Three Secrets to Making Italian Spaghetti Sauce

There are three secrets to making great tasting Italian Spaghetti Sauce that I want to share with you. First Italian Spaghetti Sauce is not really Italian. Second, great tasting Italian Spaghetti sauces gets better over days not hours. Third, the timing of when to cook the sauce with certain spices matters.  When you learn these secrets, Italian’s who try it will think you stole this sauce.

Nutrition Rating: BroccoliBroccoliBroccoli

Italian Spaghetti Sauce, not Italian?

I am sure that this article probably boils the blood of people who have great pride for being Italian. However, great tasting Italian Spaghetti Sauce makes use of a very old French practice. In French cooking there are Four Mother Sauces. Tomato Sauce is one of those sauces. When making Tomato Sauce in french cooking it makes use of a mirepiox. A mirepoix is a specific combination of carrot, celery, and onion in the ratio of 1:1:2. For one quart of Tomato Sauce the measurement is 1oz carrot, 1oz celery, and 2oz onion.

The recipe I share here makes use of this specific ratio, and is the one thing most people don’t know about when trying to make their own Spaghetti Sauce. Mirepiox is what gives the sauce depth and breadth of flavor that can’t be made up for with just spices.

When I make Italian Spaghetti Sauce I cheat a little. I use canned tomato products. Actually using many different canned tomato products. Then I use tomato sauce, but don’t confuse this with French tomato sauce. Canned tomato sauce that you buy in the store does not contain carrot, celery, or onion. I used diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and tomato paste. I find that with this mixture I make my desired weight in the sauce, while also getting a hint of boldness from tomato paste.
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Italian Spaghetti Sauce takes days not hours?

The next secret I share with you may surprise you but having made 100’s of batches of Italian Spaghetti Sauce over the years, one thing always remains true and time makes the sauce better. It’s true that the sauce itself only takes about an hour to make, and you only have to cook it about a half hour to make it taste good. However, the real flavor develops over time. When I make Italian Spaghetti Sauce I only simmer it for 30min, and then I turn the stove off. I put a lid on it, and let it sit over night to cool, and then I portion it into quart size containers and freeze the sauce. I have found that one quart goes well with one pound of pasta, however, you could portion at any measurement you desire.

After a few days of freezing, I take out one of the quarts and make spaghetti. Its like magic, it tastes one way the first day, but much more flavorful after freezing.  I also like to use one trick I learned from the bakery.

The most famous sourdough bread makers have used this secret for years that hardly anyone knows.  When ever they make dough, they cut off a portion of that dough and store it for the next time they make dough.  They then use that old portion of dough and mix it into the new dough, and in turn, cut off a portion and save that for the next dough.

This chain of custody of dough making has in some cases spread over a 100 years and is what makes the best sourdough bread the best. In the same way, I have learned to take one of the quarts of sauce, and save it for the next time I make Italian Spaghetti Sauce, and I put it into the new sauce.  Over a few times of doing this you add a new dimension of flavor that just can’t be matched with another cooking method.

The taste of Italian Spaghetti Sauce matters on when you add the spices

Just about anyone can tell you what spices go into making Italian Spaghetti Sauce. It’s common to put oregano, parsley, and basil in the sauce, but most people don’t know when to put them in and in what order. Many people are unaware that it matters most when you put these in. One spice that is not called for in most Italian Spaghetti Sauce is bay leave.

I especially enjoy this spice, and gives an aroma that is pleasant on the senses. When I start cooking Italian Spaghetti Sauce I always start with bay leaf. It takes time to extract the laurel flavor from the leaf, and you want to start with this one. At the same time, if you want to create a little heat in your sauce, go ahead and add some crushed red pepper. I recommend that you use at least a little for flavor complexity; I only use a little, and let my guests add more at the dinner table to their level of comfort.

After a simmering for 5-10 minutes I add oregano and parsley, I have found that oregano and parsley give you enough flavor after about 20 minutes of simmering. Now, here’s the trick that no one seems to know. When you add basil and garlic, add them in during the last five minutes of cooking. Both of these spices differ from the rest in that when you over cook either, the flavor diminishes. It’s the best if you hold off till the end to add either one. Finally, In the picture of this recipe, I have basil and red pepper on the table when serving any dish with Spaghetti Sauce. This allows my guests to control the heat and aromatics to their level of comfort.

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Why not just buy store bought jars of Italian Spaghetti Sauce?

There are a few reasons you should avoid buying Italian Spaghetti Sauce from the store. The reasons are simple taste, ingredients, and health.

First, the taste you will get from eating this recipe is restaurant quality that you can’t quite simply recreate from sauce in a jar. The reason is simple, it’s the process of making jarred spaghetti sauce. In order to make jarred spaghetti sauce the factory must use methods to prevent bacteria growth through pasteurization process where the sauce must be heated to a point above the boiling temperature of 212 degrees. This high heat ruins the flavor of delicate herbs and spices.

Second, the ingredients in typical jarred spaghetti sauce include sugar and sodium that are at very high levels. The factory needs to compensate for the high amount of bitterness that the pasteurization process creates from high heat with sugar and sodium. Not to mention, the delicate taste of basil and garlic are practically nonexistent.

Third, the nutritious value of the jarred sauce is diminished from the pasteurization process. The fact is that too much sugar and sodium exists in these sauces. If you make this sauce yourself, it is nutrient rich from the variety of vegetables in the sauce. Finally, the taste, ingredients, and your health matter so its time we take back our kitchens and get smart again about making food. This recipe will save you money, taste better, more healthy, and won’t waste much of your time. If you make large batches of this like I do, then you won’t be troubled with making sauce more than once every few months.

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Italian Spaghetti Sauce
Italian Spaghetti Sauce
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There are three secrets to making great tasting Italian Spaghetti Sauce that I want to share with you. First Italian Spaghetti Sauce is not really ... read more
Italian Spaghetti Sauce
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Rating: 0
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There are three secrets to making great tasting Italian Spaghetti Sauce that I want to share with you. First Italian Spaghetti Sauce is not really ... read more
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Servings Prep Time
people 15minutes
Cook Time
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
people 15minutes 30minutes
Print Recipe

  1. Gather the ingredients for making Italian Spaghetti Sauce. Then read about the secrets here.

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - ingredients
  2. Dice the carrots to (1/4in / 5mm).

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - Dicing carrot
  3. Dice the celery to (1/4in / 5mm).

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - Dicing celery
  4. Dice the onion to (1/4in / 5mm).

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - Dicing onion
  5. The ratio for the mirepoix is 8oz celery, 8oz carrot, 16oz onion, to 8 quarts of sauce.

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - Preparing the mirepoix
  6. Begin by frying the mirepoix with olive oil in the stock pot starting with the carrot. Fry the carrot for 3 minutes. Then fry the celery with the carrot for 3 minutes. Next, fry the onion with the celery and carrot for about 5 minutes. When the onion starts to become translucent proceed to the next step.

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - simmering
  7. Add tomato sauce, diced tomato, and crushed tomatoes. Add salt, pepper, and red pepper.

    Italian Spaghetti Sauce - Simmering sauce
  8. On the side mix wine, broth, and tomato paste in a bowl with a whisk. After thorough mixing of the ingredients then add to sauce.

  9. Stir often and add bay leaves. Once the sauce starts to simmer, start timing the sauce. Simmer the sauce for 30 minutes from this point.

  10. After simmering 10 minutes add oregano and parsley.

  11. After simmering for 25 minutes add basil and garlic.

  12. After 30 minutes are complete turn off the sauce. Use immediately or cool for a few hours before transferring to freezer containers.

Nutrition Facts
Italian Spaghetti Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 94 Calories from Fat 9
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 2%
Saturated Fat 0.2g 1%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Sodium 310mg 13%
Potassium 439mg 13%
Total Carbohydrates 16g 5%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 8g
Protein 3g 6%
Vitamin A 27%
Vitamin C 31%
Calcium 3%
Iron 7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Recipe Notes

Chef Tips: Making Great Italian Spaghetti Sauce

Be sure to prep all the ingredients ahead of time and before beginning to cook. You don't want to forget something along the way, and I have found it the best practice to prepare and measure all the ingredients before you begin to cook. I typically begin with cutting all the vegetables, then measuring all the spices.

Be sure to use a stock pot that is large enough to hold all the ingredients, I use a stainless steel stock pot for this recipe. I avoid using nonstick stock pots for recipes that don't need them. It saves on their wear. Aside from that cooking food on high heat can damage nonstick pots.

Serving Size = 1 cup

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