Homemade Meat Sauce

The BEST Homemade Meat Sauce has both beef and Italian sausage. It’s perfect in lasagna or on spaghetti, and it comes together with easy pantry ingredients.

My ideal meat sauce is thick and hearty with bright tomato flavors and not one, but two meats.

Bonus if it’s ready sooner rather than later with no crazy, exotic ingredients.

The BEST Homemade Meat Sauce has both beef and Italian sausage. It's perfect in lasagna or on spaghetti, and it comes together with easy pantry ingredients.

My favorite Homemade Meat Sauce recipe has all that and more, and I’m sharing it with you today so you never have to resort to jarred sauce again.

The quest for perfect Homemade Meat Sauce was born out of the quest for perfect lasagna. You can’t have one without the other.

My Make-Ahead Lasagna recipe yields a giant batch of meat sauce, more than you need for the recipe itself. So, you’ll get at least a quart out of that or you can just make it on its own.

Make Ahead Lasagna Culinary Hill-2

I like using both beef and ground sausage here as well as fennel seeds (for extra sausage flavor). Everything else is straight out of your pantry including a tiny bit of sugar for sweetness.

Make lasagna with it, pour it on spaghetti, or eat it with a spoon.

In fact, if you want to eat zoodles? Eat them with this sauce. It makes everything better. Leave the zucchini noodles raw, pile on the meat sauce, and let the hot sauce soften the zoodles just a little. (I added mushrooms to my sauce in this photo).

The BEST Homemade Meat Sauce has both beef and Italian sausage. It's perfect in lasagna or on spaghetti, and it comes together with easy pantry ingredients.

Is it a good replacement for pasta? No.

Is it a good replacement for a salad? Yes.

Save this Homemade Meat Sauce to your
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Homemade Meat Sauce

Yield: 16 servings

Prep Time: 5 min

Cook Time: 40 min

Total Time: 45 min

The BEST Homemade Meat Sauce has both beef and Italian sausage. It's perfect in lasagna or on spaghetti, and it comes together with easy pantry ingredients.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, cook beef, sausage, and onion over medium heat until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more salt to taste if desired (I like an additional 2 teaspoons, but you may prefer less).
The BEST Homemade Meat Sauce has both beef and Italian sausage. It's perfect in lasagna or on spaghetti, and it comes together with easy pantry ingredients.

35 comments

  1. Would love to try this spaghetti sauce and use it for me pasta 

  2. Does this freeze well? Not sure my husband and I could eat all of this in one meal. Looks amazing though!

    • Hi Mary! It freezes like a dream. I can’t think of anything that would freeze better. Just thaw it in the fridge overnight if you want. No problem. Take care!

  3. This has got to be one of the BEST meat sauces I have ever made (I actually followed the recipe, which is rare for me).  So glad I doubled it; I was making one lasagna to give and one for home.  There is just enough sauce left for serving with the lasagna or for a quick weeknight dinner of spaghetti.  

    • Lori, YAY!!! This is great news! I mean, how can you go wrong with both beef and sausage right? But really, it makes me so happy that you enjoyed the recipe as much as I do and that it met your needs. And I do love that you had enough for one more meal. When I make my lasagna, that happens too. One time we even just ate the meat sauce with garlic bread instead of spaghetti and that wasn’t too shabby either. Thanks again and have a great weekend!

  4. It was ALL u said and then some!! And that’s not something I say often lol it was delicious!!

    • Thank you Mychele! I appreciate your comment so much. :) I do adore the meat sauce, it’s pretty incredible. Thanks again and have a great weekend!

  5. Do you need to drain the the oil out of the meat?

    • Hi Veronica, no. I never do. You could, and I will add that option in to the recipe just in case people want to. I think that depends somewhat on what kind of beef you use. Yes, the sausage will have grease in it, but I’m okay with that. Personal preference! I am definitely going to suggest that option though in the directions. Good call. Thank you!

  6. This recipe is so delicious! I made this sauce for a lasagna and loved how it turned out! The only thing I’ll change next time is the amount of salt, 1 tablespoon was a little too much for my husband and I. The rest of the flavors were perfect though!

    • Hi Ashely, thank you so much for the comment! I am going to adjust the recipe to give a range now so people can salt more to their taste. Other than that small issue, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Thanks again, your feedback makes this site better for everyone. Take care!

  7. EXCELLENT Post.thanks for share..more delay.

  8. Meggan, Meggan, Meggan…..this is by far thee absolute best sauce I have ever made. Lately, I have been trying a lot of spaghetti recipes looking for the perfect meat sauce and I have found it in yours. So simple, so easy, and yet so delicious. My family swore it was from a restaurant! A million thank you’s for sharing this delicious recipe!!

    • Wow Shae, that is high praise indeed!! Thank you! It is my favorite too, I feel like I could eat it every day. :) So glad it was a hit! Thanks for the note, you made my day. :)

  9. Meggan; I agree 100% I like to keep the oil and not drain. You did mention what kind of grd beef is used. I Like the 80-20 %, is that a good choice for your sauce?

    • Hi Paul, I think 80/20 is a GREAT choice! You don’t want it too lean (at least in my opinion) but sometimes the 70/30 stuff just looks too fatty and out of control. 80/20 is my go-to… 85/15 if I’m feeling like I need to slim down. :) I will add this info to the post! Thank you so much for your comment.

  10. Oh my goodness I made this tonight to use over tortellini it was amazing,I added some mushrooms just because I am a mushroom freak, soooo good thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Wendy, yes adding mushrooms is practically mandatory for mushroom freaks like us! I just love it! Thank you so much and I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe. :) Take care!

  11. If I needed to skip the sausage and use 2 pounds of ground beef, would you recommend adding any additional seasoning?

    Thank you!

    • Hey Julie! Personally I would not change the seasoning even if I was skipping the sausage and doubling the beef. But, the best thing to do is just taste it as you go (once the beef is cooked through, of course). That’s always the best way! :)

  12. I recently started pressure canning. Have you ever tried to can your sauce? I’m excited to try the recipe. Thanks!

    • Hi Melissa! I don’t have much experience with canning, but I own a copy of the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. I’ll tell you everything I can find in the book that seems helpful! Since there is meat in the sauce, you are all set with your pressure canning method (the boiling water method wouldn’t work).

      The recipe I have from the book is for pint or quart jars. It’s just for processing ground beef but I think it would work for this meat sauce, too.
      Process the jars on medium-high. Vent steam for 10 minutes.
      Put weighted gauge on vent, bring pressure to 10 pounds.
      Process pint jars 1 hour and 15 minutes or quart jars 1 hour and 30 minutes.
      Turn off heat, cool canner to zero pressure. After 5 minutes, remove lid.
      Let jars cool 10 minutes. Remove jars from canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Check seals.

      If you didn’t actually NEED a recipe, sorry for listing it out. I hope you love the sauce whether you can it or not. It’s my favorite! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. Omg, so delicious!  This is what my son requested for his birthday today.  I’m sure he’ll love it!!  

  14. I cooked this and it was D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S thank you for the recipe it was really nice with this cold wheather.

  15. Hi Meggan –
    Here is my question…I want to serve this at my Super Bowl party this year, but we have to travel out of town leaving on Friday and returning Sunday around noon. Would it be to make on Thursday evening, leaving in the refrigerator until time to cook on Sunday? Or should I serve something else?

    • Hi Stephanie, yes you would be fine to do that. You’d actually be safe until Monday (leftovers are good for up to 4 days per the FDA and also per my Food Safety Manager certificate from the National Restaurant Association). If you have ANY doubts you could always freeze it and just give it some extra time to heat up. But yes, I would not hesitate to serve it 3 days later. Thank you!

  16. What if I wanted to put it in the slow cooker?? Do I have too cook the meat first or can just toss it in?

    • Hi Danielle, personally I would cook the meat first before adding it but that as not technically required. If you cook it in a slow cooker, though, none of the liquid will be able to evaporate so the sauce might be a little watery (not as thick). But otherwise you should be good, probably 4 hours on HIGH or 8 hours on LOW.

  17. I just made this for dinner. Everyone loved it! Even picky kids loved it! Definitely making this again. Thank you!

    • Thank you so much, Pamsy! It’s one of my favorite recipes. I really can’t get enough! Have a fantastic weekend. :)

  18. Read the comments …. sounds soo good and I will try.
    Question: ground Italian Sausage … are they links Italian sausage
    and what brand you recommend.
    Thank you for your help and feedback

    • Hi Myrna, thanks so much for your question! When I buy ground Italian sausage, I look for the bulk packages (looks like a package of ground beef but says “italian sausage” on it). It’s basically ground pork with spices. I usually buy whatever the store brand is or whatever I can find. Johnsonville sells it sometimes but only at certain stores. If you can’t find it, you could buy links (similar to bratwurst but again, Italian sausages) and take off the skins and use that. Same thing. Does this help at all? I hope so! Thanks again and take care.

  19. I grew up making pasta sauce on Saturday mornings with my father, who enjoyed cooking.  We always used a bell pepper.  We cooked it all day in a black iron pot and it was so good.  It was very similar to your recipe.  Thanks for sharing.

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