This easy beefy homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is the best! Not only is it super quick and ready in just about 35 minutes, but it uses just 7 ingredients and it freezes really well making mid-week meal prep a cinch. Which by all standards, makes this a perfect spaghetti sauce in my opinion♡. Substitute pork, chicken, or turkey if you’re trying to eat less beef, and feel free to pair this sauce with just about any type of pasta you have in your pantry from penne to pappardelle. As always, step-by-step recipe photos follow.
Why We Love This Spaghetti Pasta Recipe
- It’s super quick and easy (ready in about 35 minutes)
- It’s an authentic Italian spaghetti ragù sauce recipe
- A perfect meat sauce for lasagna or almost any pasta shape
- A very kid-friendly homemade spaghetti sauce
- It freezes really well
- Uses just 7 total ingredients (8 if you count salt)
How to Make Great Spaghetti Sauce From Scratch
In order to make a really good spaghetti sauce, you’ll need a few simple ingredients and a couple of easy pasta cooking techniques. And while higher quality ingredients will always yield better-tasting pasta, this spaghetti recipe is still delicious even if you can’t splurge on the more expensive imported Italian ingredients. Below are a few helpful tips and techniques to make good homemade spaghetti.
- Don’t over-salt the pasta cooking water because you’ll add some of this starchy water to the finished spaghetti sauce just before adding the spaghetti noodles and tossing it all together.
- Add a little starchy pasta cooking water (about 1/4 cup or a little more) to the finished meat sauce which helps the sauce bind better and coat the spaghetti noodles. But avoid adding too much water which will dilute your delicious sauce.
- Use the best Italian tomato passata you can find. Using one with only 2 to 3 natural ingredients is the best-case scenario. If you’re using a lower-quality tomato passata or canned tomatoes you may find that it tastes very acidic. If this is the case, add a pinch or two of sugar or honey to help balance the acidity and mellow out the flavor. Many cheaper brands of tomatoes contain preservatives, added water, and/or loads of salt. Here in Italy, you mostly find the opposite. Read the labels to know what you’re paying for. Mutti Italian Tomato Passata and Bianco Di Napoli canned tomatoes (produced in California), even Cento San Marzano are all great options.
- Use 100% real Italian or Spanish extra virgin olive oil that’s not mixed with other vegetable oils. If you can’t splurge on olive oil, you can still find decent to good olive oil at places like Trader Joe’s for a great price. No matter where you buy it, be sure to read the label on the back of the bottle because the American market is often flooded with low-quality “olive oil” that’s not really olive oil. Instead, it consists of added soybean oil, sunflower oil, etc. It’s a shame because I think companies are probably betting on a portion of shoppers not really knowing much about real-deal olive oil enough to notice the difference, or even care. Don’t let these companies fool you. Start reading the labels on the back and be a more informed consumer which is healthier for you (and your pocketbook).
- If you can’t locate bronze-drawn or gold-drawn pasta (sometimes it’s super pricy back home), use De Cecco, Garafolo, Barilla, Voiello, or Molisana which are all good commercial pasta makers.
Abbruzzese Italian Ingredients in This Spaghetti con Ragù Recipe
If you’re curious about the artisanal Italian ingredients I’ve used, they all come from Abruzzo, Italy which is a food mecca for anyone who loves to eat or cook. For the pasta, I’ve used handmade slow-dried Cav. Giuseppe Cocco artisanal bronze-drawn spaghetti, organic Pera d’Abruzzo tomato passata (organic Abruzzo pear tomatoes) from La Giara (one of our favorite Italian Slow Food producers), extra virgin olive oil from Juliis Timando (another one of our favorite Slow Food producers in Abruzzo), and a 20-month DOP Grana Padano to sprinkle over the top. If you don’t have access to any (or all) of these Italian ingredients don’t worry — as mentioned above there are lots of great-tasting substitutions you can easily find in the States or just about anywhere in the world.
Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients
I use 1/2 pound of lean ground beef for this tomato sauce, but feel free to increase it to a full 1 pound if desired. Using a 90/10 lean beef is a bit healthier and allows the extra virgin olive oil to be front and center as opposed to the flavor of too much beef fat. I recommend finely dicing the carrot and onion which allows it to cook a bit more quickly and also sort of “melt” into the tomato sauce giving it a velvety mouthfeel when you eat a forkful.
- Italian tomato passata (sub finely chopped tomatoes)
- spaghetti pasta (or other favorite pasta)
- extra virgin olive oil
- lean ground beef
- salt to taste
- grated Grana Padano DOP cheese (sub Parmigiano-Reggiano or Parmesan)
How to Make Delicious Simple Spaghetti Like an Italian
Feel free to make this spaghetti sauce the day before you plan to eat it. But even if you’re crunched for time, it can be made and ready to eat in just about 35 to 40 minutes, including prep time.
- Make the spaghetti sauce. To a medium-sized pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, smashed garlic cloves, carrots, onions, and a little salt, and cook over medium-high heat stirring occasionally until onions are tender and translucent (about 4 minutes). Add the ground beef and break it up using a spatula, season with salt to taste, and sauté until the meat is cooked through (about 8 to 10 minutes). Add the tomato passata, and season with salt to taste. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the sauce has slightly reduced and thickened. Adjust the seasoning adding more salt if needed. Remove the garlic cloves and discard.
- Cook the spaghetti. During the last 10 minutes of cooking the sauce, add the dried pasta to a lightly salted pot of boiling water set a timer, and cook to al dente doneness according to packaged directions. When there are about 2 minutes left of pasta cooking time, add about 1/4 cup of starchy pasta cooking water directly to the spaghetti sauce and stir well to combine. Strain the spaghetti, add it to the pot with the sauce, and stir vigorously to coat the noodles well. Top with grated cheese if desired and serve immediately, Enjoy!
How to Make Easy Spaghetti Sauce step-by-step recipe photos
The Best Way To Reheat Leftover Spaghetti So It Tastes Just-Made (or almost)
There are generally two different approaches to reheating spaghetti. Here in Italy, leftover spaghetti is not a thing. For instance, if all of the spaghetti sauce or ragù isn’t expected to be eaten during a particular meal, they won’t combine it all with pasta. Instead, only the amount of pasta needed per person is cooked (usually 80g to 90g per person) and tossed with a couple of ladles of sauce. This way, the remaining sauce can be easily reheated the next day or a couple of days later and combined with freshly boiled pasta. Which means you never have to deal with noodles that become less than “al dente” or too soft. This is how I prefer to cook and eat pasta. That said…
There’s the “American way” that I grew up with and leftover spaghetti was “a thing”…a really delicious thing that was a time-saver for my Mom. I would eat spaghetti cold or gently reheat it in a skillet with a little oil. Using a skillet or other wide shallow pan to reheat spaghetti allows the noodles to have more direct contact with the heat source which means the dish gets hotter more quickly and doesn’t become too soft and turn to complete mush. Plus, you can get a little “crisp” on the noodles which adds flavor and great texture.
Of course, you can also reheat spaghetti in a microwave for up to 1 minute.
Looking for More Easy Spaghetti Recipes?
If you love simple spaghetti recipes, we think you’ll also enjoy a few of our family favorite recipes below — everything from Amatriciana and carbonara to our fresh summer garden pasta.
- Spaghetti all’Amatriciana (Spicy Tomato Pasta Sauce w/Cured Pork & Pecorino Romano)
- Italian Spaghetti with Clams (Spaghetti alle Vongole)
- Triple Shrimp Trighetto Pasta (Creamy Shrimp Pasta)
- Spaghetti Aglio Olio e Peperoncino w/Crispy Prosciutto
- Simple & Delicious Pasta alle Zucchine (Spaghetti with Zucchini)
- Spaghetti alla Carbonara (Cook Pasta Like A Roman)
- Cajun Style Royal Red Shrimp Pasta for One (or a crowd)
- Italian Summer Garden Spaghetti w/Zucchini & Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce
Or, Perhaps You’re in Mood for a Few More Beef Pasta Recipes Sans Spaghetti
We don’t eat nearly as much beef as we once did, but sometimes we have a craving for pasta with a tasty beef sauce — these recipes hit the spot every time.
- Classic Lasagna Bolognese (authentic Italian recipe)
- Baked Ziti with Ragù (from Scratch)
- Authentic Pappardelle alla Bolognese Recipe (w/Tagliatelle alla Bolognese option)
- Tagliatelle al Ragù (Northern Italian Beef Ragù w/Pasta)