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Easy Homemade Meat Sauce for Pasta

Pasta is one of my favorite quick and easy meals to make for the family. And while it’s pretty simple to open up a can of premade sauce and pour it on your pasta, there’s no reason you can’t spend a few extra minutes of prep time to make your own sauce from scratch. This easy recipe for homemade meat sauce for pasta can be made with fresh ingredients and it adds a ton of delicious flavor to any pasta dish.

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What Do I Need to Make Meat Sauce?

The best part about this delicious recipe is that it’s made with wholesome, fresh ingredients. And that means it tastes so much better than the store-bought varieties. Here’s what you need to make your own homemade meat sauce:

Overhead view of ground meat in a black iron skillet, red wine and vegetables and herbs on a wooden cutting board.

Looking for some delicious pasta recipes? Give these a try:

Easy Baked Feta Pasta Recipe | Vegetarian Instant Pot Pasta Puttanesca | How to Make Homemade Pumpkin Pasta

How Do I Make Homemade Sauce?

Once you have all your ingredients gathered, it’s time to get cooking. Follow these easy instructions to make your own pasta sauce at home:

Step One: Cook the Meat.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the ground sausage and ground beef and cook until browned, breaking up the meat with a spatula as you cook. This will take approximately 8 minutes.

Browned meat in a black iron skillet beside a wooden cutting board with diced vegetables and herbs.

Step Two: Add the Vegetables

When the meat is cooked through, add Italian spices and basil to the skillet. Stir to combine. Then, add the onion, peppers, tomatoes and mushrooms, sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.  Add in the minced garlic and cook for additional 30 seconds.

Black iron skillet with diced vegetables and a wooden spoon.

Step Three: Make the Sauce

Next, add the water, crushed tomatoes, red wine and bay leaves to the skillet and reduce the heat to low. Stir to combine all the ingredients, then allow the sauce to simmer for one hour. Stir the sauce occasionally to keep it from sticking. Before serving, remove the bay leaves from the sauce, then add it to your favorite pasta.

Homemade meat sauce in a black iron skillet with a wooden spoon.

Meat Sauce Variations

This easy meat sauce recipe is delicious as-is, but there are a few changes you can make to suit your own tastes. Try these sauce variations to change up the recipe:

  • Use canned sauce: If you don’t have time to wait for your sauce to simmer for an hour, you can speed up the cook time significantly by using canned pasta sauce. Cook the sausage and vegetables as described in the recipe, then add canned pasta sauce to the skillet instead of the crushed tomatoes, red wine, and water. Stir to combine all the ingredients and simmer on low for a few minutes to warm up the sauce before serving.
  • Substitute spicy sausage: To add some heat to your pasta sauce, try using spicy Italian sausage in place of the sweet sausage in your recipe. 
  • Use all sausage or all ground beef: If you have just sausage or just ground beef in your fridge right now, you can still make this easy recipe. Instead of adding both sausage and ground beef to your sauce, use just one type of meat. 
  • Leave out a vegetable: While tomatoes are an essential ingredient in this meat sauce recipe, the other vegetables aren’t absolutely necessary. If you’re not a fan of peppers, onions, or mushrooms, simply leave them out.
  • Make your own Italian seasoning: Typically, Italian seasoning is made up of a variety of different spices, including oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. Combine an equal amount of each spice to make your own Italian seasoning blend at home.

Homemade meat sauce in a black iron skillet with a wooden spoon of it over the skillet.

How to Serve Pasta Sauce

Once you have this sauce cooked, there are so many ways to enjoy it! Try these recipe ideas to use your homemade meat sauce:

  • Over pasta: My favorite way to use this tomato sauce is over pasta. Cook your favorite pasta variety, then spoon the sauce over the top of the pasta and enjoy. The sauce can also be stirred into your pasta to fully coat all the noodles.
  • In lasagnaAnother great way to enjoy this pasta sauce is in your favorite lasagna recipe. Use the sauce in place of canned sauce for a more flavorful dish.
  • Over vegetables: For a low carb option, try pouring this sauce over cooked vegetables, like roasted bell peppers or zucchini slices.

Oval shaped bowl with pasta and meat sauce.

Can I Make this Ahead of Time?

Of course! This simple recipe can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen until you are ready to eat it. The cooked sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can also freeze the sauce by storing it in a container or zip-top bag for up to four months. To reheat the sauce, place the cold sauce in a saucepan and heating it on the stovetop until it’s warm.

Closeup of meat sauce in a black iron skillet.

What is the Difference Between Bolognese and Meat Sauce?

There are so many different varieties of pasta sauce, it can be difficult to distinguish between all of them! While Bolognese and meat sauce are both tomato-based, the sauces are made up of different ingredients. Meat sauce is typically simmered with ground beef or sausage. While Bolognese sauce is thicker and creamier because it includes milk.

Closeup of pasta with meat sauce on a fork.

Closeup of meat sauce in a black iron skillet.
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Easy Homemade Meat Sauce for Pasta

Pasta is one of my favorite quick and easy meals to make for the family. And while it’s pretty simple to open up a can of premade sauce and pour it on your pasta, there’s no reason you can’t spend a few extra minutes of prep time to make your own sauce from scratch. This easy recipe for homemade meat sauce for pasta can be made with fresh ingredients and it adds a ton of delicious flavor to any pasta dish.
 
Servings: 8
Calories: 239kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 pound ground sweet Italian sausage
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 cup onion diced
  • 1 cup sweet peppers diced
  • 1 cup tomatoes diced
  • 1 cup mushrooms sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 28 ounce crushed tomatoes canned
  • 1/2 cup red wine

Instructions

  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add ground sausage and ground beef. Cook over medium heat until browned, approximately 8 minutes.
    Browned meat in a black iron skillet beside a wooden cutting board with diced vegetables and herbs.
  • Next, add in Italian seasoning and basil and stir until combined.
  • Then, add chopped bell pepper, onion, tomatoes and mushrooms to the skillet with the meat and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 30 more seconds.
    Black iron skillet with diced vegetables and a wooden spoon.
  • Add wine, tomatoes, water and bay leaves to the skillet.
  • Reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
    Homemade meat sauce in a black iron skillet with a wooden spoon.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.

Notes

1. Quick version: Add a bottle of store bought sauce to meat and veggies. 
2.This sauce is good as a spaghetti topper or to make stuffed shells or lasagna. 
3.For a more flavorful sauce can simmer longer. 

Nutrition

Calories: 239kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 42mg | Sodium: 377mg | Potassium: 621mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 969IU | Vitamin C: 38mg | Calcium: 66mg | Iron: 3mg
Recipe Rating