This Homemade Meat Sauce is thick, hearty and super meaty! It uses a combination of lean ground beef and Italian sausage for the most amazing flavour. Serve it over spaghetti topped with parmesan or use it in a lasagna for an extra special dinner the whole family will enjoy!
Ladies and gentlemen — introducing the BEST meat sauce ever! Well, according to myself and everyone who's tried it, that is. This is my absolute favourite homemade pasta sauce! I've been making it for years and it's never failed me once.
The Perfect Homemade Meat Sauce
I don't want to sound like a snob, but I've never been one to use pasta sauce straight from the jar. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but making your own pasta sauce from-scratch that uses real/fresh ingredients is a million times better than the stuff in a jar.
But homemade doesn't have to mean difficult. This sauce is extremely easy to throw together. The most work you need to do is cooking the onions and browning the meat — after that just add the tomatoes and spices and allow the sauce to simmer for hours until it becomes a rich, flavourful, silky and thick sauce.
Ingredients for the Perfect Meat Sauce
So what goes into making the best meat sauce ever? Well let's break down the ingredients.
Two types of meat — I like to use a combination of lean ground beef and Italian sausage for the most amazing flavour. I used Hot Italian sausage to add some spice, but you can use sweet, mild or even substitute with ground turkey. Now if you prefer a spaghetti sauce without meat, simply leave it out and prepare the recipe as instructed.
Three types of tomatoes — crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste are used as the base of this sauce. Make sure you choose the best-quality canned tomatoes for the most excellent flavour. When adding the tomatoes, I like to add a little bit of water to the can, swirl it around, and pour it into the sauce. I usually do this to clean the jars completely and get every last bit of tomato in the sauce. Even without the extra water the sauce will be watery, so to thicken it up we're gonna add a can of tomato paste.
Brown Sugar — we add about 2 tablespoons of sugar to give the sauce a little bit of sweetness and mask the acidity in the tomatoes.
Seasonings — To add flavour to the sauce, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, dried basil, Italian seasoning, fennel seeds and crushed red pepper flakes to add a little oomf. I used dried herbs instead of fresh herbs, but the sauce was still perfectly flavourful.
Time = Flavour
The real secret to this sauces amazing flavour is the long simmering. This sauce needs to simmer and bubble on the stove for at least 2 hours so all the flavours can develop and the meat can get extremely tender. The longer the sauce simmers, the thicker it will get and the flavour will be even more irresistible.
You can even do this in a slow cooker! Just brown the onion, garlic and meat on the stove top then out it into your slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and spices and allow it to simmer on low all day. I recommend starting in the morning so the sauce will be ready by dinner time.
This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but I still manage to finish it in about a week of spaghetti dinners. If you have a big family, you can double (or triple — use an extra large pot) the recipe and freeze half for a quick weeknight dinner.
Or if you make a double batch, you can use half of it to make my Perfect Lasagna recipe. This sauce combined with the multiple cheeses is to die for! I also like to pour it over some spaghetti with parmesan and enjoy it with a side of either garlic bread or these Homemade Garlic Butter Breadsticks. The perfect Italian dinner!
Use this sauce in my Perfect Lasagna Recipe!
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Let's get cooking!
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 large white onion, finely diced
- 5 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 pound Italian sausage, removed from their casings (I used Hot Italian Sausage)
- 1 and ½ pounds lean ground beef
- 3 cups (28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups (16 ounce) tomato sauce
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons salt, to taste
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tsp dried basil
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- ½ tsp fennel seeds
- ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers flakes (optional)
- In a large dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Once it's hot, add the diced onion and minced garlic. Toss around with a wooden spoon and cook until onions are softened and slightly browned, about 3-5 minutes. Be careful as the garlic can easily burn.
- Once the onions are cooked, add the Italian sausage and ground beef. Cook until it's no longer pink, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.
- Once meat is browned, drain any juices in the pot. Return to heat and pour in the crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce. add a little water to the jars, shake a bit and pour into the pot.
- Add tomato paste, sugar, salt, pepper, dried basil, Italian Seasoning, fennel seeds and red pepper flakes. Stir to make sure everything is combined. Turn the heat to low and simmer for at least 1 and ½ to 2 hours to reduce the water and enhance the flavour. Skim the fat on top and stir occasionally, tasting the sauce and adjusting the seasonings to your preference. Use for lasagna, spaghetti and more!
- This recipe can be doubled or even tripled (use a bigger pot) and half can be kept in the freezer. To freeze the sauce: allow it to cool completely, then pour it into large re-sealable bags and stack them up in the freezer. Transfer the sauce to the refrigerator to thaw out the night before you plan to have it for dinner, then re-heat it on the stove top.
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