Oma’s One-Hour Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Featured in Gourmet Live’s Weekly Roundup:  The Best of Beef

You know you want it.

It’s another installment of Oma’s cooking class.

Like all of Oma’s meals, Oma’s One-Hour Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is simple, hearty and delicious.  However, if you have seen Oma’s other recipes like Oma’s Old-Fashioned Pot RoastOma’s Cheesy Tuna Casserole & Oma’s Sour Cream Chicken, Oma isn’t fancy.  And I’ll be the first to admit that I’m sort of a foodie who likes the occasional flash of fancy in her meals.  One of my favorite sauces is Bolognese which simmers for no less than 3 hours on the stove to achieve greatness.

Trust me when I tell you that Oma’s amazingly simple sauce achieves similar greatness in just about an hour which makes Oma’s Spaghetti a great mid-week dinner option.

Oma’s One-Hour Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Makes about 8-10 servings

Print-Friendly Recipe

  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds of ground beef (not too lean, about 20% fat is the best)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 5 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tomato (optional, only use if you can find a really ripe one)
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans tomato sauce, plus more if desired
  • 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 grinds of fresh black pepper


  • 2 pounds of spaghetti, cooked to al dente
  • freshly grated parmesan

Heat 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan, preferably nonstick. The oil will coat the bottom of the pan thickly. Break up the meat into small pieces and place in the hot oil.

Cook breaking up the pieces further with a spoon.  You want to get the meat very brown, even a little crispy. Occasionally, scrape up the bottom and turn it over then let it sit for another minute or two before repeating. Oma says that this is the key to her fantastic sauce, really brown meat is flavorful. Oma cooked the meat like this for 18-20 minutes.

When the meat is quite brown (see photo above), turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, garlic and tomato (if using).

Continue to cook, scraping up the bottom occasionally until the onions are translucent, about another 7-8 minutes.

Add the tomato sauce to the meat mixture and stir to combine.

Turn the heat down to a very low simmer and cover. Cook like this for 20 minutes then stir in 3 tablespoons of tomato paste. Cover again and simmer for 10 minutes more.

Now this is the really unusual part. Oma doesn’t add any spices at all until the end. When the sauce was almost ready to serve, she tasted it and then added about 1 tablespoon of Italian Seasoning, 2-3 grinds of black pepper, 1/2 tablespoon of oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Go easy with the salt, you can always add more later and the parmesan cheese will be salty as well.

Serve the sauce over spaghetti cooked till al dente and sprinkled with grated parmesan.

TASTING NOTES:  Let me put it this way. After I licked my plate clean, I found myself eating leftover sauce out of the pan before I packaged up the leftovers. And even after, I stood at the stove and ate the crusty leftover sauce from the sides of the pan with a spoon. Does that sum it up for you?

STORAGE:  This recipe makes a whole lotta sauce.  Leftovers of which can be stored in the fridge for up to three days or stored in the freezer for up to three months for a future meal.

If you like this recipe, check out my #1 most popular Oma recipe of all time, Oma’s Sour Cream Chicken which is an even faster, easier mid-week meal.

Other Oma Classics include:



  1. Hmm — this sounds perfect for after a busy day at work when all I want is a taste of Oma’s cookin.’

  2. Really? One hour? I never knew it was possible to make a really good pasta sauce in an hour, but if you were licking your plate clean, I believe you! 🙂 I’ll have to try this!

    • Its amazing, but true. This meat sauce is delish! — H

  3. I just wanted to tell you I love that you are posting these recipes. They remind me of what my grandmother used to cook and I never got the recipes so thanks and I look forward to more installments!

    • It’s my pleasure! I’m so glad that you like the Oma posts. They may not be gourmet, but they are very delicious and made from the heart. Eventually, I plan to document all of my family’s traditional dishes. When my two daughters grow up enough to want to make their childhood favorites, they will have easy access to these recipes, no matter where life takes them. — H

      • really ni8ce

  4. I came across this on pinterest and fixed it tonight. I have to say it was very, very good. My husband said that was awesome, and I have a very picky 3yr. old that has never eaten the same thing as us and he finished what I didn’t.

  5. WOW! This recipe looks a lot like MY Grandma Oma’s!
    I wasn’t sure where I tucked it away though, but now I know where to find another!

  6. HI , want to make the sauce but have a dumb question. Do you drain the fat off the meat before adding the tomato sauce and other ingredients?

    • Totally not a dumb question. You could drain off the fat, but Oma doesn’t and I don’t either. Sometimes I use a lower fat ground beef, but I don’t drain the fat because it adds a lot of flavor. The fact is that the fat cooked with the browned meat and the tomatoes tastes really good. All things in moderation is my motto. 😉 – Heather


  8. This was the best spaghetti ever!

  9. can we cook it all day if we want?

    • I suppose if you kept adding water to it, but I wouldn’t really recommend it. I don’t think it would enhance the flavor which fairly fabulous with a lesser amount of cooking. – H

  10. I have made this twice and it’s delicious. My husband loves it!!

  11. Do you have to use tomato paste? I don’t have any here at home.

    • Nope. You could leave it out. It will be different, but still good. – Heather

  12. So excited to try this tonight! I am going to make a big batch so I can freeze it for other meals! Thank you so much!

  13. This is our favorite spaghetti recipe. We make this almost once a week (because my husband can’t get enough of it). You’ve made me a hero in my house. Thank you!

  14. Looking for a meatless recipe – my family like meatballs instead of ground beef – is this ok as a meatless recipe? Do I need to do anything different?

    • Hi Cindy,
      The meat is pretty central to this particular recipe. The extra crispy brown beef is where the sauce gets most of it’s flavor. You could make it without meat, but it would be a very different sauce. If you try it, let me know how it turns out. Best, Heather

  15. I absolutely love this recipe. Super simple and tastes wonderfully delicious. My husband always wants spaghetti now! I don’t blame him. It is definitely a favorite of ours. As a matter of fact, it’s cooking away right now (:

  16. I ‘am going to make it one day let you know how it turn out

  17. Absolutely the BEST SPAGHETTI SAUCE EVER!!! It is so simple, but so delicious. It is a staple in our home now. Thank you!

  18. I see 2 cans of tomato paste in the picture of ingrediants but you say only to use 2 to 3 Tablespoons. Just checking. I want to make this tomorrow.

    • The recipe is correct. The photo is needlessly abundant. 🙂 – H

  19. Basically this is a great sauce, but I’ve been to Italy 5 times 3 of thoughts were 30 days+ I know
    there are some Italian regions that do a sweet sauce, (surprisingly some regions add Chile flakes) I love the spicy version, but wife is allergic to Chile, so that is out.
    In my Italian visits I’ve not found the sweet versions yet. I’m from San Francisco, no sweet sauce there either, (that I’ve found)
    Yes I’m not fond of sweet sauce. So in recipes I remove, sugar, tomato paste, or tomato puree (all sweet).Tomato sauce is fine, This is only personal. Many people like sweet sauce, I also add mushrooms.

  20. I missed something in my last reply, when removing, the sweet tomato sauces, you really need to add more fresh ripe tomatoes, to replace the can blend them to fit in.


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