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

Makaronia me Kima

Lynn Livanos Athan

  • Total: 50 mins
  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 40 mins
  • Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
577 Calories
16g Fat
73g Carbs
34g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 577
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 70mg 23%
Sodium 188mg 8%
Total Carbohydrate 73g 26%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Protein 34g
Calcium 102mg 8%
*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
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • One 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup, optional
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1 pound pasta
  • Garnish: grated Mizithra or Kefalotyri cheese

Steps to Make It

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

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

  3. Add parsley, cinnamon, oregano, mint, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, and water. Bring the 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.

  4. Add the 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.)

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