My Mom’s Homemade Meat Sauce for Spaghetti

To make homemade meat sauce for spaghetti, brown ground beef with onion, drain, then add tomato soup, tomato sauce, mushrooms, Italian seasoning, optional sugar, salt, and pepper. Simmer, then serve with pasta.

Growing up, my mom made this homemade meat sauce when she made spaghetti. And it is the only meat sauce I use when I make spaghetti.

Growing up in a small, but picky eater, family (there were just two of us kids), I’m sure my mom had a tough time coming up with ideas for supper to please all of us. Of course, we were brought up to eat what was put in front of us.

But in my childhood, that was easy because anything my mom cooked was great. One of my favorites was her spaghetti.

She made this simple homemade meat sauce. Of course, there was one exception.

My sister didn’t like the sauce so my mom would put aside a small amount of the cooked spaghetti and my sister would eat that with butter on it. My mom added a salad and garlic bread to complete the meal.

When I got married I cooked the way my mom did. My poor husband in the first few years we were married had some adjusting to do.

His mom’s way of cooking was nothing like mine. But after 18 years of marriage, he has adjusted well. He really didn’t have much of a choice if he wanted to eat!

When my daughter was small it became a tradition that I would make spaghetti on Christmas Eve. It was a simple and quick meal so that we could get down to the business of opening presents.

When that business was over they knew they had to get to bed so that Santa could come.


homemade meat sauce

 Ingredients for Homemade Meat Sauce

  • 1 pound ground beef, I use 80/20
  • 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • 1  10 3/4 ounce can of tomato soup
  • 1 15-ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1 4 or 6-ounce can of mushrooms (optional). You can also use fresh mushrooms. When I use fresh mushrooms I like baby Bellas
  • 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning, depending on your taste
  • 1/8 c sugar, optional. This is my addition.  My mom did not put sugar in her meat sauce
  • Salt, and pepper to taste

To change things up a bit you can use a half a pound of Italian sausage to a half-pound of ground beef. 

Directions for Making Homemade Meat Sauce

Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion. Drain the grease.

Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low. While sauce is simmering make your spaghetti or whatever kind of pasta you want per box directions. 

(I use about 8 ounces of spaghetti). When the spaghetti is to your desired doneness and before draining, add a couple of tablespoons of the spaghetti water to the sauce.

A little note regarding the sugar. I like my sauces a little on the sweet side and of course, it cuts the acid of the tomato soup.

We have this local Italian restaurant and their sauces are a little on the sweet side as well. That’s why I love this restaurant.

But some of my family members (my sister) will request that I don’t add sugar to the sauce if they are at my house for this meal. So the nice person that I am, I do omit the sugar on request!

Spaghetti or Another Type Of Pasta

Pasta with meat sauce

This sauce is so versatile you can use it with almost any type of pasta. I usually use spaghetti but on occasion, I like to mix it up and use a different kind of pasta.

There are so many types of pasta that you can use besides spaghetti. Macaroni (elbows), mostaccioli, and rigatoni just to name a few.

My mom would on occasion use macaroni elbows and call it goulash. You can make your own noodles, too!

Adding the Homemade Meat Sauce

After you have drained the pasta, add the sauce and mix well. Serve with garlic bread and a salad.

Enjoy! This a very easy but satisfying meal.

Nothing fancy just plain and simple but oh so good! You can easily double this recipe if cooking for a crowd.

 Cheese, Yes Or No?

Have some parmesan cheese on hand for the ones who like cheese on top of their pasta. In my house, we like our spaghetti without parmesan cheese.

Another great alternative is after mixing the sauce with the pasta, add some finely shredded mozzarella cheese on top. The warm sauce and pasta will melt the cheese.

Who doesn’t like melty gooey cheese? I have in the past added a can of diced tomatoes to give the sauce a little depth.

I quit doing this because my husband doesn’t like hot tomatoes. He wants his tomatoes cold and sliced on the side or the top of a cheeseburger or hamburger.

I do on occasion try to cook what my husband likes. I don’t want him to go hungry, after all, he does put in a hard day’s work.

And I have always heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. You can also serve the spaghetti and the sauce in separate bowls.

That way your guests can apply as little or as much of the sauce as they want. Many years ago I made spaghetti with homemade meat sauce for a school friend and her family.

They lived 6 hours away and I had invited them down for a 4th of July get-together. They were staying the weekend and I needed to come up with an easy meal before the big event the following day.

Needless to say, her husband was amazed that I made the meat sauce from scratch and not out of a jar. 

My Final Thoughts

  • Homemade meat sauce for spaghetti usually involves simmering ground meat (such as beef or pork) with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs to create a rich and flavorful sauce.
  • The cooking process often begins with sautéing the onions and garlic to build a flavor base, similar to starting a chili or bolognese sauce.
  • Herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme are commonly added to the sauce for depth of flavor, akin to seasoning used in marinara or pizza sauces.
  • The sauce is typically simmered for an extended period to allow the flavors to meld and develop, much like slow-cooking a stew or soup.
  • This type of meat sauce is traditionally served over cooked spaghetti noodles and is often accompanied by grated Parmesan cheese, similar to serving fettuccine with Alfredo sauce.

How do you make meat sauce for spaghetti? Please leave me a comment below and as always, have a wonderful day!

FAQ About Homemade Meat Sauce for Spaghetti

1. What are the key ingredients for homemade meat sauce for spaghetti?

  • Essential ingredients include ground beef, onion, tomato soup, tomato sauce, optional mushrooms, Italian seasoning, optional sugar, salt, and pepper.

2. How do you make homemade meat sauce for spaghetti?

  • Brown the ground beef with onion, drain the fat, then add the remaining ingredients and simmer. Serve the sauce over cooked pasta of your choice.

8 thoughts on “My Mom’s Homemade Meat Sauce for Spaghetti”

  1. Your recipe is very similar to mine, I put minced garlic and onion in mine but they are minced very finely and caramelized before I add the ground beef. If I’m making lasagna I will use Italian sausage for extra flavor. Also, I go a little easier on the dried spices and only add oregano, basil and thyme to taste.

    • Hi Liz, thank you so much for your comment. Your sauce sounds wonderful. I’m not a big fan of garlic with the exception of garlic bread:) I am all for easy so instead of individual spices I use Italian seasoning.

  2. Hi Taianne! I’m going to make this sauce. I’ve been using jar sauce and am not a big fan. Thanks for the recipe I’ll let ya know how we like it spaghetti is one of Ron’s favorite meals.
    Oh and I didnt know about adding the spaghetti water to the sauce🤔 why do you do that??

    • Hi Joyce,
      I am so glad that you are going to try this sauce, and, yes please let me know what you think.
      Adding the spaghetti water adds flavor, helps the sauce stick to the spaghetti and it will help thicken the sauce.


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