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Easy Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe

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If my kids had to pick a favorite dinner, this spaghetti with meat sauce recipe would be it. And while some may not need a recipe for it, when I started adding “activity night meals” to the Weeknight Dinner Club, I knew we need an easy meat sauce recipe that takes advantage of smart kitchen shortcuts to help us all get meals on the table FAST. Enter this meat sauce for spaghetti that’s made with just two ingredients, plus your pasta of choice. I’m also sharing some ways that you can add a nutrition boost to this meal if you’ve got some extra time.

So what are activity night meals? They are 15-minute (or less!) meals for those nights when you’re doing your best to get something on the table and fill bellies in between all of the sports, music, and everything else. So if you’re in need of some more of those activity night meals, be sure to try my ground turkey lettuce wraps, naan pizzas, sheet pan grilled cheese, dumpling soup, and crispy bean and cheese tacos.

Bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce and basil.

Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

What You’ll Love About Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

  • Made with just 3 ingredients plus Parmesan cheese!
  • Just 15 minutes total cook time
  • Perfect for activity nights
  • A family favorite meal
Bowl of spaghetti with meat marinara sauce and parmesan.


You’ll need just a handful of ingredients to make this easy meat sauce recipe:

  • Ground beef – The ground beef adds a nice boost of protein and fat to keep you satisfied, but you could also make this with ground turkey or chicken (just don’t use 99% fat free!), ground pork, or even ground Italian sausage. You can use lean ground beef or ground beef with a little fat – choose your favorite.
  • Marinara sauce – Use a high-quality marinara sauce. When using so few ingredients, it’s best to use quality. You can also use a homemade spaghetti sauce.
  • Spaghetti – We’ve used spaghetti as a classic pasta shape, but this simple sauce will also work well with pappardelle, rigatoni, shells, or orecchiette will also work.
  • Parmesan cheese – Freshly grated Parmesan is best, but the pre-grated will also work in a pinch!
  • Optional extras – Season the pasta and sauce to taste with flaky sea salt, freshly cracked black pepper, red pepper flakes, and fresh basil if desired.
Ingredients to make meat sauce with marinara and pasta.

How to Make Meat Sauce for Spaghetti

Ok, get ready for this simple marinara sauce with meat! Here’s how we make it:

  • Cook pasta. Cook pasta to al dente, according to the package instructions.
Cooked spaghetti in strainer.
  • Brown ground beef. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add beef to pan. Break up and then let cook undisturbed to promote browning. Break up and stir again.

TIP: If you’re adding any of the nutrition boosters below, add the veggies in with beef. If adding veggies, you may want to add an extra pinch of salt or two.

  • Make (semi) homemade meat sauce. Pour in marinara to the beef mixture and bring mixture to a boil. Lower to a simmer until ready to serve.
Easy meat sauce in skillet.
  • Serve pasta with meat sauce. Ladle meat sauce over pasta and top with grated Parmesan cheese.

TIP: Add a nutrition boost to your sauce! Here are some ideas:

  • Onions – Dice up some onions and cook them with the ground beef when you first put it in the pan.
  • Garlic – Mince garlic and add it a minute before you add in the marinara sauce.
  • Carrots – Add shredded carrot to cook with ground beef.
  • Zucchini – Add shredded zucchini to cook with ground beef.
  • Spinach – Add chopped spinach to cook with ground beef.
  • Tomatoes – Want to add more tomato flavor? Stir in diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, or roasted grape tomatoes when you add the marinara.
  • Lentils or chickpeas – Add cooked lentils or chickpeas in with the marinara sauce.
Bowl of spaghetti and marinara sauce with meat.

Storage Instructions

Store leftover spaghetti and meat sauce in separate containers in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

How to prep ahead

If you’d like to make the sauce ahead of time, simply prepare meat marinara sauce according to directions and store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

How to reheat

Reheat sauce in the microwave or in a saucepan on the stovetop.

Can you freeze marinara meat sauce?

Yes, freeze the meat sauce in pre-portioned containers (souper cubes are perfect for this!) and store in freezer for 2-3 months.

How to Serve Spaghetti with Meat Sauce Recipe to the Whole Family

I get it, feeding kids can be tough! But following the Division of Responsibility and knowing your job and your child’s job makes it SO much more enjoyable. You’ll be able to feed your kids any meal, which will help ensure that they are eating a variety of nutritious foods – with plenty of play food sprinkled in. 😉

If your kids are unsure about marinara with meat sauce, serve it separate from the pasta. Offer a tiny “tasting spoon” of the sauce if they are interested in trying it, but not ready to commit to it yet. If they will only eat the pasta, serve with a fruit or veggie side and maybe a glass of milk if they also don’t do cheese.

All of my articles on feeding kids can be found here and if you want a FULL list of all of the videos I have with hacks, tips, scripts, and ideas for feeding kids, check out my instagram or tiktok page.

What to Serve with Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

This quick weeknight dinner can easily stand all on its own, but if you’d like to add a side, I’d recommend a simple salad or veggie:

More Easy Pasta Recipes

If you like this spaghetti with meat sauce recipe, you might also like some of these other easy pasta recipes:

In a dinner time rut? Overwhelmed with the task of meal planning?

Hand over meal planning to a pro!

This done-for-you plan can easily be customized and your grocery list is made with the click of a button – all while you sit in the school pick up line.

You’ll save time, save money, waste less food, and go into meals calm because your dinner is already planned.


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Bowl of spaghetti with meat sauce and basil.

Easy Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

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This EASY spaghetti with meat sauce recipe will help you get dinner on the table in just 15 minutes! Simple and made with just 3 ingredients!


Units Scale
  • 1 lb. spaghetti noodles
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • pinch of salt
  • 24 oz. marinara sauce
  • grated Parmesan cheese for serving


  1. Cook pasta to al dente according to package instructions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add beef to pan and break up with a spoon or spatula. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook, undisturbed for 2-3 minutes, until browned. Stir and break up again.
  3. Pour in marinara sauce and bring mixture to a boil. Lower to a simmer until pasta is ready.
  4. Serve meat sauce over pasta and top with Parmesan cheese as desired. 

Keywords: spaghetti with meat sauce, meat sauce for spaghetti, spaghetti meat sauce recipe, easy meat sauce recipe

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