Homemade Meat Sauce is the ultimate spaghetti sauce, cooked low and slow with tomato sauce, ground beef, garlic and parmesan cheese.
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.
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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.
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Frequently Asked Questions
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.
Sautéed veggies like mushrooms, celery, zucchini, red peppers, and carrots will make this sauce even heartier and flavorful.
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.
You can add other classic Italian seasonings like fresh basil, red pepper flakes, white pepper, or dried Italian parsley to this 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.
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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.
- 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.
Photo used in a previous version of this post.