Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef

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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef has only simple ingredients yet packs vibrant flavor. This meat sauce has little active time, so while it simmers to bold perfection, you have plenty of time to make a pot of your favorite spaghetti to accompany this flavorful sauce. 

Homemade spaghetti sauce with ground beef over spaghetti on a white plate.

Italian recipes are a fan favorite and for a good reason. Is there anything better than delicious carby pasta soaking in a savory sauce on your dinner table?

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe boasts those rich tomatoey flavors jazzed up with Italian seasoning, and features a hearty dose of protein-packed ground beef. That means you’re not just walking away loaded with carbs – sustenance here will keep you fuller longer!

The basics of a classic spaghetti sauce start with sauteing onions and garlic in extra virgin olive oil, browning the ground beef, and then adding all the tomato ingredients and spices and gently simmering to rich perfection. This easy one-pot sauce is a total crowd-pleaser – make another large pot of your favorite noodles, and you have a delicious meal that everyone will love.

Serve it up with a green salad and lots of delicious garlic bread.…and don’t forget the red wine! You can also use this easy sauce as base for my Cheesy Baked Spaghetti!

What you’ll love about this recipe:


  • EASY SPAGHETTI SAUCE RECIPE with only a few ingredients that you likely have in your pantry and with very little hands-on time.
  • A GREAT RECIPE TO DOUBLE or triple and keep in the refrigerator or freezer for emergency meals. Just cook some spaghetti and warm up the delicious sauce on the stovetop for an easy dinner idea.
  • EXCELLENT OPTION FOR MEAL PREP because you can prepare this over the weekend to serve on busy weeknights.
  • A FAMILY FAVORITE AND KID FRIENDLY – Even a picky eater loves red sauce. A hearty homemade spaghetti sauce is total comfort food that the entire family will love.

RECIPE INGREDIENTS

You’ll need the following ingredients to make this Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef:

Ingredients needed to make spaghetti sauce with ground beef.

INGREDIENT NOTES

In addition to the key ingredients listed below, you will need extra virgin olive oil to saute the onions and garlic. Additionally, you will need a little water to help thin out the sauce and finish off with sea salt for a well-balanced flavor.

Ground beef – Use extra lean ground beef, 90% or 95% lean. That means it’s 90% beef and only 10% fat. This will prevent the need to drain the fat. However, you can easily use 80-85% and drain the excess grease or allow it to reabsorb back into the meat. Fat is flavor, so this is a personal preference.

Onion – You will need about 1 cup of diced onion (a small white or yellow onion will both work).

Fresh garlic – Four or five garlic cloves will add fantastic flavor; if in a pinch, use jarred minced garlic.

Diced tomatoes – A 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes will be the base of this homemade sauce. Do not drain.

Petite diced tomatoes – Similar to regular diced tomatoes, only the tomatoes are cut into finer pieces. For this recipe, you will need an undrained 15-ounce can of petite diced tomatoes.

Tomato sauce – A small 8-ounce tomato sauce is enough to create the perfect consistency.

Brown sugar – A very important ingredient in making spaghetti sauce as it will help cut the acidity from the tomatoes.

HOW TO MAKE SPAGHETTI SAUCE WITH GROUND BEEF: STEP BY STEP

Here are some quick visual instructions. Remember that full instructions with exact ingredients will be in the printable recipe card below!

Step 1: In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. Add diced onion when the oil is hot and cook for 2-3 minutes until soft. Then add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more to bring out the flavor.

Add ground beef and cook for 3-4 minutes until no longer pink, breaking meat into small pieces with the wooden spoon as it cooks. Pro tip: Use a potato masher during the last minute of cooking to get the meat broken up nice and fine! Drain grease or use a paper towel to absorb the excess fat, if necessary.

Ground beef and onions being cooked in a large pot.

Step 2: Add both cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, brown sugar, and sea salt. Give everything a big stir.

Remaining ingredients for the spaghetti sauce with ground beef being added to the pot.

Step 3: Bring to a boil over medium-high heat with the lid on. Then, lower the heat and simmer with the lid off (or slightly ajar to prevent splatters) for at least 30 minutes. The longer the homemade meat sauce simmers, the better! Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.

Spaghetti sauce with ground beef after being simmered and cooked.

RECIPE TIPS & TRICKS

  • You can drain the fat from the ground beef or pat it with paper towels to absorb it. Alternatively, you can increase cooking time to allow the excess fat to be cooked down and evaporated. Lastly, use lean ground beef to limit fat content altogether.

  • Cooking the sauce with the lid helps to prevent splattering but is also essential for proper consistency and flavor.

  • You can manipulate how thin or thick you want your homemade spaghetti sauce to be. Covering the sauce will trap the heat and help add liquid back into the sauce. For a thicker sauce, remove the lid to allow the liquid to evaporate.

  • Add water in half-cup increments to thin the sauce further until you’ve reached the desired consistency.

  • You can omit the sugar, but it helps to cut the acidic bite of the tomatoes.

Confidence Tip

Time is your friend when making the most delicious spaghetti sauce. The longer the sauce cooks, the more time the flavors can blend. If time permits, two hours will yield a more robust flavor.

STORAGE & REHEATING

  • Storage: Leftover spaghetti sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  • Reheating: To reheat spaghetti sauce, transfer it to a small saucepan with a thick bottom. Turn the heat to medium-high and gently heat until warm, stirring occasionally.
  • Freezing: This meat sauce for spaghetti can be frozen in a freezer-safe container or a freezer ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and reheat, following the instructions above.

Additions & Substitutions

ADDITIONS:

  • Garnish: Elevate this easy homemade spaghetti sauce with a garnish of fresh herbs. Top the sauce with fresh basil or curly parsley for a bright green and refreshing flavor.
  • Parmesan: Spaghetti sauce wouldn’t be complete without freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

  • Ground meat: Ground beef is the classic choice of meat in spaghetti bolognese. However, any ground meat blend can be used in this meat sauce recipe.
  • Ground turkey or chicken would be an excellent lean option. In comparison, ground sausage will add extra flavor, thanks partly to its fat content. Feel free to experiment and mix up the meats.
  • Try using ground sausage and ground turkey together for a delicious spin on this easy spaghetti sauce.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How long should I simmer the spaghetti sauce?

When making traditional spaghetti sauce, a good rule of thumb to remember is the longer the sauce simmers, the more flavorful it will be. The minimum time to simmer sauce is 30 minutes, but two hours will give you the best flavor. You want adequate time for the fats to be incorporated into the sauce rather than pool on top.

Should I cover the spaghetti sauce while simmering?

Covering the pot of spaghetti sauce with a lid will trap the heat and moisture, producing a more flavorful result. Additionally, this will save time and energy, as the spaghetti sauce will come to a simmer faster when covered.

Is adding sugar to spaghetti sauce necessary?

Adding a little sugar to tomato-based sauces reduces acidity and creates a more balanced flavor profile. How much sugar needs to be added will depend on the type of tomatoes used because canned tomatoes vary. Generally, one tablespoon of brown sugar to 2-3 cans of tomatoes will bring the acidic tartness down.

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A plate of homemade spaghetti sauce over pasta garnished with parmesan cheese.

I hope you love this Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef! If you make it be sure to leave a comment and a rating so I know how you liked it. Enjoy, xo!

ground beef spaghetti sauce on a white plate garnished with fresh basil

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef

Casey Rooney
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef has only simple ingredients yet packs vibrant flavor. This meat sauce has little active time, so while it simmers to bold perfection, you have plenty of time to make a pot of your favorite spaghetti to accompany this flavorful sauce. 
5 from 9 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4
Calories 433 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small onion diced (about a cup)
  • 4-5 large cloves of garlic, minced the best garlic chopper
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef (90% lean or more, if possible)
  • 1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 lb. pasta, for serving

Instructions
 

  • Cook Veggies: In a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. When oil is hot, add onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes until soft, then add garlic. Cook 1 minute more.
  • Add Beef: Add ground beef and cook for 3-4 minutes until no longer pink. Breaking meat into small pieces with the wooden spoon as it cooks. Pro tip: Use a potato masher during the last minute of cooking to get the meat broken up nice and fine! Drain grease, if necessary.
  • Add Remaining Ingredients: Add both cans of diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, bay leaves, brown sugar and salt. Give everything a big stir.
  • Simmer: Bring to a boil over medium high heat with the lid on. Then, lower the heat and simmer with the lid off (or slightly ajar to prevent splatters) for at least 30 minutes. The longer it simmers, the better! Remove and discard the bay leaves before serving.

Notes

Nutrition is only an estimate based on the Very Well Fit Nutrition Calculator.
Nutrition does not include pasta, just the homemade sauce.
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Nutrition

Calories: 433kcalCarbohydrates: 22.6gProtein: 33.9gFat: 22.6gSaturated Fat: 6.2gCholesterol: 97mgSodium: 1467mgPotassium: 941mgFiber: 5gSugar: 16.4gCalcium: 101mgIron: 5mg
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Recipe Rating




8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Sounds delicious, but DD won’t eat chunky cooked tomatoes. Can I sub crushed tomatoes for the diced but still use the petite diced and either she eats them or picks them out…..hoping she’ll eat them because they’re so small…

  2. 5 stars
    WOW. Thanks for a delish and easy dish – we love it. It’s way better to make this homemade with this recipe.