Italian Meat Sauce is fast weeknight fare over spaghetti while also being perfect for lasagna, baked pasta, spaghetti squash, or zoodles! In 30 minutes you can be enjoying rich and flavorful comfort food the whole family will love.
As we move into fall I’m craving ALL the comfort food. I want creamy soups, stews, roast chicken, and plenty of Italian sauces over pasta. As I look over my recipe testing list, I can guarantee all sorts of cozy recipes are coming your way.
We’ll start with my amazing homemade FAST meat sauce! I love an all day bolognese as much as the next person (and have frozen portions all laid out from my last batch), but sometimes you want sauce and you want it NOW. Well here it is. 😉
What do you need?
- Ground Meat – About 1 pound of ground beef or other meat of your choice.
- Tomatoes – I like boxed chopped tomatoes (they’re softer and have no additives), but any combo of chopped, crushed, or pureed whole tomatoes will work.
- Red Wine – Just a bit! It punches up the flavor.
- Anchovy – Umami. It will make your meat taste meatier.
- Tomato Paste – The same, while also giving a deeper tomato flavor.
- Spices – Garlic and oregano (along with some salt).
How to make this
To make quick Italian meat sauce, saute ground beef and then add garlic, tomato paste, anchovy, and wine. Stir in chopped tomatoes and oregano and simmer until done.
This is simple and fast! I’ll bring you through the steps, then you can scroll down to the recipe card and make it.
1. Saute the Meat
Using either a high sided saute pan or a mid-sized pot, saute the ground beef until it’s mostly brown and you see only a little red color left.
2. Saute the Rest
Now you are going to saute the garlic until soft and then saute the tomato paste and anchovy. This will build the flavors.
3. Reduce the Wine
Pour in the red wine and bring it to a boil. Let it reduce and boil down for a few minutes. It’ll be about reduced by half but you don’t need be too exact here.
4. Simmer the Sauce
Add in your tomatoes and bring them up to a bubble and then let them simmer gently until your sauce comes together. This will take about 15 minutes (though you can simmer it longer if that works better for your timing).
Now your sauce is done – serve it over pasta, zoodles, or spaghetti squash for a quick dinner. Or use it in lasagna, baked ziti, or eggplant parm for weekend meal.
Quick Meat Sauce FAQ
Can this be made ahead?
Absolutely! It’s great immediately, but also can be made a day or two ahead and reheated.
How about storage?
You can store this for 3-4 days in the fridge (in a covered container) or 3-4 months in the freezer. To use from the freezer, you can thaw overnight and then reheat or just put it in a pot while still mostly frozen and warm until thawed.
What should I do if it’s too acidic?
Here you have two choices. Either add a pinch of sugar to balance the acid with sweet, or add a pinch of baking soda to react with the acid make the sauce more neutral.
Note that too much sugar will give you a sweet sauce and too much baking soda will give you a bland sauce. So use just a little, then mix it in well, and taste.
You can change this up in a few different ways.
- Use different meats. Beef, pork, veal, or turkey will work. You can also use a mix. Or you could add some pancetta in with the ground meat.
- Tomatoes. I like chopped here, but you can use whole or crushed and create a very chunky or smooth sauce.
- Herbs. Add thyme, parsley, basil, or marjoram.
If you try my recipe for Quick Italian Meat Sauce, I would love to hear from you in the comments with your experience and rating! And I’m happy to answer any questions you might have.
– Stay Safe, Annemarie
Quick Italian Meat Sauce
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tsp anchovy paste
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 2 28-oz cans (or boxes) chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- optional extras: fresh sliced basil, shredded parmesan cheese
- In a large, high sided skillet or medium sized pot on medium heat, saute the ground meat until mostly cooked through, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic and salt and continue sauteing for 1-2 minutes.
- Push the meat aside and add the tomato paste and anchovy. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds.
- Add wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 2-3 minutes
- Pour in tomatoes and stir in oregano. Bring back to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Stir in basil and parmesan if using.
- Tomatoes: I use Pomi boxed chopped tomatoes in the recipe. You can use any chopped tomatoes or switch to crushed or whole (puree or break up the whole tomatoes if using).
- Ground Beef: While I call for beef, turkey, pork, or meatloaf mix are all great variations. Note - if using turkey don't skip the anchovy! It needs the extra umami.
- Pasta: For serving over pasta as shown in the photos, use 1 lb of the pasta of your choice. Once cooked, simmer the pasta with some of the water from the pot and the meat sauce.