Easy, Budget Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

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One of my husband’s favorite meals in the world is spaghetti, but it is far from my favorite. After we got married, he would routinely ask me to cook spaghetti for dinner and I would almost always tell him no. I think my biggest objection was that I thought all good spaghetti sauce took forever to make from scratch and I didn’t like buying it canned or jarred, so we just didn’t eat it.

One day I was complaining to my sister about our spaghetti dilemma and she recommended Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. This recipe calls for three ingredients and is ready in 45 minutes, with minimal work.

I decided I’d give it a try and we were blown away. With one can of crushed tomatoes, one onion, and five tablespoons of butter simmered on the stove, in under an hour you get a sauce with incredible depth of flavor. You can amp it up by adding different spices, but I usually just stick with salt and pepper because it doesn’t need much more. You can also add ground meat for a more hearty meal, but again, it doesn’t need it.

After I made this the first time my husband said it was the best spaghetti he had ever eaten. He is not afraid to tell me what he honestly thinks about my cooking, so this is really saying something. Since then, this recipe has been a staple in our house and usually makes an appearance once a week. The best part is that you only need four ingredients for the whole meal: the tomatoes, onion, and butter, plus the spaghetti. Each of these ingredients usually costs less than $2, so you’ve got an $8 meal that tastes much more expensive. That is a big win in my book!

Easy Budget Spaghetti Sauce


  • 1 pound spaghetti, prepared according to package instructions
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • 5 tablespoons butter

In a large saucepan, combine the crushed tomatoes, onion, and butter. Place the saucepan over low heat for 45 minutes. Remove the onion (or you can blend it into the sauce) and stir to be sure butter is fully distributed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the spaghetti — and enjoy!

Tags: Quick Recipe Ideas, Sunday Dinner Ideas, Sauces, International Cuisine

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Written By

Ellie Haley

 Ellie Haley is a food photographer, recipe developer, food blogger, and pastry chef based in Waco, Texas where she lives... See Full Bio

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