Put down the jarred spaghetti sauce—all you need are an hour and a handful of staple ingredients to make this classic, rich pasta sauce right at home. Would you rather enjoy a bowl of pasta with a homemade beefy, rich tomato sauce laced with Parmesan and basil, or mystery meat in a glass jar? We bet we know the answer. This spaghetti sauce can be turned into a dressed-up or casual meal, complete with all your favorite pasta side dishes. Trust us—this is the homemade, family-friendly pasta recipe you can rely on for weeknight dinners and dinner parties all year long. Keep reading on for all of our top tips on how to make this staple sauce the best it can possibly be:
Spaghetti sauce vs. other tomato sauces:
Spaghetti sauce is a beefy, rich tomato sauce laced with Parmesan and basil, but there are a few discrepancies in regards to popular tomato-based sauces:
— Bolognese isn’t spaghetti sauce, and spaghetti sauce isn’t Bolognese. Bolognese contains carrots and celery, red wine, beef broth/stock, and milk. It’s basically a glorified ragú stew that warrants lots of praise in Bologna.
— Marinara sauce is a little less involved, featuring crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, and basil cooked for under 1 hour. It’s not a concentrated tomato sauce that’s been stewing on the stove all afternoon.
— Pomodoro sauce is essentially tomato sauce, but it’s not the “saucy” type referred to when thinking about spaghetti and meatballs. It’s actually chopped-up fresh (not canned) tomato cooked with olive oil, garlic, and basil ready to eat as a quick weeknight meal.
How to make the best spaghetti sauce:
Picking the right variety of canned tomato sauce matters, and is vital to making the best possible spaghetti sauce. The brands to keep an eye out for include Scalfani, Mutti, and Bianco di Napoli, all of which should contain San Marzano tomatoes. Why buy whole peeled tomatoes if you’re going to crush them anyway? The reason is that these are the less processed than other canned tomatoes. You also have more control over what happens to them; keep them whole, lightly crush, puree, etc.—more tomato options mean MORE saucing options.
Our other top secret for making the most flavorful spaghetti sauce? Add a Parmesan rind into your sauce along with your tomatoes. The rind will release a salty and rich flavor into the sauce, boosting the umami and the overall depth of flavor.
This sauce freezes beautifully. Allow the sauce to cool down, scoop into freezer-proof containers, and freeze up to 1 month. Defrost and reheat as desired.
Although you might be too busy devouring a heaping bowl of spaghetti, let us know what you think in the comments below!
Yields: 4-6 servings
Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 55 mins
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
medium yellow onion, finely chopped
cloves garlic, sliced
dried basil (optional)
kosher salt, divided
freshly ground black pepper, divided
(85% lean) ground beef
(28-oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes
chopped fresh basil