This Homemade Meat Sauce recipe is so easy that you’ll never need to buy it again! It’s thick, rich and hearty with ground beef, mushrooms, red wine and herbs, and it comes together with pantry staples. It’s great for meal prep dinners and it’s freezer friendly!

Homemade meat sauce in a Dutch oven with parsley

When I met my husband, I’d never made Homemade Meat Sauce before. His grandmother and mother made great sauce, so it was important to me to create one that was worthy of family dinners.

Pasta sauces are a personal thing in the end, and they’re generally passed down through the family from generation to generation.  While this isn’t my mother-in-law’s sauce, it’s my contribution to a long line of pasta sauces that we’ll be happy to eat any time.  

This particular recipe got rave reviews from my husband, which made me very happy.  As it turns out, it’s very easy to make, and is so easy to customize just like my homemade marinara sauce.

I think the key is that it’s homemade…everyone can just taste the love that goes into it. I also get a tremendous sense of satisfaction from making it as opposed to opening a jar of store bought sauce.

The aroma that fills the house as it simmers is a huge bonus as well. 🙂

Meat sauce over zoodles on a white plate

Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • This meat sauce recipe is thick, rich and hearty with grass fed ground beef, mushrooms and the flavors of red wine and herbs.
  • It’s easy to make and is perfect over pasta, polenta and veggie noodles.
  • The recipe makes a big batch, so you can freeze half of it for future dinners.
  • The sauce can be customized with your favorite ground meat and herbs.

Recipe ingredients

There are so many layers of flavor in this meat sauce recipe, but the ingredients list features basic ingredients that I always have on hand.

Homemade meat sauce recipe ingredients

Ingredient notes

  • Ground beef. When it comes to ground beef, I always choose 85% lean grass fed beef. It’s a sustainable choice which is important to me, and it also adds great flavor to the sauce. Because it’s lean, it keeps the sauce from becoming overly greasy.
  • Tomato purée. There are a few different types of tomatoes on the market, and any of them would be fine to use in this recipe. Crushed tomatoes have chunks of tomatoes, while tomato purée and tomato sauce are smooth. I prefer to use a combination of crushed tomatoes and tomato purée in this recipe.
  • Red wine. Use red wine that you like to drink in this recipe as the flavor will impact the sauce. If you don’t like wine or don’t have any on hand, simply omit it from the recipe.
  • Mushrooms. Sliced mushrooms add texture and nutrition to this sauce, and “beef up” the recipe further without adding more meat. If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, simply substitute with another 1/2 lb. of ground beef.
  • Tomato paste. This ingredient adds rich tomato and umami flavor to the sauce.
  • Herbs. I always have bay leaves, dried basil and oregano in my pantry, so I used them in this meat sauce recipe. They can be substituted with your favorite fresh or dried herbs.

How to make this recipe

If you’ve never made homemade meat sauce before, you’ll be amazed how easy it is.

Pro tip: The longer the sauce simmers, the thicker and richer it gets. I like to get a batch going when I have time and let it simmer on the stove top for a good hour or two.

See the recipe card for full instructions.

How to make meat sauce collage
  1. Cook the mushrooms over medium heat until softened and the liquid evaporates, then set aside.
  2. To the same pan, add the ground beef and break up into chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook for 2-3 minutes until browned, then add the onions and garlic and cook 5 minutes more until softened. Degrease the pan as needed.
  3. Add the wine and reduce by half, then add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf and herbs. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 1-2 hours with the lid cracked. Add more olive oil for a richer sauce and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Meat sauce in a Dutch oven with a wooden spoon

FAQ’s

What is meat sauce?

Meat sauce is a tomato sauce that typically includes ground beef. The ground beef may also be substituted with Italian sausage, ground turkey or chicken.

What’s the best red wine for cooking spaghetti sauce?

I prefer using a dry red wine such as pinot noir in this homemade meat sauce recipe. In general, I recommend using a red wine you’d actually drink rather than a “cooking wine” as the flavor does impact the sauce.

Can I use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato purée?

Tomato purée, crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce may be used interchangeably. They’re virtually the same, they just vary slightly in texture and thickness. Tomato purée is smooth like tomato sauce, but it’s thicker and richer, while crushed tomatoes are chunkier.

How long can meat sauce stay in the fridge?

This sauce will keep for up to five days in the fridge, or frozen for up to 3 months.

Can meat sauce be frozen?

Absolutely! In fact, I like to use half of the sauce right away and freeze the rest for up to 3 months for busy weeknight dinners.

Wooden spoon full of meat sauce over a Dutch oven

Serving suggestions

This homemade meat sauce recipe is very versatile and can be served a number of ways.

Recipe notes

  • Pro tip: The longer the sauce simmers, the thicker and richer it gets. I like to get a batch going when I have time and let it simmer on the stove top for a good hour or two.
  • Use a good quality wine that you like to drink as opposed to cooking wine as it will impact the flavor of the sauce. If you prefer not to use alcohol, simply omit it.
  • If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, substitute with another 1/2 lb. of ground beef.
  • This makes a large batch of sauce. I like to use half and freeze the other for busy week nights.
  • For a richer sauce, stir in 1-2 tablespoons more of olive oil.
  • Sauce is easily customized with your favorite ground meat and fresh herbs.  
Plate of zucchini noodles topped with meat sauce and parmesan cheese

More pasta sauce recipes:

If you make this recipe, I’d love to hear from you!  Leave a comment and rating below, or tag me @flavorthemoments on Instagram!

Homemade meat sauce in a Dutch oven with parsley

Homemade Meat Sauce

Homemade Meat Sauce is so easy to make that you'll never buy it again! It's thick and rich, and perfect for spaghetti, polenta or veggie noodles!
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Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided; plus more as needed
  • 16 ounces mushrooms stemmed and sliced; see notes
  • 1 1/2 lbs. lean ground beef (I used 85 percent lean, organic, grass-fed)
  • 1 large onion peeled, and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine (I used pinot noir)
  • 16 ounces baby bella mushrooms stems removed and sliced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes or sub with tomato sauce or tomato purée; use San Marzano for best quality
  • 28 ounces tomato purée or sub with tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes; use San Marzano for best quality
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil or sub with twice the amount of fresh chopped basil
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or sub with twice the amount of fresh chopped oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions 

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5-7 minutes until browned and the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan, then add the ground beef. Break up into small pieces and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes until the meat has browned slightly. Add the onions and garlic, and cook for 5-6 minutes more until the beef is cooked through and the onions have softened. Drain the grease as needed.
  • Add the red wine and cook for 3-5 minutes or until reduced by half. Add the mushrooms back to the pan along with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, basil and oregano, and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 1-2 hours with lid slightly ajar, stirring often, until the sauce is thick and rich.
  • Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper, to taste and add 1-2 more tablespoons of olive oil if desired. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Pro tip: The longer the sauce simmers, the thicker and richer it gets. I like to get a batch going when I have time and let it simmer on the stove top for a good hour or two.
  • If you’re not a fan of mushrooms, substitute with another 1/2 lb. of ground beef.
  • This makes a large batch of sauce. I like to use half and freeze the other for busy week nights.
  • For a richer sauce, stir in 1-2 tablespoons more of olive oil.
  • Sauce is easily customized with your favorite ground meat and fresh herbs.

Nutrition

Calories: 224kcal, Carbohydrates: 19g, Protein: 20g, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 4g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 42mg, Sodium: 311mg, Potassium: 1155mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 450IU, Vitamin C: 18mg, Calcium: 93mg, Iron: 5mg

Nutrition is estimated using a food database and is only intended to be used as a guideline for informational purposes.

Did you try this recipe?Be sure to tag @flavorthemoments with the hashtag #flavorthemoments on Instagram so I can see what you made!

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