Classic Meaty Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

Spaghetti Sauce
Spaghetti Sauce with Ground Beef. Recipe and Photo: Diana Rattray
    90 mins
Ratings (9)

This basic spaghetti sauce recipe is made with lean ground beef, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, and tomato paste.

A meaty sauce is really quite versatile. You might add some ground Italian sausage to the beef or add extra ground beef for meat lovers. Vegetables can be added as well. Add diced zucchini or yellow summer squash along with the tomatoes. Shredded carrots can add natural sweetness. Saute about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of shredded carrots along with the onion and garlic. See the tips and variations for a vegetarian version and more ideas.

What You'll Need

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried leaf basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • dash crushed red pepper, optional

How to Make It

Brown the ground beef in a large skillet or sauté pan; pour off excess fat.

Add the chopped onion and garlic and cook over medium-low heat until onion is tender. Stir in tomato paste, water, and seasonings; blend well. Simmer, uncovered, over very low heat for 1 hour.

Serve with hot spaghetti or linguini and pass the Parmesan!

Spaghetti sauce serves 4 to 6.

Tips and Variations

  • The sauce may be frozen in freezer containers for 3 to 4 months. Thaw the sauce overnight in the refrigerator or cook in a covered saucepan over low heat. 
  • For a vegetarian sauce, replace the ground beef with 2 cups of sliced zucchini, 1 thinly sliced or julienne-sliced carrot, and 1 cup of sliced fresh mushrooms. Simmer until the vegetables are tender.
  • Add about 1/2 cup of sliced mushrooms to the skillet along with the onions, or add 1 small jar or can of drained sliced mushrooms along with the tomato paste.
  • Saute 1/2 pound of Italian sausage with the ground beef.
  • Saute 2 to 4 strips of bacon, diced, with the ground beef, or a few tablespoons of pancetta.
  • Add 1/2 cup of diced green bell pepper along with the onions.
  • Add one 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes to the sauce along with the water.
  • Replace the dried basil with about 2 tablespoons of fresh thinly sliced basil leaves (chiffonade).
  • Replace 1/4 cup of the water with dry red wine.
  • Add about 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes along with the tomato paste.
  • For a creamy sauce, stir about 1/4 cup of heavy cream or cream cheese into the sauce just before it's done. Ricotta cheese and mascarpone are a few more possibilities. Note: if you plan to freeze the sauce, don't add cheese or cream until you reheat it.
  • Add about 1/2 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese to the sauce about 10 minutes before it's done.

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