A Spicy Perspective

Nana’s Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe

Nana’s Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe – Zesty, savory, and terrifically meaty, this classic homemade Italian meat sauce recipe is perfect for enjoying with pasta and much more!

best meat sauce recipe

Nana knows a thing or two about home cooking.

If you’ve been following the blog for awhile, you’ve surely tried Nana’s EPIC Creamy Potato Soup Recipe and Nana’s Epic Chicken and Rice. If you haven’t yet STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING and go add these to your dinner menu for next week. Seriously.

Anyways, as I was saying, my mom “Nana” is my go-to guide for all things comfort food. So when I wanted to create a hearty, savory, Sunday dinner-worthy Spaghetti with Meat Sauce recipe, I of course turned to Nana…

This fabulously easy and delicious sauce is a play off my mom’s old-timey spaghetti and meat sauce recipe. It’s not meant to be an authentic Italian Bolognese recipe, but is more of a classic Italian-America bistro meat sauce that’s heavy on the tomatoes. It is similar to Sunday Gravy but without the sausage links and peppers.

classic meat sauce recipe

The Best Homemade Meat Sauce Recipe

Although there are lots of ingredients you can add to meat sauce, we like to keep it simple so that the flavor of the ground meat, Italian sausage, tomatoes, garlic, and basil really shine through.

It is basic but incredibly satisfying with lots of rustic flavor. Our Meat Sauce recipe can be enjoyed on everything from pasta to polenta and even potatoes!

This sauce is fabulous on day one, but even better after 24 hours. It’s a great recipe to make and freeze for an effortless homemade meal later in the week or month. I love preparing several batches at once to stock the freezer and to give to friends.

We hope you enjoy the best meat sauce with your family, too!

spaghetti with sauce

What Ingredients You Need

Here are the ingredients needed to make our classic Italian-inspired Meat Sauce recipe:

  • Butter
  • Red onion
  • Garlic
  • Ground Italian sausage
  • Ground beef
  • Dried oregano
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper

You can jazz the sauce up a bit by adding a variety of other ingredients, like shaved carrots, aged balsamic vinegar, red wine, crushed red pepper, ground veal, and/or bell peppers. These aren’t necessary, but each adds a different unique flavor that can be fun to try!

Also… Sometimes canned tomatoes can be overly acidic and benefit from a little bit of sugar to balance the flavor. Only use if needed, and remember, a little goes a long way.

beef and tomato pasta sauce

How to Make Nana’s Easy Meat Sauce

  1. First, set a heavy-bottomed 6 quart sauce pot over medium heat. Add the butter and onions, and stir until the onions become soft. If they start to brown, turn the heat down to medium-low.
  2. Then stir in the minced garlic and sauté for another couple of minutes. Next add in the ground sausage, ground beef, and dried oregano. Cook the meat and break into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the meat pieces are well browned, stir in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.
  3. Cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Once the sauce is done, stir in the fresh chopped basil. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. If the meat sauce tastes too acidic, stir in 1-2 tablespoons sugar.
meaty tomato spaghetti pasta sauce

Pro Tip: The ground sausage and canned tomatoes are both quite salty. It’s best to let the sauce cook a little while – at least 30 minutes – before deciding if you want to salt it.

Keep homemade Meat Sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months. The flavors keep getting better the longer all of the ingredients sit together!

Get the Complete Nana’s Best Meat Sauce Recipe Below. Enjoy!

the best homemade Italian sauce

How Can I Enjoy Meat Sauce Made from Scratch?

Serve this classic homemade Meat Sauce with spaghetti or ziti, in lasagna, or as the sauce with our Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe. But before you start to boil the water, be sure to check out our guide for How to Cook Pasta (Perfectly)!

Also, this Baked Spaghetti Pie is perfect for a fun and easy family meal.

Enjoy a gluten-free meal by pairing with baked polenta, or even enjoy over baked potatoes to mix things up.

Living low carb? Try the best Meat Sauce with Low Carb Spaghetti (psst, it’s spaghetti squash!) for a yummy and super healthy dinner.

Can I Make Homemade Pasta Sauce without Beef? Or Sausage?

You can certainly make delicious spaghetti sauce without ground beef and/or Italian sausage.

Try this recipe with ground turkey for a leaner meat sauce.

Or for a vegetarian and vegan pasta sauce, substitute the meat with chopped mushrooms for a wonderfully savory flavor.

fresh basil

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Nana’s Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Nana's Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe – Zesty, savory, and terrifically meaty, this classic homemade Italian meat sauce recipe is perfect for enjoying with pasta and more!
Servings: 12 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 extra-large red onion peeled and diced (2 cups)
  • 7-8 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano or Italian Seasoning
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 – 28 ounce can crushed tomato
  • ½ cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1-2 tablespoon sugar if needed
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  • Set a heavy-bottomed 6 quart sauce pot over medium heat. Add the butter and onions. Stir and soften the onions for 5-8 minutes. If they start to brown, turn the heat to medium-low.
  • Stir in the garlic and sauté another 2 minutes. Then add in the ground sausage, ground beef, and dried oregano. Cook and break the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the meat pieces are well browned, stir in tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.
  • Cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally. (As long as it simmer for 30 minutes it’s ready. However, you can let it simmer as long as you like.)
  • Stir in the fresh chopped basil. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. If the meat sauce tastes too acidic, stir in 1-2 tablespoons sugar.
  • Serve warm with pasta.

Notes

Salt: The ground sausage and canned tomatoes are both salty. It’s best to let the sauce cook a little while before deciding if you want to salt it. 
Sugar? Sometimes canned tomatoes can be overly acidic and benefit from a little bit of sugar to balance the flavor. Only use if needed, and remember, a little goes a long way.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 248kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 13g, Fat: 20g, Saturated Fat: 8g, Cholesterol: 62mg, Sodium: 293mg, Potassium: 224mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 176IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 25mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Author: Sommer Collier

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6 comments on “Nana’s Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe”

  1. I loved it!! My family enjoyed it too! Such a big hit at my house!

  2. Looks delicious and similar to my sauce which is a family favorite. I’m so glad that canned sauces and tomatoes can be used and be just as amazing as fresh. Nana was smart and a great cook too it seems!

  3. thank your mother, love a great meat sauce for spaghetti or other pasta, but it must be a savory one instead of a tomato-y one to balance all of the pasta, this will do nicely, so thank you!

  4. This was absolutely delicious and amazing in every way!

  5. I need to try this meat sauce! I love anything Italian!

  6. Such a similar to my family meat sauce, which is so good!