Ready for the best bowl of pasta in 20 minutes or less? This easy meat sauce recipe uses a jar of your favorite marinara sauce to get dinner on the table quick. Think of this as an elevated meat sauce.

We’re combining fresh ingredients with a jar of sauce to make a 6-ingredient staple sauce recipe, that tastes fancy and could not be easier to throw together! You can customize this spaghetti sauce with what you have in the fridge! It results in a delicious and hearty 20-minute dinner that everyone absolutely loves.

Easy Meat Sauce Recipe with a Jar of Sauce
Here’s the thing, I love our bolognese recipe and tomato sauce recipe so much, but as a new mom, I found myself wanting a borderline no-recipe recipe that was hearty, delicious, and easy. Enter: the easiest from a jar meat sauce.

It tastes restaurant-worthy with a big time-saving shortcut: a jar of really good marinara sauce!

The secret here?
We’re talking….how to make jar spaghetti sauce better, like way better! Honestly, this recipe is really just doctoring up a jar of sauce to make it taste fancy. For example, it definitely needs some fresh garlic, a touch of salt, red pepper flakes, and some dried (or fresh!) herbs like oregano, basil, rosemary, etc. Want to make it even easier on the spices/herbs front? Follow the directions here and use an Italian seasoning blend!

Best Jar Sauce to Buy for the Easiest Meat Sauce
The sauce brands I love and use regularly in this meat sauce recipe are: Rao’s, Cucina Antica, or Stonewall Kitchen’s Montebello line of sauces.

I usually toss in some veggies I have in the fridge for this recipe, too. It definitely adds not only a nutrition boost but a flavor boost too! With that said, I also make it stripped down with no added veggies and it’s wonderful as-is. It’s one of those really easy delicious recipes that uses roughly 6 ingredients and comes together in 20 minutes.



For this recipe, you’ll need the following ingredients.

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Lean ground beef
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Green pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Bay leaf
  • Oregano
  • Italian seasoning
  • Tomato paste
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar
  • Fresh parsley (optional)

Ingredient Substitutions

Ground beef – Try Italian sausage (spicy if you want an extra kick!) or ground turkey or chicken.

Crushed tomatoes – I used a can of crushed tomatoes in this recipe, but you could use a can of diced tomatoes if you prefer. The sauce will be less “smooth”. I’m not a big fan of the chunks so I typically used crushed tomatoes.

Green pepper – I add one in because that is what my mom always did, but you could leave it out. Alternatively, you could add a red pepper instead.

How to Make

Add extra virgin olive oil to a large pot. Add ground beef, onions, garlic, green peppers and mushrooms. Cook over medium heat until beef is browned and vegetables are softened, about 10 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, salt, pepper, sugar, bay leaf, oregano and Italian seasoning.

Reduce heat to low. Cover. Simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Remove bay leaf before serving. Serve with cooked spaghetti noodles or your favorite cooked pasta.

Top with fresh parsley, if desired.

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