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My Mama Iuliucci’s “Don’t Skip a Step” Spaghetti Sauce


  • 2(28 ounce) canscrushed tomatoes
  • 1(28 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1(6 ounce) can tomato paste
  • 1tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1⁄2teaspoons salt
  • 1⁄2teaspoon black pepper
  • 1teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 1teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1tablespoon parsley
  • 1⁄2cup grated parmesan cheese or 1⁄2 cup romano cheese
  • 2onions, chopped
  • 2cloves garlic, chopped
  • Italian sausage or home-made meatballs
  • 1 -2spareribs (optional)
  • leftover cooked chicken thighs or chicken leg (optional)
  • pepperoni (optional)


  • Combine tomato products in large stock pot or dutch oven.
  • Add a 28 ounce can of water and stir.
  • Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  • Sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, parsley and grated cheese and stir to combine.
  • In a frying pan, heat about 1/4" of vegetable oil and fry up your sausage or meatballs until cooked through.
  • Add the meat to the simmering sauce, along with any optional meats (recommended) mentioned in ingredients.
  • Now, this is an important, not to be left out, step: Add chopped onions and garlic to pan that meat was fried in.
  • Do not drain anything before adding onions and garlic– there should be some drippings/oil left in the pan!
  • Fry onions and garlic until tender and aromatic.
  • Remove pan from heat.
  • Another important step, not to be left out: Add about 1/2 cup water to the pan and swish around, combining the leftover drippings and onion and garlic.
  • Pour and scrape it all into the simmering sauce.
  • Stir to combine.
  • Let simmer for 3 hours or until desired consistency, stirring occasionally.
  • I keep mine only half way covered, so it cooks down and gets thick and rich.
  • Remove pepperoni, chicken and ribs if used.
  • Remove meat from bones of chicken and ribs and add back to sauce in small shreds.
  • Discard pepperoni, eat it, or chop it up and add it back to sauce.
  • Serve over your favorite pasta and enjoy.


  • JimB427

    I made this exactly as posted Except I used 32 oz.(1 quart of home canned tomatoes) This is an awesome sauce. I have cooked Italian sausage and meatballs in it, and then I froze the balance to see jow well it was after being frozen. It was just as good as it was when first made. This will definitely be our sauce of choice from now on. Thanks much for a definite keeper.

  • jgeoff

    This sauce was amazing! I bought 2 rotisserie chicken thighs from the deli for this, and 2 raw spare ribs from the butcher. Don’t skimp on those two “optional” ingredients!

  • Atheist Cook

    WOW!!! This is the best pasta sauce I have ever made in my life! After starting the sauce I found that my Italian sausage was spoiled. I was certain it would not turn out with the loss of such an important ingredient. I had the spare ribs and pepperoni so I decided to make the best of what I had available. This sauce was still amazing! I cannot wait to make this again with the meatballs and/or Italian sausage. Thank you for the great recipe.

  • mlonewolfq08

    This will forever be my favorite recipe to turn to wheneer i make spaghetti. This sauce is just pure excellence! its not too sweet like some sauces are, its got just the right sweet to mildness ratio and that is what makes a darn good sauce. i tend to cut back on a little less parm. cheese but thats just personal preference. i have made this sauce more than 5 times already and everytime i make this its tastes better and better and i always find more and more people wanting to come over for homemade spaghetti and meatballs. i tend to make this on a friday, cause then ill be able to beat my parents home from work and already have them a meal ready to eat and the house smelling like a classic mamma and pappa itallian restaurant. i plan to keep this recipe in my head (and stomach)forever. thank you karen for giving out this wondeful recipe that will be making so many families happy for a long time.

  • TexasKelly

    We thought this was a great 5 star meal. I had never tried making my own sauce before. It was really easy to get together, and I did allow it to simmer for probably 6 or 7 hours until we actually ate dinner. I used all the optional meats, and I also made your meatballs to go into the sauce. My 1 year old LOVED the meatballs, and since they were simmered all day in the sauce they were so nice and moist. I had tons of leftover sauce and I don’t know that I would even bother to buy spaghetti sauce again- a couple hours of cooking yields enough sauce to last us quite awhile. Thanks so much for posting the recipe.

  • Connie5

    I made this recipe with the corresponding meatball recipe and it was great. My 14 month old son loved it too. I haven’t made homemade sauce in ages, but I think it will be a regular on my menu now!

  • ChefWrigley

    Fantastic! I couldn’t get any of my Italian friends or family members to share their recipe with me for good meatballs and sauce so after much research I decided to try this one. The hysterical thing is that now all those same people are wondering how I made something so good! As I make them more and more I put my own touches on them but this has quickly become a “go to” dinner for me. I highly recommend investing in a vacuum sealer ( I use Seal-A-Meal) and having the sauce and meatballs in your freezer for busy nights. Thanks for sharing!

  • TMF

    This is a great sauce recipe. I have made it three or four times, and I can’t believe no one has rated it yet. It really goes together easily and fills the house with a wonderful aroma while it cooks! I used an end piece of pork loin that I browned first and then put into the pot. The only change that I made was to use 1/2 cup of red wine instead of water to deglaze the pan. Then that went into the pot, too. Thanks Karen – this is a real keeper.

  • rbpatton

    Made this last night — best marinara sauce I have ever made (and I have tried LOTS!). My family was still raving about it this morning. I made turkey meatballs and did not include the other meat suggestions and it was still delicious. The lengthy simmering time is a must. Thank you for posting!!

  • cookingpompom

    I tripled this and made an enormous pot of sauce. I love my own sauce, but thought it would be good to try something new. I I followed this to the letter, added all the optional ingredients too. As a mum of four small children, all four little plates were clean, one even licked their plate! Perfect, don’t change a thing. My only thing I recommend is making a double, triple or quadruple pot and freeze in bags for sauce on hand. If you are going to make such an effort – make lots!!!! Thanks Karen, it tastes like the sauce at my Italian restaurant.