Meat Sauce

5 from 1 vote

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Meat Sauce is an amazing Italian pasta sauce recipe! Made with ground beef, sausage, and lots of flavor for a dinner idea. Freezes well. Gluten free.
Closer view of Meat Sauce in a glass bowl on a counter

If you are looking for an easy Meat Sauce recipe that you can use in anything Italian, this is your recipe! A classic combination of flavors that you can use for pasta, lasagna, chicken, and so much more!

Closer view of Meat Sauce in a glass bowl on a counter

Why You Will Love This Recipe

This meat sauce is based off of my family’s recipe for a simple and delicious pasta sauce.

Something about it just screams comfort food.

I always make this larger batch and freeze some to have on hand for a fast and easy dinner, or when I am not feeling great and want something comforting.

Use it on pasta or even with chicken.

Meat Sauce on pasta in a gray bowl


These are the ingredients you need to make a homemade meat sauce:

  • Ground Beef
  • Ground Italian Sausage (or more beef)
  • Yellow Onion
  • Garlic
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Diced Tomatoes
  • Crushed Tomatoes
  • Red Wine (optional)
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried Italian Seasoning
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt


This is the list of equipment you need to make this recipe:

  • Large Pot (Dutch oven or metal)
  • Spatula or Spoon
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • 16 ounce mason jars (for freezing excess sauce)
The ingredients on a counter with labels

Instruction Overview

Heat your large pot over medium heat on the stove.

When hot, add the ground meat and cook until just cooked through.

Drain excess fat if needed.

Add the onion, stir, and cook until starting to turn clear and translucent, about 3-4 minutes.

Add the garlic, dried basil, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Mixing the meat with the spices in a pot

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer and then reduce heat to low.

Cook on low for at least 30 minutes, ideally for at least 2 hours.

Serve on pastas or with chicken. This sauce freezes very well.

The sauce simmering in a pot

Modifications and Substitutions

Use all ground beef or all ground sausage as desired.

You can swap out the diced or crushed tomatoes for another kind (ie: tomato sauce) but I like the texture combination that diced and crushed gives you.

Tomato ounces is approximate. For example, you can use two 14.5 ounce cans (equalling 29 ounces) in place of one 28 ounce can.

Kim’s Tips

Want a meat-heavy sauce? Add a third pound of meat, which can be either more beef, more sausage, or a combination of both.

Want a less meaty sauce? Decrease the amount of meat to 1 pound total, whether beef, sausage, or a combination of both.

This sauce tastes best when it cooks for a long time. I like to start it early in the day and cook it low and slow for at least 2 hours. If it gets too thick, add a little water.

This sauce freezes very well! Freeze in 16 oz mason jars which is enough for 2 people.

I find the red wine adds great depth of flavor, but is completely optional. Use something dry like a cabernet or zinfandel, and something you enjoy drinking.

I prefer to used the petite diced tomatoes to still get the texture, but more of them in smaller chunks.

Meat Sauce in a glass bowl with a spoon in it on a counter


What is meat sauce?

Meat sauce is a red sauce made of tomatoes with a ground meat, typically ground beef.

What’s the difference between pasta sauce and meat sauce?

Pasta sauce covers a wide variety of different sauces.
This can include meat or no meat, red or white, and more.
A meat sauce is more specific to include meats (typically ground) and typically a red sauce with spices.

What is meat sauce made of?

This meat sauce is made of ground beef, ground sausage (or more beef), tomato sauce, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, dried basil, dried Italian seasoning, and salt.
You can find all the information about this recipe above and in the recipe card below.

What’s the difference between meat sauce and bolognese?

Bolognese is named after the city of Bologna, Italy (where I lived in college!). The bolognese sauce is typically much thicker, more often creamy, and very little tomato.
A meat sauce tends to be saucier and heavy on the tomato.

Does meat sauce have pork?

It does not have to.
Meat sauce can be made with just ground beef if desired.
The traditional bolognese is made from wild boar, most similar to pork, but has become very versatile today.

How long should you let meat sauce simmer?

It will be fine to use after 30 minutes, but the best flavor comes from cooking for at least 2 hours.
Start the sauce early in the day and let it cook low and slow to get those great flavors developed!

Meat Sauce on pasta in a gray bowl sitting on a counter
Pin of Meat Sauce in a glass bowl with title at top
Closer view of Meat Sauce in a glass bowl on a counter

Meat Sauce

Meat Sauce is an amazing Italian pasta sauce recipe! Made with ground beef, sausage, and lots of flavor for a dinner idea. Freezes well. Gluten free.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Save Recipe
Course: Condiment, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Beef, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Pasta
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 10 cups (about 15-16 servings)
Calories: 336kcal




  • Heat a large pot on the stove over medium heat.
  • Add the ground meats and cook until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes.
    1 pound ground beef, 1 pound ground Italian sausage
  • Add the chopped onion to the meat and continue cooking until just translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
    1 ½ cups yellow onion
  • Add the garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and salt. Stir to combine and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
    If using red wine, also add at this point and simmer for 2 minutes.
    4 cloves garlic, 1 ½ Tablespoons dried basil, 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes, ¼ teaspoon salt, ½ cup red wine
  • Add in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and crushed tomatoes. Stir to combine and reduce heat to medium low.
    28 ounces crushed tomatoes, 28 ounces tomato sauce, 28 ounces diced tomatoes
  • Simmer for at least 30 minutes, ideally 1-2 hours.


  1. Tomato can size can be approximate based on the brand.
  2. If using red wine, dry is best, and something you enjoy drinking (such as a cab or zinfandel).


Serving: 1cup (about 1.5 servings) | Calories: 336kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 65mg | Sodium: 870mg | Potassium: 932mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 685IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 105mg | Iron: 5mg

More Pasta Sauces

By on September 26th, 2022

About Kim

Kim has grown up with a passion for cooking good food! You can find her in the kitchen experimenting with new recipes, making dog treats, and eating Italian food!

More posts by this author.

Leave a Comment

Recipe Rating

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Three Olives Branch