Thick Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (A Big Batch Recipe)
Now you can make the best homemade spaghetti sauce with this easy recipe. Perfectly thick and packed with flavor, it is great for freezing or canning to plan for home cooked meals ahead of time. What makes this sauce amazing? Discover the secret ingredient here. This recipe makes a big batch.
Everyone seems to have their favorite homemade spaghetti sauce recipe. I have one, too.
This amazing spaghetti sauce recipe comes from my friend, Christy, whose Italian mother-in-law passed it down to her when she got married.
Several years ago, Christy and I were preparing a spaghetti dinner together for a Tuscan-themed evening at our church women’s gathering. I was lucky to observe how Christy prepared this scrumptious spaghetti meal for over 40 women.
The outcome was a thick, hearty, flavorful spaghetti sauce that you would taste when you are invited to an Italian home.
I was hooked, and ever since it has become our family staple. I still haven’t encountered any homemade spaghetti sauce recipe that can beat this one in terms of taste and simplicity.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Easy to make with a few pantry basics: made with ground beef, onion, celery (optional), carrot, and canned tomatoes.
- No tomato paste is needed to thicken the sauce – thick, rich, and hearty sauce.
- Of course, it does have a secret ingredient that makes this spaghetti sauce recipe extraordinary. And shhhh, don’t tell anyone!
What is the secret ingredient?
- Garlic spread and seasoning (I recommend Jonny’s brand).
When my friend revealed her mother-in-law’s secret ingredient, I thought she was a brilliant cook! This seasoning mix does a wonder for the spaghetti sauce, and it makes the cooking process so much easier.
Unfortunately I couldn’t find this product in any grocery store, but you can order it through online stores like Amazon. Trust me, you will love the outcome as much as I, and the rest of 40+ church women, did that night.
A truly unique seasoning with real parmesan cheese, garlic and special spices. Adds a wonderful garlic flavor to any of your favorite dishes.
Big batch spaghetti sauce
The original sauce recipe makes enough to feed 50 people – worthy of a special Costco trip, right?
This sauce is worth making a big batch so that you can enjoy the leftovers later (see freezing instructions below). It is also a great base sauce for making Lasagna or any dish for which a meaty pasta sauce is required.
However, I don’t have a gigantic pot to simmer that volume of sauce at once, so I scaled the recipe down to 20 servings, which fits perfectly in an 8-qt sauce pot or soup pot. And it feeds a family of four 5 times–luckily this sauce is easily freezable for later use.
If you don’t have an 8-qt size pot, you can use two 4-qt size pots or reduce the recipe in half.
Freezing spaghetti sauce
This spaghetti sauce takes a while to cook – over 2 hours. If you ask me, investing 2 hours of cooking time totally make sense to make more than enough for 2 meals so that you can freeze the rest for the future use.
It freezes beautifully. You get an easy weeknight homemade meal prepared ahead with no fuss!
Let the sauce cool and then ladle it into gallon-sized freezer bags. The amount you add depends on what you estimate per serving – how much your family eats.
Lay all of the bags flat and pop them into the freezer. They will last up to 6 months in the freezer.
When you are ready to eat, simply thaw and reheat on the stove or in the microwave. I usually put the bag, unopened, in a large bowl of cold water for 20-30 minutes to thaw it out, then simmer the sauce in a pot until hot.
Canning Spaghetti sauce
Canning makes the sauce last a long time, just like freezing. It also makes it easy to give away as a gift to family members or friends. A good homemade spaghetti sauce is a practical gift that people would appreciate.
Keep in mind that low acid tomato sauce needs a boost of acid to be considered safe for water bath canning, though. In that case, use lemon juice or vinegar to coat the mason jars to make sure that pH levels are safe.
If you have a pressure canner, low acidity is not an issue. Pressure canners are designed to reach the temperatures necessary for canning low acid food.
Sterilize 12 pint-sized mason jars. Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into each jar to be filled. Fill the jars with prepared spaghetti sauce, leaving 1/2 inch at the top. Cap with the lids and bands and process in a boiling water bath for 35 minutes.
If the sauce is properly sealed, it should last up to 12 months or even longer. The longer you store, the taste and color of the sauce might fade a little, but it will still be safe to eat.
Ingredients you’ll need
- ground beef: Makes the sauce meaty and hearty. I used 90% lean ground beef.
- onion: I used yellow onion in this recipe. Make sure to chop them small so that they are not too chunky.
- carrot: It adds natural sweetness and helps with the beautiful scarlet color of the sauce. I usually grate the carrot on a grater. You will want the grated carrots to be the same volume of chopped onion, about 2 small or medium carrot.
- celery: The original recipe did not ask for celery, so it is optional ingredient. I personally like celery in pasta sauce. You can also replace celery with green bell pepper if you like.
- canned tomatoes: You will need 4 large (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes.
- seasoning: Jonny’s garlic spread and seasoning, salt and black pepper
- herbs: Use dried basil and oregano
- sugar: It balances the acidity of tomato sauce. 4 tablespoons sounds like a lot, but remember this recipe yields 20 servings or more. You can adjust the amount of sugar depending on your preference.
- olive oil: Used to cook the beef and vegetables. You will also need extra 4 tablespoons to drizzle in the sauce to add more flavor.
Before you get started
A couple of quick notes:
- Chop your veggies finely with knife. You can use a food processor if you are not comfortable with a knife.
- For carrot, I use a grater to grate the carrot, then chop them briefly with a knife to mince further. You will need the same volume of chopped onion, about 2 small carrots.
How to make easy homemade spaghetti sauce
Step 1. Brown ground beef
In an 8-qt heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until browned, about 3-4 minutes.
Step 2. Cook vegetables
Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sprinkle in some salt to season lightly; cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.
Step 3. Tomatoes, garlic spread seasoning and spices
Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic spread and seasoning mix, dried herbs, and sugar; stir well.
Step 4. Drizzle olive oil
Drizzle 4 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and stir again. Taste the sauce to see if the seasoning is right for you. You can add some salt, if needed, and pepper according to your taste. Cover the pot with a lid.
Step 5. Simmer
Let the sauce simmer for 2 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally.
To serve: Ladle warm sauce over your spaghetti noodles or your favorite pasta. Top with lots of grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!
Let the sauce cool and store the leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze.
More family dinner recipes
Although I like to serve Korean main dishes for dinner, I also make various western style dishes often for my family and dinner guests. Here are some of my favorites:
- Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Roasted Vegetables
- Devil’s Chicken (Pollo Diablo)
- Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Onion Gravy
- Apricot Glazed Chicken Breast
- Chicken with Mustard Cream Sauce
Thick Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (A Big Batch Recipe)
- 2 lb ground beef, 90% lean
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 sticks celery, finely chopped, optional
- 2 small carrot, finely shredded. See note below.
- 4 cans (28 oz each) crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup Jonny's garlic spread and seasoning
- 1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 4 tbsp sugar
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In an 8-qt heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add ground beef and cook until just browned, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add onion, carrot, and celery, and sprinkle in some salt to season lightly; cook until vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, garlic spread seasoning mix, dried herbs, and sugar; stir well.
- Drizzle the remaining 4 tablespoon olive oil and stir again. Taste the sauce to see if the seasoning is right for you. You can add some salt, if needed, and pepper according to your taste. Cover the pot with a lid
- Let the sauce simmer for 2 hours on low heat, stirring occasionally. To serve, ladle warm sauce over your spaghetti noodles or your favorite pasta. Top with lots of grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!
- Let the sauce cool and store the leftovers in the refrigerator or freeze. (See note below)