This spaghetti with meat sauce is a quick, simple, and flavorful dish! It features a spicy and delicious meat sauce, chewy spaghetti, and delicious toppings such as fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese. It's an absolute favorite for an easy yet tasty weeknight dinner!
This spaghetti with meat sauce is a delicious variation of classic bolognese that is slightly spicy and intensely flavored. It has tasty ground beef, chewy spaghetti, and the most delicious tomato sauce!
It's a favorite whenever I am craving a flavorful spaghetti sauce with ground beef that can be whipped up quickly.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Ingredients
To make this spaghetti with meat sauce you'll need the following ingredients:
- Spaghetti: You'll need spaghetti or another type of pasta for this dish. I personally love spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettuccine, linguine, and any other long-shape pasta with this meat sauce. Feel free to pick something you like.
- Ground beef: You'll need ground beef for the sauce. The fattier the ground beef, the more flavorful the sauce will be. Feel free to pick lean ground beef if you want to reduce the amount of fat in this dish.
- Aromatics: Yellow onion and garlic are needed to make the sauce taste flavorful and delicious. If you aren't a huge fan of garlic, feel free to use only one or two garlic cloves. I wouldn't recommend skipping it as it is really important for the flavor of the sauce.
- Vegetables: Carrots are a perfect addition to meat sauce as they complement the sauce perfectly. You can add more vegetables such as celery or baby spinach.
- Liquids: I like to use a combination of canned San Marzano tomatoes, tomato passata, and beef broth to make a sauce that has depth, flavor, and delicious tomato chunks. If you prefer a sauce without tomato chunks, you can skip the San Marzano tomatoes and only use tomato passata.
- Seasonings: You'll need paprika powder, red pepper flakes, and dried oregano to make the sauce taste extra flavorful.
- Tomato paste: I love to use tomato paste to add extra flavor and intensity to the sauce. I highly recommend using it.
- Fresh herbs: You can use either fresh basil or fresh parsley for this spaghetti with meat sauce. Both taste amazing with the sauce, just pick the one you prefer.
- Parmesan cheese (optional): Whenever you make pasta, always have some parmesan cheese on hand. It tastes amazing when freshly grated over a bowl of warm and flavorful spaghetti with meat sauce!
How to make spaghetti with meat sauce
Cook the ground beef until browned. First, preheat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook it until it's fully browned. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the aromatics and vegetables. Next, add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Sauté over medium-low heat until the carrots start to soften.
Add the tomato paste and seasonings. Now add the tomato paste, paprika powder, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 1 minute.
Pour the liquids into the pan. Pour the crushed San Marzano tomatoes, tomato passata, and beef broth into the pan. Add the dried oregano and season with salt and pepper. Stir until combined, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Cook the pasta. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package instructions. Remove the pasta 1-2 minutes earlier when it's still al dente. Save some pasta water, drain, and set aside.
Combine. Now add the pasta water, fresh basil, and cooked pasta to the pan. Toss until the sauce clings to the pasta. Check if you want to season with more salt and pepper.
Garnish and serve. Garnish with chopped fresh basil leaves and parmesan cheese (optional). Enjoy!
Tips & Notes
- Use as much pasta water as needed for the sauce. The meat sauce should easily cling to the pasta when you've added enough pasta water. There is no need to worry about thinning the sauce or making it lose its flavor because of the liquid added. The sauce will taste amazing when you use starchy pasta water!
- Adjust the amount of red pepper flakes to your taste. The sauce is slightly spicy and may be too hot if you don't like spicy foods at all. If you prefer a mild sauce, feel free to reduce the amount of red pepper flakes or skip them. Just be sure to use paprika powder as it adds lots of flavor to the sauce without being spicy.
- Cook the pasta until al dente and finish cooking it in the sauce. The pasta should be cooked with the sauce, pasta water, and basil for 1-2 minutes before you serve it. So be sure to slightly undercook it so that it is perfect once you are finished.
- Spices: The meat sauce in this recipe uses red pepper flakes and paprika powder to make it taste flavorful and slightly spicy. If there are any other spices or spice blends that you love, feel free to use them! Other favorites of mine are cayenne pepper or a pinch of ground nutmeg.
- Herbs: Another way to change the flavor of this dish is using other or additional herbs. You can use fresh parsley instead of fresh basil or add more dried herbs, such as dried thyme or dried rosemary. They taste really great in this dish!
- Vegetables: You could also add more vegetables to the sauce. Celery is a classic addition to make this dish taste more like Italian bolognese sauce. You could also add baby spinach, zucchini, or fresh cherry tomatoes.
- Protein: I love to use ground beef when I make meat sauce. But you can use a combination of ground beef and ground pork or even ground turkey. They all taste great with this sauce!
How to serve spaghetti with meat sauce
- One of my favorite toppings for pasta is freshly grated parmesan cheese. It adds lots of flavor and is perfect for any type of pasta dish!
- Garnish the final dish with chopped fresh herbs. Basil and parsley are my favorites for this spaghetti with meat sauce.
- Prepare a simple side salad to add more vegetables to your meal. I recommend making a quick side salad that uses your favorite vegetables and a balsamic vinaigrette. I love to use lettuce, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, nuts, and some shaved parmesan cheese with the balsamic vinaigrette I use for many of my salad recipes, such as this balsamic lentil salad.
Frequently Asked Questions
In many cases, it's a variation of authentic spaghetti bolognese. Classic bolognese uses slightly different ingredients that make the final dish taste different than most meat sauces. This meat sauce tastes like a combination of penne arrabbiata and classic bolognese. It is slightly spicy, sweet, and super flavorful. If you are looking for an authentic bolognese recipe, feel free to check out my rigatoni bolognese recipe or creamy fettuccine bolognese recipe.
Yes, it's slightly spicy. If you prefer a mild sauce, reduce the amount of red pepper flakes, and be sure to use sweet paprika powder.
I recommend using any type of long-shape pasta. This recipe uses spaghetti, but there are many options to choose from. Fettuccine, tagliatelle, and linguine all taste great with this meat sauce!
You can serve it with grated parmesan cheese, chopped basil or parsley, and a simple side salad that uses a balsamic vinaigrette. As this dish is already quite satiating, you can decide if you want to prepare any side dishes or appetizers. It tastes great either way!
You can store leftovers in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3-4 days. To reheat them, use a microwave or stovetop and add some additional water to your serving to thin the sauce.
I don't recommend freezing leftovers as pasta can become mushy when it's frozen and reheated. But you can prepare a big batch of the sauce, use some for your serving of pasta, and freeze the remaining sauce without the pasta for up to 3 months. Meat sauce tastes just as delicious when frozen and reheated!
More simple and delicious pasta recipes
If you're looking for more pasta recipes that you can add to your cooking rotation, feel free to check out the following recipes. They taste amazing and are very easy to prepare!
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- ½ large yellow onion finely diced
- 1 carrot cut into cubes
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- 1 14-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes crushed with hands
- 2 cups tomato passata
- ½ cup beef broth
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- 12 ounces spaghetti or another type of pasta
- ¼ - ½ cup pasta water more as needed
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves or fresh parsley chopped
- First, preheat some olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the ground beef and cook until it's fully browned. Season with salt and pepper.2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 1 pound ground beef
- Next, add the onion, carrot, and garlic. Sauté over medium-low heat until the carrots start to soften.½ large yellow onion, 1 carrot, 3 garlic cloves
- Now add the tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and paprika powder. Toss and continue to sauté for 1 minute.1 ½ tablespoon tomato paste, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon paprika powder
- Pour the crushed San Marzano tomatoes, tomato passata, and beef broth into the pan. Add the dried oregano and season with salt and pepper. Then stir until combined. Cover the pan and let the sauce simmer over low heat for 15 minutes.1 14-ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, 2 cups tomato passata, ½ cup beef broth, ½ teaspoon dried oregano, salt and pepper
- In the meantime, cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the package instructions. Remove the pasta 1-2 minutes earlier so that it is still al dente. Save some pasta water before draining.12 ounces spaghetti
- Add the pasta water, basil, and cooked pasta to the sauce. Use as much pasta water as you need. Toss until the sauce clings to the pasta. Season with more salt and pepper if needed.¼ - ½ cup pasta water, ¼ cup fresh basil leaves or fresh parsley
- Garnish with more fresh basil and grated parmesan cheese. Enjoy!