Pasta Sauce for Meat Lovers

The recipe I’m sharing with you today has been in the works for over 100 years. No, seriously. I married an Italian girl, who learned this recipe from her mother, who learned it from her mother, who learned it from her mother, etc. Through the generations, the recipe has been tweaked to accommodate living in Italy then moving to the United States, the availability of fresh tomatoes versus the convenience of canned, and other similar issues. The biggest change, as far as my wife knows, is when her mother doubled the meat to feed her Irish “steak and potatoes” kind of father. My wife has further increased the meat in this to accommodate my protein-heavy diet.

So, with that backstory, know that this recipe, while still tasting very, very authentic, is nowhere near a marinara. It is a thick sauce, full of ground beef and Italian sausage with lots of garlic, onion and tomato. We usually just eat this over pasta (sometimes serving Italian sausage links on the side), or when we’re feeling fancy, we use it in lasagna or other more time-consuming dishes.

This sauce, while completely homemade and 100% delicious, is actually really easy to make. It makes a lot, so it’s perfect for having friends or family over. My wife likes to freeze half of it so there’s always an easy meal ready in a pinch. Eat it, freeze it, bathe in it…whatever you do, make this recipe.

Homemade Pasta Sauce

Serves 12
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 3 hours, 30 minutes
Total time 3 hours, 45 minutes
Dietary Gluten Free
Meal type Main Dish
Misc Freezable, Serve Hot
An authentic Italian tomato sauce has been tweaked with extra ground beef and sausage for a flavorful, meaty pasta sauce.


  • 2lb ground beef
  • 1lb ground Italian sausage (if using link, squeeze the meat out of the casing)
  • 1 Medium onion (finely chopped)
  • 5 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
  • 12oz tomato paste
  • 84oz crushed tomatoes (3 - 28 oz cans)
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons dried basil (For fresh, use about 12 leaves, finely chopped)
  • 1.5 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • freshly ground pepper


Step 1
In a large pot, brown the ground beef on medium-high heat.
Step 2
Add the sausage and continue to brown. Remove 3/4 of the browned meat and set aside on a large plate, leaving the grease in the pot.
Step 3
Add the onion to the pot and saute until translucent (3-5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring frequently to prevent burning.
Step 4
Add the meat back into the pot and stir. Add the can of tomato paste and mix well.
Step 5
Fill the tomato paste can(s) with water ONCE and add to the pot. Stir frequently and let this cook for 2 minutes.
Step 6
Add the crushed tomatoes, herbs and salt & a touch of pepper. Stir well. Taste and add more salt if necessary.
Step 7
Bring the sauce to a simmer, stirring frequently to prevent burning. Once you see a few bubbles at the top, turn the heat to low and continue to simmer for 1-4 hours, stirring every 15 minutes or so. The longer it cooks, the more intense the flavor. If desired, you can drop meatballs or sausage links into the sauce at this point. Be sure to cook thoroughly to kill any bacteria from the raw meat (at least an hour).
Step 8
Serve over pasta, or use in your favorite Italian dish.

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