Spaghetti Meat Sauce is the perfect pasta dish for busy weeknight dinners! It doesn’t get easier than pan-searing beef or Italian sausage to marinara sauce and tossing it with traditional spaghetti pasta–all the comforting flavors of an Italian dinner but a fraction of the cost! Who needs to simmer Bolognese for hours when you have this homemade meat sauce recipe?
This Classic Meat Sauce comes together with Homemade Marinara Sauce and ground meat! It’s incredible served with Olive Garden Breadsticks and a green leaf salad sprinkled with croutons and parmesan cheese! Don’t have Spaghetti pasta? Make Our Easy Lasagna recipe instead!
Spaghetti Meat Sauce
This ground beef meat sauce recipe is so easy I was hesitant to even make an official recipe! I can literally prepare this whole dinner in as quick as the pasta boils! There is no fancy secrets or fiddly ingredients to make a classic meat sauce. In fact if you have frozen ground beef you can take it out now and you’ll have dinner in the next 30-minutes! And it tastes like a meat sauce and spaghetti dinner you’d order off a pasta menu!
Today, I literally decided to make Spaghetti Meat Sauce. My meat was frozen, so I placed a 1 lb log of partially frozen ground meat into a deep skillet and off it went to cook. The pasta was boiling and the meat was cooking (from a frozen state.) Then went in the marinara sauce to the meat and with the help of some water the sauce was done! Your Spaghetti dinner can be assembled and served with the pasta at this stage but I like to toss it into the slow cooker (optional) to fluff up the pasta and soak up the meaty sauce– it stays warm until lunch or dinner and everything is already made beforehand (especially nice if you have unexpected company!)
A slow cooker, is just something I prefer since I can make this pasta dish after breakfast and have a few extra hours to keep it warm. This works great for potlucks or Sunday lunches when your away from the kitchen and come back to a delightful dinner! By all means, serve it immediately or toss it under the broiler for a Restaurant look-you do not need to invest in a lot of time! In fact toss everything together in a pot and sprinkle with cheese-close with a lid and let it hang out on a warm stove over low until the cheeses melt.
The secret to a good Spaghetti meat sauce recipe lies in the sauce–in fact it’s where all the traditional and classic flavors lay and without it spaghetti wouldn’t be that pasta dish everyone knows! I used to buy jarred spaghetti sauce (marinara, mushroom, or meat flavored.) However, when I had an abundance of fresh tomatoes I was given this Canned Marinara Sauce Recipe and since, I always try to keep a stash of it for pizzas, Lasagna, Pasta recipes, dipping sauce–you name it! P.S. you can make this marinara sauce using canned tomato paste and diced tomatoes (no garden required.)
The tomato sauce literally tastes like a Pizza hut sauce or restaurant-style marinara sauce that no jarred pasta sauces can relate to. It does make a massive batch for canning but the lady who gave me the recipe literally calculated everything down to make 24-oz of marinara sauce! This homemade marinara sauce recipe is the perfect traditional red sauce for about anything–spaghetti sauce, pizzas, lasagna, pasta and so much more! So flavorful and delicious! P.S. store bought spaghetti sauce, marinara, or any flavored jarred tomato sauce will work too!
What is Spaghetti Meat Sauce?
Spaghetti with meat sauce is a pasta dish served with string noodles and a homemade meat sauce. Classic marinara sauce is combined with ground beef or Italian sausage to make a hearty pasta dish. It’s like your favorite spaghetti sauce but with the addition of meat.
Although similar to Bolognese sauce, classic meat sauce is made with marinara sauce. Where ground meat or sausage is added to a flavorful sauce without the hours of simmering.
It’s also such a convenient way to plan dinner ahead or even host big events without making everything from scratch on the big day! Plan ahead or freeze this pasta dinner by prepping into a pan and baking before the event or even making the meat sauce days in advance to then toss it with cooked pasta!
- Frugal- so much cheaper than ordering at a Restaurant!
- Easy Recipe– simple ingredients!
- Make-ahead for meal prep throughout out the week or future meals.
- Freezer friendly- Plan ahead or freeze this pasta dinner by prepping into a pan and baking before serving!
- Versatile- use as a pizza sauce, or make an eggplant lasagna!
How to Make Healthier Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe?
To make a lighter version of this classic dish use brown rice noodles instead of durum wheat semolina pasta. Go for lean cuts of meat like ground turkey and make your own tomato sauce!
- Spaghetti Pasta- 1 lb of string pasta.
- Marinara sauce- use a 24 oz of jarred sauce or 1 quart of homemade marinara sauce.
- Mozzarella cheese- any shredded melting cheese (Monterey Jack, Colby, Provolone or Swiss.)
- Parmesan cheese- freshly grated or pre-grated.
- Ground meat- use ground pork, turkey, beef, chicken, breakfast pork sausage, sliced Kielbasa or Italian sausage.
- Water- dilutes the marinara sauce.
How To Make Spaghetti Meat Sauce:
This Spaghetti meat sauce recipe is a standby pasta dish I can quickly make from pantry staples! I’ve made it with ground pork, turkey, and beef–and either ground meat is typically in my freezer to get dinner to the table quick. I cook the pasta in a stainless steel pot and usually have the meat browning in a separate skillet.
- Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil. Cook the spaghetti (durum wheat semolina) for 13-14 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water, and toss in 2 Tbsp of oil. Set aside.
- Meanwhile, sauté the ground beef until no longer pink.
- Add the marinara sauce and 1 cup of water.
- Pour meat sauce over the spaghetti in a 5-quart casserole dish or slow cooker. Top with cheeses and broil over low if using a casserole or cook over Hi for 1-2 hours in a slow cooker.
Note: you do not need to bake or use a slow cooker to make this, simply top with cheese after you combine the sauce and pasta into a large pot and cover with a lid. Keep on low until cheeses melt and serve.
How to Freeze Meat Sauce?
You can freeze meat sauce assembled with undercooked spaghetti for a future freezer meal! This sauce recipe makes enough sauce for 1 lb of pasta however, if you wish to use less simply prepare and freeze or make a halved portion of this mix and serve with 8 oz of cooked pasta instead.
- Prepare Spaghetti Meat Sauce as directed, only undercook the pasta by 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a 9×13-inch disposable pan and cool completely. This helps minimize the vapor from condensation and can help with frost build up.
- Cover and freeze for up-to 3 months or deep freeze for up to 6 months.
- To reheat, thaw and defrost overnight. Place casserole into a 350°F oven and bake until hot (35-40 minutes.)
Note: meat sauce can keep in the fridge separately from pasta for up to 3 days. Anything longer should be frozen into freezer-safe containers or freezer ziplock bags. Thaw meat sauce overnight in the fridge before reheating with cooked pasta.
How To Make-Ahead?
If you wish to make-ahead simply prepare the meat sauce and ladle over cooled and cooked pasta. Cover and refrigerate. Bake at 350°F oven for 35-40 minutes.
Add-ins or Variations:
Spaghetti Meat Sauce is a simple pasta dish, however here are some other ways to flavor your sauce:
- Meatballs: skip the ground meat and make homemade meatballs or use frozen!
- Broth: use it instead of water when cooking the pasta.
- Cayenne: add some additional heat by adding cayenne pepper or red chili pepper flakes.
- Sausage- slice your favorite kielbasa or Italian sausage!
- Vegetables- breaded eggplants pair nicely with spaghetti–no wonder there’s eggplant parmigiana!
- Mushrooms- white button or baby portobellos.
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- White pepper
How to Serve Meat Sauce?
This meaty sauce can be used various of ways!
- Make eggplant parmigiana!
- Spread it over a pizza crust!
- Dip with Garlic knots or Breadsticks!
Which Pasta for Meat Sauce?
Spaghetti pasta is a favorite with meat sauce and it’s a Restaurants choice for the traditional meat sauce and spaghetti dish. Other string pasta’s like Angel hair or vermicelli are very similar to Spaghetti. If you don’t have string spaghetti any types of pasta will work:
- Cavatappi (corkscrew pasta)
- elbow macaroni
- pappardelle (flat ribbon-style pasta)
- tagliolini (long ribbon-like pasta similar to fettuccine.)
How Much does a Pound of Pasta Serve?
One pound of dried pasta serves 8-12 servings. Adult servings is about 2 cups of cooked pasta and children servings can be as little as 1/2 cup -1 cup of cooked pasta depending on the child. Additional toppings can also be very filling so you may even be able to stretch out the servings even more.
BEST Tips For Meat Sauce:
- Undercook the pasta to make a freezer Spaghetti Meat Sauce Dinner!
- Garnish your Spaghetti dish with fresh finely grated parmesan cheese!
- If your spaghetti sauce is runny to begin with add 1/2 cup of water.
- Make ahead and keep warm in the oven or transfer to a slow cooker to fluff up the pasta!
Pasta Dinners for the Family:
- One Pot Creamy Angel Hair Pasta Recipe
- Shrimp Alfredo
- Olive Garden Ravioli di Portobello Copycat Recipe
- Olive Garden Five Cheese Ziti Al Forno (Copycat)
- Fettuccine Alfredo
How To Make Spaghetti Meat Sauce Dinner:
Spaghetti Meat Sauce
- large pot
- Slow Cooker (optional)
- 16 oz spaghetti pasta
- 24 oz marinara sauce**
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup mozzarella
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup water
Instructions for Stove Top:
- In a large pot cook the spaghetti for 13-14 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and toss in 2 tbsp of oil. Place back into pot and set aside.
- Meanwhile, brown the ground meat in a medium-sized skillet until no longer pink. Add the marinara sauce, and water. Simmer gently over low heat for 1 minute. Top over spaghetti noodles and top with cheeses. Cover pasta with a lid until cheeses melt. Serve.
- Slow Cooker Instructions: place cooked spaghetti into the crock pot. Top with the prepared meat sauce and sprinkle with cheeses (do not stir--just layer.) Set on High for 1 hour or Low for 3-4 hours. Perfect Sunday lunch!
- 15 oz tomato juice (can use pureed tomatoes)
- 6 oz paste
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp salt (scant)
- 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 Tbsp sugar + 1 tsp (scant)
- 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp ketchup
- 1/2 celery stalk
- 1/2 onion
- 1/4 green pepper
- 2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1/3 tsp pepper
Nutrition per serving