Nonni’s Easy Homemade Ragu Sauce

Haven’t been to Italy yet or maybe you have and miss all the great food.  I have your back! My mother-in-law, lovingly referred to by my kids as Nonni,  makes the best Ragu Sauce on the planet.  And… now I am going to share this easy classic recipe with all of you.

Plus I can share some easy tips for making this Ragu all your own.  This way you can use this recipe as a base to recreate that recipe you devoured on your travels or at your favourite Italian restaurant… you know the one!

Overhead shot of tomato sauce in pot

Easy Homemade Ragu Sauce

My husband grew up on great sauce like his mom’s so when I came into the picture it was imperative that I learned how to make a good sauce.  I learned this early on when we were dating and his mom went away for the weekend so I made him dinner and like a crazy person decided to make pasta.

I know… why would an English chick try and make pasta for the son of a Sicilian mother? Must have hit my head!

Anyhoo… I did and just as you might expect he ate it but was not shy to point out that if we were to get married he could not eat jarred sauce for eternity.  Yes I used jarred sauce.. the horror!  Now before everyone gets all mad and emotional about this we were dating for quite a while at this point.   And yes he could make it himself.  But he is more of a BBQ kind of guy and came from a traditional household so I  understood.

That said, because of this dinner gone wrong episode, I learned to make awesome homemade Ragù from an awesome lady (his mom) who is from Siciliy.  The land of amazing Italian food.

Overhead shot of a pot of ragu sauce

So now that you have the story of how I learned to make this amazing sauce it’s time for me to share the process with you.

The Process For Making Nonni’s Ragu Sauce

So What’s The Difference Between Ragu and Bolognese Sauce?

I wondered this myself when trying to figure out what to call this recipe other than “Sauce”.  In my house we just know what “Sauce” is because there is no other sauce we care about.

Both sauces are made with meat but the difference between the difference is really in the ratio of meat to tomatoes and sometimes the meat used itself.  Ragu can also be made with more vegetables than what I have used in this recipe.  Many people like to add finely chopped celery, carrots and or mushrooms. I do not.  If you would like to do this cut back on the meat a tiny bit and sweat the added vegetables till soft along with the onions and garlic.

Bolognese sauce also typically does not use beef and pork but instead uses chicken, veal, lamb, rabbit  or even goose.  Oh my!  Check out this article to find out more.

Nonni’s Homemade Ragu Recipe:

5 from 1 vote
Overhead shot of a pot of pasta sauce
Nonni's Homemade Ragu Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
3 hrs
Total Time
3 hrs 20 mins

Easy homemade Ragu Sauce - meaty and full of flavour just like Nonna makes!

Servings: 12 servings
Calories: 290 kcal
  • 4 23 oz jars Strained Crushed Tomatoes (from Italy preferred)
  • 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 large yellow onion minced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sugar
  1. Add strained crushed tomatoes to a heavy bottomed stock pot

  2. In a pan cook ground beef thoroughly breaking up into small pieces.  When done drain the fat and add to stock pot

  3. Add olive oil to the same pan and heat on medium.  Add the onions and garlic and sautee until the onions become translucent.  Add to stock pot.

  4. Add parsley, basil, oregano and sugar to stock pot.  Stir well.  Cover slightly and simmer on low for 2-3 hours or until sauce reduces to the consistency you prefer.

  5. Serve or store in fridge when completely cooked in sealed containers until a later date. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Recipe Notes

This recipe is for a large batch of sauce that I make to store for 2 additional family meals.  I usually use 2-3 cups of sauce for 1 bag of spaghetti for the family which usually provides some leftovers for lunch.  Then I split the remaining sauce about 6 cups between 2 containers and store in the freezer to make at another time.

The serving size is based the sauce for this pot of spaghetti being shared between 4 people. The nutritional info does not include the pasta.

If following the 21 Day Fix Plan one serving would count as 1 purple and 1/2 a red

Nutrition Facts
Nonni's Homemade Ragu Sauce
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 290 Calories from Fat 95
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10.6g 16%
Saturated Fat 3.6g 18%
Trans Fat 0.3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.9g
Monounsaturated Fat 4.3g
Cholesterol 50mg 17%
Sodium 180mg 8%
Potassium 2037mg 58%
Total Carbohydrates 30.7g 10%
Dietary Fiber 6.7g 27%
Sugars 20.2g
Protein 23.3g 47%
Vitamin A 25%
Vitamin C 31%
Calcium 8%
Iron 37%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Tip:  Does your family like their sauce spicy? Add a tsp of chili flakes while the sauce is simmering.

So there you have it…now you will have sauce for a few meals.  Making this on a weekend is the best idea because it takes a bit to make as you can see but once it is done you have sauce ready to go anytime for a quick weeknight meal.  Thaw in the fridge the night before or warm up on law in a medium covered pot while the pasta is cooking!

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10 thoughts on “Nonni’s Easy Homemade Ragu Sauce

  1. This is great, thank you for the explanation between sauce names. I love that this simmered for a long time to develop much richer flavour than jarred. Thanks for the great recipe !

  2. This looks delicious!! Thank you so much for having a “jump to the recipe” link, that makes so easy when you are shopping for the ingredients. I wish all food bloggers did that.

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