ups
- Spinach and Cheese Stuffed Shells
- Tortellini with Pesto and Roasted Veggies
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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- 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 chicken broth or water, then more as needed
- 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/4 cup (packed) chopped fresh basil*
- 3/4 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 cup finely shredded parmesan, plus more for serving
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- 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.