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Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is made with simple ingredients and is thick, flavorful and delicious over pasta and even better with homemade meatballs.

homemade spaghetti sauce in a dutch oven with parsley

This is my grandma’s recipe for homemade spaghetti sauce, and it’s the BEST tomato sauce ever. It’s super simple, and you can adjust the ingredients to use what you have on hand.

I’ve made so many different tomato sauces over the years, but I keep going back to this one because it’s just that good. This is a thick, rich sauce that clings to your pasta and definitely isn’t watery!

Add Homemade Meatballs for extra flavor, or use instead of jarred sauce to make One Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce or One Pot Creamy Shells and Beef.

If you have an Instant Pot, use the sauce for Instant Pot Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Instant Pot Creamy Shells and Beef or Instant Pot Pasta and Meatballs.

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch

Start out by cooking your chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil or vegetable oil. My grandma’s recipe actually called for salad oil.

You want to cook the onion and garlic until they just start to soften up. Keep the heat on medium so that the garlic doesn’t get too brown.

 chopped onions and garlic with wooden spoon in dutch oven

Next, pour in a can of crushed tomatoes. Then, stir in tomato paste, and add water.

I usually fill the empty tomato paste can with water a couple of times and use more after simmering if I think that sauce is a little too thick. It’s very easy to get the sauce as thick as you want it this way.

Add salt, pepper and either dried basil, dried parsley, Italian Seasoning or thyme. If you have fresh parsley, you can add some of that, too!

wooden spoon in tomato sauce

If you’re using meatballs, add them to the sauce. Then, turn the heat down, cover, and let it all simmer together.

Note that you can add a teaspoon or two of sugar to sweeten the sauce. This is optional, but it’s up to you.

You’ll want to allow at least an hour or more to simmer the sauce and bring out the flavor. Yes, I know that takes time, but, this recipe makes a lot, so you can easily refrigerate or freeze some to use on busy days.

wooden spoon with pasta sauce in dutch oven

Simple Substitutions

It is so easy to use the ingredients you already have to make spaghetti sauce. Most older recipes were made by cooks who used what was available — no need to run to the store! You can also customize the flavor to suit your own tastes!

  • Add garlic powder or dried onion flakes instead of fresh
  • Use 2 cans of tomato paste and 3 cans of water instead of crushed tomatoes or add in a can of tomato sauce
  • Season with Italian seasoning, dried basil, oregano or parsley or a combination of these
  • Use red wine instead of water
  • Brown a spare rib or two and add to the sauce for extra flavor
spaghetti sauce in pot with parsley

Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

5 from 6 votes

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

By: Dee
Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is made with simple ingredients and is thick, flavorful and delicious over pasta and even better with homemade meatballs.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 35 minutes
Servings: 10



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves peeled and chopped
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 12 ounces water use empty tomato paste cans
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar optional
  • chopped fresh parsley optional
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  • Cook chopped onions and garlic in olive oil until soft over medium heat
  • Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste
  • Stir in water (use empty tomato paste can)
  • Add dried basil, sea salt, pepper and pepper flakes. Add a teaspoon or more of sugar to taste if sauce seems too acidic.
  • Reduce heat to simmer, cover and cook on low for 1 to 1/12 hours, stirring occasionally to avoid burning. Can add more water to thin sauce if necessary, and add fresh parsley before serving, optional


Can use garlic powder instead of chopped, onion flakes instead of chopped, and Italian seasoning, dried parsley or oregano instead of or in addition to dried basil.
If adding meatballs, add to sauce before simmering.


Calories: 73kcal, Carbohydrates: 11g, Protein: 2g, Fat: 3g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 475mg, Potassium: 435mg, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 6g, Vitamin A: 445IU, Vitamin C: 12mg, Calcium: 47mg, Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main
Cuisine: Italian
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close up of spaghetti sauce in white dutch oven
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Recipe Rating


  1. Sara Welch says:

    Made this for dinner tonight with spaghetti and it has easily become a new family favorite meal! Looking forward to leftovers tomorrow!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      Thank you so much, Sara. The leftovers are even better! 🙂

  2. Haley D Williams says:

    I love everything you have packed in this! Have to make this one for sure!5 stars

  3. Allyson Zea says:

    This turned out to be so delicious!

  4. katerina @ says:

    Homemade spaghetti sauce is the BEST!! I can’t wait to try this recipe!5 stars

    1. Dee says:

      Hope you like the spaghetti sauce, Katerina! 🙂

  5. Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert says:

    I need to try this Homemade Spaghetti Sauce immediately, it looks so good!5 stars

  6. Kimberly says:

    This looks and sounds delicious – nothing beats homemade!

    1. Dee says:

      That’s so true, Kimberly. Thank you!