We had spaghetti all the time growing up. Until recently, I’d always assumed that the meat sauce recipe was my grandma’s, but it turns out it was originally my nana’s recipe (dad’s mom). My dad hates the texture of onions, so my nana would mush up the onions in a food processor so her sauce would still have the taste of the onions without the crunch that bothered my dad. My mom makes the sauce in huge batches and freezes it – it’s great when someone (like my brother) stops by unannounced (to do laundry) (at dinner time) (how convenient).
Spaghetti With Meat Sauce
For the meat sauce you will need:
2 cans tomato sauce
2 cans tomato paste
1 large onion
2-8 gloves of garlic (depending on personal preference)
2 lbs ground beef or turkey
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 can water (use empty tomato sauce can)
oregano to taste
salt and pepper to taste
Add peeled garlic gloves (add more if you like lots of garlic) and onion to food processor.
Congrats, your onions and garlic are now practically liquid. Good work, food processor!
Cook up the meat, drain any excess fat.
Add tomato sauce and paste to a large pot.
Fill one of your tomato paste cans with 1/2 can water and add it to the tomato sauce.
Once the meat is cooked, add in the garlic and onion. Cook for four more minutes.
It smells sooooo good.
Add your meat to the sauce. I was too short to do this without a ladle.
Sprinkle a layer of oregano over the sauce. Stir, then repeat.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to throw some salt over your shoulder for luck.
Add my nana’s secret ingredient – sugar.
Simmer on low heat for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
My cousin Leah was over for dinner and the taste test!
I served the meat sauce over spaghetti, but you can pair it with any pasta of your choosing.
Mama mia, that’s a delicious meat sauce!
This was not fun to clean up.
- 2 cans of tomato sauce
- 2 cans tomato paste
- 1 large onion
- 2 - 8 gloves of garlic
- 2 lbs ground beef or turkey
- 1 tbsp sugar
- ½ can (tomato paste) of water
- oregano to taste
- salt, pepper to taste
- Put garlic gloves (approx 2-8, depending on preference) and onion into a food processor and pulverize.
- Salt pan and cook meat, spoon off any grease.
- When meat is thoroughly cooked, stir in onion and garlic. Cook for about 3-4 more minutes, stirring constantly.
- Pour tomato sauce and paste into a large pot.
- Add ½ can of water to tomato mix.
- Add meat mixture to tomato sauce, stir well.
- Sprinkle oregano on top of sauce, enough to coat the top. Stir, then repeat.
- Add salt and pepper to sauce, stir.
- Add sugar, stir.
- Simmer on low for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Serve over your favorite pasta.
Annie looks so much like Maddie in that picture!
Annie’s picture reminds me of Baby Boom when they give the Elizabeth pasta for dinner and it ends up all over the place. At least it’s not falling of the ceiling right ?!
OH. MY. GOD. You just pulled out the Baby Boom reference. You win. Nice work!
holy crap that last picture cracked me up. Oh Annie. So SERIOUS about her spaghetti!
That looks great! I love the picture of Annie eating- super cute!
I think that may be my favorite picture of Annie ever! So cute.
That sounds almost like my Mom’s recipe, only the secret ingredient is a couple lemon slices and we add oregano & basil! yummy!
The picture of Annie is the best!
I love the look on Annie’s face, so funny!
Anthony from CharismaticKid says:
Who was the photographer for this post?
my mom took all the pictures I am in, I took the rest.
Wow you’re up right now? I thought I’d get a reply like tomorrow morning. Oh right I’m on the east coast.
kati butler says:
I’ve always puree’d the onion too and also throw a couple carrots into the blender..great way to hide veggies & you can’t eve tell they are in the sauce. Annie looks so cute!
Great recipe-looks simple enough for even a non-cook like me to make. What size cans of tomato sauce do you use (how many ounces)?
Get the large size, I believe they were around 24 ounces or so!
I made this the other night for my husband and 16 month old son and it was a hit. I used some the next day on a homemade pizza and
froze the rest. Thanks for a great recipe!
I definitely have to try this recipe!
Love Mike’s expression in that second to last photo. But OHMYGOODNESS, Miss Annie takes the cake with that expression! There is not one photo of the girl that isn’t awesome! And her hair color…? LOVES!
This is an excellent sauce with endless variations. Like kati said you could add carrot, and two stalks of celery. If your food processor has a grater you don’t have to chop but can still have some bite to your sauce.
Oh good, someone else mentioned Mike’s expressions. He always looks like some sort of crazed animal when he chows down.
Nana, my mom, was from New Zealand. She brought some wonderful recipes with her and we all grew up loving her lamb chops, lamb roast with mint sauce (an acquired taste but we loved it) and pot roast. Pretty much meat and potatoes type meals without much spice. My mom didn’t even believe in putting salt or pepper on the table, she proclaimed it “an insult to the cook”, so as you can see bland food was a way of life that we accepted without complaint. Then when we were small she became a Girl Scout troop leader which of course included a lot of “pot luck meal” get-togethers. Many of the girl’s parents in her troop were from other countries or their grandparents were from other countries and that exposed my mom to some terrific new flavors that she fell in love with. My sister, brother and I were the real beneficiaries. The first recipe she made was the spaghetti mentioned above. Spaghetti night at our house became our favorite meal and I’ve been crazy about new foods ever since.
I love this! I usually just buy my favorite jar of sauce and jazz it up with sugar and mayo. Yes, you read that right. One tbl sugar and one tbl mayo. It makes the sauce quite lovely. But now I want to try this. I wonder if this sauce freezes well. If not I’ll probably half your recipe.
Yep, it freezes very very well, I have some in my freezer right now!
Great picture of Annie! Hope that clean up was not too terrible. Thanks for the recipe. Take care.
In england, this is classic spaghetti bolognese. Every household makes it frequently, our household maybe 1-4. I add bell peppers, mushrooms and a smidge of soy sauce. Pasta sauce rocks my world!
I was going to type exactly what you wrote Kate! In my my house my hub likes Spag’ Bol with a sprinkling of cheddar melted on top. Yum! I also add a dash of lemon juice sounds weird but brings out the taste/tang of the tomatos..
Great im hungry now!
Growing up in a large NY Italian family, we had spaghetti or some other “macaroni” at least 4 times a week. It was always our favorite meal no matter how often we had it. After I got married, I experimented with the basic recipe and found a half cup or more to taste of red wine added to the sauce gave it a new dimension and aroma and still make it that way today. The alcohol cooks out so nobody gets drunk or anything but you may want to try it!
Mya Maternity says:
What a cute picture!! Looks Yummy.
Yummy! I love pasta.
Sounds a lot like my mom’s recipe.
Annie = adorable!!!
This sounds (and looks) so delicious! I’m going to make it for our next spaghetti night!
Nancy Raine Smegp says:
OMG Heather. You are the BEST blogger. I tried (see my website) to do a food blog and it was so lame! I just love love love to read your stuff and the food things lately really make me want to go back and do my blog and do it right! (Really, I think my dog was the only one who knew what she was doing on that blog).
Love you! FIGHT ON JACKIE O!
Sounds delicious, I can’t wait to try it!
I agree with Sarah (first commenter). Annie is giving off a SERIOUS Maddie vibe in that picture. So beautiful just like her big sis.
Thank you Heather! I mean thank you SO MUCH!!!! This is THE recipe. This is the recipe I grew up on that my mom always made, and…I haven’t been able to find it. She died 5 years ago today and it’s like fate intervened to bring it to me. Wait, hear me out on this…I bought all the makings to make this tomorrow while watching football and try to figure out the recipe (again) and as soon as I read it I just KNEW you had the winner that I can’t find in her recipe box! THANK YOU for making a very, very hard day have a brighter spot.
Oh Em Gee…the picture of Annie alone is priceless…seriously…super friggen cute.
Ok, so no meatballs….BUT this looks way yummy so I’m gonna let it slide.
PS- Love your hair!!!
When were growing up in Brooklyn New York times were very tough. My mom would make spaghetti with ketchup as the sauce and I always thought that was great. It was not til I was older that I found out that spaghetti sauce is made with real tomatoes, garlic…etc Yours sounds great and I will try it this week. P. S. All of my cousins still find it a treat to eat spaghetti with ketchup and we are all in our 60’s and older…
MY Grandmother made this very same sauce….only without pulverizing the onion. And she did it with meatballs. I make it now about twice a year, freeze it in small batches, and enjoy it year round.
Looks yummy! What size tomato paste do you use? You say in one spot to add 1/2 can of water, but then you also say 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup water would probably be way more than 1/2 of one of the cans I buy. It’s important to put actual measurements in your recipes please
Oh my god Heather I throw salt over my left shoulder ALL the time. My grandmother told me it was good luck. Cannot believe you do this too.
Great simple recipe and you really paid attention to the details (like the consistency of the meat being so even – no little squiggle meat grinder things and with the onion and garlic. Can’t wait to try it and I especially love the freezing option! Thanks for sharing.
Jamie In Indy says:
Tis is the EXACT same recipe I use that was my mom’s. Best spaghetti sauce ever. I never order spaghetti out because nothing compares to this!
I am hoping to make this tonight, but we do not have a food processor. Will a fine chop be ok for those onions? Can you put onions in a blender? Any thoughts?
You definitely can put them in a blender. I would chop the onion into smaller pieces first, but I think you should have no problems – I used to use my blender for EVERYTHING!
Heather! I just wanted to say I made the sauce last night and it was a huge hit. I dont have a child to feed, but my 32 year old fiance, who started the night off with “I dont like meat sauce,” LOVED IT. I added some red pepper flakes, but otherwise stuck to your recipe and had plenty left to freeze. I’ve been a long time reader (lurker?), been follwing since Matt Logelin posted a link once, who I found through Glamour.com. Thanks for sharing/ blogging, and although I’m across the country with not so much in common apart from the fact that we might check the same age box on paperwork, I’m so happy to have found a delicious and easy recipe !
Just want to let you know I made this today, and used a blender for the onions. Just chopped them up very small and threw them in the blender. Worked great – they literally liquified!
Kristen Smith says:
Hi Heather! I just made your sauce, it’s simmering right now. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe!! The only thing I would add is that I wrote down the recipes and then got to the store and wasn’t sure what size the cans for the sauce/paste were… I totally stood in the store like a dork, pulling up your blog on my phone and trying to see the photo, holding up cans from the shelf and comparing them to the picture… ha! Anyway, thanks again for posting, can’t wait to eat a yummy dinner tonight that will last for a few good meals
Kristen Smith says:
recipes… I meant “ingredients”!
Heather I am taking a CE class for my insurance licsence and they just used a picture of you throwing some salt over your shoulder! I saw it and was like I know that open mouth! haha Random, but I thought it was pretty cool.
I’ve made this several times and it is a family favorite! It does freeze beautifully. I get a lot out of this and now I usually just double the recipe. yum!