Jan 17, 2013

Crowd-Pleasing Italian Meat Sauce

As I mentioned in a previous post, we hosted a gathering for all of our church leaders last week. I have very little experience cooking for large groups so I was a little nervous going in. I decided to serve pasta and Italian meat sauce because it goes a long way, it's cheap, and it is really easy to prepare. It also goes well with simple sides like salad, garlic bread, and a veggie. I adapted a recipe I found online, and it turned out to be a great success. This recipe feeds 30-40 adults. As far as pasta noodles, 4-5 pounds should be enough. If preparing this sauce for my family, I divide everything by 4, and it turns out just as delicious. We usually have leftovers, but, in my humble opinion, spaghetti sauce leftovers are even better the next day!

**Pay attention to the ounces in this recipe. The can sizes may not be what you're used to buying. 

Crowd-Pleasing Italian Meat Sauce 


  • 4 pounds ground beef
  • 4 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 1 can (29 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 cans (4-1/4 ounces each) chopped ripe olives, drained
  • 2 cans (4 ounces each) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons pepper


Cook 2 pounds of beef, 2 onions, and 2 cloves of garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Drain. Add the cooked meat mixture to a large stock pot and cover to keep warm. Repeat the process with the rest of the beef, onion, and garlic. Once all the ground meat is cooked down with the onion and garlic, add the rest of the ingredients to the large stock pot. Simmer over a low heat for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Serve over pasta. 

Ingredients (minus the ground meat)
Browning ground meat to add to the stock pot.
When I say large stock pot, I mean large.



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