Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I think we can all agree homemade is best, but not always possible! Homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch is actually one of those things that’s really not hard to make, but it can take a little time to simmer before all the flavors really come together.

So, as a result, I do still buy store-bought spaghetti sauce to have on hand. It’s one of my go-to weeknight meals when I don’t have something planned or am short on time.

Bowl of Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce served over pasta topped with herbs and Parmesan cheese

But just because you’re using a jarred sauce doesn’t mean you can’t kick things up a notch by adding some of your own fresh veggies and flavors (as pictured below). So I thought I’d share exactly how I do just that almost every time I pull out a pre-made jar of sauce for a quick weeknight meal! 

And as with anything packaged you want to look for a brand that only uses ingredients you would cook with at home and ideally one that doesn’t contain any added, refined sugar (which sadly is not always easy to do).

Cooking onions, celery, and carrots to make semi-homemade spaghetti sauce
Bowl of Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce served over pasta topped with herbs and Parmesan cheese

Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

I think we can all agree homemade spaghetti sauce is best, but not always possible. This recipes gives you that yummy flavor without all the simmering time!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cook Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
Print Recipe
Servings: 4 people



  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and cook while stirring until soft but not brown, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  • Add the ground beef to the pan and turn the heat up to medium high. Brown the meat while breaking it up with a spatula. 
  • Drain off the fat and discard (I do this by putting the lid over top then tilting it to empty the grease through a small crack into a coffee mug or other heat-proof container). Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the red wine to the pan (if using) and cook until almost completely boiled off.
  • Pour in the sauce and bring to a light simmer. 
  • Serve over noodles and garnish with fresh basil or oregano and Parmesan cheese.


* Dairy-free if Parmesan cheese is omitted.
We recommend organic ingredients when feasible.
Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Facts
Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 372 Calories from Fat 234
% Daily Value*
Fat 26g40%
Saturated Fat 9g56%
Cholesterol 81mg27%
Sodium 113mg5%
Potassium 511mg15%
Carbohydrates 7g2%
Fiber 2g8%
Sugar 3g3%
Protein 20g40%
Vitamin A 7655IU153%
Vitamin C 4.2mg5%
Calcium 41mg4%
Iron 2.5mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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19 thoughts on “Semi-Homemade Spaghetti Sauce”

  1. I see in the recipe that the link to the jarred spaghetti sauce has citric acid and calcium chloride. Are those ok?

  2. I’m honestly surprised you don’t use a can of tomato puree instead of a jar of spaghetti sauce. It’s super easy, as well as cheaper. For anyone looking to do that instead, I buy a 28oz can of organic puree (tomato paste and water) and add the following dry spices to taste: 1 large bay leaf, Italian seasoning, oregano, basil, garlic, onion flakes, salt, chili powder, and a little honey to help lower acidity. (I’ll change it up occasionally and might add sage, rosemary, thyme, red pepper flakes, and/or black pepper.) I prefer to add cheese too but I have vegans around so it’s easily been adapted to just add the cheese to each owners plate. People rave about my red sauce and it’s probably the laziest thing I make!

  3. It looks tasty, but didn’t you do all the basic work of making a sauce? Why not just add a can of crushed tomatoes?

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi. There are many good ones. I like Newman’s Own Common Good or Paesana Tomato and Basil but just look for one that is organic and has a short ingredient list. I think jar sauces can differ quite a lot in taste as can the taster :) , so you really have to just give them a try.

  4. Patti Fitzgerald

    Can you give us a few names that are good? I use Newman’s own. Now after reading this post, I’m not sure if it’s really natural???

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi . Have you tried Newman’s Own Common Good. It’s got a clean ingredient list and no sugar added.

      1. Patti Fitzgerald

        Thank you, I finally had the chance to compare the ingredient lists they are very similar but I think you are correct the Common good list is cleaner! Thanks for the heads up!!

    1. She said this is for something quick, as most households will probably have a jar of spaghetti sauce on hand vs. tomato purée.

  5. Angela from Ohio

    Sounds like a great quick meal after a soccer practice. I’m doing well making homemade sauces and dishes …. But noodles are hard. Do you have a brand you recommend ??

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      There are lots of good ones now but I think it is a big question of what you personally prefer, taste-wise. Just look for 100% whole grain or my very favorite noodles are the red lentil pastas. The flavor is peppery and delicious.

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