This slow-simmered homemade ground beef ragu sauce is made with ground beef, chopped onions, minced garlic, canned San Marzano tomatoes, celery, carrots, and fresh herbs. This delicious pasta sauce is freezer-friendly and packed full of veggies.
This homemade ragu sauce is similar to bolognese sauce but without milk and white wine. Another homemade spaghetti sauce is this slow cooker meat spaghetti sauce, or check out this meaty lasagna tomato sauce for a thicker sauce.
What You Will Love
This delicious ragu is perfect for picky eaters struggling to get enough vegetable servings throughout the day. The carrots and celery are blended with the whole peeled tomatoes, adding nutrients and fiber. This pasta sauce recipe is a great homemade sauce the whole family will enjoy!
Also, this homemade ragu sauce takes just 15 minutes of prep time and is hands-free while it slowly simmers. It's versatile: serve this Italian meat sauce with any pasta. Also, this recipe is great for leftovers.
- Ground beef: I recommend beef with 85% to 90% fat content. Alternatively, you can use lean ground beef.
- San Marzano peeled canned tomatoes: The best tomatoes for this ragu recipe are canned San Marzano peeled tomatoes.
- Carrots: Use whole peeled carrots or baby carrots.
- Celery: Remove the celery tops.
- Onion and garlic cloves: Finely mince fresh garlic and onions. Use any type of onion: brown onion, yellow onion, or sweet onion.
- Ground nutmeg: Use ground nutmeg or grind a whole nutmeg with a Microplane zester.
- Fresh herbs: Use any combination of rosemary, thyme, oregano, and basil. For this recipe, I use rosemary and oregano.
- Red wine (optional): The alcohol cooks off during the 2-hour long simmer, and the flavor of the wine is incredible.
See the recipe card at the bottom of the post for quantities.
How To Make Ragu Sauce
Blend until fully combined. Set aside. Finely dice the onion and garlic. Set aside.
In a large stovetop pot, cook the ground beef on medium heat. Adding olive oil is unnecessary because the fat in the meat will melt out. Continue breaking up the clumps with a wooden spoon.
Once the ground meat is browned, turn the heat to medium high heat. Add the diced onion and garlic. Season with salt, black pepper, and ground nutmeg.
Pour the tomato mixture into the ground beef mixture and bring to a simmer on low heat.
Add the fresh herb sprigs, bay leaf, and red wine (if using).
Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Check the tomato sauce at the 1-hour mark and add some water if needed.
Add this homemade pasta sauce to spaghetti noodles or your favorite pasta. Top with grated parmesan cheese.
Tips and Tricks
- The key to a hearty ragu sauce is slow-simmering it on a low temperature covered. The tomatoes break down and make the sauce so flavorful.
- Blend the tomatoes, carrots, and celery in a blender for quick prep. Alternatively, finely dice the carrots and celery. Another option is to pulse them in the food processor.
- You don't need to add any liquid to this pasta sauce as long as you slowly simmer it covered. Keep an eye on this thick sauce as it cooks. If it looks a little too dry, add some liquid (either water or beef broth).
- Serve this ragu pasta sauce with homemade gnocchi or dry pasta.
Variations and Substitutions
- Authentic Italian tomato sauce is made with finely diced carrots and celery. Instead of blending the carrots and celery with the canned whole tomatoes, finely dice them. Alternatively, pulse the carrots and celery using a food processor.
- Substitute canned tomato puree for equal parts of canned whole tomatoes.
- Add pancetta or Italian sausage.
- Add a glass of red wine to this delicious sauce for layered flavors as it slow-simmers.
- Substitute dried Italian seasoning for fresh herbs.
- Prepare this sauce in a slow cooker. Follow the steps in the recipe leading up to the slow-simmer. Transfer the sauce to a slow cooker when it is ready for slow cooking. Cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
- Stovetop pot
- Blender or food processor to pulse the carrots and celery
- Chef's knife and cutting board
Store this meat-based sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Freeze this sauce in a freezer-friendly bag for up to 4 months.
The traditional Italian recipe for ragu is made with tomato puree, celery, carrots, ground beef (or ground pork), and herbs.
Yes, you can freeze ragu sauce. Pour the sauce into a freezer-friendly bag or container. Store in the freezer for up to 4 months.
Traditional ragu does not use tomato paste. Ragu sauce slow-simmers thickening over a long period.
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Homemade Ground Beef Ragu Spaghetti Sauce (Italian Recipe)
- 20 ounces ground beef 85% to 90%
- 56 ounces canned San Marzano tomatoes 2 cans that are 28 ounces
- 8 baby carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 large onion or 2 small onions
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 sprigs of herbs rosemary, oregano, or thyme
- 1 cup red wine optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- In a blender, add the canned tomatoes, baby carrots, and celery. Blend until fully combined. Set aside. Alternatively, use a food processor to pulse the carrots and celery. See note 3.
- Finely dice the onion and garlic. Set aside.
- In a large stovetop pot, cook the ground beef on medium-high heat. Continue breaking up the clumps. Once the meat is browned, add the diced onion and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and ground nutmeg.
- Pour the tomato mixture into the ground beef mixture and bring to a simmer on low heat. Add the fresh herb sprigs. Pour the red wine (if using). Cover the pot and cook on low heat for 2 hours. Check the tomato sauce at the 1-hour mark and add a little water if needed.
- The nutrition facts don't include pasta.
- Substitute equal parts canned tomato puree for canned whole San Marzano tomatoes.
- Use a food processor to pulse the carrots and celery. Alternatively, finely mince the carrots and celery with a chef's knife. You can also blend the carrots and celery into the tomato sauce (my preferred method for picky eaters).