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