Spaghetti Sauce is stable in just about every household. This classic pasta sauce is so easy to make at home with crushed canned tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, and herbs. It’s simple, comforting, and tastes better than the store-bought!
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Nothing makes an Italian dish better than some homemade spaghetti sauce! This basic sauce is very easy to make and easy to modify. Depending on the recipe that you plan to use it in, you can add different flavors to it. More info on that below – just keep strolling for all kinds of variations to try!
The prep time for this sauce is just 10 minutes. After you toss everything into the pot, you let is slowly cook to perfection for about an hour before blending and serving. The low and slow cooking process allows all of the ingredients to really mingle with each other and creates the most flavorful spaghetti sauce.
Once you taste just how delicious this sauce is, you’ll never want to go back to the store-bought sauce again. You’ll also be finding all kinds of different ways to enjoy it! Spaghetti sauce this good deserves to be served on more than just noodles, of course. I’ve listed plenty of serving suggestions below to really make the most out of your sauce.
Onion – A yellow or Vidalia onion is preferred.
Carrots – These veggies lend natural sweetness (and extra nutrition) to the sauce.
Garlic – For best results, use fresh garlic cloves! I’ve found that 5-6 large cloves provides just the right note, but you may prefer more or less.
Tomatoes – A can of crushed tomatoes is what you’ll need. You can use fire roasted or plain but don’t use those with added flavor ingredients.
Herbs – Fresh basil, dried oregano and dried bay leaves give the sauce the best Italian flavor.
Sugar – use simple white granulated sugar, this will help balance out the acidity of tomatoes.
See the recipe card below for the full list of ingredients and instructions.
How to Make Spaghetti Sauce
Prepare your ingredients. Begin by chopping onions and carrots, peeling garlic, and mince basil. Don’t worry about the exact size of the cut since the sauce will be blended.
Sauté the veggies. Preheat a 3-quart pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Add onions and carrots and sauté for a few minutes until onion begin to soften (1). Smash garlic and add it to the pot (2).
Add remaining ingredients. Sauté the garlic until fragrant and add the entire can of tomatoes. Add bay leaves, oregano, sugar, half the basil, and salt (3). Stir well, cover with a lid but leave a crack for steam to escape.
Cook the sauce. Cook for about 30 minutes and add remaining basil leaves. Stir and cook for another 30 minutes or so. Before blending the sauce, make sure to remove the bay leaves (4).
Blend it. Blend sauce in the blender or using an immersion blender until smooth (5). Make sure to open the little tab so the steam can escape while blending.
PRO TIP: if you will be transferring the sauce into a stand-up blender, make sure it is safe to use with hot liquids, like soups and sauces. This is the hot and cold Blender that I prefer to use.
Absolutely! If you’re planning of making Lasagna, Manicotti, or any other dishes that take a little while to make, you can easily make the sauce ahead of time. Prepare the sauce as directed, cool it down, and store in a glass jar with an air-tight lid, in the refrigerator.
While you can most obviously serve this sauce over pasta for a delicious spaghetti dinner, it has so many other uses! Use it in my favorite Spaghetti and Meatballs Bake (such an easy dinner) or some hearty Meatball Subs.
Use it to make sandwiches like Chicken Parmesan Burger or even on an Italian Sub.
Impress everyone with homemade Chicken Parmesan or enjoy a meatless entrée with Eggplant Parmesan. As you can see, the options here are pretty limitless.
Use canned tomatoes and when possible, and use fire-roasted tomatoes for added flavor. For the best spaghetti sauce, the best tomatoes to use are San Marzano. Try to find those at your grocery store, it would be labeled right on the can.
Spaghetti sauce is meant to be made with canned tomatoes and the addition of flavorful ingredients, like garlic, basil, onions and carrots. Using fresh tomatoes is actually a different sauce – Pomodoro Sauce! “Pomodoro” literally translates to “tomato,” which is where that Italian tomato sauce gets its name.
Variations to Try
Depending on the recipe that you plan to use spaghetti sauce in, you can add different flavors to it!
- Try adding some extra cheeses, like Parmigiano-Reggiano, Asiago, Pecorino, and/or Fontina.
- To make an easy Bolognese sauce, cook ground beef until browned, add this spaghetti sauce to cooked ground beef, and simmer for a few minutes. (Learn more about Bolognese sauce in my post)!
- Bring an amazing garlic flavor to your sauce by roasting a clove of garlic first and then adding it to the spaghetti sauce.
- You can make this sauce spicy. Add crushed red pepper flakes and/or some dried chili pepper. Adjust the amount to your own spice tolerance.
PRO TIP: This recipe makes about 4.5-5 cups. It will be enough for 9×13 lasagna with a little leftover.
If you’re not using the sauce right away, it’s best to get it cool quickly and get it in the refrigerator. Read cooling tips below, in the freezing section.
Store spaghetti sauce in a glass jar (or two jars) with a lid for 4-7 days. Keep it in the refrigerator.
Food spoils faster when bacteria is introduced. To lower the chances of bacteria getting in, do not put spoons or anything else in the jar when getting sauce out, but pour some out instead. Keep the lid on and open the jar as little as possible.
It’s better to divide the sauce among two jars so that the same jar is not opened several times for different recipes.
PRO TIP: If you want to use part of the sauce right away but not all of it, you can always freeze it.
Cook the sauce according to the recipe. Before freezing, it’s best to cool the sauce as quickly as possible. The faster it cools and freezes, the less chance for developing bacteria and subsequently has a longer shelf life.
The best way to cool the sauce is to place the jars of it into a larger container filled with ice. To help it cool faster and evenly, make sure to stir it from time to time as it cools.
Once it’s cooled, you can divide sauce among two or more zip-lock freezer bags. Get all the air out and close completely. Label the bag with date and name.
Place the bags flat on a cutting board and place it in the freezer. Cutting board will help keep bags flat and straight as the sauce freezes. Once sauce it frozen, you can remove the cutting board and stack the bags.
You can find more freezing tips in the separate post.
More Sauce Recipes to Try
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Spaghetti Sauce Recipe
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large Vidalia onion
- 10 oz carrots (2 medium carrots)
- 1 oz garlic cloves (5-6 large garlic cloves)
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup minced fresh basil
- 1 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp white granulated sugar a little more if needed to taste
- 2 bay leaves
- Salt to taste
- Chop onions and carrots, peel garlic, and mince basil. (Don’t worry about the exact size of the cut since the sauce will be blended.)
- Preheat a 3-quart Dutch oven over medium heat and add olive oil.
- Add onions and carrots to the pot. Saute for a few minutes until onion begins to soften.
- Smash garlic and add it to the pot. Saute until fragrant and add tomatoes.
- Add bay leaves, oregano, sugar, and salt. Stir well, cover with a lid but leave a crack for steam to escape.
- Cook for about 30 minutes and add minced basil leaves. Stir and cook for another 30 minutes or so.
- Before blending the sauce, make sure to remove the bay leaves.
- Blend sauce in the blender (or using an immersion blender) until smooth. Make sure to open the little tab so the steam can escape while blending. (Be careful, you are dealing with scalding-hot sauce. Make sure to use a blender that is meant for hot foods as well.)
- If not using right away, keep in the refrigerator, in a glass jar with a lid for 4-7 days.
- (Check the post for storing and freezing instructions.)
- Storing: Store spaghetti sauce in a glass jar (or two jars) with a lid for 4-7 days. Keep it in the refrigerator. (Note, there is more information in the post.)
- Reheating: you can reheat individual portions in a microwave for about 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between. If you want to reheat all the sauce at the same time, do so in the sauce pot over medium-low heat. Keep the sauce pot covered with a lid to help with splatter. Remember, you can always mix in some cold sauce with hot pasta to cool down the pasta and heat up the sauce at the same time.
Originally published on Will Cook For Smiles in September, 2018.