Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – Authentic Italian Style


Do you want to mimic at home that amazing meat sauce they make in the Italian restaurants? Well look no further =). In my opinion I think there are a few key steps in creating that authentic, thick, richly flavored, meaty sauce. I’ve learned a few things trying to imitate that amazingly delicious pasta sauce that I get at a few of my favorite Italian restaurants. One of them being, you need to cook the sauce low and slow, 5 hours minimum. If you want great sauce you’re going to have to have a little patience. This is one of those made with love recipes =). I think Roma tomatoes are best. A few weeks ago I made a similar sauce, entirely from scratch. I’m talking fresh Roma tomatoes, boiled, peeled, seeded and crushed them. It took far too much time and effort only to realize the next time around canned Roma tomatoes were better. They don’t seem as acidic. The flavors of the fresh basil and parsley in this recipe lend it fresh from the garden flavor. I didn’t want to use fresh herbs for the entire recipe (that would be pretty pricey if you don’t have an herb garden) so I chose fresh basil and parsley because they are my favorites in this recipe. Be sure to brown the meat and veggies (brown, not burn), that browned flavor is an important part of the sauces rich, robust flavor. The carrot may seem like a random ingredient but I’ve heard that it adds a bit of sweetness to the sauce therefor you won’t have to add any sugar. It also lends a good color. I know I packed a lot of herbs into this recipe, but it will help you use up those spices sitting in your spice cupboard before they lose their freshness.

I hope you love these pasta sauce. I would highly recommend serving it up alongside a loaf of fresh Crusty Rustic Bread (it takes about 3 minutes to prepare the no knead dough) spread with whipped garlic butter, and possibly a simple side salad with a copycat recipe of Spaghetti Factory’s Pesto Salad Dressing.  I love Italian food! Enjoy!


Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – Authentic Italian Style


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil , divided
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (85% or 90%)
  • 1 medium carrot , finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion , finely diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic , finely minced
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed Roma tomatoes (I recommend Contadina)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary , crushed
  • 3/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1/2 tsp dried sage
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp salt , or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 - 1 cup chicken or beef broth , to thin sauce if desired
  • freshly , finely grated Romano and Parmesan cheese or Mizithra cheese for serving


  1. In a large non-stick sauce pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Crumble ground beef into pot (approximately 1 inch pieces). Brown beef, stirring occasionally (I was always taught to stir constantly but this makes your beef gray, let it brown on bottom and only stir occasionally) and breaking up beef as you stir, until cooked through. Drain ground beef, reserving 1 Tbsp fat in pot. Place browned beef in a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 10 - 15 seconds, set aside.
  2. Saute carrot and onion in reserved fat over medium high heat until golden, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during the last minute of sauteing. Remove from heat (this will reduce splattering) and stir in 2 cans crushed Roma tomatoes, remaining 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, bay leaves, salt, pepper and browned beef. Return pot to low heat and simmer uncovered, 5 - 8 hours (yes minimum of 5 hours), stirring occasionally.
  3. Add broth to sauce to thin sauce if desired (at about 4 hours sauce will be pretty thick so if you want it any thinner just add broth to desired consistency. Also, once it reaches the thickness you want you can cover it with a lid to reduce further condensation). Remove bay leaves and serve sauce warm over pasta garnished with grated cheeses and additional chopped fresh parsley or basil if desired.
  4. Recipe Source: Cooking Classy


  • The Cooking Actress: As an Italian-I completely approve! The sauce looks beautiful and delicious! July 20, 2012 at 6:55pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: The Cooking Actress – So glad to hear this has got approval from an Italian! I’m not Italian so I can only hope to imitate what you guys do =). Thanks for the comment! July 20, 2012 at 7:38pm Reply

  • marla: This looks like the perfect bowl of pasta + sauce :) July 20, 2012 at 8:53pm Reply

  • Patricia @ ButterYum: This is total comfort food for me. Man, I shouldn’t have read such a yummy post this late at night! July 20, 2012 at 10:41pm Reply

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious: Look at all that meaty goodness! July 21, 2012 at 10:12am Reply

  • shecooksandheeats: YUM! You always come up with the most amazing recipes! Everything you make always ends up on my Pinterest boards :) July 22, 2012 at 3:57pm Reply

  • Chiropractor St Charles: I am a carb-oholic these days! I love love love carbs… thanks for sharing this comfort meal! July 23, 2012 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Deborah Christner: Wow…I lived in Italy for 10 years and you nailed the recipe. I do have a suggestion. Cook the sauce for 4 hours to just a bit thinner than you want…cover and let it rest over night. Next afternoon finish cooking the last hour and let it rest in the pot again an hour before serving. YUMMY! August 4, 2012 at 2:04pm Reply

    • Anna Martinez: do you leave it at room temp over night or refrigerate it? September 25, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

      • Jaclyn: Definitely refrigerate it :). September 25, 2013 at 11:07am Reply

  • Jaclyn: Deborah, that’s so great to hear from a true Italian! I’m so glad I’ve got your approval, thanks so much for your comment! August 6, 2012 at 7:28pm Reply

  • dearcat O’Connell: Dear Jaclyn,
    I have been cooking for more than 60 years and have made many Italian dishes. This is the best sauce I have ever made including one from an Italian friend of mine many years ago. The only difference is I added ground sweet sausage. I also tried your Manicotti recipe. Delish. Again, I added the sweet sausage. Hamburger will also do in either recipes. August 13, 2012 at 5:21pm Reply

    • Katie: Do you put sausage in food processor too? January 28, 2013 at 9:22am Reply

      • Jaclyn: I like the texture of finely ground meat in sauces better sometimes but I guess it just depends on the recipe. January 28, 2013 at 1:28pm Reply

  • Jaclyn: dearcat O’Connell – that is so wonderful to hear! Comments like yours make my day =), they keep me excited about cooking. The sweet sausage addition sounds amazing in this and in the manicotti, I will definitely have to try that. Thanks so much for your comment! August 17, 2012 at 8:13am Reply

  • Simple Obedience: Can you start stovetop then throw it in the crocpot for the other 5 hours? November 17, 2012 at 9:47am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yeah you could probably do it that way, the one thing though if you want the sauce to reduce and thicken you may not want to cover it with a lid until halfway through, and just stir it occasionally. Hopefully that helps! November 17, 2012 at 10:46pm Reply

      • Melissa: Crockpot sounds good to me. I am worried about it splattering everywhere. I know it sounds silly…. I will try it in a crock pot with the lid on and see what happens, ii can always adjust from there and try it again with the original recipe or with the lid off for the 1st half if it is not thick enough. September 24, 2014 at 9:06pm Reply

  • Talaia @ WholeYum: This recipe sounds great! January 8, 2013 at 5:58pm Reply

  • Robin: How many servings does this make?? February 8, 2013 at 5:27am Reply

    • Jaclyn: A lot – probably about 8 – 10. Sorry I should have a better number for you. I just know if feeds my family family of four then I have plenty of left overs that I freeze too. February 8, 2013 at 5:54pm Reply

  • IN THE POT | SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI SAUCE | GnomeAngel: […] can find Cooking Classy‘s original recipe here: Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – Authentic Italian Style.  However, I tweaked it a little for the slow cooker so here’s what I […] February 18, 2013 at 2:30pm Reply

  • Teresita H. Gebhard: Am just starting to enjoy cooking – authentic cooking! This looks good! Will try it soon. Thank you!!! April 14, 2013 at 3:19pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you love it Teresita! April 14, 2013 at 3:26pm Reply

  • Chicken Parmesan and I | meghanegoble: […] The photo is from this website […] May 9, 2013 at 1:04pm Reply

  • 4 Book Themed Parties: […] Delicious pasta, how Italian is that? 2. Set the mood with a great looking table, featuring low lighting and lots […] May 20, 2013 at 12:39pm Reply

  • Nancy Bull: Would be nice for people to comment AFTER they have trued this recipe June 9, 2013 at 5:47am Reply

  • Peggy Slaughter: When doubling this recipe, do you actually double EVERYTHING? I like to have reserve in the freezer whenever someone pops in. July 5, 2013 at 7:48am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes I would double everything. I hope you love it Peggy! This is one of my favorite freezer meals, it freezes really well. July 5, 2013 at 9:02am Reply

  • Peggy Slaughter: I have called every grocery store and I cannot find Contadina roma tomatoes. What’s your next favorite, please. July 6, 2013 at 6:59am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I think Progresso, Cento or Muir Glen would be good options. July 6, 2013 at 10:38am Reply

  • Lora Ruffner: I just had to write and thank you for this sauce. I found the recipe last night and started it cooking this morning. I used 1.5 lb of ground sirloin and .5 lb ground lean pork. After browning, I put both meats in my Kitchen Ninja Pulse and it did a gorgeous job of fine-grinding the browned meat. Followed the rest of the recipe exactly… luckily I had just purchased fresh herbs the day before.

    This turned out to be the best meat sauce I’ve ever made (or ever eaten). My best friend has a huge Italian family and I’ve gotten several of their authentic recipes. This one beats them, I kid you not! Make this sauce people! It’s not quick, but it’s worth every minute of your time! September 4, 2013 at 12:37pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re very welcome Lora! I’m so happy to hear you liked it :)! Thanks for your comment! September 9, 2013 at 6:00pm Reply

  • Bob: How many servings do you get upon using this recipe? March 1, 2014 at 1:42am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Probably about 8. March 18, 2014 at 8:39pm Reply

  • Clairen Lindsey: Hi there!

    What’re your thoughts on using chicken instead and making it in a slow cooker?? November 14, 2014 at 9:52am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I definitely prefer the beef but you could use ground pork or turkey. November 14, 2014 at 7:01pm Reply

  • Ken: Is that a picture of your actual spaghetti or a stolen photo ? July 30, 2015 at 5:39pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It’s all mine! August 3, 2015 at 10:18am Reply

  • Yvonne: I’m making this right now. I actually like the thickness of the sauce right now. Recipe says to cook uncovered. I’m wondering if I should cover mine. March 17, 2016 at 1:27pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes, sorry for the late response but if you find it’s a thickness you prefer earlier on you can cover it to keep the liquids from evaporating. March 18, 2016 at 9:42am Reply

  • M: Hi Jaclyn, if I decide use chicken broth to help thin the sauce, what brand of chicken broth do you recommend? Should it be low sodium or fat free?Thanks! June 18, 2016 at 6:12am Reply

  • Elizabeth Smith: This recipe was amazing!!!!! I will definitely be making it again. My husband and I ate it 3 nights in a row. We didn’t want to eat anything else. I have a feeling I will be making it again very soon. July 23, 2016 at 4:18pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad it was enjoyed Elizabeth! July 25, 2016 at 10:48am Reply

  • Tyler Levingston: These are the best recipes.💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯💯🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅🏅🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑🤑👍👍👍👍👍👍👍 December 9, 2016 at 5:55pm Reply

  • papa: haha July 30, 2017 at 10:28pm Reply

  • Elizabeth: Such a wonderful recipe ! I do alot of cooking
    And have made many spaghetti sauce recipes in my time ! But taking into account the simplicity of the recipe and the time it makes and the authentic rustic chunky recipe if you will( I added some peppers, mushrooms ) I have to say it is my new go to sauce
    Thanks so much for sharing !
    Your newest reader August 12, 2017 at 2:22pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Elizabeth! So glad you love it! August 15, 2017 at 12:50pm Reply

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