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Favorite Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

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After years of trying to create the best homemade spaghetti sauce, we’ve finally found the perfect recipe. This spaghetti sauce from scratch is a recipe we’re happy to eat over and over again! 

best homemade spaghetti sauce atop pasta on white plate

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

After years of testing and retesting recipes for easy homemade spaghetti sauce, we finally have one that we want to shout from the rooftops. This spaghetti sauce recipe was a great springboard but we wanted one that wasn’t just a quick recipe, but one that would simmer and bubble all day until it’s flavors were irresistible.

Although this spaghetti sauce from scratch requires 3+ hours to develop its rich, hearty flavor, it’s very easy to make. The prep work takes all of 10 minutes to complete, and then you can walk away from the stove to tend to other chores around the house. 

In this post, we walk you through how to make spaghetti sauce, and we also address a number of FAQs we’ve received about making homemade pasta sauce. 

homemade spaghetti sauce in blue dutch oven

Spaghetti Sauce Ingredients

If you’ve already scrolled down to the recipe card to see what’s in this homemade spaghetti sauce, don’t be worried about the longer ingredient list. Most of the ingredients are herbs you already have in your pantry! Here’s what you’ll need to make this spaghetti sauce recipe: 

  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Onion
  • Baby Bella mushrooms
  • Red bell pepper
  • Mild Italian sausage
  • Fresh herbs
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Bay leaf 
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Parmesan rind

spaghetti topped with homemade pasta sauce on white plate

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce

This Italian spaghetti sauce requires minimal hands-on prep work but delivers big flavor. Here are the basic steps for how to make spaghetti sauce: 

  1. Halve the fresh tomatoes and toss in olive oil. 
  2. Place in baking pan with garlic and roast until softened. 
  3. In a dutch oven, sauté the onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and more garlic.
  4. Add the sausage to the dutch oven and cook until browned.
  5. Add the rest of the spaghetti sauce ingredients to the pot and pop the lid on. 
  6. Let the sauce simmer for at least 3 hours, or all day. 

How to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce

A watery spaghetti sauce is almost always caused by a lack of tomato paste. Tomato paste will thicken the entire sauce without taking away from the tomato flavor. In fact, it’s concentrated enough that it really gives that oomph of tomato you need.

homemade spaghetti sauce in dutch oven with parmesan rind

Can I Make Spaghetti Sauce in a Slow Cooker?

Yes, homemade spaghetti sauce is a great choice for your slow cooker. You can even start the meat in it but remember, it’s going to take longer to brown. Start on high heat and add the meat as well as veggies and herbs. Once browned, add your remaining ingredients and allow to simmer on the low setting all day, stirring occasionally.

Should I Peel and Deseed the Roasted Tomatoes? 

After roasting the fresh tomatoes, we prefer adding them straight to the pot of sauce without removing their skins or seeds. We find that the roasted tomatoes break down even more in the spaghetti sauce, so there’s no need to add that extra prep work to this recipe. 

italian spaghetti sauce in dutch oven

Can I Omit the Ground Meat?

Absolutely! If you’re vegetarian or simply don’t have ground meat on hand, you’re welcome to leave it out. Your spaghetti sauce will still have plenty of flavor. 

Is it Okay to Can Spaghetti Sauce? 

Yes, we can this homemade spaghetti sauce in the summer when we have lots of tomatoes on hand. 

spaghetti sauce from scratch atop noodles on white plate

 

Can You Freeze Spaghetti Sauce?

Very easily! The best way to freeze spaghetti sauce is to let it cool completely and then seal it in a food saver bag. We aren’t getting paid to say this, but we truly do love our Food Saver. It’s been amazing to freeze even cooked meats and soups and have them taste perfectly fresh two months later when we reheat. We like to use the Rolls so we can cut the bag to whatever size we want, but the Premade Bags are great too.

If you don’t have a Food Saver, you can store the spaghetti sauce in freezer-safe containers or bags. When you’re ready to eat the sauce, place it in your fridge overnight to thaw. 

easy homemade spaghetti sauce on noodles

Tips for Making the Best Spaghetti Sauce

There are a few secrets to making a good spaghetti sauce, and they all have to do with the ingredients you use. I’m sure it comes as no surprise that high-quality ingredients are crucial to making a batch of truly amazing homemade pasta sauce. 

Here’s what you should know about the key ingredients in this spaghetti sauce recipe: 

Tomatoes — You’re going to want whole tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Our local grocery store sells San Marzano tomatoes and if you have not canned your own, I highly suggest this brand as it truly does taste like a far superior tomato. 

If you can’t find them, try to watch for a good sale and buy the best canned tomatoes you can find. It’s worth it. I’ve linked to them so you can see what the can looks like. We try to freeze or can tomato sauce as well during the summer but it is the same rule as above.

Fresh Herbs — Herbs will create a more flavorful, fresh sauce. A combination of fresh and dry herbs or completely dry herbs will be okay as long as you bloom the herbs. By this, I mean you should add the herbs while you’re sautéing things in the hot pan so that the flavors wake up, so to speak. 

homemade pasta sauce on plate with spaghetti

Parmesan Rind A Parmesan rind is the key ingredient to making the BEST spaghetti sauce. Don’t you dare ever throw out that Parmesan rind again. Toss it into your sauce and let it simmer to really allow the cheese to seep into the sauce. It doesn’t taste cheesy, but boy does it taste wonderful. Even as leftovers sit in the fridge, I allow that rind to be in there.

Time — A truly wonderful sauce needs time. I start mine in the morning and let it simmer all day. In fact, I sometimes make it a day ahead of time, let it sit in the fridge and then slowly bring it back to temperature the day of serving. Time is the only thing that can meld and fully bloom the flavors of the sauce.

Meat — You don’t need meat in a homemade spaghetti sauce, but if you do add meat I prefer to do half beef and half Italian sausage or all Italian sausage. These will really create more flavor in the sauce.

 

pasta topped with homemade spaghetti sauce and grated parmesan on white plate

Other Italian Sauce Recipes:

Looking for more Italian Sauce recipes? Who doesn’t love Italian sauces!?  Make sure you try these out the next time you are making that Italian dish: 

Here are a few more yummy saucy pasta dishes that our family loves: 

It's taken years to create a delicious Favorite homemade spaghetti sauce we want to eat over and over again and it's thanks to one secret ingredient. ohsweetbasil.com

Favorite Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

4.45 from 25 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Total Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
Servings: 8
After years of trying to create the best spaghetti sauce, we’ve finally perfected our recipe. This spaghetti sauce is one we’re happy to eat over and over! 

Ingredients

  • 4 Large Fresh Tomatoes or 6 Small
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Diced Onion
  • 1/3 Cup Minced Baby Bella Mushrooms
  • 1/2 Cup Minced Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Pound Mild Italian Sausage
  • 1/4 Cup Fresh Parsley chopped (or 2 Tablespoons Dried)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Rosemary chopped (or 1/2 Teaspoon Dried)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil chopped (or 1 1/2 Teaspoons Dried)
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Oregano (or 1/2 Teaspoon Dried)
  • 1 28 ounce can San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 30 ounces Tomato Sauce * (about 2 cans)
  • 2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt plus more to taste
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Teaspoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 of a Rind from a Parmesan Cheese Wedge

Instructions

  • Heat an oven to 400 degrees F and drizzle a little oil on a cookie sheet.
  • Slice the tomatoes in half and toss in the oil on the pan.
  • Add the garlic, in it's skins and toss in the oil.
  • Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper and bake for 20-30 minutes or until the tomatoes are wilted.
  • Press the garlic out of their papers, mince and set everything aside.
  • Heat a dutch oven over medium heat and add a drizzle of oil.
  • Add the onions, bell peppers, mushrooms and garlic and stir with a wooden spoon until the onions begin to turn translucent.
  • Add the Italian sausage and break it up a little.
  • As the meat browns, occasionally go back to the pan every minute or so and continue to break up the meat.
  • Add the herbs and stir again to combine, allowing to cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes, canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste.
  • Stir to combine and sprinkle with kosher salt evenly over the sauce.
  • Add the bay leaf, balsamic vinegar and parmesan rind.
  • Stir to combine and allow to simmer for 3 hours or all day.
  • Before serving, remove the bay leaf.
  • We let the parmesan stay in until we've eaten all of the sauce, even with the leftovers in the fridge.

Notes

*We love to roast tomatoes, puree them, strain out the seeds and freeze in ziploc bags, but canned will work just fine.
Nutrition Facts
Favorite Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Amount Per Serving (1 g)
Calories 32 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Fat 1g2%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 881mg38%
Potassium 403mg12%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 2g4%
Vitamin A 692IU14%
Vitamin C 11mg13%
Calcium 19mg2%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

It's taken years to create a delicious Favorite homemade spaghetti sauce we want to eat over and over again and it's thanks to one secret ingredient.

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About the authors

Cheney Family

Cade and Carrian have three children and love to spend time together whether it’s vacationing or snuggled up on the couch for a good movie.

And this family especially loves to eat.

They love everything from the keep you fit and healthy to the get out your sweat pants indulgent and everything in between.

But most of all, they love the memories made, shared and treasured and it’s all thanks to a meal shared together with loved ones.

Leave a comment

64 comments

  • Our family loves this sauce!  So much better than the jars from the store.  Once its done simmering, I use my immersion blender to make it smooth so picky eaters don’t notice the mushrooms;)

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    • Genius!! So glad you enjoy it!

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  • First time I’ve ever made my sauce from scratch, was a HUGE hit!! husband may never let me go back to jar stuff lol

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    • Haha…we haven’t been able to go back to the jar stuff either. Totally spoiled! So glad your family enjoyed it!

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  • Thank you so much for posting this recipe!  I was able to use lots of produce from my garden: Early Girls/San Marzano/Roma’s, onion, bell pepper, basil, parsley and oregano.  Used 1/2 lb ground beef, 1/2 lb mild Italian sausage.  I cooked my meat, onion/pepper/mushrooms, herbs, roasted tomatoes/garlic the night before and cut up my tomatoes.  Put all that in a bowl in the fridge overnight.  Added all other ingredients to slow cooker with the pre-cooked mix the next day.  Did high for about four hours. One of the best homemade sauces I’ve ever made.  Thank you for making me look good!  😀

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    • What great tips! Thank you for the feedback Julie! So happy you love it as much as we do!!

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      • With my abundance of tomatoes, I thought about canning without the meat.  Then when I use it, I can simmer it with meat before serving.  Have you done this before?  If so, do I need to add an acid (citric or lemon juice)?  Thank you!

      • Hi Julie! Sorry for the slow response! Add a dash of lemon juice and skip adding any cheese. And yes it works great to later simmer with the sauce!

  • OMG! I’m on heaven, this meat sauce is to die for. I made a batch last fall and was smitten. Mail ordered San Marzano tomato plants this spring and they are ready to start harvesting. The flavors are complex, tomato then basil and the parm rind adds a slight oil to this sauce. Freezes well and will make great gifts for the holidays.

    Thanks you

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    • Wow! Thanks Sandra! We can’t do any other spaghetti sauce in our house! So glad you love it as much as we do!

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  • I made this recipe almost exactly as noted with the exception of the parmesan cheese wedge. I was not able to find that at my local grocery store. What I used in it’s place was about a half cup of shaved aged parmesan cheese. This was the most amazingly delicious spaghetti sauce I have ever tasted. Was absolutely outstanding!

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    • Oops, I lied a bit. I forgot to mention I did add ground beef and sliced kielbasa in addition to the Italian sausage as the meat.

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      • Yes please! Sounds delicious!

    • Thank you Todd!! So glad you enjoyed it!

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  • I make this sauce in my instant, but with meatballs that we love. My whole family eats up ALL of it. This is a fantastic recipe! Thank you!

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    • I make it in my instant pot on manual for 23 min and its AMAZING.

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    • Amazing!! Thanks for the feedback Kara!

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  • I’m excited about trying this recipe,soon. I’m tired of bottle spaghetti sauce and think this would do the trick.

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    • You’ll never go back to bottled again! I can’t wait for you to try it!

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  • Just a suggestion, you don’t need to simmer the sauce all day, you have to watch it, three or four hours tops

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    • 3-4 hours gets the job done just fine! But the longer it simmers, the better! Just make sure the temp is low enough so it doesn’t burn.

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  • I’ve always made my Mom’s recipe for spaghetti and recently have been trying other recipes for a change of pace. I’m looking forward to trying your recipe! Sounds delicious and I know the rosemary and the parmesan rind will make a wonderful addition! I do have a question: I’m curious about the balsamic vinegar. This is the first I’ve seen it as an ingredient in spaghetti sauce. Can you tell me how it influences the flavor of the sauce?

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    • Hi Kathleen! That is a great question! It just adds the tiniest bit of sweetness and tanginess. You will love it!

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  • Should I chop the tomato halves before adding them to the pan? 

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    • You can if you want, but they break down pretty well as it simmers. Enjoy!

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  • This looks delicious! I’ve never made homemade sauce before so this might be a dumb question, but do you remove the seeds from the tomatoes before you cook them? 

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    • Hi Samantha! That’s not a dumb question at all! We don’t take them out because they don’t bother me being in there, but you definitely could remove them. Enjoy!!

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  • Oh my goodness! I made this spaghetti sauce recipe for dinner, and it was a hit. My youngest grandson, couldn’t stop licking his spoon! My husband said this was the best sauce he ever had.

    I followed the recipe exactly, my kitchen smelled wonderful. Your site is so well written and gives such clear directions and tons of necessary information.

    Thank you!

    • Reply
    • Thank you so much Kathy! We appreciate your support and feedback so much!

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  • Do you recommend simmering for 3+ hrs. with lid on or off?

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    • Lid off…great question!

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  • When you call for a can of san marzano tomatoes, are you referring to whole peeled tomatoes or crushed? I don’t see anywhere that states which. I also notice you have an asterisk by the tomato sauce saying to see notes, which I also dont see. I’d love to try this today but would love these answers. Thanks!

    • Reply
    • Hi Hunter! Sorry to get back to you late. We don’t work on Sundays, so I’m just getting to this! We like the crushed San Marzano tomatoes. They are much easier to work with in the sauce. The note for the tomatoes is down at the bottom below the instructions: “We love to roast tomatoes, puree them, strain out the seeds and freeze in ziploc bags, but canned will work just fine.”

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  • This sauce is amazing! Very tasty. We don’t eat pork so I used ground beef; also, my kids don’t like mushrooms so I left them out. It still came out great. I don’t think I can go back to spaghetti sauce in a jar! I took your advice from another recipe and bought myself a meat chopper, I’m very glad did, it made a significant difference in the texture of the sauce. 

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    • Isn’t that meat chopper amazing?! I can’t believe I ever lived without it! So glad you enjoyed the spaghetti sauce, Kim! Thanks for the feedback!

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  • Hi Guys,
    This recipe sounds great but I live In Australia can you tell me what mild Italian sausage is and are the tomatoes just regular diced tinned tomatoes.  Another question is the tomato sauce is this like ketchup which is what we call tomato sauce.
    Thanks
    Julia

    • Reply
    • Hi Julia! Mild Italian sausage is ground pork sausage that you can buy packages like ground beef. Yes, the tomatoes are the canned diced tomatoes you buy that are buy the canned vegetables. The tomato sauce is also canned. It is basically just pureed tomatoes, no extra sugar added. Hope this helps!

      • Reply
  • Best sauce I’ve ever made !!! All those ingredients that go into this take a bit of time…but it’s well worth it. I strained the sauce and used it for pizza as well. I got a lot of compliments on how wonderful the sauce tasted. This will be my Go To recipe from here on in. I give this a 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 rating. Thanks

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    • Thank you Patrick! It is so tasty! Thank you for taking time to leave a comment!

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      • When you mention 4 whole tomatoes but later mentioned canned tomatoes is it both or either one? I’m confused by this.

      • Yes, both!

  • Where was the “secret ingredient ” that was promised in the beginning? Hmmm

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    • Thank you Lois! The secret ingredient is the Parmesan rind. Thank you for catching that!

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  • You never ever ever put oregano in marinara.. oregano makes it pizza sauce

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  • No neck bones? For shame…

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  • Is it possible to can this sauce?

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    • Yes, absolutely! We love to can this in the summer with all the tomatoes from our garden. It lasts us through the fall and winter! It can also be frozen.

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  • Do you peel the fresh tomatoes after you roast them, before you use them in the sauce?

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    • We usually just leave the skins on, but you could easily remove them after roasting if you want!

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  • There are no new or secret in this basic sauce. Same ones my mother and grandmother have used for more than 60 years 

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    • The best recipes always stand the test of time!

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  • Your recipe ingredients call for minced bell pepper. However I did not see them in the directions. Am i missing it? What color if so?

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    • Oh shoot! Thank you! They go in at the same time as the onions and mushrooms and red bell peppers! I’ll get that fixed right now.

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  • The sauce was so good! Because my husband and I are on a health kick, we put it on top of sweet potato noodles instead of regular pasta. I was so happy to be able to eat spaghetti again, and it was delicious! I will make this again many times over!

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    • Yay! Did you buy or make your noodles? I haven’t found a good one to buy.

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  • What is the sodium content on this sauce?

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  • Homemade spaghetti sauce is like icing on cake, it makes everything that much better! This version looks finger-lickin’ good!

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    • Thank you so much!

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  • My BF taught me how to make sauce from scratch & haven’t gone back to premade since.
    BTW, Amway has a great stain remover for grease, tomato stains.

    • Reply
    • I’ll have to look into that!

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  • Do you think this recipe would work in the Instant Pot? I’ll definitely try the all day version but if it could be done faster and taste like it took all day, that would be awesome, too!

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    • Hi Kris,

      That’s something we haven’t tried so I’m not sure, but we would love to hear if you try it!

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  • This sounds very good. I have wanted a homemade spaghetti sauce for quite a while. I just have one question: What does the parmesan rind look like? At the grocery store I shop, the fresh parmesan is wrapped in plastic and it looks like an elongated triangle.
    Thank you again.

    • Reply
    • Hi Jeannette,

      Yes, that’s the parmesan we use. The wide end that is hard is the rind. If you look at the 4th picture it’s floating in the sauce.

      • Reply

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