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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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habenaroman User ID: 7905288 221561
Reviewed Feb. 28, 2015

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

vmesenbr User ID: 3690456 215917
Reviewed Dec. 25, 2014

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

devonitz1 User ID: 5693225 174423
Reviewed Sep. 12, 2014 Edited Oct. 26, 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. Sometimes I double the brown sugar and balsamic since I essentially doubled the sauce with adding both crushed and diced tomatoes. 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 User ID: 2479405 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 User ID: 7839084 173437
Reviewed Sep. 7, 2014

"Substitute for turkey Italian sausage. Company worthy."

lmmanda User ID: 1101093 114814
Reviewed Jul. 15, 2014

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

joedebfry User ID: 265172 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 User ID: 5888460 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 User ID: 6856757 105519
Reviewed Jun. 23, 2013

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

Pings pot User ID: 6934086 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."

mnccaleb User ID: 4255057 114789
Reviewed Feb. 21, 2012

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

lgibbs101 User ID: 6051287 176430
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."

obsessedwithfood User ID: 3724663 175097
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!"

DaneMomma User ID: 6198733 101544
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!"

GwenandDirk User ID: 6137089 105518
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."

grammared User ID: 6224160 107402
Reviewed Nov. 18, 2011

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

Mtaylor27 User ID: 6341999 179469
Reviewed Nov. 14, 2011

"Best pasta sauce! Everyone loved it!"

parksville User ID: 1598935 94074
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."

Ambergris User ID: 2845310 160417
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 : )"

cookandbaker User ID: 240219 210046
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."

smstillinger User ID: 3094333 141875
Reviewed Sep. 27, 2011

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

keverwann User ID: 1807985 173435
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."

gatsby018 User ID: 6180206 89701
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."

Rochieleigh User ID: 3728387 141874
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!"

nikschwid User ID: 5576252 105517
Reviewed Aug. 1, 2011

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

amyandpat User ID: 1366669 163195
Reviewed Jul. 30, 2011

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

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