Ground Beef For Spaghetti

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Ground beef for spaghetti is a timeless meal. It has stood the test of time and has been in my family for generations. I can still remember sitting around the table at my Grandmothers as a little boy waiting impatiently for her to dish out ground beef for spaghetti .

SPAGHETTI RECIPE WITH GROUND BEEF

Spaghetti recipe with ground beef simmers dynamic flavors into a perfectly rich, meaty sauce. This only needs simple ingredients!

Bring out the garlic bread — it’s time for one of my favorite Italian dishes, spaghetti recipe with ground beef! While there’s no such thing as bad pasta recipes, this one is particularly delicious thanks to the sauce + meat concoction you make all in one simmering, savory pot. And you can top it off with your favorite Italian cheese! I love giving my spaghetti recipe with ground beef a good grate of fresh parmesan. Yum!

Spaghetti Recipe with Ground Beef on a plate

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT SPAGHETTI RECIPE WITH GROUND BEEF RECIPE

The basics of every delicious Italian dish are all packed into my spaghetti recipe with ground beef– tomatoey sauce spiced up with oregano and basil, perfectly seasoned meat, tender noodles. But what makes it extra special?

  • Only two pots: one for sauce, one for noodles!
  • Easy clean-up
  • Simmering flavor perfection
  • Great for garlic bread dipping
  • Crowd pleaser!
How to make Spaghetti Recipe with Ground Beef, ingredients in the pot

EASY SPAGHETTI RECIPE NOTES

Italian dishes are often foolproof — but want to make sure you get the best flavor punch possible? I’ve rounded up some tidbits to help your spaghetti recipe with ground beef be a masterpiece!

Ingredient Notes

  • Beef: This recipe calls for 80/20 ground beef. What this means is the meat will be 80% beef and 20% fat. Normally, I’d say you can swap it out for a lower fat percentage (90/10 for instance), but the high-fat content is important to make sure you have some leftover in the pan to sear your veggies and garlic. Trust me, that add beef flavor will really go a long way!
  • Spaghetti Meat Sauce: A good rule of thumb in cooking if you want to get the most fully rounded flavor of an ingredient is to add that ingredient prepared in three different ways. For this sauce, we’re using crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste, which will give you the fresh bite of tomato, the seasoned heartiness of tomato, and the thick, concentrated flavor of the tomato. Your tastebuds will sing!
  • Where’s the Oregano? I know I mentioned this spaghetti recipe with ground beef being flavored with oregano and basil — but where are they in the ingredients list? Hidden in the Italian Seasoning!
  • Italian Seasoning is in the same class as chili spice — it’s actually a combination of different herbs. A few shakes of Italian Seasoning, and you’ll get basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary — sometimes even marjoram!
  • No Spaghetti? No Problem! Forgot to get spaghetti noodles, or just don’t want to use that particular pasta? No worries! There are hundreds of types of noodles to try, and this dish is very variation-friendly. Or you could go gluten-free with zucchini noodles or my personal favorite, spaghetti squash!

Spaghetti Storing Tips

Never fails — no matter how carefully I measure my spaghetti, I always end up with enough to feed all of Rome! If you, like me, finish dinner with mounds of leftovers, I’ve got a nice line up of storage tips to make sure none of your spaghetti recipe with ground beef goes to waste!

Can You Freeze This?

Yes! I recommend freezing the sauce + meat combination on its own, and making a new batch of noodles when you want to reheat your sauce. Why? You’ll get more than double the freezer life if you freeze only the meat sauce, sans noodles.

Freezing noodles rapidly breaks down the structure of the pasta. Typical frozen spaghetti will last for up to two months while just the meat sauce will be good in an airtight container for up to six months. Plus, when you thaw the frozen noodles + sauce, your pasta will often be mushy — while the flavor will still be good, the texture is definitely not.

So keep your meat sauce separate if you’re planning to freeze!

How to make Spaghetti Recipe with Ground Beef, mixing pasta and sauce in a pot

Make Ahead Tips

This recipe does have a nice one-hour simmering window, which can be intimidating for those crazy nights. To cut that time, you can always follow the recipe through step three and refrigerate your sauce for up to four days. When you’re ready, reheat on the stove, adjust seasoning as needed, and cook up some pasta. Dinner, done!

How Long Can You Keep This In The Fridge?

I again recommend storing your sauce and noodles separately. This way, you avoid the pasta soaking up the liquid and turning too mushy.

Both your meat sauce and noodles will store just fine in individual airtight containers for up to four days in the fridge.

Fork twirling Spaghetti Recipe with Ground Beef on a plate

RECIPE VARIATIONS

Spaghetti recipe with ground beef is only one of an endless array of Italian specialties! Looking for more? I got you, friend!

Can I Use Chicken Instead?

Chicken goes with everything — so it’s no wonder that chicken spaghetti is delicious! I particularly love chicken spaghetti with Rotel. There’s just something about that pop of savory flavor from the Rotel that sets this dish over the top! Or if you want to feed a crowd, try chicken spaghetti casserole, and serve up that oven-baked heartiness.

Can I Add Meatballs?

Yes, indeed! My spaghetti and meatballs recipe takes all the delicious flavors of this spaghetti recipe with ground beef and forms them into those perfectly pillowy little meatballs of goodness. Or you can opt for the faster dish — instant pot spaghetti and meatballs. There’s no wrong way to make it!

Can I Add Cream Cheese?

I like your thinking! Baked spaghetti with cream cheese is the way to go if you want that rich, bold creamy twist. The oven-baked magic plus cream cheese’s sturdy flavor and structure is nothing short of miraculous. You’ll be licking the plate!

Can This Be Made With A Mexican Twist?

Of course! Taco spaghetti is a favorite in my house, mostly because my kids loving customizing their bowls with various taco-fun toppings. Or you can go with Mexican spaghetti, harnessing all the delicious flavors of cumin, chili, and more!

Can I Cook This In A Crockpot?

The only thing that brings a heartier taste to spaghetti than oven-baking it is the Crockpot! Crockpot spaghetti intensifies the simmered flavors, really deepening all the best parts of the spices and tomatoes. Plus, something wondrous happens with the noodles in that sauce — it’s an Italian miracle!

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

Easy weeknight friendly spaghetti and meat sauce that’s made completely from scratch. Use ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken or lamb to make this simple spaghetti recipe.

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

How to Make the Best Spaghetti

For this spaghetti, we turn to our favorite quick meat sauce recipe. It’s made using one-pot, is ultra flavorful, and can be made in under 45 minutes. The spaghetti sauce is also perfect for making ahead. It can be refrigerated for up to three days and stored in your freezer for about three months. 

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A pot filled with the Best Spaghetti

To Cook the Best Spaghetti We Have a Few Simple Tricks

Check the package directions of the spaghetti you plan to cook. On the box, there should be an approximate cook time for “al-dente,” which means the pasta will be tender, but not mushy. It will still have a bit of a bite, which is perfect.

When you know the suggested cook time, set a timer for a minute or so before it. So if the box suggests 10 minutes, set a timer for 8 minutes.

This way, at the 8-minute mark, you can check on the spaghetti to make sure it isn’t done already. The box directions are a helpful guide, but it’s always a good idea to check the pasta early!

A plate of Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Cook the spaghetti in salted water. The water should taste salty. This seasons the pasta as it cooks and is necessary for the best-tasting pasta.

Toss the cooked spaghetti with a flavorful sauce — like our homemade spaghetti sauce. Don’t just spoon the sauce on top of the pasta.

For more spaghetti recipes, look at this baked spaghetti is similar to lasagna, but easier and if you love veggies, try our easy veggie spaghetti.

By tossing the pasta and sauce together, the pasta starts to absorb some of the flavors in the sauce. It just tastes better this way.

If you were looking to reduce the carbohydrates in your dish, swap half or all of the pasta with zucchini noodles. Here’s our recipe for zucchini noodles pasta.

How Much Salt Should I Add to Pasta Water?

We add a lot of salt to our pasta water (it makes the pasta taste delicious). For every 4 quarts (16 cups) of water, we add about one tablespoon of salt. This is perfect for cooking 1 pound of pasta

Easy Weeknight Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

  • PREP 5mins
  • COOK 40mins
  • TOTAL 45mins

Our favorite weeknight friendly spaghetti recipe with a meat sauce that is made completely from scratch. Use ground beef, turkey, pork, chicken or lamb to make this simple spaghetti.

Makes 5 cups of sauce and approximately 6 servings

YOU WILL NEED

SPAGHETTI AND MEAT SAUCE

1 pound lean ground meat like beef, turkey, chicken or lamb

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup (130 grams) chopped onion

3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tablespoon)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1 cup water, broth or dry red wine

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

Handful fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

12 ounces dried spaghetti or favorite pasta shape

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheeseOPTIONAL INGREDIENTS, SEE NOTES

2 to 3 teaspoons fish sauce

3 to 4 anchovy fillets, minced with some of their oil or use anchovy paste

Pinch sugar

1 leftover rind from a wedge of parmesan

DIRECTIONS

  • MAKE SAUCE
  • COOK SPAGHETTI
  • TO FINISH

TIPS

  • Storing/Make-ahead: The meat sauce can be made in advance and should last in your refrigerator for up to 3 days and in your freezer for about three months.
  • If the flavor of the sauce doesn’t pop, you probably need a bit more salt.
  • If the sauce is too acidic, a pinch of sugar will do the trick.
  • If the sauce tastes light on flavor, think about adding a few dashes of fish sauce or a few minced anchovies or anchovy paste (both add a rich, savory flavor).
  • Adding a leftover rind of a parmesan wedge to the sauce at the same time as adding the tomatoes adds richness and extra flavor. It won’t melt all the way, just remove what’s left before serving.
  • Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA database to calculate approximate values.

My Mom’s Homemade Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

This easy spaghetti and meat sauce recipe takes just a few minutes of prep and then a low simmer on the stove for a deep, meaty-flavored, homemade spaghetti for the best family favorite dinner.

homemade spaghetti sauce and noodles in white dish with two forks

When I finished college and moved into my first apartment, I wrote down my mom’s recipe for our favorite family dinner and plopped it into my tattered recipe binder. Eventually I’d made it so many times I committed it to memory. But as time passed, it didn’t taste quite as good as my mom’s, a fact I didn’t actually realize until she made us all her original version when my sister was visiting. My sister texted me a picture of her copy of my mom’s spaghetti recipe, as seen below. The splatters and drips are proof that my sister is this recipe’s number one fan—and it looks like she’s also quite the stellar recipe tester.

I realized I was missing one crucial ingredient that makes this spaghetti and meat sauce better than all the rest. It isn’t often found in spaghetti sauce. Have you spied it yet? I’ll reveal in a minute, but first, let’s talk basics…

What’s In This Homemade Spaghetti And Meat Sauce

While I have several quick and easy spaghetti recipes like my pasta pomodoro or spaghetti carbonara that are ready in minutes, this spaghetti and meat sauce recipe is the ultimate Sunday, long-simmer dinner.

This is the type of pasta dinner recipe you can easily have at the ready thanks to a simply stocked pantry and a few foundation refrigerator ingredients I can always find at my local Smith’s Marketplace / Kroger store.

My Mom’s spaghetti recipe is both Italian in its inspiration and American in its popularity. It doesn’t call for anything extraordinary. In fact, it’s totally basic, and that’s what makes it all the better.

Here’s what’s in this spaghetti and meat sauce:

  • Ground Beef. I use 85% lean ground angus beef for my sauce so it still has flavor but not a lot of fat. My sister has taken to using ground turkey, also a great option.
  • Tomato sauce. Plain is best to create a tomato bath for the other ingredients to infuse.
  • Diced tomatoes. You could use canned whole tomatoes and then crush with your hands and fingers. But mom’s recipe says diced so that’s what I do.
  • Tomato paste. This gives the sauce body and also a little sweetness.
  • Beef broth. Another layer of meatiness. My sister amended her recipe to use condensed, but I used regular here.
  • Canned mushrooms. Typically I will always use fresh mushrooms in recipes, but this is one time I never, ever, ever do. There’s just something about the canned version that becomes my favorite part of the sauce, and the reason I typically double the amount the recipe calls for.
  • A splash of wine. Mom says to use the empty mushroom can as your measurement guide. The key to cooking with wine is to purchase one that is of the same quality you’d be willing to drink. I’d say look for a bottle that costs around $10 or so (I tend to use a blended red or Pinot noir in this spaghetti recipe).
  • Onion, celery and fresh garlic. They’re always lollying around the refrigerator crisper waiting to be used.
  • Dried herbs, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar for sweetness. Don’t skip out on the bay leaves, they make a huge difference.
  • Dried whole cloves! My mom learned this trick from her friend Virginia, and adding a few whole cloves was the secret ingredient I’d been missing lo these many years. My mom uses 5-6 cloves but my husband prefers four. The cloves give it an earthy, spiced flavor that’s not often easy to place. It’s a total surprise when I tell people they’re in there, or if they discover one on their own hidden in their spaghetti-sauced bite if I forget or can’t find them to fish them out before serving.

How to Make This Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

Truly fantastic homemade spaghetti sauce is easier to make than you’d think, but it does take time.

Brown the beef. Drain off any excess fat, then, throw in the chopped celery, onion, and garlic and cook until the vegetables soften.

Boil and simmer. Dump the rest of the homemade pasta sauce ingredients into the pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the spaghetti sauce is boiling, reduce the heat and let it simmer on the stove for 3 hours. I know 3 hours sounds like forever, but that’s how long it takes to make a rich, flavorful meat sauce. Just do what the Italians do, (fuhgetaboutit).

Cook your noodles. Once the homemade spaghetti sauce has had time to simmer, all that’s left to do is boiling the spaghetti noodles according to package instructions and dish it up!

the best spaghetti sauce in dutch oven with ladle

The Difference Between Spaghetti Meat Sauce and Bolognese

Bolognese (a slow-cooked ragu from the Northern Italian cit of Bologna) is a mixture of ground beef and/or pork, tenderized with milk and sautéed with soffrito (an essential flavor base of most Italian recipes, consisting of a mixture of onion, carrots, and celery). While it does have tomatoes, it’s not as saucy or tomato-forward as spaghetti and meat sauce. A traditional bolognese is more meat-forward, less tomato-heavy, richer and more delicate in flavor than most spaghetti and meat sauce recipes. And in case you’re wondering, I love them both equally, don’t make me choose!

How to Reheat Spaghetti

If you wind up with leftovers from this homemade spaghetti recipe, you can easily reheat them the next day. I recommend reheating leftover spaghetti in a covered saucepan over medium-low heat. You may need to add a splash of beef broth to loosen up the pasta.

homemade spaghetti and meat sauce in pot

Can I Omit the Wine?

Technically, yes, but I highly recommend adding it to the homemade spaghetti sauce since it adds so much flavor. Remember: the alcohol cooks out of the sauce and is only a flavoring.

However, if you’re out of wine or are opposed to using it, you can add 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar instead to add a little acid and umami.

ladle full of easy homemade spaghetti sauce

Tips for Making Spaghetti and Meat Sauce

While the easy homemade spaghetti sauce cooks low and slow for 3 hours, stir it occasionally. You don’t want anything sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning, adding a bitter flavor to the meat sauce.

Serve this meat sauce with regular spaghetti noodles. It would be just as good with any other twirly pasta, tortellini, ravioli or even as a filler for lasagna.

This homemade spaghetti recipe makes a lot so it’s great for serving to a crowd or a big family. If you’re making for two or a few, it makes excellent leftovers for lunch all week long or divide the sauce into gallon freezer and save for later.

How to Freeze Meat Sauce

Freeze the homemade spaghetti sauce separately and then make fresh spaghetti noodles when you’re about to eat it. Defrost the sauce in the refrigerator for 1 day, or, add to a large pot, cover, and heat on medium to medium-low until thawed.

To make this spaghetti sauce for meal prep, freeze the sauce in gallon freezer bags. Lay them down flat so you can stack them flat or upright side by side in the freezer.

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