Homemade Meat Sauce Recipe

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.

Applause-earning spaghetti sauce uses Homemade Italian Seasoning, an easy spice mix that tastes makes tomato sauces pop. You may also use this meat sauce for show stopping Lasagna, with lots leftover. Then spoon the rest on Roasted Spaghetti Squash or Eggplant Parmesan. More easy Italian recipes here.

Homemade meat sauce in a silver pot with a wooden spoon.
Pin Now To Save! PIN IT

This made-from-scratch spaghetti sauce is worth getting excited about. First of all, it beats anything out of the jar. You can breeze right through the pasta sauce aisle, knowing that your homemade meat sauce is worlds better. Galaxies, even.

Make the best lasagna ever. Make a double batch and freeze it for last-minute pasta dinners. If you're going low-carb, nothing is better than a hearty tomato sauce over raw zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. The future you will thank you.

Making a double batch of Homemade Meat Sauce? Don't do the math. Just click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.

Homemade Meat Sauce ingredients:

Here's what to grab at the store for the best spaghetti sauce.

  • Ground beef. You can use turkey, venison, chicken, or ground pork. Change it up if you like.
  • Italian sausage. If you can't eat pork, double up on the beef. No hard and fast rules here.
  • Onion.
  • Garlic. More or less, that's up to you.
  • Crushed tomatoes. You can also make the sauce with an equal amount of fresh tomatoes--just let things simmer longer.
  • Tomato sauce.
  • Sugar. As it's written, the recipe calls for 2 tablespoons. Some cooks prefer 1 tablespoon, while others like it sweeter. Maybe start with one, then simmer and stir, taste, and see if you want more. This sauce can take up to 1/4 cup, or if you believe some commenters, 1/2 cup!
  • Dried basil. By all means, if you have fresh, use that.
  • Italian seasoning. Make your own Italian seasoning here and never overpay in the spice aisle again.
  • Fennel seeds. This ingredient really makes a difference, boosting the Italian sausage flavors. If seeds aren't your thing, crush them up in a spice grinder. You'll love it.
  • Salt and pepper. Always!
    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.

How to make Homemade Meat Sauce from scratch:

The photos take you through the general steps of making the best spaghetti meat sauce without giving you exact amounts—see the recipe card below for the details.

  1. First, grab your biggest, heaviest pot. A Dutch oven works great.
  2. Next, sauté the beef, sausage, and chopped onion until browned. At this point, you can drain off any extra fat, if you see fit.
    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.
  3. After that, stir in the fresh garlic. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes (juices and all), tomato sauce, sugar (only if you want), basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, bay leaf, and some salt and pepper. Give the sauce a few good stirs.
    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.
  4. Then all that’s left is to let the meat sauce simmer uncovered for about half an hour. If it still looks too watery, cook a little longer.

How to make homemade Italian spaghetti sauce in the crock pot:

  1. On the stove, this meaty marinara cooks up in about 45 minutes. But if you're willing to wait, you can cook this recipe in the slow cooker.
  2. To begin, brown the meat and onions on the stove, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so.
  3. Then transfer the mixture to the crock pot and add the remaining ingredients. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 hours on HIGH, or 4 to 5 hours on LOW.

Homemade spaghetti sauce, no meat:

Not only for the meat eaters, this recipe can be made without meat. Use extra olive oil and a vegetarian meat replacement: impossible meat, tempeh, tofu, or even just lots and lots of fresh mushrooms. Then proceed with the recipe as written.

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.

Other variations for this easy meat sauce:

It's official, you don't ever have to make another easy meat sauce with jar sauce. Once you have this basic recipe, it's arrivederci, Prego.

Plus you can customize the sauce to your taste exactly. Who knows, maybe you'll become famous, like Giada?

  • Green peppers. Cook them down with the onions so they have time to soften.
  • Mushrooms. If you're a mushroom person, this should make you very happy. Add them when you cook the onions.
  • Fire roasted tomatoes. A reader's fabulous suggestion to use canned fire-roasted tomatoes for a little extra smokiness. Try it!
  • Chili flakes. For a spicy tomato sauce with meat.
  • Homemade meat sauce with fresh tomatoes. Switch out some fresh ones for the crushed tomatoes in the recipe, but keep the sauce. Add a small can of tomato paste if you want your sauce even thicker.
Homemade meat sauce in a silver pot with a wooden spoon.

Homemade Meat Sauce Recipe

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.
4.98 from 76 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 16 servings
Calories: 334kcal
Author: Meggan Hill

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds ground beef and/or ground Italian sausage (I like to use one pound of each)
  • 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 granulated sugar or to taste (see notes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  • In a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add beef, sausage, and onion and cook until mostly browned, about 5 minutes. Drain if desired. Stir in garlic until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, sugar, basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds, and bay leaf. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season to taste with salt and pepper (I like 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper). Yield: 2 quarts of sauce.

Video

Notes

Add sugar to taste. For some, that means omitting it entirely. For others, you can increase the sugar up to 1/4 cup.

Nutrition

Calories: 334kcal
Tried this Recipe? Pin it for Later!Mention @CulinaryHill or tag #CulinaryHill!

Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




This form collects your name, email, and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.
This form collects your name, email and content so that we can keep track of the comments placed on the website. For more info check our privacy policy where you will get more info on where, how and why we store your data.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Diane Warner

    Awesome sauce! I used what I had, so I mixed 1lb pork and 1lb beef. I used one 650 mL jar of Classico Roasted Portobello Mushroom sauce instead of the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, but I did put in the tomato paste. Also added some mushrooms, and I didn’t have fennel so used 1/2 tsp dried tarragon. I was nervous about the sugar, but it’s very good. I would use brown sugar next time because I prefer it. Great sauce, I will use this recipe often!5 stars

  2. Patricia Perez

    Absolutely Delicious! One of the best spaghetti sauces I have made. The kids loves it!!5 stars

  3. Vince

    This is my new go-to recipe!!!5 stars

  4. Victoria Morris

    I use all the same ingredients for my sauce and for the sugar, I use light brown sugar. And I do sausage in chunks as that is how my husband loves it. So glad someone has posted my mother’s recipe for meat sauce! Would love to see more of your recipes.

  5. lani

    I made this 5 months ago and it’s one of the best sauces out there homemade. Going to try this with some lasagna! ❤️5 stars

  6. Lidia Lipstick

    I’m Itallian and always add a little sugar to the acidity of the tomatoes. Everyone has their own way of cooking so let’s not disparage anyone who has a difference of opinion. Be kind and respectful in your reviews; it goes a long way.

  7. Debbie Jarreau

    This is my go to recipe. I always double it because I have a large family and it’s always fantastic. I never have fennel seeds so I omit those. And it’s still delicious5 stars

  8. Likki Boombum

    Truly delightful!5 stars

  9. Becca

    How many chopped up mushrooms should i add? How many green peppers?

    1. meggan

      Hi Becca, it’s up to you and totally flexible. I’d probably do either 1/2 pepper or the whole thing, and maybe a pound of mushrooms. They cook down so much and I just love mushrooms. But you can use less, it’s hard to mess it up! Thanks. -Meggan

  10. Teresa

    I am daughter of immigrant parents from Italy, there is no way in hell they would put sugar in there sauce. This must be a North American thing.

    1. Jacques Larue

      Mr. Derkle’s comment must be the most obnoxious and nasty one I’ve ever read in such a context. America’s the greatest country in the world you might think? Gimme a break. You just called this lady pompous and annoying. Speak for yourself man. I’m just a pasta loving canadian planning to do this recipe… With brown sugar!5 stars

    2. Cherkle Derkle

      Being pompous is annoying, and even worse when combined with idiocy. This is you. Firstly, nobody really cares about your nona, mama, or YOUR opinion, if the sauce simply tastes good. Italy isn’t a powerhouse country like the USA. They have less money, and thus, less money for production and imports. America can afford sugar, as well as cultivate it, so we’re OBVIOUSLY going to more likely use sugar. Also, thinking about it, Italy has one of the fattiest, unhealthy collections of cultural food on the planet. All pasta is pure carbs and crap, and most sauces are not truly healthy. Maybe Italy’s quality of tomatoe is better and more naturally sweet. In sauces I make, I only use canned tomatoes imported FROM Italy, from your precious nona. Each 28 can of tomatoes has 3 grams of sugar per serving. Each can of paste has 4 grams of sugar. So, regarding your overly ignorant (which is an Italian thing although you have done nothing for the world) comment, “We would never add sugar, must be an American thing,” which I’m assuming is supposed to be some kind of insult lmao, do you Italians use sugar? Well no, but actually yes, for sure. Bye.

    3. meggan

      You are my favorite. Please come back to my site anytime. :) -Meggan

    4. meggan

      Probably. People in the Midwest tend to add sugar to all sorts of things that wouldn’t normally have it. -Meggan

  11. KIm Powell

    This is a fabulous sauce! I use 1/2 hamburger and 1/2 Italian sausage. I use it for spaghetti sauce and the base for my baked ziti. It’s the rave at my house!!5 stars

  12. Jan Ondrejca

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe. It was super easy to make and tasty. I made the recipe according to the instructions, but added an extra 1/2 lb. ground beef and 1/2 lb. Italian sausage – my husband likes the extra meat. I added this meat sauce to the slow cooked (plain) tomato sauce I bake in the oven from http://www.seriouseats.com. (I use this recipe for plain sauce now after finding it because when I would make sauce on the stove, I would always burn sauce when I would get distracted while waiting for it to cook.) Was a big hit with the family – my son-in-law even asked for the recipe! Looking forward to trying other recipes…Jan5 stars

    1. Meggan

      Thanks so much Jan! I’m glad everyone liked it! -Meggan

  13. Roberto Barreto

    Made it, with some suggestions. Draining the meat is a most, to watery. Use sweet or mild pork sausage. Tomato paste should be in the ingredients list. A tablespoon of garlic power for more garlic flavor. Next time I am using diced tomatoes and adding one more can of tomato sauce.

  14. Mary

    Thank you. I added a ton of spinach to the ricotta, used jar sauce and whole grain pasta and it was on point.5 stars

  15. Nancy Scott

    Made this just how the recipe is written EXCEPT that I did not have fennel and instead added about a 1/4 tsp of crushed red pepper. It was delicious! My entire family loved it. I did use the 2 tablespoons of sugar and, to me, the “sweetness” of the sauce was just right. Will definitely make again. Very easy and quick to make. Thanks for a great recipe!5 stars

  16. Ghulam Mohyudin

    It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post. 5 stars

  17. Kathy T

    Didn’t follow the recipe “exactly” as I eyeballed the spices instead of strict measurements, but it came out great. The fennel is a nice addition and I semi-ground the seeds to make it more aromatic. Only used 1 T. of sugar, and think next time I’ll use a little less. This recipe is a keeper!5 stars

  18. Dan

    I don’t see tomato paste on the list of ingredients. I’m assuming half a 4 oz. can.

    1. meggan

      Hi Dan, I used to include tomato paste in the recipe but I don’t anymore (but I see I still talked about it elsewhere in the post, outside of the recipe). You can add half a can, a whole can, or no cans. It’s really about what you like and what consistency you prefer. I’m really sorry for the confusion! Thanks. -Meggan

  19. Maggie

    I made this sauce, following the directions exactly, and my family loved it. My son-in-law actually groaned when he took his first bite. This was an easy weekend sauce for me to make and provided leftovers for the next day. Thanks for a tasty and easy sauce that will be added to my repertoire.5 stars

  20. Marissa

    Hi Megan would I use the fennel seeds if only using beef for meat?

    1. meggan

      Hi Marissa, I do. I really like the flavor, and especially if I’m not using sausage I get just that tiny hint of it from the fennel seeds. Having said that, if you don’t have them already and don’t think you’ll use them much, it’s totally fine to leave them out! Whatever you want. But yes I use them with just the beef (especially if I’m doing just beef). Thanks! If you need anything else, please let me know. -Meggan

Scroll to top