The Best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

 My best homemade spaghetti sauce with meat cooks long and low in a slow cooker for a savory, complex flavor that can’t be duplicated in jarred sauce.

best spaghetti meat sauce ever

I am thrilled to be sharing this recipe for my signature spaghetti sauce. I’ve tried, tweaked, and finally perfected this sauce after decades. This savory, hearty sauce is what my people~friends and family~know and love.

A batch of this spaghetti sauce is always in my freezer. I can pull it out and reheat it for unexpected company or take it to someone who needs a meal. It tastes “just made” even after being in the freezer for several weeks or a few months.

This recipe calls for a slow cooker, which is indispensable to achieving the texture, flavor, and complexity of this sauce. I’ve tried this recipe on the stovetop, and it never turns out the same. Low and slow is the way to go with this yummy sauce!

Family Savvy Spaghetti Sauce

Slow cooker: I am such a “make & take” cook that I absolutely can’t live without this slow cooker with a lockable lid. As often as I take this sauce (or other slow-cooked food) to the lake, beach or someone’s home, a lockable lid is a must-have feature for me.

Make ahead: This is the perfect dish to make ahead, freeze, and pull out for company. To freeze, make the recipe as written but omit the jarred spaghetti sauce. The recipe (without the jarred sauce) will just fill a freezer gallon Ziploc.

To freeze: Allow sauce to cool for 30 minutes before transferring to a freezer gallon Ziploc bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible, label and date the item, and place in the freezer.

To prepare from frozen: Thaw sauce or defrost, placing into a slow cooker. Add a jar of spaghetti sauce and some fresh parmesan. Cook on low 7-8 hours.

What is the best brand of pasta sauce to use in this recipe?

For years, I used Bertolli jarred sauce to “stretch” this recipe for more people. Today, I use only one brand~Rao’s. Nothing comes close. I use Rao’s homemade marinara. It is insanely delicious and literally tastes homemade. It also has a fresh flavor and consistency, whereas jarred sauce can taste a bit artificial.

To serve: I most often serve this spaghetti sauce with pasta (and spaghetti squash pasta for low-carb friends), Johnny’s Great Caesar Garlic Bread and either this easy baby bleu salad or this Greek chopped salad. Best. Meal. Ever!!!

If you try this, I’d love to hear what you think! As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!

Family Savvy Spaghetti Sauce

The Best Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Meat

Yield: 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 7 hours 6 seconds
Total Time: 7 hours 15 minutes 6 seconds

My all time favorite spaghetti sauce. Freezes perfectly and is a wonderful meal for family or guests.


  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 1 link hot Italian sausage (optional)
  • 2 TB EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped (or 1 cup chopped frozen)
  • 1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (fresh or frozen)
  • 5-6 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 small cans tomato paste
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water (half water and half red wine is also good)
  • 1 TB Worcestershire
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 2 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • 1 jar spaghetti sauce (I use Bertolli tomato basil)


  1. Heat a small amount of extra virgin olive oil in skillet.
  2. Begin browning meat on medium heat; crumble meat into small pieces so there are no chunks.
  3. Add onions and bell pepper as meat begins to brown.
  4. Pour off liquid when it gets heavy so that meat will brown rather than braise.
  5. Add garlic; continue cooking until meat is fully browned. Pour off remaining fat.
  6. Sprinkle meat with Worcestershire and salt & pepper to taste.
  7. Mix in /tomato sauce, tomato paste, and diced tomatoes.
  8. Add seasonings--chili powder, brown sugar, basil, oregano, thyme, and bay leaf--and parmesan cheese.
  9. Cook on low 6-7 hours.
  10. Serve or freeze for later.
  11. To cook from frozen, add a jar of spaghetti sauce to the mixture and place in slow cooker.
  12. Cook on low 6-7 hours.
Nutrition Information
Yield 12
Amount Per Serving Calories 13Carbohydrates 3g

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  1. Hi Alissa! I prefer adding the jar of sauce to the thawed spaghetti sauce BUT you can do it either way!!! Also, I ONLY use Rao’s homemade marinara. It is the best most authentic sauce you can buy. I promise!!! I keep several jars on hand at all times:-)

  2. If I made this as directed, adding the jar of sauce, could I still freeze half for later? Or should I make without extra sauce, freeze half then add half a jar of sauce?? Only have 2 people at home but still like to cook big batches since we’re home so much now!

  3. Victoria, thank you SO much for your encouraging words! This means so much. I lover hearing back… are so precious!! YOU (and others like you) are the reason that I do what I do. Blessings to you, my friend!!! XoXo

  4. Hi Jamie,
    I am again so grateful that you share such wonderful recipes! I made the spaghetti sauce for your baked ziti for a crowd recipe. I fed a large group last night and everyone RAVED about how delicious it was! PLEASE keep sharing your gift of great recipes and hospitality!

  5. Hi Ann!!! I am happy to clairfiy my instructions:-) If making the sauce to eat immediately (or same day), I add it with all the other ingredients in the slow cooker early in the day and cook for 7-8 hours. If I am making the sauce to freeze for later, I don’t add the jarred sauce; I make the recipe just as it is but without the jarred sauce. Then when I thaw and reheat later, I put the jarred sauce with the thawed meat sauce and cook all day on low. I throw fresh parm on top as well. It would probably be FINE either way, but that’s just how I do it:-) Please let me know how the sauce turns out!!!

  6. This sounds interesting and would like to make but have a few questions. 1) what is EVOO? Have never seen this term before. 2) The instructions don’t mention it but I assume that if you are making the sauce to immediately eat, that you add the jar of Bertolli sauce. When do you add the Bertolli sauce – same time you add the canned sauce, tomatoes and paste? Or at the very end. Thanks

  7. Katherine, I am so impressed that you are freezing!!! I always have a batch or two of this spaghetti sauce in the freezer. It is wonderful to have on hand.

  8. I made this and divided it into 3 batches- ate one for dinner and leftovers and froze the other two. Delicious!! And a great feeling to know that I have two more spaghetti meals ready to go in the freezer!

  9. Thank you, Dee Dee, for commenting!!! I am so happy that you are saving it to your recipe book! Please let me know what you think whenever you get around to making it!!!

  10. So excited to try/have this recipe! You added all my favorite spaghetti sauce tweaks! I already know its going in my recipe book! Thanks so much for the thoughtful directions and how-tos!

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