Great Grandma’s Pasta Sauce

  • 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!

    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.

    What makes great grandma’s pasta sauce so special?

    Every Christmas and every get together, Jason’s 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 Jason’s 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.

    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.

    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 Jason’s 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.

    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.

    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).

    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!

    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!

    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 Jason's great grandmother who came over from Italy.

    5 from 9 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: 4 -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. 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*
    Total Fat 9g 14%
    Total Carbohydrates 24g 8%
    Dietary Fiber 5g 20%
    Sugars 15g
    Protein 23g 46%
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
    *Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.
  • 157 Comments
    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
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    Comments

  • Sue McCrimmon says:

    Julie, Sounds good. I, too am JUST a housewife, but I somehow manage to keep my family fed and happy. I appreciate people like you who are willing to share family recipes.
    To Sande: I have no idea why you are so bitter, but I will pray for you. By the way, it’s “gush” all over you. I don’t believe there is such a word as “guzz”, but I could be wrong. I’ll have to look it up.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Thanks, Sue!!

  • Jennifer says:

    This is exactly how my mom and her mom makes their sauce! I LOVE it! Sorry for the mean comments you received, so uncalled for.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Yay! So glad to hear this!

  • DeeAnne Hedrick DeDeurwaerder says:

    You are so right… it’s simply delicious!!! Thank you for the time to put this recipe on here for All to enjoy!
    Sincerely,
    DeeAnne Hedrick DeDeurwaerder

  • Cindy McCampbell says:

    Hi Julie,
    I have always used canned spaghetti sauce until I made some from scratch. It was good but I want something better! When I found this I thought maybe this is it!! When I made the sauce before I left out the tomato paste and I used tomato sauce not puree. Maybe that’s what’s missing.

    My husband likes it thick and rich! So I’m going to try this. I don’t think I could make a better one.

    I’m sorry people were so ugly about this recipe! It seems like everywhere you go people always have to tell you their way! It would be a boring world of everyone made the same anything!!! Well I say live a little and try something new! You never know it might better!!

    I’m really interested in your cooking for two cookbook! It’s just my husband and I and I’m always ready to learn more about cooking!!! 😉 Does Amazon have it where you can get a feel of what’s in the book? I have a very picky hubby unfortunately! He doesn’t like cheese or anything creamy. Can you believe that????

    Anyway, I will make this sauce and I’m definitely going to look through your recipes!

    Have a terrific day!!! 😘

  • Deborah says:

    Hi sorry for the stupid question….this sauce looks amazing but would I ruin the recipe if i made it without the sugar and with some red pepper flakes instead? My family normally prefers spicy over sweet when I purchase canned sauces so thought I would ask….

    • Julie Wampler says:

      You wouldn’t ruin it but I do believe that it’ll be very tart for you without it. Try it without and see what happens; at least you can adjust sugar to your own taste! And yes, red pepper flakes would be great.

  • KIM COMEAU says:

    Absolutely Delish! And super easy. The hardest part is waiting for it to be done!

  • KaLynn says:

    I have been making this for several years and it is a favorite in our house. I actually double the batch every time now. I brown the ground beef, throw everything in the crockpot, and cook on low for hours. I’ve found that it also freezes well. We like to have this over the Ronzoni veggie pasta.

  • Michelle Lord says:

    This sauce is so simple and basic. Now before you freak out and assume I’m hating on it, what I’m trying to say is that it’s versatile. Where I’m from we would call it Sunday sauce. Leave out the meat and add sausage and you have one meal. Leave out all meat and you have a base for lasagna. With some simple modifications (and zero cooking time) you can use it on pizza. I suggest always using San Marzano tomatoes or anything labeled plum tomatoes. It’s essential. I was so suprised by the comments and the rudeness. It was, however, a pleasant reminder how lucky I am to have had this sauce in my repertoire my whole life. I knew families that called it gravy but in reality it’s sugo or ragù. Use fresh ingredients if you have them but there’s no shame in using dried especially oregano. There are literally thousands of pasta sauces and tomato based ones are only the beginning. Good luck and enjoy this lovely sauce!

  • Casey Herek says:

    Absolutely delicious and kid approved!
    I threw everything in the InstantPot on ‘slow cooker’ function for 4 hours. After 4 hours, I used a potato masher to mash all the ground beef (did not brown beforehand) and then cooked sauce another 30 minutes. The beef was super soft and incorporated perfectly into the sauce, not chunky but instead very fine bits of ground beef remained. It was incredible and so easy this way.
    The sauce is garlicky, so maybe half the garlic next time (I love it garlicky but kids wanted less next time) and there is a sweetness to this sauce which is why I think my kids LOVED this so much. Excellent recipe!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      So glad to hear this! I’m glad you were able to make this in the Instant Pot!

  • April says:

    I discovered your recipe a few years ago, and it was a hit from the very first try. I’ve made it so many times I don’t even need to read your recipe! I use it for my lasagna, and any other pasta dishes we eat. Since I started making this my husband won’t eat sauce from a jar. The only things I’ve done a little different has been kinda cheating, if I’m in a hurry I use the already minced garlic in a jar and the stir in paste basil. It’s excellent each and every time! Thanks for sharing.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      This makes me so happy to read. Thank you so much!

  • Juliette says:

    Made this recipe last night and my fiancé and father-in-law both loved it!! I thought it was quite delicious myself. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Erin says:

    Making this tonight. We’re a bunch of oregano lovers, so my pinch was quite large. I can’t wait to see how it turns out! I used dried oregano, from my garden last year. After reading Jason’s story about his family in the comments I like to think his great grandmother would approve. It’s what I have on hand and it’s my most cost effective way to get herbs, very true to her recipe creation… I hope! I love that you haven’t changed a thing and I can’t wait to taste some of your family’s history. Thank you for sharing it with us all!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      I hope you enjoyed! Thank you so much!

  • Jo Gittos says:

    Delicious I added a green capsicum plus a handful of chopped mint as well. Family really enjoyed it.

  • Dorian says:

    Great recipe. I made it with fresh tomatoes and was the same (… even better) like the one we had in Italy a couple of years ago. Thank you for sharing.

  • Nicole says:

    Truly Delicious

  • Andrea Materazzi Johnson says:

    I THINK JASON AND I HAVE THE SAME FAMILY! MY MOM’S /GRANDMA’S SAUCE IS ALMOST IDENTICAL. SOOOOOO GOOD!

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Haha too funny!

  • Jill says:

    Do you drain the ground beef?

    • Julie Wampler says:

      No, I didn’t but if you find it to be too fatty, you can either switch to 90/10 next time (or something leaner) or skim the fat off the top.

  • Kathy says:

    Thank you. This might be just the recipe I’ve been looking for about 50 yrs. Wish me luck.

    • Julie Wampler says:

      Oh! I hope you love!

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