Italian Pasta Sauce made with Ground Beef

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Looking to level up your pasta game? Say hello to our scrumptious Italian pasta sauce made with ground beef that’ll have you twirling your fork in no time! This hearty meat sauce brings together the rich, savory flavors of ground beef, onions, Italian seasoning, all simmered to perfection in a velvety tomato base. Not only is this beefy pasta sauce super versatile (hello, lasagna, baked ziti, and bolognese sauce), but it’s also easy to whip up, even on a busy weeknight. 

Are you craving a mouth-watering Italian meat sauce, but don’t have the time to spend hours in the kitchen? You’re in luck! By using star ingredients like canned tomatoes, fresh basil, and grated parmesan cheese, you can whip up a delicious and hearty ground beef sauce that’s fit for a feast. 

spaghetti with meat sauce

This uncomplicated spaghetti sauce recipe is a delicious and comforting dish that uses simple ingredients and a blend of rich flavors, it’s sure to become a family favorite. You’ll ditch the store bought sauce after you begin making this no fuss flavorful homemade version.

 This homemade spaghetti sauce is easy to make and is sure to impress even the pickiest eaters. Serve it over your favorite cooked pasta and pair it with a side salad or garlic bread for a complete, satisfying health dinner. It’s Italian comfort food. It can also be made in the slow cooker or pressure cooker, but I prefer the stovetop method to get it on the dinner table quickly! This easy spaghetti recipe makes the most perfect pasta dish, it’s even better the next day after the flavors have had even more time to meld together! As an added bonus, your entire house will smell like you just walked into an Italian Grandma’s kitchen!

Ingredients you’ll need: 

  • Onion – white or yellow
  • 1 pound Ground beef
  • Garlic powder- you can use fresh  garlic
  • Diced tomatoes – I use canned for convenience, but you can use fresh
  • Tomato sauce – gives the sauce a smooth texture
  • Bay leaves – provides a slightly smoky, earthy flavor
  • Dried oregano – fresh may be used instead
  • White sugar – a small amount is added to help balance the natural acidity of the tomatoes, you can also use brown sugar instead
  • Fresh basil – You can use dried if you prefer 
  • Parmesan cheese – I use the grated version, it helps to thicken and bind the ingredients
  • Salt 
  • Pepper 

Be sure to check out the full recipe and ingredient list below

How to make Italian pasta sauce made with ground beef:

Follow these easy step by step directions to create an easy homemade spaghetti sauce that will have everyone asking for seconds:

STEP 1: In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onion, until the ground beef turns brown; drain the excess fat. 

STEP 2: Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, garlic powder, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper to the pot. Stir to combine.

STEP 3: Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

STEP 4: Add the Parmesan cheese to the pot and stir until it is well mixed. Then add the fresh basil, or dried basil if using, and continue cooking over low heat for an additional 5 minutes.

STEP 5: Remove the pot from the heat.

Substitutions & Additions:

 Substitutions: 

  • Tomatoes: Instead of canned tomatoes, you can use fresh whole peeled tomatoes or tomato puree. 
  • Seasonings: If you don’t have fresh basil, you can use dried basil or substitute it with another fresh herb like parsley or oregano.
  • Cheese: Instead of parmesan cheese, you can use pecorino romano or any other hard, salty cheese, just make sure it’s in the grated form. 

 Additions:

  • Meats: To add some protein, you can add cooked Italian sausage, or shredded chicken to the sauce.
  • Veggies: To add some vegetables, you can sauté some onions, garlic, bell peppers, or mushrooms and add them to the sauce.
  • Spice level: To add some heat, you can add red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, or a diced jalapeño pepper to the sauce.

Expert Tips

  • If you prefer a smoother sauce, you can use an immersion blender or a regular blender to puree the sauce to your desired consistency. Or you can just puree half of the sauce if you still want a little chunkiness with the diced tomatoes.
  • Fresh garlic can be substituted for the garlic powder. Use 3-4 minced fresh garlic cloves.
  • For a slightly spicy kick, add a pinch of red pepper flakes to the sauce.
  • Feel free to customize the sauce with your favorite additions such as mushrooms, bell peppers, or olives.

How to store leftovers: 

  • FRIDGE: To store sauce in the refrigerator, let it cool down to room temperature, then transfer it to an airtight container. You can store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
  • FREEZER: To store the sauce in the freezer, you may want to  consider portioning it out into smaller containers or freezer bags to make it easier to thaw and use as needed. You can use a large freezer safe Ziploc bag.
  • RE-HEAT: You can reheat the sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop over low heat or in the microwave at 30-second intervals, stirring occasionally until heated through. From frozen: To thaw frozen sauce, place in the refrigerator and let it thaw overnight, then reheat sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop or in the microwave. 

FAQ’s for Italian pasta sauce made with ground beef:

Can I use fresh garlic instead of garlic powder?

Yes, you can substitute the garlic powder with 3-4 minced fresh garlic cloves.

Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes?

Yes, you can replace the canned tomatoes with about 4 cups of fresh tomatoes, chopped and seeded. You may need to adjust the cooking time to ensure the sauce reaches the desired consistency. Keep in mind that fresh tomatoes have a higher water content than canned tomatoes, so you may need to cook them down longer or use less water or broth in the recipe to achieve the desired consistency.

Can I make this sauce ahead of time?

Yes! This sauce can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Just reheat it on the stovetop before serving.

Can I add other ingredients to this sauce?

Definitely! Feel free to customize the sauce with your favorite additions, such as mushrooms, bell peppers, olives, or even ground meat or meat substitutes for a heartier sauce. Meatballs are amazing with this homemade Italian sauce.

Can I use this sauce for other Italian dishes?

Absolutely! This versatile sauce can be used as a base for other Italian dishes such as lasagna, pizza, baked ziti, or as a dipping sauce for garlic bread or meatballs.

What to serve this with:

My kids love eating this homemade meat sauce served with Easy Garlic Bread and Twisty Breadsticks

spaghetti with meat sauce

Italian Pasta Sauce made with Ground Beef

Vicky
You can keep it vegetarian, or add meat. All my crew prefer their sauce with cooked ground beef added in.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 large tsp garlic powder
  • 2 cans 15 oz diced tomatoes
  • 1 can 15 oz tomato sauce
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 cup Fresh Basil tore into small pieces OR 3-4 TBLS dried basil
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese

Instructions
 

  •  In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook the ground beef and onion, until the ground beef turns brown; drain the excess fat. 
  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, bay leaves, garlic powder, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper to the pot. Stir to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaves.
  • Add the Parmesan cheese to the pot and stir until it is well mixed. Then add the fresh basil, or dried basil if using, and continue cooking over low heat for an additional 5 minutes.
  • Remove the pot from the heat.
Keyword italian meat sauce, pasta sauce, spaghetti sauce
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Picture updated 5/17. I love leaving the old pics so I can look back and see how much I’ve improved, and hopefully it’s an improvement 🙂

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9 Comments

  1. I love that you could use the basil. I’m going to try that sauce. Love you littlechef#2

  2. This is a great Spaghetti Sauce that we would really enjoy! I really appreciate you sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday and hope you have a great weekend!
    Come Back Soon,
    Miz Helen

  3. Congratulations!
    Your recipe was featured on Full Plate Thursday this week. Hope you enjoy your new Red Plate and have a great week!
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

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