Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipe
Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipe photo by Taste of Home
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Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipe

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This hearty Italian-style meat sauce has a sweetness that I really love. It’s the recipe I use for spaghetti, lasagna and gnocci, which I bake with mozzarella and Parmesan on top.—Jody L Bober, St Clairsville, Ohio
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Cook: 1-3/4 hours
MAKES:8 servings
TOTAL TIME: Prep: 30 min. Cook: 1-3/4 hours
MAKES: 8 servings


  • 1 pound bulk Italian sausage
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 can (6 ounces) Italian tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
  • Hot cooked pasta of your choice

Nutritional Facts

3/4 cup (calculated without pasta): 169 calories, 9g fat (3g saturated fat), 23mg cholesterol, 884mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate (7g sugars, 3g fiber), 8g protein .


  1. In a large saucepan, cook the sausage, onion and garlic in oil over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain.
  2. Stir in the tomatoes, tomato paste, water, parsley, brown sugar, vinegar and seasonings. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 1-1/2 hours or until flavors are blended. Serve with pasta.
    Freeze option: Freeze cooled sauce in freezer containers. To use, partially thaw in refrigerator overnight. Heat through in a saucepan, stirring occasionally and adding a little water if necessary.
    Yield: 8 servings.
Originally published as Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce in Taste of Home August/September 2011, p21

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

Enjoy this recipe with a medium-bodied red wine such as Chianti, Sangiovese, Malbec or Zinfandel.

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habenaroman 221561
Reviewed Feb. 28, 2015

"Very good, versatile. Especially liked the addition of balsamic vinegar."

vmesenbr 215917
Reviewed Dec. 25, 2014

"I love the flavor of this pasta sauce! I use it in my lasagna."

devonitz1 174423
Reviewed Sep. 12, 2014 Edited Sep. 9, 2016

"Very good! The brown sugar and balsamic vinegar make it very flavorful. This is a great recipe as written and is a good base for variations. I make this all the time and have settled on this variation as our favorite: I use hot Italian sausage, casings removed and browned (I do not use oil since not needed for this type of sausage). The hot Italian sausage gives it a little more kick (but only use if you like spicy). I add one finely diced carrot and one finely diced celery stalk with the onions and garlic. If I have fresh mushrooms, I slice them and add with other vegetables. In place of water, I used half beef or reduced sodium chicken broth and half red wine. I put the wine and broth in before all the tomatoes and sauce and let it reduce down in the meat and veges. Then I add the tomatoes, sauce and seasoning. I like sauce, so I use one 28oz can of crushed tomatoes, two 14.5oz cans diced tomatoes with seasonings, one 6oz can tomato paste, and one 8oz can of tomato sauce. I add more seasoning sometimes using packaged spaghetti sauce seasoning mix (usually two packets). I use dried parsley since I rarely have fresh on hand. I still add the basil and Italian seasonings even if I use the packaged seasoning mix. It just seems that more seasoning is needed for the quantity of sauce. This is the only sauce I make now - the brown sugar and balsamic vinegar really make a difference in the flavor (along with the red wine!). Using the crushed tomatoes in addition to the diced tomatoes makes it both chunky and saucy!"

dianec713 163197
Reviewed Sep. 11, 2014

"Very good. I'm not a huge sausage lover, but this recipe is delicious. I did rinse the meat after browning and added a couple of fresh chopped tomatoes. Will make this again."

MissMarieL 173437
Reviewed Sep. 7, 2014

"Substitute for turkey Italian sausage. Company worthy."

lmmanda 114814
Reviewed Jul. 15, 2014

"This was a really good sauce. I substituted turkey Italian sausage like several other reviewers did."

joedebfry 114791
Reviewed Jul. 13, 2014

"I used turkey Italian sausage but otherwise followed the recipe. I made this ahead and froze it to serve to the grandkids. All the kids loved it! Personally, I prefer an unsweetened sauce, so I gave it a 4-star rating. I'll certainly make it again for the grandkids, though."

shecooksalot 101546
Reviewed Mar. 11, 2014

"Really yummy!! Used turkey Italian sausage instead of regular and didn't use garlic (didn't have any), but I really like how chunky and hearty this was. My kids, who aren't big pasta eaters, really loved this too. We'll be making this again and again!!!"

captgeo5 105519
Reviewed Jun. 23, 2013

"totally and awesome recipe , a must make , the flavors are great , i severed over buttered noodles"

Pings pot 174421
Reviewed Mar. 18, 2013

"My family really likes this recipe. It was a little bit oily so next time I will probably not use any oil to cook the sausage and see how that goes."

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