Italian Meat Sauce

This is my go-to meat sauce for all things Italian. I use it (with some variations) in lasagna, on pasta, in calzones, on buns for sandwiches… you name it. It uses the simplest of ingredients, goes together easy, and makes the house smell wonderful.


This makes a pretty big batch of Italian meat sauce, but since it has so many uses you won’t have any problems using it up. Just follow the recipe section below for adding in the ingredients for each way you can use this sauce. You want a thicker sauce for some dishes, and a thinner sauce with vegetables for others.

Italian Meat Sauce

Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8 -12
Author Mike


For the meat

  • 2 pounds ground meat for lasagna I use 1 pound Italian sausage and 1 pound ground beef, but for other uses I use 2 pounds Italian sausage
  • 1 large white onion diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic minced

For calzones, pasta and sandwiches, add:

  • 1 red bell pepper chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper chopped
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms sliced

For the sauce (use half the amounts below if using for lasagna)

  • 2 6 ounce cans tomato paste
  • 2 16 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Hot sauce to taste
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 cups water


  • Crumble the meat(s) into a large pot or Dutch oven and brown over medium high heat. Drain fat if desired.
  • Add the onion and cook until softened. If making the sauce for something other than lasagna, also add in the peppers and mushrooms.
  • Add the garlic and cook another minute.
  • Add in all of the sauce ingredients.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, 1-2 hours.
  • Continue cooking with lid off for another hour, adding a bit more water if the sauce is too thick.

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