Looking for a homemade pasta sauce recipe that will have everyone coming back for seconds? Look no further!

Made with just a few simple ingredients like ground beef, herbs, and spices simmered in a rich tomato sauce, it packs lots of flavor and is the perfect complement for any type of pasta.

And the best part? It’s incredibly easy to make!

plated Homemade Pasta Sauce on spaghetti with parmesan

Homemade Pasta Sauce; Delicious, Easy, and Oh So Versatile!

  • This homemade pasta sauce is quick and easy to whip up.
  • Make it with simple ingredients like ground beef or turkey, onion, garlic, and tomato sauce. You can also sneak in your favorite vegetables.
  • Make it a freezer meal and double (or triple!) the recipe for future dinners!
  • It’s versatile and budget-friendly, perfect over pasta or in lasagna. Use it as a dipping sauce for breadsticks or a ready-made marinara on your favorite pizza crust!
beef , tomatoes , tomato sauce , spices , salt , parsley , garlic , onion , pepper , bay leaves , seasonings , basil and sugar with labels to make Homemade Pasta Sauce

Ingredients for Homemade Pasta Sauce

Meat – I most often use ground beef or turkey but this sauce can be made with any kind of ground meat. Try Italian sausage, pork, or even veal.

Sauce – Choose quality canned tomatoes for the best flavor, and don’t drain them. San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are fresh-packed and worth the extra cost (usually $1 to 2 extra for the can). They have a bright, bold flavor and fewer seeds.

Seasonings – This recipe has layers of flavor.

  • Start with dry herbs (like Italian seasoning) at the beginning of cooking to allow them to rehydrate and develop flavor in the sauce.
  • The seasoning mix for the meat is similar to the seasonings I add to homemade Italian sausage ensuring that every bite is infused with flavor.
  • Add fresh herbs just before serving as they’re delicate and shouldn’t be simmered.

A Perfect Balance

Tomatoes are naturally acidic, and adding a small amount of sugar can help balance the acidity in tomato sauces or marinara sauce. If you prefer not to use sugar, try adding a shredded carrot to the sauce instead for a subtle natural sweetness.


  • Make this sauce without the meat and add fresh tomatoes, red peppers, mushrooms, or zucchini for a hearty vegetarian pasta sauce!
  • Add extra herbs and spices to your liking or a small sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a little heat.
  • Add a few spoonfulls of fresh pesto in place of basil for a new flavor.

How to Make Homemade Pasta Sauce

  1. Season meat and brown it with onion and garlic per the recipe below.
  2. Add remaining ingredients (except parsley and basil) and simmer for an hour.
  3. Stir in fresh parsley and basil. Remove bay leaves and garnish with freshly grated parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.
Homemade Pasta Sauce in the pot with a spoon

Serving Suggestions

This pasta sauce recipe is makes a great homemade spaghetti sauce recipe but it really can be servecd over any pasta shape you have on hand.

If you’d like to keep it low-carb, serve it over spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles! It can also be made used as the sauce in homemade lasagna.

Leftovers and Freezing

Keep leftover homemade pasta sauce covered in the refrigerator for up to a 4 days.

Freeze portions in zippered bags for up to 3 months and thaw in the refrigerator or reheat from frozen on the stovetop over medium heat.

More Italian-Inspired Faves

If you love Italian food, here are some of our favorite easy-to-make Italian-inspired dishes.rnrnrnrnrnrnrn

Did you love this Homemade Pasta Sauce? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

plated Homemade Pasta Sauce on spaghetti with parmesan
4.99 from 59 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Homemade Pasta Sauce

This rich meaty pasta sauce recipe great over any shape of pasta.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings 8 servings
buy hollys book


  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef or turkey
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes or canned diced tomatoes*
  • 28 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1 large green bell pepper diced, or red bell pepper
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt or to taste
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped

Meat Seasoning Mix

  • 2 teaspoons sage
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • teaspoon allspice


  • In a medium bowl, combine the seasoning and ground meat until well mixed.
  • Heat a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground meat mixture, onion, and garlic, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Cook until the browned, drain excess fat if needed,
  • Add the canned tomatoes with the liquid, tomato sauce, green bell pepper, water, bay leaves, sugar, and salt to the pot. Stir well to combine.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour or until the sauce has reached your desired consistency. Stir occasionally.
  • Once the sauce has thickened, stir in the chopped parsley and basil.
  • Remove bay leaves, taste and season with additional salt and pepper. Serve over hot pasta.


While any type of canned tomatoes work well in this recipe, I love San Marzano tomatoes for their bright flavor. If using whole tomatoes, break them up with your hands as you add them to the sauce.  
Leftover pasta sauce can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Freeze cooled portions in zippered bags for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge or reheat from frozen on the stovetop over medium heat. 
4.99 from 59 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 130 | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 21g | Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 46mg | Sodium: 340mg | Potassium: 521mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 415IU | Vitamin C: 26mg | Calcium: 61mg | Iron: 2.3mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course, Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine American, Italian
meaty homemade pasta sauce sauce in a pot with a ladle shown with a title
a serving of a pasta sauce recipe over spaghetti with herbs shown with a title
a serving of spaghetti with homemade pasta sauce with herbs shown with a title
a cooked homemade pasta sauce in a pot shown with a title


, , ,

Like our recipes?
Follow us on Pinterest!

Follow us on Pinterest

Recipes you'll love

About the author

Holly Nilsson is the creator of Spend With Pennies, where she creates easy, comforting recipes made for real life. With a passion for nostalgic flavors and simplified techniques, Holly helps busy home cooks create delicious meals that always work. She is also the author of “Everyday Comfort,” which promises to inspire even more hearty, home-cooked meals.
See more posts by Holly

Follow Holly on social media:

pinterest facebook twitter instagram

Free eBook!

Subscribe to receive weekly recipes and get a FREE Bonus e-book: Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals!

You can unsubscribe anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of emails you receive.

Latest & Greatest

4.99 from 59 votes (52 ratings without comment)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. Is there a way to make this low acid? Or do you have another recipe that’s low acid? My husband has severe GERD but absolutely loves spaghetti sauce! Please and thank you. 5 stars

    1. Hi Cana, I have not tried making a low acid version of this recipe. Since tomatoes are highly acidic you could try making a white sauce. I hope that helps!

  2. Hi Holly! I love all of your recipes. I just have a question about the tomatoes. We will soon have a garden full of ripe romas. How would you change the recipe using fresh tomatoes? Or what other steps would I need to take? Thank you in advance!!

    1. Hi Felicia, you should be fine to swap the canned whole tomatoes for fresh ripe tomatoes. If your tomatoes aren’t juicy you can try adding a little extra water or tomato sauce. I hope that helps.

  3. Hi Holly,
    I like your recipes and the good tips you give :)
    For the pasta sauce, is it better to use diced tomatoes or whole tomatoes and break them in the cooking?

  4. I must be missing something. All I can see writin is how good it is an how to use it. No ingredients or directions. Hungry an Confused in Oklahoma.

    1. Hi Kelly, to view the recipe in full you can scroll to the bottom or use the jump to recipe button at the top of the page.