Sharlene’s Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

In the interest of full disclosure, this started as the sauce Mom would make growing up. You all have certain dishes you grew up on and anything that varies from that in flavor just isn’t the same, right? Well, we had Sunday dinners and couldn’t make plans to go anywhere but our friends were more than welcome to join us and we nearly always ate this spaghetti. I’ve definitely tweaked it to my liking but that’s the beauty of this basic recipe- you can add all sorts of flavors to make it more to your taste. But the base by far beats any canned or jarred sauce on the shelf.

Sharlene's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce ingredients

This may look like a lot of ingredients but it really isn’t. Some Italian seasonings and canned tomato products and you’re all set! (I forgot to picture the pound of ground beef, but I think you know what that looks like.)When it comes to tomato sauce and paste, as long as the ingredients list is just that- tomatoes- I don’t see that it matters what the brand is. I buy the store brand, often the no salt added option if it is available.

spaghetti meat sauce

I usually start the onions a minute or two before the beef so they get that nice transparent look I want. You may want to use a dab of olive oil to prevent sticking. Also key is to not add the garlic until the beef is nearly done. Fresh garlic will just burn if cooked too long.

Spaghetti sauce seasoning

Thanks to my Sister-in-Law Molly for this step. The little Italian from Louisiana gave me this tip: for more depth of flavor in the tomatoes, nearly burn the paste in the pan. I added the step of including the herbs here to encourage the flavors to blend even more.

Spaghetti sauce base

Spread the paste around as best you can to get the most out of the flavor. It likes to clump up sometimes but other times, you get it to spread evenly like this 🙂

Homemade meat sauce for spaghetti

Looks more like spaghetti sauce once the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce are added. Get the paste well incorporated in this step before adding the beef.

Sharlene's Spaghetti

Tip: To make this a 30 minutes or less meal, make sure you start the water heating before you do anything else. It should begin boiling by the time you reach this step. When my now 9 year old was little, I could put her in her play saucer and get about 30 minutes of happy baby twice a day. This usually meant a shower and dinner. That’s how I know this is a 30 minute meal 🙂

Boiling spaghetti

This is what your boiling pasta looks like when you take a picture with the flash on…

perfect spaghetti sauce recipe

Meat added. I just love the consistency of this sauce. It coats the pasta perfectly but also leaves some on the plate to be mopped up with your garlic bread. (No, I don’t have a recipe for that- yet!)

An Englishman in Nashville meat sauce

Yes, those are an American and British flag… We don’t have any Italian flag picks. But when you see a photo with both flags, it means it is my recipe for our Englishman site. If it only has the Union Jack, that’s all Alex.

spaghetti-sauce-pasta-with-some-family

And yes, that is a large pile of Parmesan in the middle of the table. But I need it!

If anyone makes this recipe I would love to see some pictures of it, or if you have any tips on improving it please let me know 🙂

Print Recipe
Sharlene's Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
The basic ingredients for this sauce are always the same. What varies are the spices and how much you chose to add. Play with this recipe all you want! That's what makes it so great! Keep in mind, the measurements for the herbs and seasonings are approximate. I add them each at 3 different times to give my sauce a depth of flavor instead of waiting until the end. this helps ensure all flavors are well incorporated since we aren't simmering the sauce for hours like it could be.
spaghetti-sauce-finished
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Italian
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
spaghetti-sauce-finished
Instructions
  1. Prep: Dice the onion to approximately 1/4-1/2 inch pieces. Mince the garlic cloves as fine as you want (use of a garlic press is totally fine). In large stock pot, get water started to boil the pasta. In large, deep pan, combine ground beef and onion over medium heat. Add a bit of each seasoning, including salt and pepper.
  2. When meat is nearly done, add garlic. Once beef is no longer pink, drain the fat. While beef is draining, put the tomato paste in the pan. Add about half of all herbs/spices and balsamic vinegar. Spread the paste around the bottom of the pan letting it sit still just long enough to begin to burn then stir it and do it again. This step was taught to me by my former sister-in-law who happens to be a sweet little Italian and an amazing cook. It adds a depth to the sauce you wouldn't get otherwise.
  3. Next, add the diced tomatoes and half the tomato sauce. stir until all the paste is well incorporated. Add the beef back in and then the remaining sauce. This order ensures the paste doesn't end up in chunks. Plus, you can regulate how thick you want your sauce to be by adding the final half of the tomato sauce after everything else is in the pan. I happen to think all the sauce provides a perfect consistency.
  4. Your pasta water should be ready about now. Cook pasta according to package directions. I like to pull it about a minute early so it will still absorb the flavors of my sauce as it finishes cooking. Add the remaining herbs and seasonings to your sauce. taste as you go because you could easily put too much in. Also keep in mind the flavors will continue to bloom the longer the sauce cooks.
  5. Once you've drained your pasta, add a heaping ladle of sauce to the pasta to keep it from drying out. This also helps it absorb your sauce flavors! Don't worry, you aren't pre-saucing the noodles. Just helping prevent them from sticking and giving them some extra goodness to soak up. Serve with as much or as little sauce as you want and top with Parmesan cheese. Mangia!
Recipe Notes

One addition I love to make if my 9 year old isn't eating with us is cayenne. Just a dash of spice is super pleasant in a pasta sauce like this. But be careful- a little goes a long way!

If you have leftover sauce it can be frozen as soon as it cools and will last for three months plus.

Or you can seal it in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 7 days.

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