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

FAQ

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?

Recipe

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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Ingredients 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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.

Video

Nutrition

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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200 Comments

  1. Judy K says:

    This is basically my recipe and always well received! I make large quantities in my crockpot, simmering for hours and freezing some in bags. The house smells so good! I made this back when my 50-year-old son was very young. His buddies still talk about how good the house smelled!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      It does make the house smell amazing!

  2. Mellodee says:

    5 stars
    It has been 40 years since I made homemade spaghetti sauce with my mom. Mom recently die and I had forgotten how to do it from scratch.
    My sister wanted home made spaghetti so I went with your recipes. It was just like mom made just in time for her birthday dinner. Really good. Thank you so much for sharing.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Your comment made my day! I’m so glad you liked it, thank you for taking the time to leave a review.

  3. Christine says:

    5 stars
    I have made this multiple times, different ways. For me, feels like only needs the one hour vs 3 to simmer and I replaced the crushed tomatoes with like 5-6 real tomato’s diced and mashed in pan (I use a butter folder bakery thing lol). This recipe is amazing! I have shared it and always get good feedback. I make it and freeze leftovers, I make spaghetti and pizza and subs with it. Thanks for the awesome sauce recipe!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad you like it so much! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review, it really means a lot to me.

  4. Joan says:

    5 stars
    This is my go to spaghetti sauce. I started making it oil free when my daughter was having skin problems and I love it that way. I love knowing exactly what goes into my spaghetti sauce and this recipe satisfies in every way. I make it all the time – it’s so easy.

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m so glad you enjoy it! Thank you for taking the time to leave a review, it really means a lot to me!

  5. Alexis Crim says:

    I made this recipe a few nights ago as a trial run for my Xmas Eve dinner for 20 people. I feel like the diced tomatoes made the sauce too chunky for some of my “picky” family members. Can I just omit the diced tomatoes and used all crushed tomatoes? If so, what would the measurements be?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      If you can find a 14.5 ounce can of crushed tomatoes to replace the diced tomatoes, that would be perfect. Otherwise you could probably just use another can of crushed and maybe increase the seasonings a bit. Other options would be to puree the entire sauce with an immersion blender or puree that diced tomatoes before putting them in.

  6. Christopher O Wilbarger says:

    Hi. I’ll be making this next weekend. I’ll be canning for shelf storage and Christmas gifts. I’m assuming that normal canning procedures are appropriate??
    Thanks!

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I’m by no means an expert in canning so I can’t give advice on that – I’d recommend googling if you’re unsure. What a great gift idea, though!

  7. Cathy says:

    I look forward to making this tomorrow, but had a question. I add 1 teaspoon baking soda to my homemade tomato soup when I’m cooking the tomatoes to remove the acidity, wouldn’t I need to do this to the spaghetti sauce also?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      Hi Cathy, you could absolutely do that if you’d like to. My recipe contains 1 tablespoon of sugar which serves to counter the acidity, but if you find it’s still too acidic, you could try baking soda.

  8. Richard says:

    If you used fresh tomatoes for this recipe how much would be needed to replace the canned tomatoes in the 14 cup recipe?

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      I haven’t tested it with fresh tomatoes so I can’t say for sure. I know a lot of people have, so maybe they’ll chime in. The good news is it’s a very forgiving recipe and you can always add a little more of the herbs or sugar if you feel like it’s too heavy on the tomatoes and needs some balance. I would go for around 4 pounds but that’s just an educated guess. :)

  9. Poitoy says:

    5 stars
    Have made this twice. Turned out excellent

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad to hear it! Thanks for taking the time to leave a review!

  10. Cassie says:

    I love this recipe! I’ve made it multiple times and it is now my go to pasta sauce. I’ve only made it with canned tomatoes though so now I want to make it with fresh tomatoes

    1. Rachel Gurk says:

      So glad you like it! Thanks for taking the time to let me know, it means a lot!