Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

by jenna on September 14, 2012

Wow, I am so excited to share this recipe with y’all today!!!

I don’t know about you, but the start of fall makes me crave comforting meals like homemade spaghetti sauce. There’s just something to standing in front of the stove, stirring a HUGE pot of sauce while it simmers for hours that calms me right down. I made this sauce, which is my mother’s recipe and, in my opinion, the best tasting spaghetti sauce in the entire world, a couple weeks ago when my book came out. I included this recipe in the book so I made it to celebrate the launch. After a few bites, Adam claimed it was the best meat sauce he ever tasted. Bold statement, huh? It’s true! Two days later I made another huge batch to take over to Ashley’s house because she is pregnant and has morning sickness so badly that she can’t even stand to open her fridge to cook. Let’s just say that it was a gift very well received by her husband and daughter.

I never included this recipe on my blog before because, well, it was sort of an old family secret, but I think it’s time you guys taste it for yourself.

I grew up eating this sauce. Just the smell of it reminds of home. It’s actually my mother’s ex-boyfriend’s recipe from way back in the day. I’m glad things didn’t work out between them {or else I wouldn’t be here right now!}, but I AM glad they were together long enough for her to grab this amazing sauce recipe. I’m not sure how my dad feels about that, but I do know he loves this spaghetti sauce as well.

Now for the “secrets” that make this sauce so addicting!

1. Simmering the sauce for two hours with lots of cheese in mixed in.

2. Wine and lots of it.

3. Garlic salt and lots of it.

4. A blend of ground beef and hot Italian sausage.

I can’t believe I just shared that! But good—there are no secrets between us anymore. I feel better, don’t you?

Like most sauces, there’s no real “recipe” for this. The recipe in the book is pretty loose because it really is “just a pinch of this and a drizzle of that”. However, last time when I made it for Ashley’s family I wrote down exactly what I did {or tried to, at least}. You still have the ability to alter the sauce to your taste buds and I encourage tasting it throughout the cooking process!

Just remember the golden rule: when in doubt, add more wine!

{that goes for yourself, too. duh}

Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

from White Jacket Required

serves 6-8

Print this Recipe!


1.5 lbs ground beef (or turkey)

1 lb hot Italian sausage

20 oz sliced mushrooms

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 yellow onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1 28-oz can tomato puree

1 12-oz can tomato paste

24 oz tomato sauce

BIG splash red wine (whatever “big splash” means to you: anywhere from 1/2 cup to 2 cups will do fine. Heh heh)

6 oz freshly grated Romano cheese

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 tbsp dried basil

1 bay leaf

1-2 tbsp sugar

garlic salt + pepper as needed

spaghetti noodles + additional grated cheese for serving


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, bell peppers and sliced mushrooms. Saute for about six – eight minutes, until mushrooms are soft. Add ground beef and sausage meat. Cook until meat browns, stirring frequently with a large rubber spatula.

Add tomato puree, tomato sauce and tomato paste to the pot. Stir well. Then, add the bay leaf, wine, spices, sugar and cheese. Stir well and bring sauce to a simmer.

Simmer sauce for an hour and a half over low heat, stirring occasionally. Taste it as you cook, adding more wine, spices or garlic salt to suite your taste buds. The longer the sauce cooks, the better it will taste!

Serve sauce over hot spaghetti noodles with extra cheese. Sauce can be refrigerated for up to five days or frozen for up to three months. Sauce will taste better the next day, after flavors have time to meld.


2 hours



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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

Melissa September 14, 2012 at 3:47 am

I was laying in bed the other night, reading White Jacket Required, having just made my own sauce earlier that day for he first time, and thought to myself, “darn, I wish I had read one chapter further last night.” And now here it is again! It’s a sign that I need to try it 😉
You’re book is fantastic, and I look forward to reading your blog every morning over coffee and oatmeal. Thank you, Jenna!


Heather Michelle @ A Sweet Simple Life September 14, 2012 at 4:06 am

Yum! This looks amazing. My husband would die if I made this for him.

P.S. I cannot wait until my copy of your book arrives!


Michelle @ Eat Move Balance September 14, 2012 at 4:45 am

Whoa! Craziness! I posted yesterday about zucchini pasta with a meat sauce! Great minds think alike!!!


Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat September 14, 2012 at 4:55 am

Yummm! 2 hours is a long time for simmering but I’m sure it is well worth the wait! Spaghetti was one of my mum’s staple dinners when we were growing up, and it definitely still screams comfort food to me now. Great photos!


Molly @ RDexposed September 14, 2012 at 4:57 am

I can hear honey badger saying to this former bf, “Thanks for the sauce, stupid.”


Jennifer S. September 14, 2012 at 5:10 am

This sauce sounds absolutely delicious! I will definitely have to give it a try.


Jen September 14, 2012 at 5:27 am

Enjoyed your book immensely and look forward to trying the recipes. I have tried many from your blog and nothing has ever dissapointed. I look forward to reading more from you!


Lauren @ Powered by Oatmeal September 14, 2012 at 5:38 am

I like that rule. I’ve found myself craving spaghetti and meatballs, just because that’s what I grew up with, but this sounds even better. I’m going to have to be exclusive and tell my vegetarian roommate it’s just tooooo bad because that meaty richness is simply necessary. Thank you so much for sharing!


Robyn Stone | Add a Pinch September 14, 2012 at 5:38 am

Nothing like a big plate of spaghetti! This looks delicious!


Joelle (on a pink typewriter) September 14, 2012 at 6:09 am

Mmmmm I love homemade sauce.. I use my mom’s recipe which is so my great grandma’s recipe, and I think IT is the best in the world haha we all have our favorites that remind us of home. :) Happy Friday!


Kelly September 14, 2012 at 6:12 am

I just wanted to say that I finished your book last night and enjoyed every page! You inspired me to get out of my food funk and start cooking/baking again. Thank you for you wonderful blog too! I love the pictures and amazing recipes!


renita September 14, 2012 at 6:20 am

my mouth is watering!!! perfect for autumn too :)


amy walters, aDESIGNdock September 14, 2012 at 6:34 am

Happy Friday Jenna! Thanks for sharing your Secret Family Recipe. When secrets involve food…it’s always best to share, don’t you think?! LOL ; )


Devon | the food bitch blog September 14, 2012 at 6:40 am

I’ve been looking for a good spaghetti sauce lately! I hate huge chunks of tomatoes in my sauce, so this one looks perfect. Plus it has wine. Win, win.


Sam @ Better With Sprinkles September 14, 2012 at 6:41 am

Love homemade spaghetti sauce…it’s been a long time since I’ve made it, I’ll have to get back into that habit. :-)


Sammie September 14, 2012 at 7:15 am

By “sausage meat”, do you really mean to remove the sausage from the casing and to break it up? This direction is not clear.


jenna September 14, 2012 at 7:32 am

Yep, that’s exactly what I mean!


Christina September 14, 2012 at 7:38 am

This looks heavenly. Seriously, cannot wait to make this.
Thanks for sharing your deepest, sauciest secrets with us :)


Justeen @ Blissful Baking September 14, 2012 at 8:09 am

This spaghetti sauce sounds awesome!! It’s very similar to my mom’s recipe, except she uses all ground beef (no Italian sausage), and she doesn’t use any wine – but that sounds like a GREAT addition :)


Averie @ Averie Cooks September 14, 2012 at 8:23 am

Perfect spaghetti & love the mushrooms, too! It’s still not spaghetti weather here (in the 80s and 90sF!) but soon!


Trey September 14, 2012 at 8:28 am

Date night for my wife tonight with this recipe! You rock!


Shannon Fox September 20, 2012 at 9:58 am

Now that’s a stellar husband right there! You rock, too! ;o)


sally @ sallys baking addiction September 14, 2012 at 8:35 am

Jenna, I love your sauce secrets shared with us today! I’m glad the secrets are out. Homemade spaghetti sauce reminds me of home. :)

I have to tell you that these photos are beautiful – crisp and bright. PERFECT. Best photos I’ve seen on ELR. I hope to emulate your photography one day!


Mel September 14, 2012 at 8:39 am

Making me want some spaghetti now! I never thought to put wine or cheese in my sauces before, but seeing as how those are two of my favorite things, it sounds like a pretty damn good idea to me!


LisaG September 14, 2012 at 8:46 am

We make this at least once or twice a month; I’m going to try your recipe next!


Ana September 14, 2012 at 9:23 am

Looks great! I did have a question: do you not have to drain any of the fat from the beef? Just leave it all in? Excited to try this!


jenna September 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

You don’t drain the fat! That’s why it is so delicious.


Stephie @ Eat Your Heart Out September 14, 2012 at 9:37 am

Oh wow, it’s barely lunch time and you’ve got me craving a HUGE plate of this! Looks so good.


Courtney September 14, 2012 at 9:52 am

This looks amazing! Question: Do you use red or white wine or does it matter?


mom September 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm



Caroline L. September 14, 2012 at 9:53 am

Yum… So classic, so good. Will have to make this ASAP!


Beverly Aragon September 14, 2012 at 9:55 am

WOW, this looks amazing! I’m totally making this for football Sunday. Thank you for sharing. :)


Melissa September 14, 2012 at 10:52 am

Looks delicious!!! And can’t wait to read your book!!!! :) Also, not sure if maybe its just happening to me for some reason but over the last few days every time i try to go to a blank page pops up and says Welcome to Nginx! The only way I can get to your site now is by going back to one of the old links in my browser i.e and then once im in i can clink the side links to see your new post. is it just me?

Reply September 15, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I read the book, Melissa and it is so good! :)


Andrea @ The Skinny Chronicles September 14, 2012 at 11:08 am

You can’t go wrong with spaghetti! Especially if there is garlic bread involved.


Sarah September 14, 2012 at 11:27 am

Every time I see “meat sauce” it makes me giggle. I was staying at a hotel in Salt Lake City and their room service menu had Spaghetti with Meat Sauce on it. Then there was a note that said “meat sauce does not contain meat”. What?


Stacey September 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

I ADORE spaghetti and super love how it just gets better with time. Best leftovers ever. Thank you so much for sharing!


Mushroom Channel September 14, 2012 at 12:35 pm

What a delicious recipe Jenna. Meat sauces can really benefit from the addition of mushrooms, they add tons of flavor and nutrients.


Kari@Loaves and Dishes September 14, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Your secret is out, and now I’m totally going to use it! I never simmer the sauce with the cheese in it, but it makes perfect sense.


Emily @ Life on Food September 14, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Oh simple pasta with a divine sauce is just what the soul needs some nights. This look fantastic. Adding it to the meal plan for the week.


Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe September 14, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Anything with red wine and cheese is a winner in my books. Thank you to you and your mom (and your mom’s ex-boyfriend) for this lovely recipe – I can’t wait to try it!


addie @ culicurious September 15, 2012 at 7:21 am

These types of recipes are always the best ones :) Thanks for sharing!


Liz @ Tip Top Shape September 15, 2012 at 9:37 am

I will be using 2 cups of wine. Love me some boozy sauces, lol. This looks fantastic! And I am definitely downloading your book today. Cannot wait!


Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy September 15, 2012 at 9:52 am

I am with you there! As soon as it starts to get cooler, I crave all the comfort foods. I am in the process of lightening up some of my favourite recipes.


Morgan September 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Totally making this, but going to attempt to make a vegetarian version with fake ground beef in the red packaging (can’t think of the name) and that soy italian sausage….wish me luck!


rachel September 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

will make this tomorrow to get me through the work week! thanks, jenna’s mom!


Carla September 15, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Jenna, you’re hysterical – “There are no more secrets between us. I feel better.” ! I’m not usually a meat sauce person but this look like it’d be worth a try!


Laurel September 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Back in the 1970’s, I had a very similar sauce at a friend’s house. He called this “California Spaghetti.” The only difference was that he added sliced black olives. I’m not a big eater, but I polished off two plates! He was kind enough to give me the recipe and it is an old favorite.

Reply September 15, 2012 at 8:45 pm

The spaghetti looks delish! I love that the recipe calls for lots of wine 😉

Just wanted you to know that I finished your book the other day and I loved reading it. I only started reading your blog (or even knowing what a blog was) a couple of months ago, every single one of your stories was so heartfelt, easy to read, and down-to-earth. You manage to be an expert in the area of cooking and baking and to make those of us who aren’t feel like we could be!


Sonal September 16, 2012 at 3:19 am

This looks amazing!! Yes, sometimes i feel like a big bowl of pasta would hit the spot in autumn and every other season too:)


Angie @ Pint of Goals September 16, 2012 at 1:35 pm

This week I made two of your recipes: whole wheat banana peach muffins and this sauce. Actually, the sauce is simmering right now – perfect for a lazy Sunday afternoon. I can’t wait to have spaghetti and meat sauce every day this week.
I love your blog and your recipes! Now I need to get my hands on a copy of your new book.
Hope you had a good weekend!


Linda September 16, 2012 at 2:04 pm

I highly recommend you getting and sharing another of your moms recipes. My husband and I were the lucky recipients of her culinary talents last night. It was a beef dish with olives served on a bed of rice that was delicious and so tender. She said it was a secret but I’m sure she’d share it with you! (and then you can pass it on your readers) Dessert was a chocolate torte! Can’t wait to meet you when you come to Savannah!!


kristen September 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Hi Jenna! I just wondered if I missed the September edition of your fave things! :)


jenna September 16, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Nope! I haven’t posted yet :)


Tasha @ ThatsSoYummy September 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

This looks absolutely amazing I could eat the entire pot!


Diana @ frontyardfoodie September 17, 2012 at 8:06 pm

This reminds me of the sauce my grandma used to make for spaghetti. I always hated green bell peppers growing up but she would put them in that sauce and I just loved it. Tons of chunky ground beef, lots of spices, and loads of flavor. So nostalgic.


Alex September 18, 2012 at 7:06 pm

You must know, I made this tonight and seriously, oh my gosh. If Heaven had a taste, this would be it. A-Maz-Ing. Best recipe I’ve tried of yours yet. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing this gem.


Brittney September 19, 2012 at 1:46 pm

Now I REALLY want spaghetti :)


Allie September 20, 2012 at 6:44 am

Do you ever use this sauce in lasagna? Or is it too heavy?


jenna September 20, 2012 at 9:26 am

You totally could!


Meg @ Peaches and Cake September 24, 2012 at 6:14 am

I made this over the weekend Jenna! I used fresh basil, which was delicious, and I think I might sub parmesan or bella vitano cheese next time. I love how it made a huge pot that I could divide into two and share with family members. There’s just something about a tupperware container full of meat sauce paired with a pack of linguine that just says I love you! Thanks for the great recipe! -Meg


The Mrs. @ Kitchen Doesn't Travel September 24, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Made this tonight. It was delicious and a HUGE hit with the hubby! Thanks for sharing. Oh and, FYI, my “big splash” of wine measured out to 1 1/2 cups!. :)


Caytie September 25, 2012 at 9:21 am

This sauce looks delicious! I think he is nuts, but my boyfriend hates mushrooms. Can you omit them without loosing much of the flavor? Thanks!


Mindy September 26, 2012 at 9:36 am

Would love to know what kind of red wine you recommend. I’m a white wine drinker, so know absolutely nothing about buying red wine, but sounds like the perfect addition to the sauce. Can’t wait to make this!


Stacey October 18, 2012 at 9:32 am

this sounds delicious!! Excited to try it this weekend. Can you tell me how much the recipe makes, and does it freeze well?

Stacey :)


cassy October 24, 2012 at 12:28 pm

do you think this would be good for the crockpot??
do the meat and veggies on stove top, then transfer it and the rest of the ingredients to the crockpot?

I want to make this for my work potluck next week..


jenna October 24, 2012 at 8:50 pm

Hmmm I have not tried that so I can’t say for sure! I THINK it would work though, and be pretty great!


Maria November 7, 2012 at 9:12 am

This recipe is very similar to the one I have used for years that my dad passed on to me. I use real garlic and whole tomatoes instead of the sauce. Then instead of olive oil I cook bacon and use the drippings to saute the onions, garlic, peppers and I add chopped celery. After it has simmered for a while I toss in the bacon crumbled up and add more red wine. The sugar is the secret in this recipe. Shhhhh. :) It is much better the next day and freezes great. I have even made this and shipped across the country. I have sometimes added little slices of pepperoni before but that is a personal preferrence. Hope everyone here tried it and loves it.


Nicole November 13, 2012 at 9:28 am

My husband and I made this on Sunday and totally agree–BEST. SAUCE. EVER. It’s so complex tasting! And I love that although it’s a meat sauce, there are still a lot of vegetables. We have two quarts in the freezer and I’m looking forward to spaghetti for lunch all week.


Mary November 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Can you give me a better idea of how much garlic salt and pepper to use. Thanks


Gabriela November 28, 2012 at 10:13 am

This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it 😀


victoria November 29, 2012 at 7:40 am

ok, is there magic in using a “large rubber spatula”? or will any cooking utensil do? lol i’m kinda asking seriously because i’m a total recipe to the T girl :)


Kristi P December 16, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I just have to tell you that I love this pasta sauce! It has become a new family favorite! We will never go back to sauce in a jar, thank you so much for this amazing recipe!


Whitney December 20, 2012 at 7:31 am

I made this sauce (doubled the recipe) last night for my church small group. Everyone loved it! And I was glad to have leftovers to freeze :)


Ronda January 6, 2013 at 9:45 am

Can’t wait to try it…saw it posted on How Sweet It Is


Sara B. January 6, 2013 at 11:02 pm

I made this tonight and it was so awesome! Tons of leftovers too. One question: when you simmer it, do you put the lid on or leave it off? Thanks for the recipe!


Amanda January 20, 2013 at 5:14 pm

Made this tonight for the family. HUGE hit! I totally forgot to get the red wine and it was still amazing. Next time I’ll be sure to remember the wine! Thank you!


Marguerite Miller July 23, 2013 at 8:29 am

I need to try your version of homemade sauce!! It is similar to the one I used to make years ago (my MIL’s recipe) another one of those hard to write down ones! LOL She didn’t add the wine!! And she used meatballs and whole links of hot and mild sausage! You had to let it simmer for HOURS to let the flavors from the meats really get into the sauce! And it was a whole experience of making it and the simmering and tasting and the way the house smelled! It was simply amazing! After getting sick, I don’t really cook anymore, other than the occasional quick meal or special dish! And even my MIL noticed over the years that the kids didn’t really appreciate the effort and were just as happy with a jarred sauce, and she stopped making it homemade! Thanks for putting that spark of wanting to make this back into me!!


pamela August 23, 2013 at 4:16 pm

I just made this for dinner tonight, and thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! It is the perfect sauce recipe I’ve been trying to find for ages. Nothing complicated, it’s easy and really delicious – which, like I said above, makes it perfect in my book!


Jill December 21, 2013 at 12:08 pm

This is my go to recipe for meat sauce. I’d never had homemade before and now there’s no going back. I’m expecting a baby any day now and made sure to freeze several portions for my husband and I to enjoy when baby arrives. It’s beyond delicious!


Justeen January 11, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I have this sauce simmering on the stove now! I used all ground beef (not a sausage fan) and LOTS of wine. It smells delicious!


Justeen January 13, 2014 at 10:03 am

Just came back to say that this sauce was a winner! It might be even better than my mom’s!


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