Rich with tomatoes and herbs, this classic Italian recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce may become a family tradition in your home. A pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove will have everyone coming to the kitchen to see what’s cooking. 

Recipe Overview

Why you’ll love it: It’s easy to make and tastes rich and velvety.

How long it takes: 1 hour 30 minutes, but a lot is hands-off
Equipment you’ll need: large pot, spoon
Servings: 14 servings

Homemade spaghetti sauce in a yellow pot.
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What’s more delicious than a big bowl of spaghetti smothered in hearty red tomato sauce? If you asked my dad, he would probably say he couldn’t think of anything he likes better. Whenever my mom asks him what sounds good for dinner, his first and immediate reply is “Spaghetti!” My grandma always made her famous spaghetti sauce (with her secret recipe) for his very best birthday dinner. 

Homemade spaghetti sauce is surprisingly uncomplicated and easy to make. Lots of tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs comprise the ingredient list. You may have everything you need right in your pantry. In no time, you can be simmering this delectable and classic sauce in a pot on your stove. The only attention it requires is a stir now and then. 

My only question is: What are you waiting for? Open a bottle of Pinot Noir or another medium bodied red wine and raise a toast to the cook!

Spaghetti in a white bowl with classic marinara.

About this homemade spaghetti sauce

I use four different forms of canned tomatoes to make this homemade spaghetti sauce: tomato paste, crushed tomatoes with their juice, tomato sauce, and diced tomatoes with their juice. 

Although homemade spaghetti sauce requires a nice long simmer on the stove, most of that time is hands-off. You could also use a slow cooker to simmer the spaghetti sauce on low for 8 hours.

Listen for the “Grazie” (thank you!) that’s sure to come your way. The correct response to that is “Prego!”(meaning: you’re welcome!).

Spaghetti sauce in pan with large serving spoon.

How to make this Recipe

It’s simple! Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil, add a couple tablespoons of tomato sauce and heat it up for a minute or so, then add the tomatoes.

Add the dried spices: oregano, thyme, bay leaf, a tablespoon of sugar, and red pepper flakes.

Stir well and simmer for at least one hour, but up to three hours. Just before serving, remove the bay leaf, and stir in a little butter, and some fresh basil and parsley. 

Serve over your favorite pasta with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Buon appetito!

Spaghetti with spaghetti sauce and cheese.

How to make this spaghetti sauce your own

  • If you have a garden full of tomatoes, that’s wonderful! You can easily substitute peeled fresh tomatoes for the crushed and diced tomatoes. Roma tomatoes or another meaty variety work best. You’ll need about four pounds.
  • Add more veggies: Chopped bell peppers or mushrooms can be added. Sauté them with the onions. Or stir in a few handfuls of baby spinach right before serving. 
  • I like to serve this sauce with homemade meatballs or baked turkey meatballs. Frozen meatballs are so handy. Just add them to the sauce about halfway through the simmering time so they get heated through.
  • If you would like to make a spaghetti sauce with meat, sauté ground beef or turkey, or Italian sausage with the onions, and then continue the recipe as directed.
  • If you happen to have a rind of Parmesan cheese, put that in the sauce as it simmers to enhance the flavor.
  • Make this sauce vegan or Whole30 simply by omitting the butter and sugar.
  • Don’t have any fresh herbs? Simply add a tablespoon of dried basil and parsley instead.
  • If you prefer a sauce made without tomatoes, maybe this isn’t the recipe for you. Try this creamy chicken spaghetti or chicken Marsala pasta


What’s the difference between spaghetti sauce and marinara?

There seems to be some debate about the difference between spaghetti sauce and marinara. Generally, marinara is a thinner sauce, made with tomatoes and seasoning, which isn’t simmered as long as spaghetti sauce, giving marinara a fresher flavor. Spaghetti sauce is similar, but usually includes additional ingredients such as onions, peppers, mushrooms, or meat, and has a longer cooking time and a heartier flavor.
Ultimately, I guess you could say that spaghetti sauce is any sauce that you put on spaghetti, right? The word sauce comes from the Italian word salsa, which means topping. 

Reheating and Storage Tips

Leftover spaghetti sauce will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. Store in a resealable container. Reheat gently in a saucepan on the stove when ready to serve.

Homemade spaghetti sauce is a meal preppers’ dream. You can make a big batch of this sauce when you have extra time and freeze it in freezer containers indefinitely. Preferably, you should allow time for it to thaw overnight in the fridge before using.

Or, make a big batch of sauce on Saturday or Sunday, and plan meals around it for the rest of the week. It’s perfect for more than spaghetti and meatballs. Use it for this easy skillet lasagna, pizza stuffed spaghetti squash, rustic polenta stack, or pizza quesadillas, or as a dipping sauce for air fryer mozzarella sticks or chicken strips

Other pasta sauce recipes

Looking for more delicious ways to top your favorite pasta?


Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

4.53 from 489 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total: 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings: 14 servings
Rich with tomatoes and herbs, this classic Italian recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce may become a family tradition in your home. A pot of spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove will have everyone coming to the kitchen to see what's cooking. 
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  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon minced garlic)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can petite diced tomatoes and their juice
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried basil)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon butter


  • Heat oil in a large, deep pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes or until translucent. Add garlic and continue to cook, stirring, for one minute or until fragrant. 
  • Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it coats all the onions (about 1 minute). 
  • Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, sugar, oregano, thyme, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves. 
  • Stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for at least an hour or up to three hours. Stir occasionally. Make sure the sauce isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan. Adjust heat if necessary.
  • Carefully remove bay leaf and stir in butter, basil, and parsley until butter is melted.
  • Taste, season with salt and pepper, and serve.


  • For a sauce with meat, add 1 pound ground beef, turkey, or Italian sausage. Brown in pan with onions before adding the garlic.
  • Additional vegetables can be added such as chopped bell peppers or mushrooms.
  • Makes 7 cups.



Serving: 0.5cup, Calories: 22kcal, Carbohydrates: 3g, Protein: 0.4g, Fat: 1g, Saturated Fat: 0.2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 0.1mg, Sodium: 22mg, Potassium: 57mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 169IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 15mg, Iron: 0.4mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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4.53 from 489 votes (450 ratings without comment)

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  1. Kaisan says:

    5 stars
    This is the best homemade spaghetti sauce recipe ever! The flavour is spot on and the texture is perfect!

    I was wondering how long it will last in the refrigerator? Also what is the best way to store it?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! It will keep for four days in the fridge or up to a month in the freezer. I like to store it in a glass container because it can stain plastic containers. To freeze it, I usually just put it in a zip-top bag and flatten it out. It freezes/thaws quickly that way and takes up less room in the freezer. Hope that helps!

  2. Jenn says:

    5 stars
    Wonderful! I usually make a homemade sauce with carrots and celery with a bit of whipping cream but wanted to try something new tonight – I had a ton of tomatoes from my garden that needed to be used up so everything was fresh save for the tomato paste. It turned out amazing! The butter and basil was new to me (I churned them together instead of adding in separate)but it added a really nice flavour!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I love adding whipping cream to sauce, too! Butter has a similar effect. Glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review, it means a lot to me!

    2. Cheryl says:

      How many fresh tomatoes did you use if you don’t mind me asking ? Thank you

  3. Scarlett says:

    5 stars
    Rachel we’re cooking twins! I’ve been making spaghetti sauce this way for years because no sauce from a jar tastes as rich and flavorful as slow cooked fresh ingredients. I think I use more butter than you do but I’m from the South and we love the sweet creamy flavor of butter in so, so many things. My Mama taught me to put a spoonful of sugar in almost everything especially when I cook fresh vegetables from the garden or any number of sauces. You wouldn’t think one spoonful would make such a difference in a huge stockpot full of spaghetti sauce but it does for sure. I add fresh mushrooms or if I’m out of the fresh ones, I add canned mushrooms. I also add about 1/3 cup of good red wine to the sauce. I use a combination of ground beef and hot sausage if we want meat sauce. I add fresh basil because it’s just the best! Don’t laugh but we love to occasionally add cinnamon and allspice to bring a different flavor profile to the delicious meaty sauce. It may sound strange but it’s super delicious! Top it all with a dusting of parmagiano reggiano cheese and you have a spaghetti sauce to lovingly remember and use in multiple ways all week.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      That doesn’t sound strange it all, sounds delicious! Thank you for the nice comment, it made me hungry!

  4. Monica says:

    5 stars
    Made this tonight in my instant pot on the sauté feature. (our stove is out) Absolutely delicious! I ended up having both fresh basil and parsley and it was delicious. Let it simmer for an hour since I didn’t have too much time, but will definitely let it simmer longer next time. Thanks for the wonderful recipe. I love that it is simple and doesn’t include meat or a lot of vegetables. A simple staple recipe you can always add to :)

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I hope you get your stove back soon, but I love the improvising! Glad you liked the sauce… simple staple recipes that you can add to are my favorites and I’m glad this one checked that box for you.

  5. Rachel :) says:

    5 stars
    this recipe was amazing!! i am 21 and have basically no experience with cooking (unless Kraft mac and cheese counts lol). i made this by substituting home-grown tomatoes and it was literally FANTASTIC. it was easy and so fun to make! thanks so much!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Your comment brought a big smile to my face! I’m so glad you liked the recipe! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review and comment, it means so much to me.

  6. Emilie LaFave says:

    Looking for the calories – what does 48Kcal mean?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Good question! It’s the same as a calorie – “The “calorie” we refer to in food is actually kilocalorie. One (1) kilocalorie is the same as one (1) Calorie (upper case C). A kilocalorie is the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water one degree Celsius. Please visit USDA’s Food Composition Laboratory for additional information.”

  7. Melissa Winter says:

    5 stars
    Excellent base then I added green pepper and zucchini, Topped it with mozzerella!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Yum! Looks amazing, thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  8. Kim B. says:

    Yes I made the spaghetti sauce it was quick, easy and had a great taste to it . thanks for posting this recipe. I never made home-made spaghetti sauce before and now maybe I won’t buy jarred sauce anymore.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you liked it! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  9. Gwyneth says:

    So tasty! It came out greatly to me.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  10. Kenny says:

    I have been searching for a good spaghetti recipe for years. This recipe is amazing and its everything that I have been searching for. I have tried so many different recipes over the years, but I can now happily report my search is finally over. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad to hear this recipe was a hit! Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment!