Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, Bolognese Sauce


Thanks to this easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe (AKA Bolognese Sauce) you’ll now have no need to take the shortcut with a jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce. This version is so much better! Made with hearty beef, crushed tomatoes and lots of fresh basil. It’s packed with flavor and sure to please even the pickiest eaters!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti was always one of my favorite foods growing up. Spaghetti and ground beef tacos. And my mom made them both regularly.

Her spaghetti started with a jar of sauce (which is fine) but the funny thing is that she’d melt butter over the noodles, add sauce, then add a layer of cheddar or mozzarella over the top and melt it in the microwave lol!

Since then we’ve both learned quite a bit about spaghetti and the best way to make it.

What is Bolognese Sauce?

Bolognese is basically the same thing as what we in America call “spaghetti sauce.” Bolognese however is generally a little meatier than the spaghetti sauce, my version falls somewhere between the two so you could classify it as either/or.

Bolognese is a beef or pork, and tomato based sauce that is served over pasta. The original recipe originates from Bologna Italy.

It’s generally a thick sauce but I like mine not quite so thick, you can adjust that to taste though with the amount of water added.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese

Ingredients for Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes – I like Hunt’s. I’ve tested other brands and Hunt’s its best here
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • Minced parsley, for serving (optional)
Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese ingredients ground beef olive oil salt pepper basil parsley oregano onion garlic crushed tomatoes tomato paste parmesan

How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Scratch

You’ll start out by heating 1 Tbsp olive oil in a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef in large crumbled, leaving space between.

Season with salt and let beef brown nicely on bottom.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese Sauce browning beef in skillet

Then begin breaking beef up (I like to use a bamboo spatula with a flat end like pictured). Let it continue to cook until it has cooked through (again you can sort of create pockets of space which will help heat circulate and escape so the beef doesn’t steam).

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese browning beef in skillet

Transfer browned beef to a paper towel lined plate, leave about 1 Tbsp fat in pan. Or add 1 Tbsp olive oil.

Add onion and saute 4 minutes or until almost softened, then add garlic and saute 1 minute longer.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese sauteing onion and garlic in skillet

Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, water, beef, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a light boil, then reduce heat to low (2nd to lowest setting about), cover with lid and let simmer until onions have softened through, about 15 minutes.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce shown here in skillet

If you have more time let it simmer longer. Thin with a little water as needed, thicken with a little tomato paste as needed (a little goes a long way).

Stir in parmesan at the very end and let melt through. Serve over pasta of choice topped with more parmesan and parsley.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese

What to Serve with Spaghetti?

Here’s a few of my favorite sides to serve with spaghetti:

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Bolognese

Tips for the Best Spaghetti Sauce

Since spaghetti has long been one of my favorite foods I’ve picked up on lots of different things here and there to perfect it. Here’s my tips:

  • Really brown the beef. Don’t add it all in one thin layer and toss and turn it constantly. Instead add it in large clumps, let the bottom really sear and brown then
    start to break it up.
  • Use crushed tomatoes instead of tomato sauce or puree. It has a better, more tomato-y flavor.
  • Don’t be skimpy with the garlic, and add a fair amount of onion. These really build flavor here.
  • Use fresh basil! I never make spaghetti sauce now unless I have fresh basil. The flavor difference is incomparable.
  • Stir parmesan right into the sauce. Again we are building flavor and even though it’s only 1/4 cup it gives it special something.

Note that if you don’t like a meaty sauce you can cut the beef portion in half. You can also add in other things like sauteed mushrooms too.

To make the best use of time, chop onion, garlic and basil while beef is cooking. Grate the parmesan and mince the parsley while sauce is cooking.

shown here in a white pasta bowl with spaghetti topped with homemade spaghetti sauce bolognese sauce garnished with basil


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Homemade Spaghetti Sauce {Bolognese}

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The easiest and tastiest homemade spaghetti sauce! Packed with fresh flavor and sure to please the pickiest eaters. It also freezes well and makes delicious leftovers!


  1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch (and deep) skillet over medium-high heat.

  2. Add beef in crumbles, leaving space between them, and let sear on bottom until golden brown, about 3 minutes. 

  3. Then start crumbling beef and continue to cook, tossing and crumbling occasionally until fully cooked through, about 3 minutes longer.

  4. Transfer beef to a large plate lined with paper towels, leave 1 Tbsp rendered fat in skillet (or add 1 Tbsp olive oil).

  5. Reduce skillet heat to medium, add onion and saute 4 minutes. Add garlic saute 1 minute longer.

  6. Stir in crushed tomatoes, water, tomatoes paste, cooked beef, basil and oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 

  7. Bring to a light boil then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until onions are tender, about 15 – 20 minutes. Thin with a little more water as needed (or thicken with a little more tomato paste as needed).

  8. Stir in parmesan. Serve warm with cooked spaghetti, garnish with more parmesan and parsley.

  9. Recipe source: Cooking Classy

Recipe Notes

*For more added richness you can stir some butter, extra virgin olive oil, or cream in at the end.

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce - The easiest and tastiest homemade spaghetti sauce! Packed with fresh flavor and sure to please the pickiest eaters. It also freezes well and makes delicious leftovers!

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