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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe

Spaghetti Meat Sauce is beefy, juicy and so satisfying. It comes together fast so it is perfect for busy weeknights, and it’s freezer friendly. Meat sauce has all of the comforting flavors of Spaghetti and Meatballs, or traditional Bolognese but is much easier!

Serve this meat sauce over spaghetti with a generous amount of parmesan cheese, paired with asparagus and crusty French bread. P.S. You can also use this meat sauce to make the Best Lasagna.

Spaghetti meat sauce in a dutch oven with a mixing spoon

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Spaghetti Meat Sauce

This is my sister Svetlana’s ground beef meat sauce recipe. She uses an original Prego sauce and makes it for camping every year. You can use a homemade marinara sauce or your favorite store-bought marinara. I’ve gotten so many requests for her famous meat sauce recipe so here it is! This one rivals Olive Garden’s spaghetti and meat sauce.

Spaghetti meat sauce in a bowl of spaghetti garnished with parmesan cheese and basil

Which Pasta for Meat Sauce?

Here’s the beauty of this recipe – you can pair it with your favorite pasta! Meat Sauce for pasta is traditionally made with spaghetti, but it goes really well with any of these:

  • String Pastas – Spaghetti, Linguine, Fettuccine
  • Ribbon Pastas – Pappardelle or Tagliatelle
  • Tubular Pastas – Penne, Cannelloni, Rigatoni, Ziti
  • Corkscrew Pastas – Cavatappi

Spaghetti pasta for meat sauce with remaining ingredients

How to Make Spaghetti Meat Sauce:

The ingredients for this meat sauce recipe are pantry staples and we always keep a stash of ground beef in the freezer for the days we don’t have a lot of time to get dinner on the table. It comes together in 1 pot or dutch oven and really doesn’t get any easier than this. Seriously the best meat sauce!

  1. Sautee ground beef until no longer pink.
  2. Add chopped onion, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1/4 tsp pepper, cook until soft then add garlic and sautee until fragrant.
  3. Add marinara sauce, 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp sugar. Partially cover and simmer meat sauce 20 minutes. Done!

step by step how to make spaghetti meat sauce in a dutch oven

How to Freeze Meat Sauce:

Meat sauce will last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To store it longer, transfer meat sauce to a freezer-safe container, leaving just a slight amount of headroom at the top. We prefer freezing meat sauce in freezer ziploc bags because it lays flat in the freezer and can be quick-thawed under running water.

How to Defrost Meat Sauce?

There are a few ways to defrost meat sauce. Once it is fully thawed, reheat over medium heat just until hot and simmering.

  • Quick-thaw method: Place the sealed bag of meat sauce in a bowl under cold water until thawed.
  • Slow-thaw method: Place the frozen meat sauce in the refrigerator overnight.
  • For a camping trip: place packaged frozen meat sauce in a cooler with ice and let it thaw as in a refrigerator overnight.

Defrosted meat sauce reheated in a pot with mixing spoon

Family Friendly Pasta Dinners:

This Spaghetti Meat Sauce makes for an irresistibly good pasta dinner loved by all ages! It makes a big batch but you can easily freeze meat sauce for another night. I hope this ground beef meat sauce becomes a new favorite in your home!

Spaghetti Meat Sauce

5 from 9 votes
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 27 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Spaghetti meat sauce in a pot

Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce is beefy, juicy and so satisfying. This Meat Sauce recipe comes together fast so it is perfect for busy weeknights, and it's freezer friendly.

Author: natashaskitchen
Skill Level: Easy
Cost to Make: $8-$10
Keyword: meat sauce, spaghetti meat sauce
Calories: 309 kcal
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 lb ground beef 15% fat
  • 1 medium onion finely diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 24 oz marinara pasta sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 12 oz spaghetti to serve


  1. Place a pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add 1 lb ground beef and sautee, breaking it up with a spatula until no longer pink (5 minutes).
  2. Add chopped onion, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp ground cumin 1/4 tsp pepper and sautee until onions are soft.
  3. Add garlic and sautee another 1-2 minutes until fragrant then pour in 1 jar of marinara sauce, 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp sugar. Cover and simmer over low heat 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, cook 12 oz of spaghetti in salted water to desired doneness according to package instructions then drain. Serve sauce with cooked pasta.

Recipe Notes

There are 2 ways to serve spaghetti and meat sauce: Add drained spaghetti to the finished sauce and toss to coat. Or, Add pasta to warm pasta bowls and top with meat sauce.

Nutrition Facts
Spaghetti Meat Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 309 Calories from Fat 81
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 9g 14%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 38mg 13%
Sodium 777mg 32%
Potassium 563mg 16%
Total Carbohydrates 38g 13%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 5g
Protein 17g 34%
Vitamin A 7.4%
Vitamin C 8.7%
Calcium 3.3%
Iron 15.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

If you make this recipe, I’d love to see pics of your creations on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Hashtag them #natashaskitchen


Welcome to my kitchen! I am Natasha, the blogger behind Natasha's Kitchen (since 2009). My husband and I run this blog together and share only our best, family approved recipes with YOU. Thanks for stopping by! We are so happy you're here.

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Read comments/reviewsAdd comment/review

    March 18, 2019

    Hey Natasha do you have an easy beef stew recipe served with rice please Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 18, 2019

      Hi Agness, we have this aweomse beef stew recipe here. This stew is more of a stew soup so I think it would go perectly over some rice! Reply

  • Ellen M.
    March 9, 2019

    Quick question – do you drain the ground beef after browning it, or does using 15% fat ground beef make that step unnecessary? Can’t wait to make this! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 9, 2019

      Hi Ellen! We did not need to drain the meat. Reply

  • Mike
    March 9, 2019

    Gidday Natasha, I enjoy your cooking blog. Rather than adding a jar of commercial sauce to make the spaghetti sauce’s easy to create your own. After cooking the mince ( i use pork mince) sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil and add some chopped celery and grated carrot. Grated zucchini is good too.Add chopped tomatoes and tomato paste, plus some milk and two anchovies. Let this simmer a while and add seasoningThis is a tasty meat sauce and very healthy. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 9, 2019

      Thank you so much for sharing that with me. Reply

  • Hazel
    March 8, 2019

    I have long made a version of this type sauce and I add some ground or chopped mild Italian sausage for greater flavor. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 8, 2019

      I’m so happy you enjoyed that. Thank you for sharing that with us! Reply

  • Thomas
    March 7, 2019

    Here’s the thing; if you can make a great italian style meat sauce, you can use it as a starter for about anything italian you wish to make. Use it to make lasagna, skillet lasagna with bow tie pasta, spaghetti, actually any pasta dish requiring a meat sauce will do. Let’s call it a nice frozen quick supper week-night shortcut. Thanks, Natasha. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 7, 2019

      You’re welcome! I’m so happy you enjoyed it, Thomas! Reply

    • Natasha
      March 7, 2019

      Hi Thomas, this definitely is a shortcut which is always great on busy weeknights :). Reply

  • Leslie
    March 6, 2019

    Is Sam’s choice sauce you have in the picture better than Prego traditional sauce ? Reply

    • Natasha
      March 7, 2019

      Hi Leslie, honestly we loved them equally in flavor but the Sam’s choice one does seem to have a better list of ingredients (i.e. olive oil instead of canola oil). If you have a favorite marinara sauce, try that! It works with a variety of different brands. I hope you love the meat sauce! 🙂 Reply

  • Barb
    March 6, 2019

    I am going to make this, because it sounds so yummy. BUT….I have to ask you: 3 minutes prep time???? In what universe? Prep times in ALL online recipes are noted as crazily short, but 3 minutes is just silly. How about giving a prep time where nothing is already trimmed, washed, or chopped? Now, THAT would be realistic! Reply

    • Natasha
      March 7, 2019

      Hi Barb, the only thing that needs to be “prepped” here is to chop and onion and mince garlic and 3 minutes seemed reasonable for that. The rest of the recipe is done over the stove and is counted into the cooking time. Hope that helps! Reply

  • Russ
    March 6, 2019

    I have made a similar recipe for years and love it. It also calls for browning the meat before adding the onions, which strikes me as odd. Wouldn’t it be better to slightly carmelize the onions first? Maybe you could enlighten me as to why it is done this way. Reply

    • Natasha
      March 6, 2019

      Hi Russ, it isn’t necessary in this recipe because the sauce simmers for awhile afterwards and the onions pretty much disappear into the sauce. Reply

  • Susan P
    March 6, 2019

    Did you add small tomatoes to the sauce? I didn’t see them listed in the ingredients, but they are in the sauce. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 6, 2019

      Hi Susan! Those were actually apart of the marinara pasta sauce! Reply

  • Becky Hardin
    March 6, 2019

    Love how easy this is and how delicious it is!! Nothing better then a good meat sauce recipe that everyone loves. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 6, 2019

      I’m so happy to hear that! Thank you for sharing your great review, Becky! Reply

  • Rachael Yerkes
    March 6, 2019

    Best pasta night dinner! I love this sauce! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 6, 2019

      That’s so awesome, Rachael! I’m so happy you enjoyed that! Reply

  • Alina
    March 6, 2019

    Awesome recipe like always. I made it last night but I didn’t have beef so I used ground chicken it was yummy too. My kids loved it. Thanks for ur hard work! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 6, 2019

      I’m so happy you all enjoyed that! Thank you for that awesome review! Reply

  • Alli
    March 6, 2019

    We loved this, it was so easy and tasty and my kids adored this, absolutely a keeper! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 6, 2019

      Sounds like you found a new family favorite! I’m so happy you all enjoyed that, Alli! Reply

  • Katerina @ diethood .com
    March 6, 2019

    My family would LOVE this!! It looks SO good!! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 6, 2019

      It is so perfect for a family dinner! Thank you for that great review, Katerina! Reply

  • Michelle F
    March 5, 2019

    Saw this pop up on my Instagram today and made it the same night. So easy and delicious! My husband had seconds, then thirds. Your recipes consistently come out so successfully, I never have to worry about having a backup plan when getting dinner on the table. Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 5, 2019

      That’s just awesome!! Thank you for sharing your wonderful review, Michelle 🙂 Reply

  • Suzy
    March 5, 2019

    The whole family loved this! Reply

    • Natasha
      March 5, 2019

      Hi Suzy, I am so happy to hear that!! Thank you for the awesome review! Reply

  • Lena
    March 5, 2019

    Looks so amazing! Would u b able to make a freezer friendly category! I’m going back to work would b sooo helpful to know exact which ones I could make ahead! Love your site! Reply

    • Natashas Kitchen
      March 5, 2019

      Thank you for that suggestion, Lena! Reply

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