Greek-Style Meat Sauce for Pasta (Makaronia me Kima)

Makaronia me Kima

Lynn Livanos Athan

Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 40 mins
Total: 50 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
390 Calories
17g Fat
30g Carbs
27g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 390
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 17g 21%
Saturated Fat 7g 33%
Cholesterol 74mg 25%
Sodium 563mg 24%
Total Carbohydrate 30g 11%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 27g
Vitamin C 10mg 49%
Calcium 88mg 7%
Iron 4mg 24%
Potassium 615mg 13%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Spaghetti and meat sauce may sound like a classic Italian dish, but it is equally popular in Greece. Meat sauce in Greece is referred to as Kima (kee-MAH), which is also the word for ground beef. What's the difference between the Italian and Greek versions? The simple answer lies in the choice of spices and herbs—Greek meat sauce includes mint, cinnamon, and sometimes even allspice while Italian meat sauces are more likely to include basil and fennel seeds. Kima is thicker and more like chili in its consistency than a typical Italian Bolognese sauce.

There are so many variations of this sauce and every Greek cook puts their own personal spin on the traditional favorite. The beauty of the recipe is that it can be adapted to your own personal taste and it will quickly become a favorite in your family. For example, you can add or substitute ground pork, add allspice, or include eggplant (a Greek favorite) in your recipe. The ketchup called for in this recipe curbs the acidity of the tomato sauce and adds sweetness with a hint of vinegar. Feel free to substitute sugar or omit entirely if you prefer.


  • 1 pound ground beef

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, optional

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup red wine

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried mint

  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 2 tablespoons ketchup, optional

  • 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

  • 1 pound pasta

  • Grated Mizithra cheese, or Kefalotyri cheese, to taste, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. In a 4-quart saucepan, brown ground beef over medium-high heat until all pink color disappears. If ground beef is very lean, add 2 tablespoons olive oil before adding onion and garlic.

  3. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add wine and allow it to simmer a minute or two before adding the next ingredients.

  4. Add parsley, cinnamon, oregano, mint, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, and water. Bring heat down to low and simmer uncovered for at least 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is also a good time to boil the water for your pasta.

  5. Add ketchup, if using, and butter, stir and let cook a minute or two. (The flavors of the sauce will develop the longer it sits, and it's sometimes even better the second day after you make it.)

  6. Prepare pasta according to package directions. Serve pasta with meat sauce and grated cheese.