The Country Cook: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

The title of this recipe is Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, but really it's great for any type of pasta. And like all great recipes, this one came to me by way of a friend. Our kids were hanging out playing at the park, and Megan (the friend from above), tells me about a delicious pasta sauce that was given to her by a friend named Lynn. Now, you know a recipe is gonna be good when it's coming from a friend of a friend of a friend. A bad recipe usually begins and ends with the user. But good ones float amongst friends like hot gossip. Not that any of y'all should be gossipping. Cause, ya know, gossip only leads to trouble. I ain't preachin', just sayin'. But it reminds me of one of the lines from one of my favorite movies, Steel Magnolias. Y'all know the one I'm talking 'bout, right?  "Well, you know what they say: if you don't have anything nice to say about anybody, come sit by me! " Oh Clairee - I just loved her character. Anyhow, I'm gettin' off track here. Back to the sauce. This sauce has a little secret ingredient up it's sleeve (like all good handed-down recipes). And it really is so delicious and comes out right every time!
1-2 pounds ground beef or sausage (see notes below)
1 large green pepper, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
3 (15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 tbsp. grape jelly
2 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. Italian Seasoning
2 tsp. dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
I'm using jarred garlic and pre-shredded Parmesan cheese. But if you have fresh garlic on hand and prefer to shred your own Parmesan cheese, please feel free to use that. 

Now y'all might laugh, but I knew this recipe was going to be great when I saw there was grape jelly in it. Do y'all remember those Party Meatballs? The ones with the grape jelly in the sauce? I knew how good grape jelly could be as a secret ingredient. Now, obviously, you don't taste it as a separate ingredient. But most Italian cooks will tell you they put a pinch of sweetness in their sauces. Sometimes it's sugar or brown sugar. In this case, it's grape jelly!
In a large pot, brown and crumble ground beef along with the onions and green pepper. Season with salt & pepper.
Drain excess grease.
 Put beef back into the pot. Add in diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste.
 Give it all a good stir. Then add in grape jelly, Parmesan cheese, minced garlic, Italian seasoning and dried basil.
 Stir then cover and allow mixture to simmer gently for at least 30 minutes.
Or, you can put it all into a slow cooker and let it simmer on low for several hours.
 This sauce really just gets better and better the longer it simmers.
And leftovers freeze beautifully. This makes quite a bit of sauce so it's good for a small crowd. 
I have had these pasta plates since I got married. They were a wedding gift and we still love to use them!

Cook's Note:  If you prefer more sauce than meat (like I do), then just use one pound of beef. If you like it really meaty then use two pounds of beef. The original recipe calls for sausage (one package hot, and one package sweet). You can also use ground turkey or pork. It is a very adaptable recipe. And, if you have it on hand, instead of the dried basil, the original recipe suggested using 12 leaves of fresh basil, cut into ribbons, and added in 5 minutes before serving.



  1. This looks sooooo Yummy! I have a ton of fresh tomatoes from my garden I'am going to try it them in stead of can! LOVE your site! Foound it yesterday on pinterest and now I'am addicted! Thanks JL

  2. Looking for a yummy sauce to use with baked ziti. I'll use Italian sausage instead of ground beef. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Yum! Nothing beats homemade sauce!!!!! This is making me very hungry.

  4. Wow, grape jelly! I've never seen that. Looks delishh, and I can't wait to try!

  5. I never would have guessed that grape jelly was the secret ingredient! I'll have to remember this!

  6. I really want to try this, your spaghetti sauce looks soo good. Nothing beats homemade! My husband would love this recipe.

  7. I am Italian and make this sauce nearly everyday. To make authentic Italian sauce omit the grape jelly and Basil. Use Italiano Spice rather then just plain Italian as the Italiano has all the spices you need. CLUB HOUSE makes both Spices but Italiano has the most spices. Add a small touch of ground cloves to bring the spices together. Use Ground Bay Leaves that you can find at a Italian Store. If not, then use whole dried Bay leaves (3). Once Sauce is done remove them from sauce. I add some Balsamic Vinegar to mine but it is optional.

  8. Another sauce recipe to add to my collection, you can never have too many! Thanks!
    Yep, I've used grape jelly in recipes, it's really pretty tasty. You ought to see all the weird looks I get when I tell people to use grape jelly, way too funny!

  9. Grape Jelly!!! Totally gonna have to try it.

  10. Brandie Ann - I'm here to ask you to stop by my blog and pick up "The Addictive Blog Award"....along with the 'relaxed' instructions. =) You have an addictive blog, there's no doubt about it! Thanks for all you share here to brighten our days.

  11. I used my own homemade grape jelly... Great addition to the sauce...

  12. This was delicious!! But after I put the sauce on top of the spaghetti noodles, water begins to puddle under the noodles. Any advice on how to avoid that from happening? I put my noodles in a collander and drained all the water off the noddles. I think it's coming from the sauce and not the noodles.

    1. This happens to me quite often as well no matter what type of sauce I use! I hope someone can shed some light on the issue for us!

    2. There are a couple things you can do. Basically, the water is the condensation from the steam coming off the hot pasta. Drain pasta well in a colander and toss a few times. Then put it back in the empty pot you just cooked it in on the stove. The remaining heat from the pot should help remove any excess water that is still hanging onto the noodles. Take a cup of the sauce and stir that in with the noodles, then serve as usual. Hopefully that helps!

  13. Your Homemade Spaghetti Sauce recipe was so good. I would never have thought to use grape jelly. I usually use plain liquid stevia but next time I make your ground beef recipe - I will try some grape stevia. I loved the flavor!

  14. When using dried spices, roll it between your palms. This helps to release the flavor.


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