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

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) equals 169 calories, 9 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 23 mg cholesterol, 884 mg sodium, 13 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 8 g 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

Nutritional Facts

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

Medium-Bodied Red Wine

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

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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."

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