Go Back
+ servings

Easy Weeknight Meat Sauce Recipe

Hearty, bold, and full of flavor, this Weeknight Meat Sauce Recipe cooks up in 30 minutes with an abundance of fresh produce and pantry staples, creating a meal that will feed a crowd! Perfect with egg noodles, this dish is finished with fresh scallions, parsley, and a delicious mound of cheddar cheese.
Course Dinner, Italian, Main, Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine American, Comfort Food, Italian
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 12
Calories 250kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet yellow onion diced
  • 2 small red bell peppers seeded and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic minced
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef
  • 2 small zucchini diced
  • 2 ½ tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup red bell pepper paste
  • 43 oz can crushed tomatoes 28 oz + 15 oz cans
  • 1 ¼ cups water
  • ½ cup scallions chopped
  • ½ cup curly parsley chopped
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese


  • Heat olive oil in a large (14-inch), high-sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer, or until fragrant. Add beef and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat as it cooks, about 7 minutes more.
  • Add the zucchini, followed by the Italian seasoning, salt, red pepper flakes, and pepper and stir well to combine, cooking for 5 more minutes.
  • Add the red bell pepper paste, crushed tomatoes, and water, using the water to rinse extra tomatoes from the cans, stir well to combine and let simmer for 10 minutes. Gently stir in the scallions and parlsey until thoroughly combined, then serve over your favorite noodles, top with cheddar cheese, and enjoy!


  • My favorite part of this sauce is the sneaky addition of diced zucchini. If you don't have any on hand, you can use yellow summer squash or even butternut squash. Alternatively, you can omit the zucchini all together.
  • If you don't have any red bell pepper paste on hand, swap it with the same amount of tomato paste.
  • Want a bit more spice? Increase the amount of red pepper flakes, or alternatively, throw a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce into he mix.
  • If you can't find 15 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes, swap it with a can of petite diced tomatoes, but don't drain them. The fire-roasted variety would be a nice flavor boost, too.
  • This recipe uses 2 pounds of ground beef, but you can easily swap one of those pounds for italian sausage, or ground lamb.


Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 14g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 67mg | Sodium: 547mg | Potassium: 787mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1210IU | Vitamin C: 36mg | Calcium: 214mg | Iron: 4mg