This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.
Our favorite spaghetti is kid-friendly and made with a delicious homemade sauce making it the perfect family dinner recipe!
Favorite Kid-Friendly Dinner
It seems like everyone I have ever met has “a spaghetti recipe” they know and love, and each one is different! Some have store-bought sauce, some homemade. Some have meat, some have veggies, and others don’t.
It just surprises me that they are all different, but I love that everyone has their own twist on this classic dinner recipe.
It’s simple, easy to make, and always tastes delicious, and everyone likes it. And honestly, leftovers taste exactly the same heated up as if it was just made (my kind of leftover)!! I usually serve it with some Cheesy Garlic Bread for one delicious meal!
How to Make Spaghetti
Our spaghetti recipe has a delicious sauce with just a hint of sweetness. The sauce takes some time since you simmer it for almost an hour, but I promise it’s worth it.
GROUND BEEF. Brown the hamburger in a large pan. Drain the fat if desired.
SAUCE. Throw in salt, pepper, tomato sauce and paste, water (with the bouillon cubes in it or beef broth in the can), sugar, basil, oregano, and garlic. Simmer on low for an hour.
PASTA. A few minutes before the hour is up, cook the box of spaghetti noodles as directed on the package. Once the noodles are cooked, add them to the sauce and serve immediately.
We like to top our spaghetti with grated (or even shredded) Parmesan cheese and some fresh basil if desired. It truly is so delicious!
Meatless option. If you would like a meatless version, cook the sauce without the hamburger, and just put a tablespoon of olive oil in the pan before adding any other ingredients. You can make Meatballs on the side if some people want the option to add meat!
Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce
I like to double this easy spaghetti recipe and cook it in a slow cooker. I store half of the sauce in the freezer for later! To make in a crock pot:
BEEF. Brown the ground beef and add to a crock pot.
SAUCE. Add all of the other sauce ingredients. Cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours.
Recipe Tips + Variations
This is our best spaghetti recipe, but you can easily change it up to make it your own tasty version.
Pasta alternatives. Try using zucchini noodles, rice noodles, or Spaghetti Squash in lieu of traditional spaghetti noodles.
Acidity level. If you find the sauce to be more acidic than you’d like, try adding one of these for every 12 ounces of sauce:
- ½ -1 teaspoon white or brown sugar
- ½ of a shredded carrot
- sautéed onions and mushrooms
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
Ground beef. I like to use 80/20 ground beef because it is so flavorful. Since it produces so much excess oil, I will drain it before adding the meat to the sauce. If you use lower-fat ground beef mixture you can choose to add in the excess oil or drain it.
Use ground turkey, ground chicken, or ground Italian sausage in place of ground beef. For added flavor, mince 1-2 garlic cloves and add them to the ground beef. Brown in a large skillet.
Spice it up. Stir some red pepper flakes into the pasta sauce for some heat.
Fresh herbs. Use fresh herbs for great flavor. One teaspoon of dried herbs equals one tablespoon of fresh herbs. Dried herbs are added at the beginning of the cooking time, while fresh. herbs are added toward the end.
Pasta. In general, a serving size of pasta is 2 ounces of dry pasta per person. Drain pasta water.
Fresh Tomato Sauce
Using fresh tomatoes really adds great flavor. Making your own sauce adds about an hour to the cooking time but it is worth it!
- Peel tomatoes. I recommend ¾-1 pound of tomatoes to make 8 ounces of sauce. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cut a small X on the bottom of each tomato and place them in the boiling water for 45-60 seconds. Transfer them to a bowl of ICE water. Peel the skin off.
- Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor to your desired texture, then pour them into a saucepan. Simmer for 30-60 minutes. A thinner sauce will only need 30-40 minutes, a thicker sauce will need 50-60 minutes.
STORE. Leftover homemade spaghetti can last in the fridge for 3-5 days if properly stored in an airtight container. To reheat quickly, microwave in 30-second increments, stirring in between, until hot.
If you have more time, reheat in the oven. Place into a baking dish, and cover with foil. Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake until hot. The actual baking time will depend on how much is being reheated.
FREEZE spaghetti in a couple of ways:
- Freeze only the sauce. Cook sauce according to recipe directions, let cool, put into an airtight freezer-safe container, and freeze for up to 6 months.
- To use: thaw in the fridge, place sauce into a saucepan on the stovetop, and heat. Cook pasta according to directions.
- Freeze both sauce and pasta. Make the sauce according to the recipe directions and cook the noodles al dente. Combine the two, cool, and place into an airtight freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 2 months.
- To use: thaw in the fridge. Place into a baking dish, cover with foil, and put in the oven preheated to 350°F. Bake for about 30 minutes or until hot.
Salting the pasta is a good way to infuse flavor directly into the pasta, but it is completely optional. To salt pasta: Add 1-1½ tablespoons of salt to the water for every pound of pasta you will be cooking. Add the salt just as the water comes to a boil, then add the pasta.
I typically only freeze the sauce to use later, as the pasta noodles are best when they are freshly boiled. However, you can successfully freeze the sauce and pasta together. See above for details.
Tomatoes are acidic in nature. To balance out the acidic taste in spaghetti sauce you can add sugar, shredded carrots or zucchini, sauteed onion or mushrooms, a pinch of baking soda, or top it with cheese.
For more great pasta recipes, check out:
- Fettuccine Alfredo
- Chicken and Asparagus Pasta
- Sun-Dried Tomato Pasta
- Homemade Mac and Cheese
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 cubes beef bouillion
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
- black pepper to taste
- 2 cups hot water
- 2 teaspoons sugar white or brown
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- dash of garlic
- 16 ounces spaghetti noodles
- Brown the ground beef in a large skillet. (drain excess fat)
- Once cooked, throw in salt, pepper, tomato sauce and paste, water (with the bouillon cubes in it), sugar, basil, oregano, and garlic. Simmer on low for an hour.
- A few minutes before the hour is done, cook box of spaghetti noodles as directed on package.
- Once the noodles are cooked, drain and add to spaghetti sauce. ENJOY!
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.