Main Dishes

March 19, 2021

The Best Ever Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (with Hidden Veggies!)

Everybody loves this Best Ever Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, including the picky eaters! It is made with thick tomato sauce, lean ground beef, and lots of hidden vegetables. This spaghetti sauce recipe is gluten free, sugar free, and dairy free.

A few months ago, I was planning on making and photographing dinner one day, but the lighting was absolutely terrible (thanks Utah) and it just wasn't going to work.

So I did what any housewife would do - I pulled out some frozen meat, frozen veggies, a jar of marinara sauce, and a package of pasta and whipped together the simplest spaghetti dinner.

Then I shared my experience with my followers over in my Instagram stories and everyone asked for a legit spaghetti recipe. How had I made it over a year into food blogging without having my own spaghetti recipe?!

So of course, I got to work. I researched on Pinterest and Google all the "homemade spaghetti sauce" recipes out there, what made them unique, what cooking methods they used, and the types of meat they chose.

At the time, I was just getting over my pregnancy morning sickness and weird food aversions, so I'd been trying to sneak any veggies in every meal I could (I couldn't stand the smell of veggies for the entire first trimester).

This little life hack plus all of my research is how today's recipe was born: The Best Ever Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Hidden Veggies!

Plates of the best ever homemade spaghetti sauce

Ingredients for the best homemade spaghetti recipe

  • Lots and lots of tomatoes: to get the perfect flavor, texture, and consistency of the best spaghetti sauce, this recipe calls for diced fire roasted tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, and tomato paste. Each is critical to the sauce, so don't skip or substitute ingredients here!
  • Hidden veggies: I chose broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms for a boost of antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber. And when I say "hidden," I really do mean hidden - I used this handy kitchen tool to finely mince the veggies so they are smaller than the minced meat! After sauteing them and mixing in the meat and tomatoes, you literally can't tell they're there, but the flavor (and nutrition profile!) is incredible.
  • Aromatics: otherwise known as onions and garlic - essential to Italian cooking!
  • Lean ground beef: if you've been here awhile, you probably realized that most of my main dishes here at KPC call for ground turkey instead of ground beef, mainly because it's cheaper to purchase lean ground turkey than lean ground beef. However, this homemade spaghetti sauce must have ground beef! I use 93% lean ground beef.
  • Worcestershire sauce: not traditional but oh so good! This sauce was developed in 19th century England specifically for boosting the flavor of meat, and because it's made from vinegar, anchovies, and a touch of molasses, it is the perfect compliment to the acidic tomatoes and the rich beef. Please don't leave it out!
  • Herbs and seasonings: oregano, basil, red chili flakes, and a touch of Stevia round out all the complex flavors of this incredible spaghetti sauce.

What's the difference between spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce?

Both are tomato based sauces, but there are a few key differences that make spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce distinct from each other:

  1. Spaghetti sauce has minced meat and sauteed vegetables in addition to the tomato sauce, while marinara sauce is usually just a stewed tomato sauce seasoned with herbs.
  2. Spaghetti sauce is more complex in flavor, thanks to the addition of meat and veggies, while marinara sauce more simple in flavor. Because marinara sauce is mainly tomatoes, most recipes or store-bought sauces have added sugar mixed in to bring down the acidity of the tomatoes.
  3. Spaghetti sauce is thicker, while marinara sauce is thinner. An easy way to remember this is that you would use marinara sauce as a pizza base, not spaghetti sauce.

The best spaghetti sauce with hidden vegetables

How to make the best ever spaghetti sauce

First of all, you'll love this recipe because it's entirely in ONE skillet! Minimal dishes makes a happy cook, right?

But, before grabbing the skillet, start by ricing and mincing your vegetables. We want them as small as possible so they cook quickly and literally hide between the meat and the tomato sauce.

If you dread the idea of mincing a pound of vegetables by hand, I HIGHLY recommend this handy kitchen tool (my personal favorite!) or using a food processor like this one.

After the vegetables are prepared, saute them in a heated skillet with a bit of olive oil for 15 minutes. More browning equals more flavor! Those onions should be very soft and translucent and the entire skillet should be quite fragrant.

Diced onions and minced vegetables in a cast iron skillet
Beef mince in a cast iron skillet

Remove the veggies and brown the meat with minced garlic. To ensure your meat is finely minced, grab yourself one of these meat choppers. It seriously takes your ground meats to the next level!

Now it's time to make the tomato sauce.

Add back in the sauteed veggies and the remaining ingredients: fire roasted tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, dried basil, dried oregano, red chili flakes, a touch of Worcestershire sauce and Stevia, and some water.

Ingredients for homemade spaghetti sauce

Stir the skillet together until well combined and reduce for five minutes. Reducing simply means cooking just below a gentle boil (there's a few bubbles here and there) to remove any excess liquid and thicken the sauce.

Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook for another ten minutes or until the rest of your dinner is ready.

This homemade spaghetti sauce is quite thick, so if you prefer your sauce to have more "sauce," I recommend adding another can of tomato sauce.

Enjoy your spaghetti sauce over your favorite pasta noodles with a side of greens. I love this plant-based pasta and this protein pasta! And yes, this homemade spaghetti sauce recipe does have hidden veggies in it, but more veggies is always a good idea!  

A fork in a plate of hidden veggie spaghetti

Why you'll love this hidden veggie spaghetti

Where to start? I mean, this is a spaghetti recipe, and who doesn't love pasta?!

What sets this spaghetti sauce apart from others is incredible flavor. Not only do the hidden veggies add more vitamins and nutrients, they also add depth and provide balance to the overall flavor. Tomatoes are quite acidic, so adding mild carrots and broccoli help balance the acidity of the tomatoes. The mushrooms, although finely minced, also bring out the juices and flavor of the ground beef.

Did I mention these veggies were hidden? They're so finely minced thanks to this chopper that they literally blend in with the minced beef!

This homemade spaghetti sauce also makes a hearty eight servings, which means you either have lots of leftovers (for meal prep or freezing!) or enough to feed a large dinner table. It's a win either way!

Lastly, this is homemade spaghetti sauce, which means the flavor and nutrition is both comforting and unbeatable. There's honestly nothing better than knowing exactly what's in your food and feeling good about it in your body too!

A plate of the best ever homemade spaghetti sauce

I can't wait to hear how much you guys love this recipe. Everybody loves pasta night, and now that you've got the best homemade spaghetti sauce, pasta night will become a weekly event!

And, as a bonus, your kids and picky significant other will never know there's tons of hidden veggies in their sauce!

When you make this recipe, I'd love to hear about it! Be sure to leave a star rating and review below, then tag me on Instagram so I can see you enjoying your new favorite pasta!

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The Best Ever Homemade Spaghetti Sauce (with Hidden Veggies!)

Everybody loves this Best Ever Homemade Spaghetti Sauce, including the picky eaters! It is made with thick tomato sauce, lean ground beef, and lots of hidden vegetables. This spaghetti sauce recipe is gluten free, sugar free, and dairy free.

Author:

Brooke Harmer

Prep:

15

min

cook:

40

min

total:

55

min

servings:

8

Ingredients

  • 4 oz broccoli, riced
  • 4 oz carrot, riced
  • 4 oz mushrooms, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb. 93% lean ground beef
  • 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes (or diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 oz tomato paste
  • ½ C water
  • 2 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp dried basil
  • ½ Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Stevia
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Heat a very large skillet (I use a 12" cast iron skillet) to medium heat and spray with cooking spray. Saute broccoli, carrots, and mushrooms for 5 minutes, then add the olive oil and onions, sauteing for another 10 minutes (all vegetables should be very soft and the onions should be translucent). Remove and set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, mince and brown the ground beef with the minced garlic until no pink remains. Add back in the sauteed veggies and all remaining ingredients, stirring until well combined.
  3. Bring the entire skillet to a rolling simmer, stir, then reduce heat to low. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 10 minutes while you prepare the rest of your meal (ie pasta and veggies).
  4. Divide into 8 equal portions and serve warm over your favorite pasta!

Notes

Nutrition facts are a calculated estimate of 1/8 of the skillet (about 3/4 C spaghetti sauce) and do not include any pasta or side dishes.

Nutrition

Serving: 3/4 cup / Calories: 155 / Fat: 5g / Saturated Fat: 1.6g / Sodium: 600mg / Carbohydrates: 12.7g / Fiber: 3.4g / Sugar: 6.7g / Protein: 14.4g