Nana’s Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe
Why We Love This Meat Sauce Recipe
Nana knows a thing or two about home cooking.
If you’ve been following the blog for a while, 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 tomatoes. It is similar to Sunday Gravy but without the sausage links and peppers.
The Best Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe
Although there are lots of ingredients you can add to Italian 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 flavors. Our Spaghetti 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!
What Ingredients You Need
Here are the ingredients needed to make our classic Italian-inspired Spaghetti Meat Sauce recipe:
- Red onion
- Ground Italian sausage
- Ground beef
- Dried oregano
- Canned tomato sauce (or 20 oz tomato paste + 36 oz water)
- 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.
How to Make Nana’s Easy Meat Sauce
- 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.
- 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 it into small pieces with a wooden spoon. Once the meat pieces are well browned, stir in the tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes.
- Cover and simmer for 30-60 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- 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.
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 spaghetti with 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 Spaghetti Recipe Below. Enjoy!
While this spaghetti and meat sauce is a filling and satisfying meal on its own, you can try serving it with a variety of side dishes for a well balanced and delicious meal. And don’t forget dessert! Here are my suggestions:
- Garlic Bread
- Kale Caesar Salad
- Wedge Salad
- Lemon Butter Roasted Asparagus
- Dinner Rolls
- Salted Caramel Chocolate Tart
Frequently Asked Questions
How Can I Enjoy Meat Sauce Made from Scratch?
Serve this classic homemade spaghetti sauce recipe with spaghetti noodles or ziti, in lasagna, or as the sauce with our Ricotta Stuffed Shells recipe with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. 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 it 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.
Is this meat sauce the same thing as ragu?
Yes! Ragu is a tomato based sauce that has meat that is braised in the sauce for a long period of time. This meat sauce is a ground beef ragu sauce!
Looking for More Easy Classic Recipes?
- Best Hamburger Patty Recipe
- The Ultimate Cottage Pie Recipe
- The Best Classic Meatloaf
- Chopped Steak with Mushroom Gravy
- The Best Chili Recipe
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information including calories, carbohydrates, protein, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, fiber, vitamin c, and calcium percentages.
Nana’s Best Meat Sauce (with Spaghetti) Recipe
- 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
- 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.