The Best Italian Meat Sauce (Easy Recipe)

The Best Italian Meat Sauce (Easy Recipe)

This Italian meat sauce recipe uses tender veal and pork and is made from scratch using delicious quality tomatoes for an easy recipe that takes 30 minutes to make. Skip the jar!

Homemade Meat Sauce made from scratch takes 30 minutes to make and tastes a million times better than the jarred variety.

My Italian meat sauce recipe is loaded with chunks of fire roasted tomatoes, hot Italian sausage and my favorite ingredient, ground veal.

This simple sauce is delicious and in this recipe the veal creates great meaty flavor.

Don’t skimp on the tomatoes.

Purchasing high-quality canned tomatoes makes all the difference in the taste.

They may be a bit pricier than the generic grocery store version but it will make all the difference in the flavor of the sauce.

What kind of tomatoes taste best

I like to use San Marzano tomatoes in this chunky sauce.

These tomatoes are grown in the Mt. Vesuvius region of Italy and are known for their sweet taste and low acidity.

These fresh tomatoes are picked at ripeness and canned immediately for the best quality.

While these plum tomatoes are grown in the United States and other regions of the world, true certified San Marzano tomatoes come from Italy.

You do need to be picky when selecting the brand. Like a fine wine, these tomatoes are the start of a great recipe.

Look for brands like Hunt’s San Marzano Style, Alessi, Cento and Contadina. Sometimes I have luck finding the best quality tomatoes in the Italian section of the grocery store.

Homemade Meat Sauce made from scratch takes 30 minutes to make and tastes a million times better than the jarred variety.

I’m not a fan of sweet tomato sauce. In fact I prefer my sauce a bit on the spicy side.

That’s why I always add a link of hot Italian sausage when I’m browning ground veal.

If you prefer a more mild taste, use mild Italian sausage instead and skip the red pepper flakes.

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe makes a lot of sauce and enough to freeze so you have plenty for a quick last minute meal or to use in dishes that call for pasta sauce, like lasagna.

A little Parmesan cheese added during the last 5 minutes thickens up this sauce.

What is meat sauce made of?

Called a traditional bolognese sauce or ragu bolognese by Italian standards, this great sauce is simply a mixture of different types of meat including ground beef, ground veal or ground pork.

Its browned with plenty of onions and fresh garlic, seasoned with dried or fresh herbs and the best tomatoes for full flavor.

Italians have also been known to add a splash of red wine for depth and savory flavor.

My bolognese recipe uses veal and hot sausage and I am always asked for the recipe.

It really is the best meat sauce!

I will often times make this recipe in the morning and let it simmer for a while. I have found this sauce is even better the next day.

Get the full recipe card below.

How to freeze and store Italian meat sauce

The sauce will store in the refrigerator for 5 days. I will store this sauce in the freezer in different sized food storage containers for up to six months.

Stack the containers easily in the freezer and grab what size you need for the recipe or the number of people at the dinner table.

I will allow the sauce to thaw overnight in the fridge or sometimes slowly reheat the frozen sauce at low heat until it has warmed to serving temperature.

Homemade Meat Sauce made from scratch takes 30 minutes to make and tastes a million times better than the jarred variety.

Ingredients you’ll need for this Italian meat sauce recipe

Canned tomatoes. The most important ingredient. Do not skimp. Get a few cans of San Marzano tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes and fire roasted diced tomatoes.

Ground Veal. This can be found in the fresh meat aisle of the grocery store. If you don’t see it, ask the butcher. My Kroger has this frozen in the freezer box with the frozen burgers, fish and shrimp.

Hot Italian sausage. Hot or mild will work in this recipe. Links or ground work well.

Italian seasonings. These dried herbs are a staple in my pantry. If they have expired, pick up fresh dried herbs. Save the fresh herbs for garnish.

Onion and garlic. Fresh garlic is best and I prefer a sweet Vidalia onion but yellow onion is also a great alternative.

Fresh Parmesan cheese. Skip the kind that doesn’t require refrigeration. Check the deli or fresh cheese aisle for the best tasting Parmesan.

How to make this delicious classic Italian meat sauce

First, finely chop the onion and garlic with a sharp knife into small uniform pieces. Alternatively, use an onion chopper for easy slicing and mincing.

In a large pot, brown the onion in olive oil until it has turned translucent and soft.

Add the ground meat and brown until cooked, about 5 minutes. Drain the excess grease.

Add the minced garlic and stir for a few minutes.

Open the cans of tomatoes and add the sauce to the pot and stir with wooden spoon to mix.

Finally stir in the dried herbs and mix well. Allow the sauce to heat almost to a boil then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer.

Add the Parmesan cheese to this homemade sauce and stir five minutes before serving over boxed or fresh pasta.

What to serve with this easy homemade spaghetti sauce

Tomato and Arugula Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Tomatoes Caprese Salad

Skillet Grilled Romaine Hearts with Homemade Caesar Dressing

No Knead Dutch Oven Crusty Bread

More meat recipes

Easy Chicken Parmesan Lasagna

Salisbury Steak Meatballs with a French Onion Gravy

Easy Cottage Pie Recipe (Shepherd Pie)

Easy Spinach and Meat Lasagna

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The Best Italian Meat Sauce (Easy Recipe)

Ali Randall
This Italian meat sauce recipe uses tender veal and beef and is made from scratch using delicious quality tomatoes for an easy recipe that takes 30 minutes to make. Skip the jar!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8


  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian pork sausage
  • 2 28 ounce cans of tomato sauce
  • 1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 14 ounce cans of fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic
  • 1 tablespoon diced garlic
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon each – dried parsley, basil and oregano
  • Salt & black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes


  • Saute the onion in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Once the onion has softened, brown the veal and sausage using a wooden spoon.
  • Remove the excess grease using a ladle from the pot before adding the garlic.
  • Saute the garlic for several minutes.
  • Add the canned tomatoes and Italian seasonings.
  • Simmer on low heat for up to an hour. Add cheese and stir before serving.


This updated recipe was originally published October 31, 2016.
Keyword Italian Meat Sauce Recipe
Homemade Meat Sauce

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