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
4.98 from 47 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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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


  • 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. 
4.98 from 47 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


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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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Recipe Rating


  1. This is a fantastic recipe! It is the only one I’ve seen that makes turkey super flavorful and not bland. My kids love it and its my only go-to for turkey spaghetti sauce.5 stars

  2. In 1994 my wife and I vacationed in Europe, and when we visited Florence, Italy we went to a winery. The trip included a wonderful dinner provided by the winery’s owners. They served their homemade pasta sauce which was incredible. I managed to have a conversation with the owners wife and got her recipe. It turns out your recipe is nearly identical with yours.
    Today I make this recipe but utilize some short cuts. However, I let my sauce simmer for 3-hours to enhance the flavor.
    Then I mix it with Rigatoni noodles, top with Mozzarella cheese and broil until cheese is melted and lightly browned. All in all your reeecipe is dead on.5 stars

    1. So glad you enjoyed it, what a great memory you have!! Visiting Italy has been one of my all-time favorite experiences!

  3. Hello, I’m a first timer for your recipes and I love them.
    You seem to have important tips to the recipe. Is there some way to include them for
    Thank you

  4. Hi there! I was just wondering what a good quality canned tomato brand might be? I tend to shop at Walmart (guilty), but can venture elsewhere if need be. Thank you for your help!

    1. If you are looking for good quality canned tomatoes, you can look for Grade A tomatoes. Enjoy Ashley!

      1. San Marzano tomatoes are a bit more expensive but worth every penny! Not San Marzano Style. theres a big difference. So sweet and delicious.

  5. Hi Holly. This sounds delish and I will be making it very soon…..I plan to use beef and pork mince which works for me and we cant buy minced turkey here in S.Africa………I got shot of my mincer decades back.
    Thank you for your recipes, tips etc……..you can teach an old dog new tricks !5 stars

  6. Hi Holly,
    I just want to let you know that your sauce is now the single go to for pasta sauce in your house. I make variations from time to time, but this is the best sauce I have ever had. You should be proud. Worth the work.5 stars

  7. This is REALLY good. Lots of flavor for just an hour of simmer time. I used ground pork because that’s what I had on hand. Otherwise, I made this recipe exactly as written. I’ll definitely make it again. I try to cook from scratch whenever I can, and jarred sauces just taste gross to me now. This sauce is super tasty with minimal ingredients, and at just an hour of cook time, it is comparable to the ease of a premade sauce. Thanks for a keeper recipe!

    1. Absolutely. I cook as directed and cool. You can either freeze in individual portions or in a family sized serving. I reheat on the stovetop.

      1. I have this simmering right now and can’t wait to try it but I do have a question. I only have the tube basil and wondering how much to use of that? I’m thinking I would only need a half of a 1/4 cup?

      2. Holly i served this sauce yesterday for a fifty person luncheon and was told by multi people it was absolutely fantastic,some said it was the best they had ever tasted! I added a little beef bullion and used brown sugar in place of white sugar. Thanks

      3. That is so awesome, we are happy to hear it! Brown sugar sounds like a tasty substitute, for sure!

  8. This recipe looks delicious. One thing though. We are not fans of sage but I have discovered a poultry season by Epicure Selections that I use instead of sage for turkey dressing. Do you think this would be good?

      1. Holly i tried your sauce and while letting it simmer i kept taste testing it and i thought it was missing something and finally put my finger on it and it was beef bouillon,other than that it was fantastic full of so much flavor.Sharing and will make again!

      2. Thank you for the tip Bob, sounds great, I’ll have to try it! Did you use ground beef or turkey?

  9. I use one of the “squiggle” type potato mashers when I cook ground meat for a sauce like this. ..already have it and it works great. ..breaks up the meat as much as you desire. …

  10. So PastaLover what minor changes would you make? I’m making this recipe later in the week. I’m always curious to see what other cooks change in a recipe. Looks delicious!

  11. I found this recipe good. However, there are SO many just ‘good’ recipes available I’m afraid I took umbrage at the ‘best’ label applied to this particular one. This is head and shoulders above what one might eat at a school cafeteria. It is above nearly every ‘gourmet’ type recipe too… Those are usually pretty nasty.
    Given that I have a sorta negative opinion just on the name or this recipe, especially one using just common ingredients in common amounts cooked commonly. I will try to be honest here on the flavor of the recipe as it is listed here. I feel I should state my misgivings up front so I don’t give a false impression.
    I found this very acceptable and flavorful. I would serve again with maybe minor tweaks where my tastes might differ or when I know a certain ingredient is superior, and or suchlike. I do NOT feel this is worth a 5 of 5 rating. It is a solid 4 of 5 recommendable to anyone who likes pasta generally, but, doesn’t spend a lot of time dwelling on recipes like this one. Maybe this is perfect for those who think pizza was invented in Italy rather than Italians who migrated from there.
    Hehe… It is certainly perfect for those who cook for food network. It would teach way too many of their ‘cooks’ what flavor actually means. Hehe…4 stars

    1. Do you have a recipe that you like better? Please share. One of the differences I would make is to use fresh tomatoes if possible.

    2. Can you say “judgemental?” For goodness sake, it’s a recipe. Everyone has different tastes and opinions. Don’t like the name “THE BEST” move on.

      1. He’s just being honest. I found his opinion useful in that he said it was good. That’s all I need to hear so I’m going to make it today and see for myself. I’m sure it’ll be delicious!

  12. I made a half recipe of this last night, I added fresh mushrooms and a nice taste of Malbec I omitted the water. This is the best sauce I have ever made.


      2. Under the small image next to the ingredients list you will see a print button.

  13. I saw a fresh Italian turkey sausages in the grocery store both mild and hot anyone try later anyone think it should be okay instead of flavoring my own which I know will be better but to save time?

    1. Yes! I make pasta sauce with the hot Italian turkey sausage and it is amazing! I use just cheap sauce (Hunts) then Doctor it up with diced tomatoes Italian seasoning, a little sugar, and hot pepper flakes. My family loves it!