Homemade Meat Sauce

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes

Homemade Meat Sauce is the ultimate spaghetti sauce, cooked low and slow with tomato sauce, ground beef, garlic and parmesan cheese.

Homemade Marinara Sauce is one of the easiest pasta sauces to keep on hand for your favorite Italian Recipes. This meaty spaghetti sauce is another great recipe to freeze for quick weeknight dinners.

Homemade Meat Sauce in green pot

Skip the jar of store bought spaghetti sauce and make this hearty, flavorful Meat Sauce the next time you are craving authentic Italian flavor! With no preservatives and simple ingredients, this slow cooked tomato sauce with beef will make any pasta dish an instant winner.

Unlike a ragù or bolognese, there is no wine, cream, or sautéed carrots and celery in this Meat Sauce. This allows the meaty flavor to fully shine through in this zesty tomato sauce! You can use wine or veggies, or other ingredients, to make this homemade spaghetti sauce exactly how your family likes it.

Since the total time to make Meat Sauce is a bit longer (especially if you slow cook it), this sauce is great to make ahead of time in large batches and freeze for later. Simply use the serving size slider tool on the recipe card and adjust to double or triple the amount of servings. Then freeze in quart sized freezer safe bags for easy weeknight pasta dishes.

Toss this sauce with wide pasta noodles or tube pasta like ziti or rigatoni for an easy weeknight meal. It’s also a great recipe for serving with Garlic Bread as an appetizer.

More Easy, Delicious Homemade Sauces

Meal Prep More Servings for Later

Since you’re going to let this simmer away on the stovetop you can easily triple the recipe and freeze the additional servings. For single servings save 1 cup sauce (add ½ cup beef broth to this when heating and adding to pasta).

This Meat Sauce is the best one pot pasta sauce that you can make in a little over an hour, or you can simmer it longer to develop even more flavor. The entire sauce is made in a heavy bottomed large pot like a dutch oven or you can use a slow cooker (step by step guide in this post) to finish the sauce hands off. 

Homemade Meat Sauce recipe seems like a lot of ingredients but it’s almost all common items from your pantry or refrigerator like green bell peppers, dried oregano, and garlic. If you keep stocked up on canned tomatoes and tomato paste, which you should try to do, all you’ll need from the store is ground beef and fresh grated parmesan cheese.

Meat Sauce Ingredients

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I substitute the ground beef in Meat Sauce?

Instead of beef, try other ground meat like Italian sausage, ground turkey, or ground pork in this recipe. Try a mixture of ground meat or use beef stew meat and shred it when the sauce is finished.

What vegetables can I add to Meat Sauce?

Sautéed veggies like mushrooms, celery, zucchini, red peppers, and carrots will make this sauce even heartier and flavorful.

What kinds of pasta go well with Meat Sauce?

Meat Sauce goes perfectly on spaghetti of course, but also use it on other pasta like ziti, rigatoni, and fettuccine. Or go low carb with zucchini noodles.

What other seasonings can I use for Meat Sauce?

You can add other classic Italian seasonings like fresh basil, red pepper flakes, white pepper, or dried Italian parsley to this sauce.

Can I add wine to Meat Sauce?

Stir in a cup of red wine, white wine, or chicken broth as you cook the beef. Let simmer about 10 minutes, or until reduced by half.

Slow Cooker Meat Sauce

  • Start by browning the ground beef in a large skillet and drain the fat after 3-4 minutes.
  • Once browned and drained, add the onions and bell pepper and cook an additional 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic for another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Pour ground beef mixture into slow cooker and top with the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

More Easy Italian Pasta Dishes

How to Store Meat Sauce

  • Serve: Keep Meat Sauce at room temperature for no more than 2 hours before storing in the freezer or refrigerator.
  • Store: Refrigerate Meat Sauce in an airtight container or glass mason jar for up to 4 days.
  • Freeze: Place cooled sauce in a freezer-safe sealed container and freeze for up to 6 months.
Homemade Meat Sauce without pasta in pot

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Homemade Meat Sauce

Homemade Meat Sauce is the ultimate spaghetti sauce, cooked low and slow with tomato sauce, ground beef, garlic and parmesan cheese.
Yield 8
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 20 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
Author Sabrina Snyder


  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef , (85/15)
  • 1 yellow onion , chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper , diced
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 29 ounces canned diced tomatoes , do not drain
  • 15 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper


  • In a large dutch oven on high heat cook the ground beef, breaking it apart as you cook, about 3-4 minutes.
  • When mostly browned drain most of the fat and add in the green bell pepper and onion, cooking another 5-6 minutes until the onions are translucent.
  • Add in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Stir in the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes and tomato paste until well combined.
  • Add in the parmesan cheese, oregano, basil, bay leaf, kosher salt, sugar and black pepper and stir to combine.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook on low heat, on a simmer, for 1 hour. If you have more time, cook covered for 2 hours then uncovered for 1 hour.



If you have more time, cook covered for 2 hours then uncovered for 1 hour.


Calories: 267kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 61mg | Sodium: 797mg | Potassium: 884mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 658IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 5mg
Keyword: Homemade Meat Sauce
Homemade Meat Sauce Collage

Photo used in a previous version of this post.

Homemade Meat Sauce collage

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the cookbook Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients, published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. Is there anything I can substitute for the can of tomato paste? Or would it not be thick enough? I don’t have any on hand and was trying to avoid a trip to the grocery store.
    Thanks! I really enjoy your recipes.

    1. It wouldn’t be a terrible issue about thickness of the sauce, it’s more about richness. The tomato paste adds a lot of flavor, similar to chicken base/better than bouillon.

  2. I used 1 lbs of ground pork and 1 lbs of ground Italian sausage and freshly grated parmesan and it turned out fabulous! Thank you!

  3. I’d love to have a supply of this sauce on my pantry shelves! I’m thinking of making up a double batch then putting into jars and using the water bath canning method. However, I’ve never canned anything with meat before. What’re your thoughts?

    1. I am definitely not a canning expert to be able to give you specifics but you you are able to can this sauce with meat. I would suggest doing a google search for step by step instructions.

  4. Easy and delicious. Flavor profile is on point. Does need to cook for the full hour for sure, and as she says, 2-3 hours is better.

  5. This is perfect! Not only do we have pasta on the menu this week, but I love that I have all the ingredients for it! Super excited to make it.

  6. This is the perfect all-purpose meat sauce! I love it on pasta, stuffed shells or even on spaghetti squash, SO good!