Homemade Red Sauce with Meats

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Homemade red sauce is one of my freezer staples. Economical and easy to make, it’s a great recipe for adding flavor to pastas, meat dishes, and casseroles.

Homemade Red Sauce with Meats | recipe from Jessica Fisher

This can of tomato puree costs less than $3 at Costco. It’s the equivalent of almost four of the large cans you can buy at the grocery store for about $1.75. Per ounce it’s the better deal.

When combined with spices, onions, and maybe some sausage, it becomes something amazing. Seriously.

Making spaghetti sauce, or as I call it homemade red sauce, in bulk is a great way to save money and enjoy some pretty fantastic Italian flare. I started making sauce like this about 17 years ago when we lived in Paso Robles and just had one little babe.

Today with six kids, three of them taller than me and one already a man, it’s still my preferred way of enjoying pasta, pizza, lasagna, and other Italian dishes.

Homemade Red Sauce with Meats

Homemade Red Sauce with Meats | recipe from Jessica Fisher

That large can slow cooked in the Crock-pot or on the stove top results in about 5 1/2 quarts of delicious sauce to use however you would use spaghetti sauce. We use it on pizza, in casseroles, on noodles. I figure it costs me about $1 a jar and it tastes so much better than anything you can buy in the store.

This supply of homemade red sauce lasts us about 5 weeks. I store it in plastic containers with lids or in mason jars in the freezer.

The trick to using mason jars for freezing is a little, well, tricky. Make sure you leave plenty of head space, freeze with the lids OFF. Make sure they have plenty of breathing room and don’t touch the sides of the freezer. Once the sauce is frozen solid, you can gently put the lids on. I have had some jars break, so it’s not completely fool proof. But it looks cool.

One of my favorite recipes for Homemade Red Sauce includes meat that you cook in the sauce. Instead of making a bolognese of ground meat, however, you simply cook sausages or meatballs in the sauce while it’s simmering.

The juices of the meats combines with the homemade red sauce, resulting in a deliciously, rich flavor. A friend showed me that trick years ago and it is a winner. I pull the sausages back out of the sauce to store them in an airtight container and we slice and reheat to eat on pasta. Yum!

Need a great recipe? Click here for my homemade red sauce with meats.

Homemade Red Sauce with Meats

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Stephanie M. says

    Home made red sauce is something I cook all the time. Sometimes I make what I call quick sauce which is nothing more than marinara cooked quickly. With this sauce, we can eat it over pasta or use it for chicken parmesan. Other times, I make meat sauce with ground beef. Other times I make it with sausage and meatballs and still other times, I make home made brajole and cook that in the sauce. However, I cook it though, it’s something we never tire of. Every time we come home from vacation, that’s the first thing I cook because it’s not something we usually eat when we’re away. And it’s always such a warm welcome home for us. When I make any kind of sauce with meat, I make a lot so I freeze it in freezer bags so they don’t take up so much room in the freezer. With sausage and meatballs, when I freeze that, I give myself a few options; a couple of bags to use again over pasta and a couple of bags with less sauce and more meatballs and sausage to use on hot subs. To me, it is always such a nice day when there is a big pot of sauce cooking on the stove and a glass of wine for me while I’m making it. 🙂

    • I agree on all the above. I’ve found that I particularly love the flavor of the sauce when sausage has cooked in it. Even if I’m not eating those sausages with that particular sauce, it has such great flavor!

  2. Donna says

    This is one of my “go to” recipes too. I always have jars/containers of sauce in the freezer. If you are making a single batch, why not make a BIG batch! So easy for those hectic nights! And my family always likes it.

  3. Melissa says

    I love this method but haven’t found a big can of tomatoes I like yet . I don’t have Costco but have Sams. So you have any brands you recommend? What about purée vs while tomatoes broken down with a stick blender?

    • I typically use crushed tomatoes and used puree this last time and was reminded how much I like it this way. I have usually just bought the big can of whatever Costco has, but I sometimes will buy four of the smaller cans from the grocery store. I’ve used Hunts and Contadina and liked them fine.

  4. karen says

    Red sauce is on my to do list for today! I use crushed tomatoes (the #10 can from Costco) and hit it with the stick blender just a little. We like the sauce a little chunky. Try adding a big sprig of rosemary during the simmer time, just remember to fish out the stick before serving (ask me how I know!)

    • I usually use crushed, but recently Costco only had puree. I was reminded how much I really liked the thinner sauce.

  5. Janet says

    How long would jars keep in the fridge?

    • My rule of thumb is 4 days. I try to use up all leftovers within four days. Sauce is easy to add to soup. We may be having soup every four days. 😉

  6. Jill says

    I didn’t know that freezing in mason jars was so touchy when I froze some chicken noodle soup the other day, and I did none of the tips you mentioned above. Do you have any tips about the best way to thaw these now? And does the glass just crack or shatter?

    • You should be fine on the thawing end. I just thaw in the fridge or on the counter if I know I’ll be home to check it after awhile. When they’ve broken, they cracked and then it all fell apart when I picked it up.

      • Jill says

        Thanks for the advice – that’s not nearly as bad as the exploding jars I was picturing in my head. I’ll be sure to just thaw it on a cookie sheet to catch everything if it does crack. Thanks again for being as helpful as always!

  7. Cristi says

    I have pizza dough rising at home (I’m at soccer practice with DD). Just bought the giant can of crushed tomatoes at Costco (conveniently located next to soccer fields). Wish I had this sauce already made. I’ll cook it tomorrow and have it ready for next time.
    Thanks for so many great recipes and tips.

  8. Marci says

    Just made this in my slow cooker! I?ve been trying different homemade sauces and this one will be our keeper. I used all crushed tomatoes- cause thats what we had in on-hand, no meat, added shredded carrots. I just used our immersion blender when it was done. My son used it for his homemade pizza, it was excellent. thanks for sharing.

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