This Italian-inspired ragu spaghetti sauce is a wonderful meat sauce perfect for your pasta night. Packed with hidden veggies it's a nutritious dish worthy of any family meal.
We love pasta around here but the same old canned or jarred sauces can get old-feeling pretty quickly. That's why I'm always happy to pull out a backup like this Ragu pasta sauce.
This homemade pasta sauce here is my favorite though because I can cook it up in my cast iron skillet on the grill whenever I make Grilled Spaghetti Squash and then serve them up together for a twist on pasta night!
🍯 Why This Recipe Works
- It's super fast and easy to throw together. This is especially true if you have a food processor to do the work for you. (I have one of those cheap $10 food choppers from Walmart) and it cuts the prep work down to seconds.
- There are hidden veggies! My kids aren't great at eating all of their veggies (they like them, but they'd rather have meat or pasta if given the option. So, hiding them, it is! Added nutritional benefits, and they are none the wiser.
- You can cook it on the grill! Camping? Can't use a stove? This pasta sauce can be cooked on the grill. Details are included in the recipe card below.
Mirepoix- This is a combination of celery, carrots, and onion. It creates a flavorful base in many recipes and works well to add hidden veggies to this sauce.
Ground Beef- You can use any ground meat, but this dish is known for being a meatier sauce, so make sure there's plenty.
Parmesan Cheese- This is an optional ingredient to be used when serving the sauce on your pasta.
For specific ingredients and measurements, please see the recipe card below.
Tomatoes: In this Ragu tomato sauce you can replace the can of crushed tomatoes with diced tomatoes or even fresh tomatoes that have been peeled and seeded (about 3 cups).
If using fresh tomatoes I recommend adding in a pinch or two of granulated sugar and cooking the sauce longer to help remove some of that harsher fresh tomato flavor.
This Ragu marinara sauce is really versatile. Check out these suggestions to make it even more wonderful!
Vegetables. You can always add in more veggies or remove some from the sauce. I like to add in more when I can, like fresh spinach.
Meat. You can omit the meat entirely and make this sauce vegetarian or you can double up on it too. If desired you can also add in 1 pound of ground pork for a more flavorful sauce. This adds a nice depth of flavor and makes the sauce really meaty.
Step 1: Heat your olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium heat. If using a grill, this is 350 degrees F.
Step 2: Add in the finely chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Cook for about 5-8 minutes until soft. I like to use a food processor to chop up the veggies really small because they cook faster and are less noticeable to the picky eaters.
Step 3: Add in your minced garlic and then stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Step 4: Add in the ground beef and cook until all of the pink is gone and the meat is browned. Remember to break it up into smaller pieces as you go. This should take about 10 minutes. Drain the grease and return to the stove.
Step 5: Stir in the Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
Step 6: Add in the can of crushed tomatoes and chopped parsley. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Step 7: Reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for at least 15 minutes, preferably longer (up to an hour) for deeper flavor.
Step 8: Serve with cooked pasta and then top with parmesan cheese.
🍴 Recipe Tips
Recipe Scaling. You can scale the recipe down in half to make a smaller batch. If using a larger pot, you could also scale this recipe up to make a bigger portion.
Simmering. Like any good sauce or soup, the flavor develops over time. Make sure to simmer your sauce for at least 15 minutes so that some flavor can develop as the ingredients meld together in the pan. The longer the sauce simmers, the better the flavor which is why leftovers taste even better the next day. If possible, allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for up to an hour.
This sauce tastes great with anything. From ravioli to spaghetti squash, baked spaghetti, and more. You'll be looking for all sorts of creative ways to use up this pasta sauce.
Store it away for later or use it in your favorite Italian soups, stews, or chili. I like to use my leftover sauce by placing it into a pot of Poor Man's Beef Stew (in place of the tomato paste). It tastes delicious!
Ragu sauce is a type of red tomato-based sauce used for pasta dishes. It's packed with meats and flavors and very similar to a bolognese sauce but without the red wine and long cook times. This sauce is super simple to prepare at home and tastes great with anything from spaghetti to ravioli and cooked squash.
Leftover sauce can be cooled down and placed into an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Reheat to use as needed.
Yes, this sauce freezes very well. After the sauce has cooled, place it into an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can place it in a large covered pan or pot over medium-low heat to thaw and warm the sauce up or thaw it for a few hours in the fridge before warming.
❤️ More Delicious Pasta Recipes
If you tried this Ragu Spaghetti Sauce, please leave a ⭐️ star rating and share your feedback in the 📝 comments section below. I would truly appreciate it!
Ragu Spaghetti Sauce
- 3 Tablespoons Olive oil ($0.39)
- 1 cup Onion, finely chopped (1 large) ($.70)
- 1 pound Ground beef ($3.37)
- 1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning ($0.30)
- 28 ounces Crushed tomatoes ($0.87)
- 2 cloves Garlic, minced ($0.10)
- ½ cup Carrot, finely chopped (about 2 large) ($0.28)
- ½ cup Celery, finely chopped (about 2 stalks) ($0.24)
- ¼ cup Fresh parsley, chopped ($0.20)
- Salt and pepper to taste ($0.10)
- Parmesan cheese, for serving *optional
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add onion, carrots, and celery, cook for about 5-8 minutes until soft.
- Add in garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add in the ground beef and cook until the pink is all gone and the meat is brown. Break it up into smaller pieces as you go. About 10 minutes. Drain grease and return to heat.
- Stir in italian seasoning, salt and pepper.
- Add in the tomatoes and parsley and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for at least 15 minutes, preferrably longer (up to an hour) for deeper flavor.
- Serve with cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.
- Substitutions: Replace crushed tomatoes with diced or fresh tomatoes (about 3 cups). For fresh tomatoes, add a pinch of sugar and cook longer to mellow the flavor.
- Recipe Scaling: Adjust the batch size by halving or doubling it in a larger pot.
- Simmering: Allow the sauce to simmer for at least 15 minutes to develop flavors, and longer simmering enhances taste. Leftovers taste even better the next day. Simmer uncovered for up to an hour if possible.
- Storage: Refrigerate leftover sauce in an airtight container for up to a week or freeze it for 3 months. Thaw and warm on the stovetop or in the fridge before reheating.