Red Sauce with Meats

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This delicious red sauce cooks quickly and deliciously. The meatballs or sausage poach in the sauce, adding great flavor.

Red Sauce with Meats

Thank God that Marco Polo had the foresight to bring some noodles back to Europe when he travelled the Silk Road. The Italians took those noodles and have done some wonderful things with them. Not that Asian noodles aren’t great. They are.

But, pasta.

Doesn’t that sound lovely?

I really can’t go wrong cooking pasta around here. The Best Lasagna Ever. Macaroni and Cheese that will “transform your life” — and your waistline. Chicken and Bowties. We’ve been blessed to have found some killer pasta recipes over the years.

One recipe that we love is this red sauce. It is simple and delicious. It freezes well and complements meat dishes beautifully. A friend shared her version with me years ago, and I’ve tweaked it to fit our family and the ingredients that I normally buy.

Red Sauce with Meats

One of the secrets to the rich flavor of this red sauce is cooking the sausages or meatballs in the sauce for several hours. It really does But, Rachael Ray taught me a great shortcut: stir in beef broth if you don’t have the time for that. Works in a pinch.

I’ve also cooked this sauce for less time, knowing I was going to freeze it and reheat later. It’s delicious and goes great in lasagna.

To freeze the sauce in jars:

This supply of homemade red sauce lasts us about 5 weeks once frozen. 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. I make sure that I leave plenty of head space, freeze with the lids OFF. I also make sure the jars have plenty of breathing room in the freezer and that they don’t touch the sides of the freezer. Once the sauce is frozen solid, I gently put the lids on. Your mileage may vary. If you prefer, just store the sauce in plastic containers.

 Red Sauce with Meats

0 from 0 votes
Red Sauce with Meats
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 10 mins
This delicious red sauce cooks quickly and deliciously. The meatballs or sausage poach in the sauce, adding to the sauce as well as absorbing flavor from it.
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: red sauce
Servings: 5 quarts
Calories: 765 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large onions diced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 cans 28 oz each tomato puree (or one large 106 oz can)
  • 2 cans 14.5 oz each diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons salt
  • 2 Tablespoons parsley flakes
  • 2 Tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pounds Italian sausage links or meatballs
  1. In a large heavy pot heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onions and garlic, and cook 5 to 7 minutes until the onion has gone translucent. Stir in the tomato puree, the tomatoes, the salt, parsley, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes. Add water to reach your desired consistency. Add the sausage or meatballs to the pot and simmer for about 2 hours.
  2. Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon. Chill the sauce completely before storing the sauce in covered containers in the freezer.
Recipe Notes

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

Nutrition Facts
Red Sauce with Meats
Amount Per Serving
Calories 765 Calories from Fat 621
% Daily Value*
Fat 69g106%
Saturated Fat 22g138%
Cholesterol 138mg46%
Sodium 4128mg179%
Potassium 609mg17%
Carbohydrates 8g3%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 2g2%
Protein 27g54%
Vitamin A 104IU2%
Vitamin C 9mg11%
Calcium 108mg11%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Homemade Red Sauce with Meats Life as Mom

Originally published March 5, 2009.

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  1. CountryMama@The Cozy Country Home says

    Hee..hee…I use the same Rachel Ray tip…the beef broth. Works every time…tastes like it’s been simmering all day!! (I of course say, Oh, sure it has!!)

  2. Katie @ goodLife {eats} says

    I love this recipe for Alfredo Sauce because it is so silky smooth. I use half and half for lower fat, but still fabuslous taste.

  3. Snow White says

    your chicken and bowties looks excellent!

  4. Kristen says

    I don’t know if it’s my computer or what, but I can’t find Mr. Linky on your post. Here is a link to one of the best pasta dishes I have made in a long time:

  5. Hoosier Homemade says

    Thanks for offering the Ultimate Recipe Swap!

  6. Heather says

    Got in this late this week — I think my recipe is a lot like yours. Received my coupons in the mail today — thank you! Have a great weekend — it is 60 degrees and sunny here — yeah — we can play outside!

  7. Honey says

    OK. I’m going to try to do this from memory (scary). And I’m one of those cooks who rarely measures. Just put however much you like! This is Lemon Tuna Pasta. YUM!!!!! Cook angel hair pasta. While it cooks make your “salsa cruda”: olive oil, tuna, capers, fresh parsley, kalamata olives, marinated artichoke hearts,lemon zest and lemon juice (1 lemon).For extra lemony flavor, use the lemon flavored tuna pouches. This is perfect for summer, because you can make it in the morning and not have to heat up the kitchen in the afternoon.

  8. FishMama says

    Thanks for all your great recipes!

  9. Cindy says

    Your pasta recipe sounds delicious, I was just looking for a pasta sauce recipe.

    One of my family favorite recipes is Vegetable Casserole and it is so versatile. You can easily adjust the amounts according to your pan size or how much you want to make. This is just a basic idea

    Brown 1 lb hamburger with 1/2 onion and a pinch of salt and pepper

    Peel and cut 6 large potatoes

    3 Family Size cans of Campbells Vegetable Soup

    1/2 pound American Cheese – Shredded (or the cheese of your choice)

    Spray 13×9 inch pan with cooking spray

    Put the potatoes on the bottom, add hamburger, add 1/3 cheese and enough soup to cover that layer

    Make additional 1 or 2 layers and cover with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours until the potatoes are tender. If you want you can sprinkle some additional cheese on the top right before taking this out of the oven

    This recipe was passed on to me from a friend of my mom’s. She was a wife of farmer and made all kinds of wonderful recipes but never had exact measurements.

    She also said if you want more vegetables you can add what you have. In the summer she would make this and add fresh veges from her garden – like green beans or zuchini

    She said you can also omit the hamburger if you don’t eat it

  10. Jen E says

    FishMama ~ How do you store 5 dinners worth of pasta sauce when this is done? Freezer?
    Thanks, Jen

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I divide the sauce into 2-cup portions in plastic containers, cool, and freeze.

  11. Peggy says

    I just would like to verify that you add 6 – 28oz cans of water

    • Jessica Fisher says

      Yes, this is a huge pot of sauce, of a thinner consistency. You may want to divide it into two pots.

  12. Ashley says

    Hi! I just found your blog recently and have been enjoying reading it. Thanks for all the tips! I made your red sauce with meat, and was wondering how you freeze it or store it? Obviously, it makes ALOT, so I want a good way to preserve it. Thanks for your help!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I just put it in plastic containers with lids.

  13. Julia says

    Do you crumble, brown and drain the Italian sausage before adding it to the sauce?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      No, I leave the sausage whole in the links that they come in. Just drop them in the sauce and let it cook for several hours. It makes the sauce taste amazing.

  14. Really? The raw sausages fully cook in a simmering pot?

    • Jessica Fisher says

      They simmer for over two hours, so yes.

  15. Sahara says

    How many cups of red sauce with sausage do you use for your Best Lasagna Ever recipe? Thanks! I can’t wait to get cooking!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      I follow the recipe from Wondertime. I think it says three cups sauce. Then I add one pound of beef, like the recipe suggests.

  16. Stephanie says

    Another question about the sausage – What do you do with it when you are done simmering the sauce? Do you just discard them? Are they just to flavor the sauce? I wanted to try this for my pizza sauce. Thanks!

    • Jessica Fisher says

      @Stephanie, no, don’t discard them. They’re delicious. You can package them separately with a little sauce. Reheat on the stove, in the oven, or on the grill and serve with pasta and more sauce.

  17. Lorie says

    Can this be made in a crock pot?

  18. David says

    Hi there

    Would it be safe to cut this recipe in half?

  19. Anna says

    I made this for the first time this week. I usually just wing it when making spaghetti sauce, but I’m teaching my kids to cook and needed a recipe for them to be able to reference. We had to change a bit for what we had on hand, but it turned out great. We made 2 crockpots of it- one with meatballs for eating with spaghetti this week, and the other to freeze for later recipes.

  20. DeLane says

    This sounds yummy, and I love the idea of freezing in jars for gifts. How much beef broth is the right amount to make this taste as wonderful as it does using the sausage. Thank you! Can’t wait to make some.

    • It won’t be as wonderful, but it will have more depth of flavor. Instead of thinning the sauce with water, I’d thin it with beef broth. I don’t think you can overdo it, but I’d taste as you go. Let us know how it works for you!

  21. Lori Hurley says

    Just curious, have you ever pressure canned this one. I have made this sauce before and I’m making it again today. I think I’m going to can the leftovers. it’s acidic enough, but I was wondering about the wine. Maybe I should leave that out. Anyone can this???

    • Lori Hurley says

      Oh shoot… I mean to write “OIL” and typed “wine.” Lol… clearly you can tell what’s on my mind this evening. Hahahaha…..

    • I’m sorry I didn’t get to replying sooner. I’ve never pressure canned, so I’m no help. What did you end up doing?

  22. Brandette W. says

    Thank you so much for sharing this again! I have made this in the past, but sorta forgot about it. I have cans sitting in the pantry to make this very soon. The only thing I do differently is I let it simmer all day in my huge crockpot, that way if I am not going to be home (ie: school pickup), it’s doing it’s thing simultaneously. I also don’t usually add the diced tomatoes and only add a small amount of water/beef broth since we like our sauce a thicker consistency. But, that’s what I love about this recipe. You can very easily customize it to what you have on hand or what your family prefers that particular time.

    One of our favorite pasta dishes that I have made so many times actually comes from Lynn @ Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures. It is another pantry staple recipe and is so tasty!

  23. Katie says

    I’m concerned that by showing the sauce in those jars, then mentioning freezing it (even though you say you freeze it in plastic containers), someone will try freezing it in canning jars. Unless you freeze in no-shoulder jars, they will likely break from the expansion of the sauce. Even leaving the lids off until frozen will not stop the breakage.

    One of the commenters asked about canning this delicious sauce and if you use a pressure cooker (only!) it would preserve it perfectly.

    • I actually do freeze it in jars just as pictured. Thanks for mentioning that. I updated the post with the method I use to freeze in jars. Leaving off the lids does work for me.

  24. Carla says

    I freeze mine in food saver bags. I leave them open at the top and stand them up next to each other in the freezer. After they have frozen I go ahead and seal them to get the air out. I have found that they last a lot longer this way and they are easy to share spur of the moment with friends and neighbors who need a quick meal. It also saves them from having to return a container.
    Thanks for the beef broth tip.

    • Great strategy for the bags. Do yours leak when they thaw? That’s why I moved away from bags.

  25. Heather says

    Is the oregano in your recipe dried or fresh? I assume dried since it’s a long cook time, but I do have oregano fresh growing in my garden so I wanted to double check. Going to try freezing in the jars since I try to avoid plastics. Love the sausage/meatball tip. That was new to me πŸ™‚ Thanks!

    • Yes, I use dried, but you can use fresh. A general rule of thumb is 3 times as much fresh as you would dried. So for 1 teaspoon of dried, you can substitute 1 tablespoon fresh.

  26. Elisabeth says

    How long to cook in the crock pot? I live for crock pots! Lol

  27. Tracy says

    I’m wondering if we could adapt this to do in an instant pot? I might have to play with that!

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