This homemade Meat Sauce is rich, meaty, juicy and beats anything you’ll get from a jar. It’s an easy one-pot recipe made from caramelized onions, garlic and two kinds of meat that are slowly simmered with crushed tomatoes and dried seasoning.
Homemade Meat Sauce for Spaghetti and More
This hearty Homemade Meat Sauce is a great way to upgrade spaghetti, baked ziti, lasagna or any other dish that uses pasta sauce. It’s an easy one-pot recipe that uses simple ingredients to give you a rich, savory and hearty result.
The key to making the best meat sauce recipe is to create layers of flavor, then simmer it low and slow. We start by caramelizing onions and garlic, then adding ground beef and Italian sausage and browning it alongside. From there, we add crushed tomatoes, a hint of sugar and Italian dried herbs and seasoning to create a balanced, delicious and super satisfying Meat Sauce.
While it tastes fabulous the day it’s made, it also freezes beautifully so we recommend making a big batch and saving some for later. If you’re looking for more of a tomato-based sauce, you can also give our Roasted Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes a try. And if it's spaghetti you're after, be sure to try our chicken spaghetti and pasta carbonara.
Ingredients for Homemade Meat Sauce
- Olive Oil - the olive oil in this recipe is for cooking, but it also adds a lot of flavor to the sauce.
- Onion - either white or yellow onions will taste best in this recipe.
- Garlic - fresh garlic tastes the absolute best in this sauce.
- Ground Beef - we recommend using lean ground beef to avoid a greasy sauce. You could substitute ground turkey if your family prefers.
- Italian Sausage - you’ll want to remove the casing from your sausage before cooking.
- Water - this is just for cooking the ground meat.
- Crushed Tomatoes - San Marzano tomatoes are my preference, but any type of crushed tomatoes will work great. You could substitute a bit of diced tomatoes as well if you like your meat sauce a little chunkier.
- Sugar - you will almost always see some form of sugar in a tomato-based spaghetti sauce because it helps balance the acidity from all of the tomatoes.
- Salt and Pepper
- Italian Seasoning - you can stick with Italian Seasoning only, but sometimes I like to add a bit of fennel seed and crushed red pepper flakes.
- Parmesan Rind - this is optional but adds a deep umami flavor that’s hard to replace. I like to save my own Parmesan rinds, but you can also often find them for sale at the grocery store in the specialty cheeses section.
How to Make Homemade Meat Sauce for Spaghetti
- Cook the onions and garlic. In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the diced onion and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a deep, rich, golden hue. Once the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, until translucent.
- Brown the meat. Add the ground beef and sausage, using a spoon to break the meat into small pieces. Next, add ½ cup of water and cook until there is no more pink, or about 5-7 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and seasoning and simmer. Once the meat is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper and parmesan rind. Cook at a slow simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve or store. Remove the meat sauce from the heat and let cool slightly before removing the Parmesan rind. Use immediately, or let cool and store in jars or an airtight container. Enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! We still recommend caramelizing the onions and garlic and browning the meat on the stovetop. From there, you can transfer the mixture to the slow cooker and add in your crushed tomatoes and seasoning. Cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Voila!
Marinara sauce is usually tomato-based and meatless. It is sometimes cooked with red wine and usually contains herbs and onions. Spaghetti sauce, on the other hand, is often a meat sauce that may or may not contain vegetables as well.
Yes! Allow the Meat Sauce to cool completely, then transfer to freezer bags and allow them to freeze flat. Frozen Meat Sauce can be stored for up to 4 months.
If I'm using it to top spaghetti or any other pasta, I usually plan on about 1-1 ½ cups of Meat Sauce per person.
Storing and Reheating
- Refrigerator: Meat Sauce can be stored in an airtight container or jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Freezer: freeze completely cooled Meat Sauce in freezer bags and store frozen for up to 4 months. To thaw, you can run the bag under cool water or transfer to the fridge overnight.
- To reheat: add leftover Meat Sauce to a saucepot with a touch of water and reheat over medium low, stirring occasionally until warmed through.
Homemade Meat Sauce Recipe
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1 medium Onion white or yellow, diced
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic minced (about 3 large cloves)
- 1 pound Ground Beef
- 1 pound Hot Italian Sausage removed from casing and ground
- ½ cup Water
- 2 28-oz cans Crushed Tomatoes San Marzano Tomatoes if possible
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 ½ Tablespoons Salt
- ½ teaspoon Black Pepper
- 2 Tablespoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 Parmesan Rind optional
- In a large dutch oven over medium heat, add the olive oil. Once shimmering, add the diced onion and stir to coat. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn a deep, rich, golden hue.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add the garlic and saute for about 2 minutes, until translucent.
- Add the ground beef and sausage, using a spoon to break the meat into small pieces. Add ½ cup of water and cook until there is no more pink, or about 5-7 minutes.
- Once the meat is cooked, add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, black pepper and parmesan rind. Cook at a slow simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the meat sauce from the heat and let cool slightly before removing the Parmesan rind. Use immediately, or let cool and store in jars or an airtight container. Enjoy!
More of the Best Pasta Sauces and Recipes to Try
- Easy Alfredo Sauce
- Best Homemade Sun-dried Tomato Alfredo Sauce
- Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Baked Mac and Cheese
- Feta Cheese Pasta
- Chicken Spaghetti
- Slow Cooker Tortellini Pasta Bake
- More Homemade Sauces
- More Meal Prep Ideas
This Homemade Italian Meat Sauce is an easy way to upgrade your spaghetti, lasagna or any other pasta dish. It's an easy Meat Sauce recipe that uses simple ingredients to create rich, deep and satisfying flavor.