Classic Meaty Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce

Diana Rattray

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 70 mins
Total: 90 mins
Servings: 4 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
347 Calories
14g Fat
20g Carbs
36g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 347
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 14g 18%
Saturated Fat 5g 27%
Cholesterol 101mg 34%
Sodium 686mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 4g 14%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 36g
Vitamin C 20mg 100%
Calcium 67mg 5%
Iron 6mg 35%
Potassium 1403mg 30%
*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.)

A meaty red sauce is really quite versatile—it can be simply served over pasta or included in your favorite baked pasta dish such as lasagna. This basic spaghetti sauce recipe is made with lean ground beef, oregano, basil, garlic, onion, and tomato paste, but you could also add some ground Italian sausage to the beef, or add extra ground beef for meat lovers. Vegetables can be added as well—try diced zucchini or yellow summer squash along with the tomatoes, and shredded carrots can add natural sweetness.


  • 1 pound lean ground beef

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 large clove garlic, minced

  • 2 (6-ounce) cans tomato paste

  • 3 cups water

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 dash crushed red pepper, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

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

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

  4. Serve over hot spaghetti or linguini and serve grated Parmesan cheese on the side.


  • The sauce may be frozen in freezer containers for three to four months. Thaw the sauce overnight in the refrigerator or cook in a covered saucepan over low heat until it is hot and bubbling. 
  • For a low carb diet, serve the sauce over spaghetti squash strands or summer squash or zucchini noodles.

Recipe Variations

  • 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.
  • Sauté about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of shredded carrots along with the onion and garlic to add natural sweetness.
  • 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.
  • Sauté 1/2 pound of Italian sausage with the ground beef.
  • Sauté 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.
  • 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 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can of diced tomatoes to the sauce along with the water.
  • 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. You can also add ricotta cheese and mascarpone. (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.