Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

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My inner twelve-year-old is having a field day as I try to describe this spaghetti sauce recipe without sounding like a pervert. In fact, I give completely up, snicker away. It’s a thick and meaty sauce perfect over spaghetti noodles or sauteed vegetables for the gluten-free and low carb crowd. Personally, I prefer zucchini and yellow squash with garlic rather than spaghetti squash.

I frequently double, triple, or even quadruple this recipe, just remember you will need quite a large pot.

Since this recipe works so well for several other meals that our family loves:

Future-Heather always appreciates past-Heather’s efforts.

Freeze the leftovers flat in zippered freezer bags or in freezer safe mason jars.

One of my favorite things for extra-flavorful spaghetti is to drain the noodles when they reach the al dente (just done) stage and then return them to the pot where they were boiled. Then I scoop several ladle-fulls of spaghetti sauce into the noodles and give it a good stir. This makes sure that all of the noodles get a good coating of sauce before serving.

I do this before I begin making the kids set the table, cutting the garlic bread, or even tossing the romaine lettuce with caesar dressing.

If you are currently on a very tight budget and only have access to ground beef, it’s ok to swap out all ground beef for the sausage, just increase your spices and maybe add a little bit of crushed red pepper if you have any on hand. This recipe also works well with meat substitutions like Beyond Beef. You can even bulk the recipe up using lentils. Again, you will want to adjust the seasonings to make up for what was not brought into the recipe by the sausage.

Yield: 8 Servings

Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce

This meat-based sauce is full of garlic, basil, sausage and ground beef. It's a family favorite and a recipe we serve regularly for company.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes


  • 1 lb hot or mild bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic – minced NOTE This assumes you are not a garlic lover, like my family. We LOVE garlic. when I make a big batch (4x the recipe we usually use 2 heads of garlic)
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 6.5 ounce can tomato sauce (or just use one 15oz one, it’s not critical)
  • 2 TBSP white sugar (cuts the acidity of the sauce, omit if you use seasoned tomatoes as they frequently already contain sugar)
  • 1 heaping TBSP dried basil (or use 2 – 3x as much fresh)
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 heaping TBSP Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp salt, taste before adding, this will depend on the sausage you used
  • fresh ground pepper – to taste


  1. In a large, heavy pot brown the beef and sausage over medium heat, drain and set aside.
  1. Do not wash the pot, all of the browned bits from the beef and sausage add flavor to the final sauce. These browned bits on the bottom of the pot are called the fond are help make your sauce better.
  2. Place the pot back on the burner over medium heat and add the diced onion, diced bell pepper, dried basil (wait if you are using fresh), Italian seasoning, fennel, salt, and pepper. Once the onion begins to soften, add the minced garlic. What you want here is to really smell the spices you have added. If you can’t, you probably need to add a little more.
  3. To the onions, garlic, and seasoning add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, and if you choose, fresh basil.
  4. Return the meat to the pot, stir until well combined, and lower the heat to low.
  5. Cover and simmer for 1 – 1.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Alternately, place all the ingredients in a large crockpot and cook on low all day.


We only add half in the initial part and reserve some to add shortly before serving because we love garlic so much. If your family doesn’t love garlic, add it all in the earlier step so the flavor mellows. This sauce is EXCELLENT over sauteed vegetables; this is why I added the gluten-free tag. The sauce itself is gluten-free, even though the noodles in the picture are decidedly not.


Please let me know if you have tried this recipe and what you think of it.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
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10 thoughts on “Spaghetti Sauce Recipe”

  1. My old Italian grandparents would rant and rave for hours about how the Irish and Polish ruined good Italian sauce with sugar.Which generally turned into a rant about how the reason I was a rotten kid was the half of me that is Irish. 🙂

    Their secret was lower simmer & longer time. Now, when I say “time” I mean the sauce was started at 6 am and you were lucky if you could eat it by 8 pm. Me ole’ gran once did a 48 hour simmer on a vat of sauce.

    Of course the other side of that is my old Italian aunt, sister to the aforementioned grandmother, put raisins in her meatballs, which made her the black sheep. These people were crazy, is what I’m saying. 😉

    • @stark23x you did read the culinary tradition above, right? There wasn’t one claim that this was traditional 🙂

      I was in an airport bar in Chicago having a beer and talking to another traveler about food and cooking. Apparently I was being a bit enthusiastic with the “gesticulating” as a passerby interrupted our conversation to ask if I was Italian.

      • @HeatherSolos I’m a handsy talker too. I blame the maternal half.

        BTW, I’m totally fine with the shortcut of a bit of sugar to cut the acid in the sauce. I do, however, draw the line at cutting spaghetti. It’s a bone of contention with the Mrs. She’s a cutter. I say learn to twirl or eat elbows. 🙂

        • @stark23x @HeatherSolos My father is a ‘spaghetti cutter’. I think it was 4 or 5 years after they got married when he finally figured out why his (irish) mother’s spagetti was shorter than his (italian) wife’s spaghetti. Grammie used to break it before it even went in the pot.
          He still can’t twirl his spaghetti, but several years ago my mom bought him a twirling fork. It has a little handle on the end that makes the tines turn in a circle so he can ‘twirl’ his spaghetti

        • @stark23x @HeatherSolos Oh & I had to read that last sentence about 5 times beofre I realized elbows=elbow noodles, not actual human elbows. 🙂 What can I say it’s Monday

  2. Traditional or not, I’m making some and stocking my freezer. Always need some meat sauce handy. (and insert 12 year old giggle.)


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