The One Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe You Need to Know

published Feb 19, 2022
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe

This quick and easy ragù made with ground beef, crushed tomatoes, garlic, and spices, is sure to become a weeknight go-to.

Serves4 to 6

Makesabout 5 cups

Prep5 minutes

Cook28 minutes to 35 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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spaghetti with red sauce on a bowl
Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

When it comes to Italian comfort food, a bowl of spaghetti tossed with a tomato-rich meat sauce ranks high. If I’ve got the time, I love spending the afternoon slowly simmering a Bolognese sauce. More often than not, though, a packed schedule means dinner needs to be a much faster affair. This quick and easy spaghetti sauce is a total weeknight win. It’s as satisfying as a slow-simmered pasta sauce but comes together in less than 45 minutes — including the time it takes to boil a box of spaghetti.

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

How Do You Make Spaghetti Sauce? 

Simple is the name of the game here. To make this spaghetti sauce, you’ll sauté chopped onion, minced garlic, lean ground beef, and classic Italian spices like dried oregano and red pepper flakes in a large skillet until the meat is browned and cooked through. Then you’ll pour in a large can of crushed tomatoes and let the mixture simmer gently while you cook the spaghetti.

What’s the Secret Ingredient for Spaghetti Sauce? 

A quick simmer means you’ll miss out on the depth of flavor that comes with slowly simmering a pasta sauces for hours. However, stirring a splash of balsamic vinegar into the sauce right before you toss it with the spaghetti might make you forget the whole thing came together so quickly. Balsamic vinegar’s richness amps up the meat sauce, giving it the body, sweetness, and balance of a sauce that’s cooked for much longer.

What to Serve on the Side

A comforting spaghetti dinner doesn’t need much else besides a shower of grated Parmesan on top and a glass of Italian red wine. However, it’s nice to round out the meal with a little something on the side. Here are five of our favorites.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe

This quick and easy ragù made with ground beef, crushed tomatoes, garlic, and spices, is sure to become a weeknight go-to.

Prep time 5 minutes

Cook time 28 minutes to 35 minutes

Makes about 5 cups

Serves 4 to 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 3 cloves


  • 1 tablespoon

    olive oil

  • 1 pound

    lean ground beef

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more for the pasta water

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    dried oregano

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 1 (28-ounce) can

    crushed tomatoes

  • 1 pound

    dried spaghetti

  • 2 teaspoons

    balsamic vinegar

  • Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving


  1. Finely chop 1 medium yellow onion and mince 3 garlic cloves. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, breaking the beef up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the beef is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

  2. Carefully pour in 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer uncovered until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 20 minutes.

  3. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add 1 pound dried spaghetti and cook for 1 minute less than the package instructions for al dente, about 9 minutes. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water and drain the spaghetti.

  4. Return the pasta to the pot. Add the sauce, reserved pasta cooking water, and 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, and toss to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, tossing continuously, until the sauce coats the pasta and everything is evenly combined, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve in bowls topped with lots of grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe Notes

Make ahead: The sauce, without the pasta water, can be made a day in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Alternatively, it can be frozen for up to 3 months. Let the sauce thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Rewarm the sauce in a saucepan over medium heat while you cook the pasta.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

This post originally ran on Kitchn. See it there: The Best Spaghetti with Meat Sauce