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Homemade Spaghetti sauce is an easy recipe made with pantry ingredients! Make a double or even triple batch for freezing or canning so you always have some fresh sauce ready to go.
Spaghetti and meatballs is on our menu at least once a month, so I always make a huge batch to portion and freeze and save myself some time. Most recipes want you to simmer the sauce for hours, but my simplified spaghetti sauce recipe can be ready in about 30 minutes.
Start with quality ingredients. One of the most crucial parts of your sauce is good quality tomatoes. I use San Marzano canned tomatoes – they are high quality and taste fresh because they are canned immediately after being picked. Trust me, this is worth a little splurge.
Saute onion and spices. Heat some olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat and cook some diced onion, fresh minced garlic and whatever herbs you’re using.
Add tomatoes. Pour in crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. I like to add all three to get a rich tomato flavor.
Bring the sauce together. Once the tomatoes are combined and the sauce is starting to take shape, add the remaining ingredients – chicken broth (or water), balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
Simmer. Bring the sauce to a boil, then simmer for at least 30 minutes. You can totally toss some pasta with the sauce at that point and call it good, and it will taste good. But if you’ve got the time, keep it simmering for an hour or 2 to develop a richer, deeper flavor.
Spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce are only slightly different. Both are tomato based sauces and simmered for great flavor. Marinara is a more simple tomato sauce, made with tomatoes, garlic, salt and pepper. Sometimes herbs like basil and oregano are added.
Spaghetti sauce is more hearty, and often has a few ingredients added for richness and balance, like balsamic vinegar and sugar. Sometimes ground beef or Italian sausage is cooked with the sauce.
Pizza sauce can be any type of sauce you put on a pizza, but traditionally is similar to marinara, but it’s uncooked.
Storage: Leftovers should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4-5 days. Reheat in the microwave or in a small pot on the stovetop.
Freezing: Let the spaghetti sauce cool completely, then store in a freezer safe container or resealable plastic bag. Pour into a gallon sized plastic bag and lay flat to freeze for easy storage for up to 4-6 months.
Make Ahead: You can make your sauce up to a few days in advance and store in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Keep in mind that if you have leftovers, you will want to freeze them right away.
Canning Instructions: Sterilize 6 pint size mason jars and add a tablespoon of lemon juice to each jar. Fill the jars with the prepared sauce, screw on the lids and bands tightly, then process in a water bath for 35 minutes.
When using canned tomatoes, I always choose San Marzano. They are a favorite for their sweet flavor and low acidity. This variety of plum tomatoes are grown in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, The flesh is firm and not too juicy, they are deep red in color with an easy to remove skin and low seed count. San Marzano canned tomatoes (aff) are considered a premium type, and there are several brands that carry them.
I like to keep it fairly simple with some dried oregano, basil and red pepper flakes for heat. I will sometimes add parsley, fennel or thyme. If you have access to them, fresh herbs are almost always recommended.