Great Grandma’s Pasta Sauce

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    Great Grandma’s Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from a friend’s Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I’ve ever had in my entire life and I can’t wait for you to try it!

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it!

    What makes great grandma’s pasta sauce so special?

    My friend told me that for every Christmas and get together, his grandmother used to make her famous pasta dish.

    It’s made with this homemade pasta sauce that simmers on the stove for hours.

    This pasta sauce is like liquid gold.

    It’s the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I’ve ever had in my entire life.

    This pasta sauce was actually from his great grandmother who came over from Italy. YOU KNOW it’s good when it’s from a legit Italian. Not some Chef Boyardee character.

    The secret to this sauce is the simmering process.

    Low and slow, baby. That’s how all the flavors develop and marry one another in a sweet, luscious concoction.

    If you want to taste what the Italians are so blessed with over in Italy, I suggest you give this pasta sauce a try. You won’t ever go back to your plain ‘ol marinara that you thought was good. This sauce here is genius.

    And genuine.

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it!

    Don’t hate on great grandma’s pasta sauce

    As you can see in the comments section below, there was some haterade on this pasta sauce.

    There is a multitude of ways to make pasta sauce. I am not claiming this is THE right and ONLY way to make it.

    This is how his family makes it.

    If this isn’t the way “your” Italian grandmother or mother or whatever makes it…please don’t yell at me and tell me so.

    Recipes are passed down from generations for a reason.

    Every recipe is different. Every recipe is modified for each family.

    There no “right” way to make something. That is why recipes bring such joy in the kitchen; they can be changed up.

    I’m bringing this up because of comments I’ve gotten about this recipe and thus have turned off commenting for that very reason.

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it!

    This pasta sauce is so easy to make!

    You literally need the most basic of ingredients:

    • Ground beef
    • Tomato puree
    • Garlic
    • Spices
    • Fresh basil
    • Water

    Can I freeze this pasta sauce?

    To be honest, I haven’t tried to freeze this before but I know others who have and it’s fine! I would put it in one of those plastic takeout containers and reheat on the stovetop (like defrost it then plop it into a saucepan).

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it!

    Can this pasta sauce be made in the slow cooker?

    Technically, yes, because the idea is to cook it low and slow. I haven’t done it myself but I know others have done it so I’d put it on low for 3-4 hours!

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it!

    So many great recipes that you could use great grandma’s pasta sauce recipe in:

    Grab the recipe for great grandma’s pasta sauce below and be prepared to get wrapped up in comfort!

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it!

    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce has been passed down through the generations and it originated from my husband's Italian great great grandmother. It is the most delicious, rich, flavorful, pasta sauce I've ever had in my entire life and I can't wait for you to try it! #pastasauce #greatgrandma #bestpastasauce

    4.9 from 58 votes
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    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce

    If you want to taste what the Italians are so blessed with over in Italy, I suggest you give this pasta sauce a try. You won’t ever go back to your plain ‘ol marinara that you thought was good. This sauce here is beyond genuine and you will love it!
    Prep Time: 10 mins
    Cook Time: 2 hrs
    Total Time: 2 hrs 10 mins
    Course: Main Course, Main Entree
    Cuisine: Italian
    Servings (adjustable, but please note that results, timing, and cookware may vary when adjusting servings): 6
    Calories: 263kcal
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    Ingredients

    • 1 lb 80/20 ground beef OR 90/10 ground beef
    • 1: 6- oz can tomato paste
    • 6 oz water
    • 1: 24- oz jar tomato puree
    • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
    • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
    • Pinch of dried oregano
    • Pinch of onion powder
    • Pinch of garlic powder
    • Handful of fresh basil, chopped
    • Salt and pepper, to taste

    Instructions

    • In a large stockpot, saute garlic until soft and fragrant in 2 tbsp. of olive oil, about 2 minutes.
    • Throw your meat in with the garlic and brown until meat has been thoroughly cooked through, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Pour in the tomato paste, tomato puree, and seasoning, including the fresh basil and sugar. Stir to mix well. With the 6 oz. can from the tomato paste, fill that with water and pour it in the stockpot as well.
    • Let mixture simmer, uncovered, for 2 or more hours (the longer the better, but minimum 2 hours), stirring occasionally.
    • Serve hot over fresh pasta.

    Video

    Notes

    A lot of people have asked about freezing this. I have not personally done this myself but I believe if you freeze this in an airtight container or a jar, it will be ok for up to 2 months. Do not freeze it immediately after making it. You'll want it to cool to room temperature before putting the jar or container in the freezer to prevent cracking.
    On making this in the slow cooker: I've never made this in the slow cooker before, however, I believe it's pretty do-able. This is what I would do: brown your meat, put it in the insert of the crockpot, then add all the other ingredients, stir, cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or high for 1-2 hours.
    Nutrition Facts
    Great Grandma's Pasta Sauce
    Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
    Calories 263 Calories from Fat 81
    % Daily Value*
    Fat 9g14%
    Carbohydrates 24g8%
    Fiber 5g20%
    Sugar 15g17%
    Protein 23g46%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    *Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

    Photography by Jesse Reilly

  • 287 Comments
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    Comments

  • Gail says:

    I Did this recipe in the slow cooker. I did as Julie suggested and cooked the meat and the garlic first added all the ingredients in the slow cooker then add the meat stirred and cooked it for just over four hours on low. It is delicious!

  • Gail says:

    Slow cooker version at four hours and 15 minutes on low. It is delicious.

  • SharonHonker (dissapointed) says:

    My great grandma is dead.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      i’m sorry to hear that

      • SharonHonker (dissapointed) says:

        Your apology won’t bring her back Julie

        • Grandmother 2 times says:

          thats not very nice, we understand an apology won’t bring her back but julie was just trying to be nice. Don’t be so rude

  • Randy says:

    Can I buy tomato puree in a grocery store?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      yes

  • Robert D Batman says:

    I LIKE THE WAY YOU THINK. I ALSO LIKE THIS PASTA SAUCE.

  • Alyssa says:

    I can’t believe people can be so particularly nasty and mean about a recipe. I happen to LOVE this recipe and it’s been my go to sauce for months now. I simmer it all day (bc I can! ) and I love the way the house smells warm and cozy. It’s absolute comfort food for cold winter nights. Thanks for sharing

  • April says:

    I came across this recipe a few years back. It’s my favorite and now only sauce I make! I see you’ve updated with new photos :)
    Any thoughts of how we could adapt for an instant pot?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      personally, i think it’s best low and slow. i don’t think this would work well in an instant pot, to be really honest. it just isn’t one of those recipes that should be made in one cause it already comes together super fast. i feel you’d also probably get a burn warning if this were in the instant pot

      • Jennifer Zavasky says:

        You can use the slow cooker function on the instant pot. It won’t burn

  • Lestina Kennedy says:

    I have made this sauce in the crock pot and freezed it. It works well doing both. My family loves this sauce.

  • Sam says:

    Thanks for this recipe. Sorry for the silly comments.

  • Barbara Karr says:

    Low and slow is my kind of recipe. It’s why I put it in the crockpot. The crockpot does most of the work for me and I get that long slow cooked flavor. If the geat grandmas’ had the advantage of using one they would have loved it. What a rich hearty sauce!!! Thank you for sharing!

  • valarie thomas says:

    Thank you!!! This will be my go to special gravy recipe. I wanted to try it in the instant pot, but I was afraid to wouldn’t come out as good. So I followed your recipe to a T and cooked it slowly, about 4 hours. Amazing! I can never use jar sauce again!

  • Sara says:

    I made this spaghetti sauce today for dinner and it was so good! Thank you!

  • Chris Berini says:

    I am going to try this.recipe next Sunday but with meatballs instead of.hamburger. I cannot find low sodium tomato puree. My plan is to put a can o f San Marzano tomatoes in the food processor. They are very lo n sodium, by the way. If you have.other ideas, please let me know.

    • Chris Berini loves it says:

      The sauce is slow cooking as we speak. It smells and tastes really good. I hope my company loves it. In case there are orhers out there fighting the low sodium battle, Cento tomato products are very low sodium. My new go to tomato products.

      • Gaye says:

        Centro products are great.

  • Ray Q says:

    I received compliments for the sauce, everybody loved it thanks to all that contributed to this great sauce.
    Thanks Ray Q

  • william kirkpatrick says:

    We have a small garden and can 30 to 50 quarts of tomatoes juice per year. By the end of January, we run out and buy Dei Fratelli’s as it tastes like our home grown juice. Lucky for us both your Tomatoes Juice and Vegetable Juice are on sale for (4 for $5). We Will Buy 3Cases (12 48 oz per Case) of each juice to make-it to the end of July ( Last year it was $1 per can, but that’s OK , as your’s is the BEST. Happy New Year. Bill

  • Charles says:

    Great recipe I have made it several times. I once made it without the meat in it and used the sauce for homemade ravioli.

  • Sara L. says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! It was just the tiniest bit too sweet for me, so I cut the sugar to 1 1/2 Tbsp. I also added a chopped onion when I sauteed the garlic. But these are just personal preferences. My husband and I absolutely loved this sauce, and I’ll definitely be making it regularly!

  • Lisa says:

    Hi Julie- I made this sauce for spaghetti today and it was absolutely delicious! I veered off a little, using half ground beef and half Italian sausage and added mushrooms, then tossed a bay leaf in. I made it on the stovetop then let it cook on low in the crockpot for about 4 hours. My husband and son loved it. Thanks for sharing the recipe! I will definitely make this again.

  • Linda says:

    This is an excellent recipe using simple basic ingredients. I only let the sauce simmer for about 1 hour 15 mins as I couldn’t wait for dinner after tasting the sauce. The only thing I did differently was adding a teaspoon of crushed pepper flakes to give it a little kick. Thank you for sharing this awesome recipe.

  • Amanda says:

    I am going to be making this tonight. It sounds delicious. I was wondering how much pasta to use? Hopefully I get an answer before I attempt this for dinner :)

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I usually use 2-2.5 cups of penne or rigatoni. Up to you on pasta shape though.

  • Deborah says:

    I just made this on the stovetop simmering 4 hours. I’m serving it with meatballs as the main dish for a work potluck. I’ve had to make a larger quantity as the crowd is medium sized. My family got to sample it over pasta and they loved it. Simple ingredients and delicious! Thank you.

    • Barbara says:

      I also like meatballs in my sauce,when do put them in ?or can you put them in in at the beginning

  • LaDonna Dixon says:

    Love these simple but delicious ingredients. The recipe is spot on!

    Thank you for common sense cooking!

  • Bonnie says:

    I Added 1.5 onions chopped, 5 cloves fresh garlic, 1/2 cup chopped celery, 2 green peppers 🌶, red wine…about 1 cup…, a dash of cloves, some brown sugar…. and I expect it to be delicious! It is simmering now! Smells great! I think we all have our own special touches when it comes to cooking. Try it you might like it!

  • Mark says:

    Look man , if you don’t like the sauce then that’s you and your opinion for those of us the love food and might I add food keeps you alive. Everyone has their own way of making anything that secret is really their own touch something they change weather small or big it makes it theirs and toale negative comment s about the posting of someone’s trying or favs is just pier disrespectful.

  • Linda says:

    This was one of the most unpleasant tasting tomato sauces ever. We could clearly state this has no ingredients in it related to a bona fied Italian tomato sauce.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      ……..so what does a bona fied Italian tomato sauce contain? I’m sure it contains tomato of some sort..

      • Bebbe says:

        Love your reply!
        This sauce is delicious. ESP with fresh herbs

  • Donna says:

    Sande, I cannot believe how much time and energy you have wasted on slamming someone online because a recipe was not to your satisfaction. Something is clearly lacking in your life- perhaps you should go back to kindergarten where all children learn to get along with others – and while you’re at it, learn how to spell and then visit a psychiatrist. You’re badly in need of one…

  • Mike says:

    I’m sorry, but in Italy they would never add sugar. Instead, finely mince organic carrots and let them simmer and melt into a much more favourable sugar.

  • Reen says:

    Don’t freeze it in a glass jar. Freezing glass is dangerous.

  • Nina J. says:

    Just a question, having a great, grand and mother all Italians. Was there canned/puréed tomatoes in that part of Italy this great-grandma was/is from? Or garlic/onion powder? If true, then it looks like a highly processed meat sauce, taking into consideration that we’re talking about a person’s recipe born at the beginning of last century. No haters please, this is a legitimate question

  • Teresa says:

    this is my go to recipe for sauce. It has never failed me. I love it and it is super easy!!!

  • Joseph Campisi says:

    What with the garlic and onion powder, I don think grandmother would of used that. Sugar, no if you use good can tomatoes you don’t need sugar, if need be use a carrot. Im a84 year old calabrese.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      To each their own, I appreciate your insight. Again, this recipe was passed down and everyone has their own way of making recipes. That is what is special about recipes from generations. Everyone tweaks it. So who knows, maybe this recipe that was passed down was slightly tweaked with the availability of garlic and onion powder and sugar. I don’t understand why you had to mention you’re an 84 year old calabrese. I mean, does that give you more of an authority on Italian pasta sauces? That’s like me saying, “I’m a 33 year old Taiwanese, this is not how you make beef noodle soup.” Recipes are special in their own way and meant to be altered!

  • Emily says:

    This sauce is phenomenal! It is the only sauce my Dad will eat and he hates pasta but now this is the only one he requests me to make out of our entire family who loves to cook Italian dishes!

  • Ana Penkauskas says:

    I made this recipe yesterday and it was so delicious. My husband couldn’t stop raving about it. I did add about a 1/4 cup of red wine and simmered for 5 minutes before I added the liquid. Thank you for the recipe. It will be my go to sauce from now on.

  • Penny says:

    I do catering and when I made lasagna with this sauce they ordered it 3 weeks in a row. I did add bratt burger along with the hamburger and Italian sausage and it was great.

  • Jamie says:

    Quite literally the best sauce I’ve ever had/made.

  • Billie says:

    I just wanted you to know that we have been using your recipe for years. My granddaughter was living with us, as were her brother and Dad. I had her follow all the instructions and it was superb, she felt so accomplished. We did use a little less sugar, we call it Hailey’s pasta sauce! She is pleased that everyone asks her to make her sauce! It has created a family tradition forever! She carefully adds spices and sugar while tasting. Calling either more savory or sweetness. Thank you very much for sharing. Your recipe is used for birthdays and holidays and anytime someone needs to feel good. LIQUID GOLD!

    • Marion zellberg says:

      Liar liar, pants on fire

  • Dottie W. says:

    My Dad made the BEST Italian gravy from a recipe he got from a customer back in 1952. Unfortunately he has passed and the recipe was lost. The taste of this recipe is just about equal to the one I remember. DELICIOUS! Thank you for bringing me back to my childhood and some wonderful memories.

  • Rae Bush says:

    This pasta sauce was delicious. My husband loved it! It’s a keeper recipe for sure!

  • Deborah says:

    The absolute, Best spaghetti sauce my family and I have ever tasted!! Thank you so very much for sharing.

  • Linda says:

    Could someone please convert or what does 1:6oz mean and
    1:24 oz ??
    To us in Australia please
    Many thanks

    • James West says:

      I haven’t made this yet, but what they mean is 1 can of 6 ounce can of tomato paste, and 1 can 24 ounce jar of tomato puree. You can do the conversion of oz to L.

  • Meg says:

    Italians in Italy have no idea what this American spaghetti sauce is

  • Teena walker says:

    I was all set to try this until I read your response to the elderly man. He was merely commenting they used carrots to sweeten the sauce in Calabria. I’m sure he mentioned where he was from so you’d know he’s an Italian. None of the comments left for you were as rude as your comment to him. Please be kinder.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Honestly, you can take my comment how you want; if you won’t make a recipe because you think I was rude to someone, then so be it. I was appreciative of his insight, explained why I thought recipes are tweaked and how they are passed down, and then stated that I don’t think he has the authority because he wrote he’s Calabrian. The way I took his comment was very authoritative, if you didn’t then that’s great! Just like how you took my comment to be rude, when I really wasn’t trying to be.

  • April Elzinga says:

    My husband and I LOVE this recipe!!! This is the only pasta sauce he wants! ☺️Thank you very much for sharing. It’s sooo delicious!!!

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