Gramma's Spaghetti Sauce (or so I thought)


Spaghetti sauce, it is similar to meatloaf or potato salad, everyone has a recipe.  The only spaghetti sauce I had growing up was my grandmother's.  Written on recipe cards as "Gramma's Spaghetti Sauce", one was left to assume it was her creation.  Childhood twists and turns such thoughts, building up that person in the best of ways.  I'm not implying that is bad either, in most circumstances they deserve it.  The origin story of the recipe is still a shadow.  My mother and aunts have said it was from an Italian woman that was a mother of my grandmother's friend.  When I first heard this I thought it would be disappointing to find out it wasn't original.  The fact that it is from someone with Italian roots, if not Italy itself, made it even more interesting.


As for the recipe itself, it is incredibly simple, flexible and freezable.  It is my guess that the recipe I have is adapted in some way.  Being the mother of eleven sometimes called for shortcuts and methods that extended original recipes.  For instance, the recipe calls for liquid garlic.    My guess is that fresh garlic was expensive at the time (1960-75?, If you have a good resource for the price of foods over the decades, share it here, or in the comments below).


Below you will find the original and the recipe I use that has been adapted only slightly (Gramma would add water as needed to stretch the recipe. My mother usually leaves water out all together)





  • two small cans, tomato paste
  • eight small cans of water (fill the tomato paste cans)
  • one large can of tomato sauce
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • two tablespoons white sugar
  • one tablespoon oregano
  • two teaspoon liquid garlic
  • one tablespoon minced onion (dry)
  • salt and pepper as needed

Combine in a large pot and simmer for 2.5-3 hours


  • two pounds hamburger
  • one tablespoon celery salt
  • one tablespoon onion salt
  • one tablespoon garlic salt
  • two eggs
  • Parmesan cheese
  • two sleeves of crackers (one in mix, other to roll in)

Add meatballs to sauce at 1.5 in


  • two small cans of tomato paste
  • one large can of tomato sauce
  • one large can of water (fill tomato sauce can, you can add more water to increase servings.  If you add more than two cans of water, double other ingredients and so on)
  • two tablespoons of butter
  • two tablespoons white sugar
  • one tablespoon oregano
  • two teaspoon liquid garlic (you can substitute two cloves of garlic)
  • one tablespoon of dry minced onion
  • salt and pepper as needed

Combine in a large pot for 2.5-3 hours


  • one pound ground beef 85% or below
  • one pound ground pork
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 2 teaspoons onion salt
  • two eggs
  • two tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • two sleeves of Zesta brand crackers (use another brand at your own risk)

Combine all ingredients through cheese into a large bowl.  Break one sleeve of Zesta crackers into pieces, add to the bowl.  Ground the second sleeve of crackers into a sand type crumb, place into another rounded bowl.  Roll the meat ingredients into balls, then coat in crackers, then into the spaghetti sauce after the sauce has been on for 1.5 hours.


  • We always double or even triple the recipe and freeze it.  I can't explain it, but it is always better the second time
  • cover pot with a strainer or be prepared to clean spaghetti sauce up...everywhere
  • The longer it cooks, the better.  It is perfect for Sundays.  Start it around noon, eat at six.
  • Avoid a crockpot.  The sauce will be watery and if it cooks at too high of a temp, can end up with a slight barbecue taste