Nana’s Spaghetti Sauce.

Nana's spaghetti sauce is thick, meaty, and hearty, and I love to make a big batch and stock my freezer with it!

Spaghetti was one of my favorite meals when I was a kid. I remember being so excited for dinner when there was a big pot of this meaty tomato sauce sputtering and bubbling on the stove. And you know how there are things that your family does that you don’t know are super weird until you discover that nobody else’s family does them??

Well, apparently normal people don’t eat Italian bread with a big smear of peanut butter on it alongside their spaghetti, but that’s what I grew up with. (It’s generational weirdness – my Papa was the only person in my dad’s family who liked butter, so the rest of them ate peanut butter on their bread, and my dad brought the tradition to our family!)

My three-year-old gets as excited as I did do about spaghetti for dinner, and it’s hard to beat pasta for a super-speedy meal. I usually have a jar of store-bought marinara around for making pita pizzas for lunch or a quick kid dinner when we’re going out, but if I’m going to eat a bowl of spaghetti I want it to be covered in this sauce. And once you make a big batch and freeze a few containers of spaghetti sauce for later, it’s just as easy as opening a jar – and so much more delicious!

Start by browning the ground beef (or turkey!) with onions and garlic.

browning meat and onions for spaghetti sauce

Open and dump in canned tomatoes: diced, crushed, paste, and sauce, and then some herbs and seasonings.

adding herbs to homemade spaghetti sauce

Then – simmer! After an hour or so, you could really eat this stuff with a spoon and call it a meal – as the sauce cooks down, all the flavors…the onions, the basil, the oregano…deepen and mingle. And the texture! This isn’t sauce that will slip down off your noodles and puddle sadly in the bottom of your bowl. It’s thick and meaty and…yum.

rich, tasty homemade spaghetti sauce

I’m usually trying to be virtuous, and I do like the whole wheat pasta that dominates my pantry, but I love angel hair. You can use whatever pasta you like (or spaghetti squash or green beans for a paleo or low-carb option, or pile it onto these Italian zucchini boats!). We love our spaghetti with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.

Nana's spaghetti sauce is thick, meaty, and hearty!

So whether you’re a garlic bread person or a peanut butter bread person (or…a crusty no-knead bread with salty honey butter person!) fill your freezer and your tummy with my favorite homemade spaghetti sauce!

Nana's spaghetti sauce is thick, meaty, and hearty, and I love to make a big batch and stock my freezer with it!

Nana's spaghetti sauce is thick, meaty, and hearty, and I love to make a big batch and stock my freezer with it!

Nana’s Spaghetti Sauce.

  • Author: Bet
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 cups


  • 1.5-2 lbs ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes (or more crushed if you prefer a less-chunky sauce)
  • 15-16 oz canned tomato sauce
  • 12 oz canned tomato paste
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or more if you want some heat!)


  1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat. Add half of the ground beef and let it brown, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Remove it to a bowl and add the rest of the meat. After a minute of letting it begin to brown, add the onions and garlic, stirring and breaking up the meat until it is cooked through. Drain the fat if needed (I use lean beef and don’t find this necessary).
  2. Add canned tomatoes and seasonings. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 1-1.5 hours, stirring occasionally (a piece of foil wrapped around the top of your pot is a helpful splatter-guard). It can stick and burn on the bottom if it’s turned up too high or you don’t stir enough, so err on the side of keeping the temperature low!


This recipe is from my Nana, who also brought us potato soup!

I typically divide the sauce into thirds and freeze two containers (so each time we eat it, it’s enough to feed our family for dinner plus leftovers for lunches).

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  1. This sauce seriously is the best I’ve ever tasted. Your “puddle sadly in the bottom of your bowl” is pathetically accurate of all jarred sauces I’ve tried.

    And I hope this inspires families everywhere to try peanut butter bread with their spaghetti–the only COMPLETE spaghetti dinner! ;o)

    1. And blueberry muffins with their vegetable soup!!

      1. Wait. Are you allowed to eat something different from that??

  2. How about Kraft macaroni and cheese… and peas. Babysitter Night Dinner of champions!

    1. That was definitely the best Babysitter Night Dinner. I still serve peas with mac and cheese, because Obviously They Go Together in my mind..

  3. I’ve been hungry for this ever since you posted it, and made a potful tonight. It really is the BEST sauce. You’ve done a service to the world by sharing it here, Bet.

  4. This was a hit at the Wilson house!! I should have taken a picture of Mattie covered in spaghetti. 😉

    1. Love it, Emily! :o)

  5. Jennifer Winslette

    I actually do not like spaghetti, BUT once I had Lauire’s (aka. Nana’s) sauce, I had a change of heart!! What kind of container do you freeze the extra in?? I’m making it tonight!

    1. I usually do a Tupperware type container, but we have a chest freezer so space isn’t an issue! Before we had that I usually put cooled sauce in a freezer bag and froze it flat so it wouldn’t take up as much space!! 🙂 Jealous of your dinner tonight!! 😉

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