This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is incredibly flavorful and comforting. It makes a huge batch that's ideal for freezing so your family can grab a cozy meal anytime!
Why you'll love it
This spaghetti sauce is by no means difficult, but investing a little bit of time initially on a Sunday afternoon means a big payoff in the form of at least 10 irresistible freezer meals! Totally worthwhile, right? I always like to keep some in my freezer so that a quick, tasty, and hot dinner is only a few minutes away.
I'm such a fan of this meat sauce for spaghetti that I don't even measure anything out anymore. I've made it that many times. This recipe is forgiving, and you can definitely use what you've got on hand and it'll still be delicious. Most of the cooking time is inactive, hands-off simmering, so there's really no reason not to try this one.
Is this Bolognese sauce?
- We'll say that this pasta sauce is Bolognese inspired. Mine is basically my mom's recipe that I grew up on and have very fond memories of. It's a ragu (meat sauce) that has some elements of Bolognese, but the classic version has a very specific set of ingredients.
What you'll need
- Olive oil - for sautéing
- Onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and mushrooms - this is our finely chopped veggie base to the sauce
- Meat - we're using a 50/50 mix of ground beef and ground pork. If you don't use lean ground beef, you may need to skim some fat off the top of the sauce once it's done simmering.
- Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce - two of my favorite flavor enhancers for a deeper and richer savory dimension. You don't taste these components individually, so don't worry!
- Italian seasoning and dried oregano - our blend of classic Italian herbs
- Tomatoes - using a trio of tomato paste, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce ensures we get all that fabulous concentrated tomato flavor with the best consistency
- Beef broth - for even more richness
- Wine - I recommend a dry white wine like pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, or chardonnay, but dry red wine would certainly work in here. Make sure it's one you'd enjoy drinking and not a cooking wine. You could also replace it with an additional cup of beef broth.
- Heavy cream - a touch of cream is stirred in at the end to make this sauce a little creamy and next-level delicious
How to make spaghetti sauce
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
In a large pot, sauté the onions, celery, and carrots for 10 minutes, and then add in the garlic and mushrooms and continue sautéing until the mushrooms have cooked down.
Add in the meat and cook. Stir in the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and dried herbs followed by the tomatoes, wine, and beef broth. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to build the flavors. Stir in the cream, and season with salt & pepper!
- As with any recipe, cooking times are a guideline and pots and stoves vary. You can definitely simmer the sauce for longer than 45 minutes to build even more flavor or to reduce the liquid a bit longer if needed. I don't recommend going too much under the suggested cooking time, however.
- I used my 5.5 quart Staub Dutch oven to make this sauce, and the pot was quite full. You definitely want to use a fairly large pot for this recipe!
Substitutions and variations
- This recipe is forgiving, so if you don't have an ingredient or the quantities are slightly off, don't worry about it too much. For example, if you don't keep Dijon mustard in your fridge, you don't have to go out and buy a jar just for this recipe.
- Don't like diced tomatoes? Sub with crushed tomatoes if you prefer. The sauce will thicken up a bit faster if you use crushed tomatoes.
- For my UK readers, use tomato passata if you can't find canned tomato sauce.
- You can use a mix of ground veal and ground beef instead of the pork or even use sausage meat, but then be sure to drain out any excess fat before continuing on with the sauce.
What to serve with it
- Spaghetti is the usual choice, but any shape of pasta you've got kicking around your pantry will work just fine with this sauce.
- I love to garnish it with freshly grated parmesan and chopped fresh parsley or basil.
- For pairing it with sides, breadsticks or a slice of Cheesy Garlic Bread along with a side salad dressed up in this copycat Olive Garden Salad Dressing makes for one mouthwatering dinner.
Leftovers and storage
- This spaghetti sauce will last several days in the fridge, but I recommend letting it cool for a bit first then transferring it to separate containers for individual portions and freezing it for up to 6 months.
- To reheat, simply add a frozen portion to a covered saucepan and reheat slowly on a low heat. Add a splash more cream or beef broth if desired, and boil up some fresh spaghetti for an easy meal anytime!
Questions about this homemade spaghetti sauce? Let me know in the comments below, and I'd love to hear from you if you made it!
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 sticks celery chopped small
- 3 medium-to-large carrots peeled & chopped small
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 16 ounces mushrooms (I used cremini) chopped small
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard optional
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28 fluid ounce) can diced tomatoes with juices
- 1 (14 fluid ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 cup dry white wine or red wine
- 1/2 cup heavy/whipping cream or more, to taste (optional but recommended)
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Serve with: spaghetti, freshly grated parmesan cheese, and chopped fresh parsley and/or basil (optional)
- Add the oil, onion, celery, and carrots to a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté for about 10 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic and mushrooms, and continue sautéing for another 5-7 minutes or until the mushrooms release their water and cook down a bit.
- Add in the beef and pork and break the meats up with your spoon. Continue cooking, stirring fairly often, until the meats change color (about 10 minutes).
- Stir in the Dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, Italian seasoning, and oregano.
- Stir in the tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, and wine.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the sauce to a gentle boil. Give it a good stir, then reduce the heat and simmer (you want a steady bubble but not a furious boil) for 45 minutes, pot covered with the lid slightly ajar. I recommend checking on it periodically. This sauce should cook fairly slowly so the flavors infuse, but you don't want the liquid to get too low. Add a splash more beef broth or wine if this happens.
- Stir in the cream and give the sauce a taste and season with salt & pepper as needed.
- Serve over spaghetti and then top with parmesan cheese and chopped fresh basil and/or parsley.
- This sauce is quite forgiving, so don't worry about exact measurements, and feel free to play with it a bit. Blog post contains more info on substitutions.
- Makes around 10-12+ portions, but depending on portion size this can vary. This sauce freezes well.
- As with any recipe, cooking times are a guideline and pots and stoves vary. You can definitely simmer the sauce for longer than 45 minutes to develop even more flavor or to reduce the liquid a bit longer if needed. I don't recommend going too much under that suggested cooking time, however.
- This sauce is inspired by my mom's recipe that I grew up with.
- Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy only and should be construed as an estimate rather than a guarantee. Ingredients can vary and Salt & Lavender makes no guarantees to the accuracy of this information.
This recipe was originally published on October 14, 2015. It's been updated with new photos and better instructions but is the same great recipe!