Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – Authentic Italian Style

July 20, 2012

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Authentic Italian Style Spaghetti Sauce simmered low and slow and packed with flavor!

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!


5 from 11 votes

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce – Authentic Italian Style

Incredibly delicious spaghetti sauce! Simmered low and slow and packed with rich tomatoey and meaty flavor.
Servings: 8
Prep20 minutes
Cook4 hours
Ready in: 4 hours 20 minutes


  • 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


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Recipe Source: Cooking Classy

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  • Queen

    OMG this dish is like the best thank you for puting this online kiss mua luv you!!!!

  • Ben A Hauck

    Very delicious. While maybe not exactly like what one would find in Italy, it’s very good and about as good as one can do with the ingredients available in the U.S. I also added some sherry to the sauce.

  • Rob Owen

    Seems like a good recipe but I prefer to use maybe a half a pound of ground beef and a pound of Italian sausage you can’t have spaghetti sauce without having Italian sausage in it. And when you brown them together the hamburger picks up a lot of the flavor from the Italian sausage. Also I don’t need to add any broth to mine because it has plenty of moisture from the vegetables I put in it, such as green pepper onion I also use fresh mushrooms in mine. And I always use angel hair pasta. And if you’d like to put in some sliced or whole pitted olives.

  • Kay Bell

    This is an amazing recipe. I’m not Italian but this is what I would imagine from Italia and the Nonas. I did some additions that made it THE most tasty sauce ever! I agree that cooking it for at least 5 hours is a great idea, and it makes the house smell like Italy all day long!

    Here’s some additions from me:

    after sauté make a circle in the middle of the pan with the carrots, onions, garlic pulled over to the sides so not to overcook and to allow the tomato paste (added 6 oz can to recipe), and the smashed 3 anchovies to the paste ( crunch up the anchovies when you make the hole in the middle first then add the paste), deglaze with a cup or so of red wine.

    Tips I gained from other recipes:

    Add a tbs or more of worsty sauce.
    2 tbs sugar
    Add herbs: fresh when you can on the ones already called for. I had fresh from my garden rosemary, basil, sage, and oregano. Add the marjoram, additional sage (after adding fresh sage), additional dried oregano, dried thyme.

    After deglazing with wine, when other herbs and cans of crushed or diced tomatoes are in and cooked for a while, add more wine (1cup or so), add more chicken stock to thin it.

    Definitely cook for 5 hours. Adding stock as needed to keep it the right consistency. So rich that way! All flavors are melded perfectly.

    We did ours with fresh black pepper pappardelle. Perfect!

    Thank you for the recipe!

  • Jan

    Excellent, so good. There is no salt, no pepper, no Italian seasoning. This is really fresh and exactly what spaghetti tastes like in Italy at a outdoor cafe in any small village. Try it, you will love it!