Rinse and finely chop the carrot, celery, and onion.
Heat the oil in a large, thick-based pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion and sauté for a minute or two. Then add the carrot and celery and continue to cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Until the veggies are brown and become tender.
Add the meat and allow it to brown, breaking it into little pieces as you go.I used fairly lean beef, so I didn't feel the need to drain the excess grease afterward. However, do so if preferred.
Add the salt, oregano, bay leaves, and wine (if using) - allowing the wine to evaporate for a couple of minutes.
Add the tomato paste, stirring well, and cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the canned tomatoes and the water (or vegetable stock). Lower the heat to low, stir well, and allow the homemade spaghetti sauce to simmer covered for 2 ½-3 hours, stirring occasionally.
Give the spaghetti meat sauce a taste and adjust the seasonings if necessary, then enjoy!
The Slow Cooker Method
Follow the first few steps of the recipe above until you add the canned tomatoes and water/broth, then transfer everything to your slow cooker and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
The Instant Pot Method
Simply sauté the ingredients as written in the recipe. Then, when it comes time to simmer the sauce, cook it on manual HIGH pressure for 12 minutes, then natural release for 5 minutes.
Store: Allow it to cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.To Freeze: I like to portion mine into reusable Ziplock freezer bags (spread flat to freeze, then store upright), but any freezer-safe airtight containers will work, too. Store for 4-6 months and then allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating it or even reheating it from frozen.Reheat: You can reheat the spaghetti meat sauce on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in a microwave. Add a splash of extra liquid (water or vegetable stock) to bring it back to a looser consistency if needed.
Use high-quality ingredients: This Italian spaghetti sauce recipe is only as good as the tomatoes used to make it!
Allow the soffrito to brown: Allowing the sauteed veggies to lightly brown will add a TON of depth to the homemade spaghetti sauce recipe.
How long to simmer spaghetti sauce? The key is to simmer the spaghetti sauce recipe for as long as possible to bring out the most flavor without overcooking the meat. I recommend a minimum of one hour up to 4 hours for the optimal length.
Don’t under-simmer the sauce: With a short simmering time, the ingredients won’t have melded, the flavor will be overly acidic, and you can pick out individual flavors rather than them being melded. It just isn’t good!
If the sauce becomes too thick: Add a little extra water or vegetable stock.
Optional add-ins and recipe variations: There are endless ways to play around with this spaghetti sauce recipe based on what you have in your pantry and the flavor profile you’re looking for. Here are just a few optional mix-ins.
Soy sauce: Use in place of regular salt for added umami. Use tamari or coconut aminos if you're gluten-free.
Worcestershire sauce: Add a subtle tang and delicious depth to the sauce.