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!

    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?

    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.

    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 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.

    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!

    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!

    4.92 from 24 votes
    Print

    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
    5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify MealtimeSign up here for all the secrets!

    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*
    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

  • 200 Comments
    Julie Wampler of Table for Two
    Meet The Author: Julie Wampler
    Dinner for Two Cookbook
    Order My Cookbook!

    Dinner for Two

    Leave a Comment

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Comments

  • Aimee @ ShugarySweets says:

    This looks very similar to my grandmother’s recipe! Except she always puts a splash of cold brewed coffee in her sauce. She says it takes the “bite” out of tomatoes. Don’t know if it actually makes a difference, but I do it :)
    Very pretty pictures Julie!!!

    • Julie says:

      Thanks Aimee! The 2 tbsp. of sugar in mine is what takes the “bite” out of the tomatoes. Very cool that there are different ways of doing so – that coffee sounds intriguing!

      • Audrey Kennedy says:

        Hi Julie, I’m dying to try this recipe out as the photos look great! I live in Ireland so can I check ingredients please on off chance you will know what I should look for here? Is tomato paste you speak of sundried tomato paste (we have 190g jars here) and tomato puree (we have 150g tins here so I’m thinking a few of those will equate to 24oz but seems like a lot of purée so want to check I’m on the right track) . You may not know but I thought I’d ask. We have Roma brand here, not sure if you are familiar with these or if it’s what I should add. Thanks a lot!

        • Julie Wampler says:

          Hi! i looked it up on google to see what sundried tomato paste looks like and it seems like it’s the same thing as our tomato paste! the tomato puree – yes, it’s a lot but it’s the base of the sauce so you should be on the right track!

  • carrie says:

    We have a few family holiday specials too. This looks awesome

  • Loretta | A Finn In The Kitchen says:

    This is totally why I want my first international vacation to be in Italy. The FOOD! Now I’m just trying to figure out how I can work this into my menu this week.

    You’re very lucky to be marrying into this. Think of all the future potential! I have to say I’m a little jealous…

  • Villy @ For the love of Feeding says:

    What a coincidence! This is exactly how I cook this type of sauce! Only difference is I also include a cinnamon stick cause I love the smell!

  • amy @ fearless homemaker says:

    you just can’t beat homemade pasta sauce in my book – paired with a big ol’ bowl of pasta, it’s the perfect comfort food.

  • Michelle H. says:

    I just want to rip off a piece of some warm buttered italian bread and dip it in the screen.
    OH MAN that looks yummy!!

  • Tracey says:

    Mmmmm, that looks so good Julie! I’m always making quick and easy pasta sauces because I’m short on time but I have got to try this low and slow method asap!

  • Rachel @ Baked by Rachel says:

    As much as I don’t like tomatoes, true Italians really do know what they’re doing.

  • Alaina @ Fabtastic Eats says:

    Oh my! There really is nothing better than homemade sauce! I always try to keep sauce on hand for last minute dinners..so do you know how this jars? If I was to seal it with the hot water method?! I’d love to have homemade sauce on hand for those nights! :) p.s. you lucky lady to be joining an Italian family! Keep sharing those recipes! Haha

    • Julie says:

      I don’t know how I’d jar it, but I usually just put it in a mason jar anyway and keep it in the fridge for a few weeks – if it lasts that long!

  • Kathryn says:

    Man I wish I had an Italian great grandmother – this sauce looks immense!

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch} says:

    Love that color Julie!

  • Tara @ Chip Chip Hooray says:

    Heck. Yes. Three cheers for our Italian guys!! Heehee. :)

  • Elizabeth @Food Ramblings says:

    Thanks for sharing this special recipe!

  • Erin @ The Spiffy Cookie says:

    I so rarely make my own sauce but I will definitely try this when I do!

  • Meagan @ A Zesty Bite says:

    You can never go wrong with homemade sauce!

  • Hayley @ The Domestic Rebel says:

    Oh my heavens. I’m totally jelly you’re getting married into an Italian family. And that Jason cooked you this pasta. That’s love, giiiirl. Forreals.

  • nicole @ I am a Honey Bee says:

    you have to make sauce low and slow. the best sauce is from grandmas and grandpa’s. They know their stuff!

  • Erin | The Law Students Wife says:

    Marrying into an Italian family = BEST EVER! My in-laws are 100% Italian, and all I can say is “homemade ravioli”. Spoiled for life and for the better.
    I’m so impressed–and grateful–that your family to be is so open with their culinary traditions/secrets. I love to make family favorites and share them too. Thanks!

  • Ben says:

    Looking forward to giving this a try!

  • Kristen M. says:

    This looks so scrumptious! My husband is half Italian and comes from a big Italian family in MD but I got jipped. He can’t cook any of his family’s authentic dishes. But no I am not bitter (only I am a little). Thanks for sharing this family recipe!

    • Julie says:

      LOL this made me laugh. You got jipped, hahaha – go talk to some of his relatives!! Get those recipes! :)

  • Carla's Confections says:

    I am always looking for new ways to make pasta dishes. I am definitely going to need to make this one soon. Sounds perfect!

  • Bev @ Bev Cooks says:

    Oh, oops. How did my face end up in that. Huh.

  • Annie @ Annie's Noms says:

    Oh wow this looks delicious! I’m always looking for new pasta sauce recipes and I am going to have to give this a try :) I’ve only recently come across your blog, but I love it, it has a beautiful layout and your recipes are amazing :)

    • Julie says:

      Aw thanks, Annie! That’s so sweet of you :) I look forward to sharing more with you! xo

  • claire @ the realistic nutritionist says:

    I would drink that through a large straw. OMG. please make this for me when I come to your house. which I am? I’ll bring wine?

    • Julie says:

      Omg, done and done!! For serious.

  • nancy @ adore to adodrn says:

    My mouth is watering. I love pasta too…and a simple and classic recipe like this is always tasty. YUM!
    xo,
    nancy

  • Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts says:

    YUM!! I need to somehow get into an Italian family. Should have thought ahead when I picked my husband.

  • Mimi @ Culinary Couture says:

    I LOVE italian food! My mouth is salivating just looking at this!

  • Jackie @ Domestic Fits says:

    Nothing better than a Handed Down family recipe! Love this!

  • JotaSousa says:

    Ohhhhh lucky girl!!
    You have to share all you know about pastas!! ;)
    And this sauce…. looks amazing!

  • Katie @ Blonde Ambition says:

    My mom’s family is Italian as well, so she ALWAYS makes pasta on all the big holidays! Welcome to the club :)

  • Angie @ Big Bear's Wife says:

    I am so happy that you posted this because I NEED to teach myself how to make Pasta Sauce! I only use canned right now……..I know.. I know… bad bad me. But this looks wonderful! AND no pepper and onions! So hubby can eat it! (onion powered is ok lol)

    Ps. I too wish I could live off of pasta, rice, and cookies!

  • Homemade pasta sauce is the best best best! I am craving pasta, and tomato sauce.

  • Deb says:

    I have been making my own pasta sauce for 40 years, never the same way twice and it always comes up lacking something. So i am in pursuit of my favorite recipe for keeps. There is not much to your version, a pinch of the classics, lots of garlic and sorry, its a peeve of mine, s and p to taste. Could you be more specific? Is your pinch 1/8 tsp? I love tomatoes and im thinking the pleasure of this sauce lies in simplicity, no bitter over cooked herbs, just delicious tomatoe goodness. Do you have a favorite brand of canned tomatoes. Thank You for a great blog!

    • Julie says:

      Salt and pepper really is to taste, though. 1 tsp might be too salty for someone and not enough for someone else. I’d start with 1/8 of a tsp for salt and pepper and increase if it’s not right for you :) I use San Marzano tomato paste and tomato purée. Hope it works out for you! Thanks for reading :)

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious says:

    Recipes that are passed down are the best! And this sauce looks amazing. I’m totally going to double this batch and freeze it so I can have it ready whenever I’m having a hankering for Italian food! YUM!

  • amanda @ fake ginger says:

    I would eat that with a spoon. No pasta, just give me a spoon and maybe a hunk of bread to sop up whatever the spoon can’t get. It looks awesome!

  • Cassie | Bake Your Day says:

    This looks simply perfect. An Italian family, I bet they have some amazing culinary secrets!

  • Nicole @ Lapetitebaker says:

    Passed down recipes are always the best. And this pasta sauce is definite proof of that. YUM!

  • Megan @ Country Cleaver says:

    Give me a straw- I’m gonna drink that down!!

  • Ali | Gimme Some Oven says:

    Oh my goodness — these photos are stunning!!! And this sauce sounds absolutely amazing. YUM!

  • Lynna says:

    UGH. I love pasta. I love this.

  • BETTY says:

    The only thing we can’t duplicate in this recipe is “Grandma’s love”. Thanks for sharing.

  • Linda | The Urban Mrs says:

    You are one lucky lady! This recipe looks so simple, but I believe they’re so rich in flavors. I should start making this for big family dinner. It must be awesome, especially since I love Italian food. Thanks for sharing your soon-to-be family’s recipe!

  • Ronja @ a dash of faith says:

    Homemade pasta sauce is certainly the best thing. Thanks for sharing this recipe, it sure looks delicious!

  • Jen @ Savory Simple says:

    There is never a good reason to make pasta sauce when homemade versions like this one are so simple and delicious! Looks wonderful.

  • Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain says:

    This sauce looks epic! I’m always on the hunt for the perfect pasta sauce and this looks like a winner. Can’t wait to try!

  • Mona says:

    The canning thing: Get the water in the canner going. I would put the hot pasta sauce into the sterilized jars, top with the lids and rings. Lower the jars into the canner and bring water to a boil. Boil for 20 minutes. You should be safe!

  • Ashley says:

    I think I’m going to head to the grocery store to try this, hope it’s not an epic fail…! :)

    PS- I’m assuming since you brown the meat in the pot you don’t drain it…? And also can I use garlic in the containers that has already been minced? The store I have to use today (not my preference) may not have garlic cloves..

    • Julie says:

      Hi Ashley! It’s a simple sauce – it won’t be an epic fail, at all! Don’t drain it – the fatty goodness (it’s not that much, I promise) gives the sauce flavor! And yes, you can use the garlic in the containers as a substitute for garlic cloves.

  • Nicole @ The Marvelous Misadventures of a Foodie says:

    I right there with you on the pasta thing Julie – it is my absolute fav and I could eat it for like every meal (okay…I take that back, I need to mix in some Mexican food too haha).

    I love that this is his family recipe – that is so awesome! :)

  • Dianna Belle says:

    They don’t do the Christmas Eve Seafood supper?

  • Erin @ Texanerin Baking says:

    Yeah, Italian recipes from real Italian people! That’s how I feel too. I am definitely going to try this!

  • 5 Hassle-Free Ways to Simplify Mealtime