This Easy Meat Sauce recipe is a healthy homemade sauce to go over your spaghetti or zucchini noodles. Made with ground beef, olives, and mushrooms in a tomato sauce that simmers to perfection, it’s great for a simple weeknight dinner. Gluten free, paleo, and Whole30 too!
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At the end of each fall I try and find ways to use up the last of the tomatoes in our garden. My husband is a huge fan of spaghetti so it seemed like a natural fit. He also happens to be a huge fan of meat, so I knew any spaghetti sauce I made needed to be meaty.
It helps when things are simple too, because I don’t have time to let sauce simmer all day long. Enter this easy meat sauce.
WHAT MAKES THIS MEAT SAUCE SO GREAT
- It’s a hearty sauce that’s sure to fill you up!
- It’s made with simple ingredients that are easy to find at the store!
- Not only is it gluten free, but paleo and Whole30 too!
We like a really hearty sauce, so this recipe ends up being very thick. I added onions, olives, and mushrooms to the tomato sauce. If you chop up the onions pretty small they will kind of melt into the sauce – this helps if you have a kid who’s picky about onions. Thankfully mine usually aren’t, but as with anything with kids, that could change on any given day.
Before we get to the recipe, let’s talk a little about the meat sauce.
What’s the Difference Between Bolognese and Meat Sauce?
Bolognese typically has different types of meat as well as broth, wine, and cream or milk. Meat sauce is usually just a marinara (or tomato) sauce with one or maybe two types of meat in it.
How Long Should You Simmer Meat Sauce?
The longer you simmer your sauce, the more the flavors will meld together – which is what you want! This recipe has a 20 minute simmer to give just enough time for the flavors to blend but not so long that you’re left waiting for hours before you eat!
Should You Put Sugar in Spaghetti Sauce?
You can, and some argue that it balances the acidity of the tomatoes. But you don’t have to! This meat sauce does not have sugar in it.
Now on to the recipe!
HOW TO MAKE MEAT SAUCE
Using a knife and cutting board, finely dice the onion. Set aside.Place the pan on the burner and set the heat to medium high. Place the ground beef in the pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.Combine the onion and ground beef and cook until the beef is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the pressed garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until the garlic is fragrant.
Add the tomato sauce, spices, and salt and pepper and bring to a light boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to low to simmer for 20 minutes.
As the sauce is simmering, drain the canned mushrooms and olives. Use a knife and cutting board to cut each olive into quarters.
Once the sauce is done simmering, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Add the quartered olives and drained mushrooms, stirring to heat through.
Taste to see if more salt is needed. If so, add in ½ teaspoon at a time until the sauce tastes as desired.
Serve with gluten free pasta or veggie noodles (like zucchini or spaghetti squash) if paleo/Whole30!
This meat sauce comes together really easily and is perfect for a weeknight meal. It’s great with any type of noodle, including veggie noodles! I like to eat mine with raw zucchini noodles as I’ve found cooked zucchini noodles tend to be too watery.
Tips for making that sauce!
- This recipe calls for tomato sauce. Not pizza sauce. Not diced tomatoes. Not pasta sauce. Just plain old tomato sauce.
- Use the best tomato sauce you can get – it really will make a difference. From my experience, quality ingredients = way better flavor.
- If you want to save yourself time, you can totally buy pre-made pasta sauce that’s already flavored and skip step 5, putting the sauce in at the same time as the olive and mushrooms. Just be sure and heat everything through.
Try these recipe variations!
- Try using ground turkey instead of ground beef for a slightly lighter version of this recipe!
- Love a spicier sauce? Add in ½ teaspoon of red chili pepper flakes to kick things up a notch!
- If you don’t like olives or mushrooms (or both), you can just leave them out! I would recommend cutting back the amount of sauce though by at least 8 oz (unless you like a thinner sauce).
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MORE EASY BEEF RECIPES, CHECK THESE OUT!
- Easy Nacho Salad
- Weeknight Paleo Ground Beef Stroganoff
- Instant Pot Beef Chili
- Paleo Ground Beef and Broccoli
OR IF YOU NEED MORE WAYS TO ENJOY ZOODLES, TRY ONE OF THESE IDEAS:
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If you try this Spaghetti Meat Sauce recipe (or any other recipe) then don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know how it went in the comments below!
Easy Meat Sauce
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 medium onion finely chopped (1.5-2 cups total)
- 2 garlic cloves pressed
- 4 cups plain tomato sauce (32 ounces)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 large sprig thyme
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp salt plus more to taste
- ½ tsp pepper plus more to taste
- 8 oz canned sliced mushrooms
- 6 oz olives
- Large pan
- Wooden spoon
- Large sharp knife
- Cutting board
- Garlic press
- Using the knife and cutting board, finely dice the onion. Set aside.
- Place the pan on the stove top, turn the burner to medium heat and place the ground beef in the pan. Start to break it up with the wooden spoon as it cooks.
- Combine the onion with the ground beef and cook until the ground beef is no longer pink and the onion is cooked through.
- Add the pressed garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Add the tomato sauce, spices, and salt and pepper and bring to a light boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down and simmer on low for 20 minutes.
- While the sauce is simmering, drain the canned mushrooms and olives. Use the knife and cutting board to cut each olive into quarters.
- After the sauce is done simmering, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig. Add the quartered olives and drained canned mushrooms, stirring to heat through.
- Taste to see if more salt and pepper is preferred. If so, add in ½ teaspoon at a time until sauce tastes as desired.
- Serve over any type of pasta, or veggie noodles!
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