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Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipe

Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipe

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 YIELD: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


  • 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.

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

Reviews for Family-Favorite Pasta Sauce

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Reviewed Feb. 28, 2015

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

Reviewed Dec. 25, 2014

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

Reviewed Sep. 12, 2014 Edited Sep. 2, 2015

"Very good flavor! I used crushed tomatoes instead of diced because I am not a tomato chunk person. I did not have Italian tomato paste so I just used regular and added more Italian seasoning. In place of water, I used half beef stock and half red wine. I had a mix of Italian sausage and pork sausage (just what I had on hand). I did not need to use any oil to brown the sausage - it wasn't necessary for the type of sausage. I also added an 8oz can of tomato sauce since I like it saucy. I did not have any parsley so I just added a little more Italian seasoning and coarse ground pepper. I had some fresh mushrooms so I sliced and threw them in with the onion and garlic. This will probably replace my previous favorite as my sauce of choice. The brown sugar and balsamic vinegar make it very flavorful."

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."

Reviewed Sep. 7, 2014

"Substitute for turkey Italian sausage. Company worthy."

Reviewed Jul. 15, 2014

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

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."

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!!!"

Reviewed Jun. 23, 2013

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

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."

Reviewed Feb. 21, 2012

"Delicious and simple! I like to use petite diced tomatoes in mine to make it a little less chunky."

Reviewed Feb. 6, 2012

"I make this all the time! I change out from using sausage or ground turkey (which ever I have at the time). And I use the hunts pasta sauce, since my husband has to be the pickiest eater out there."

Reviewed Jan. 15, 2012

"This sauce was very tasty. I loved the flavor. My family liked it and ate it but they said to just stick to the canned Hunt's spaghetti sauce instead. I still may make this once in awhile though for something different or maybe even try the sauce in lasagna and see if the family likes it better combined with all the cheeses. I used mild Italian sausage and crushed tomatoes. Apparently the critics are tougher at my house. I thoroughly enjoyed it though. I thought it was delicious!"

Reviewed Dec. 6, 2011

"I have discovered I am a 'Snob' when it comes to a red sauce. This is the only red sauce that I have ever liked!!!! It is easy to make & has the most fantastic flavor - it will forever be a staple on our menu!"

Reviewed Dec. 2, 2011

"I love this pasta sauce. It is so flavourful. I have made it several times, scramble frying the italian sausage or slicing it thin."

Reviewed Nov. 18, 2011

"my husband and I love this pasta sauce recipe. Easy, tasty and wanting to do it again soon!"

Reviewed Nov. 14, 2011

"Best pasta sauce! Everyone loved it!"

Reviewed Oct. 29, 2011

"This sauce is quite simply - "DELICIOUS"! We loved the taste. Used Johnsonville Hot Italian Sausage links which gave it a nice little kick. So easy to make and definitely a keeper."

Reviewed Oct. 17, 2011

"Excellent...The brown sugar and vinegar addition really set this apart. My only changes were that I used crushed tomatoes instead of dice, and less sausage for more saucier sauce. Also, I added a little red wine as well. Very tangy, and downright delicious..A keeper : )"

Reviewed Oct. 5, 2011

"I thought I had my favorite spaghetti sauce recipe....until I tried this one! Wow!! A new favorite is crowned in our family."

Reviewed Sep. 27, 2011

"This was the first time I've made my own sauce. It was excellent! No more jar sauce for me."

Reviewed Sep. 21, 2011

"Used Turkey Breakfast Sausage that I seasoned to become Italian Sausage and I cooked it semi-covered. Turned out very good - one of the best tomato-based pasta sauces we have tried yet."

Reviewed Sep. 21, 2011

"This pasta sauce was excellent. I added more Italian seasoning and pepper and I only had regular tomato paste. Served with garlic toast and a salad. No complaints from the family, so this is a keeper."

Reviewed Sep. 9, 2011

"Oh this was so good! I struggle to find a good pasta sauce since my husband will not eat ANYTHING with tomato chunks in it! The changes I made was I bought fire roasted tomatoes, and to hide them in the sauce I put them in the food processor first! My husband ate 2 huge bowls and never knew how much tomoatoes were in it!! My kids who are 3 and 1 also gobbled this right up!"

Reviewed Aug. 1, 2011

"Delicious! I didn't make with italian sausage, but still turned out fantastic!"

Reviewed Jul. 30, 2011

"Delicious! My family absolutely loves it! I used hot italian sausage and dried parsley."

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Wine Pairings

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

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