Spaghetti Meat Sauce

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Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe | Easy Japanese Recipes at

What was your favorite food growing up?  You would think mine is Japanese but it’s actually not, but it sort of is.

Japanese style Spaghetti Meat Sauce was my favorite food since childhood and I always “had to” order it whenever we went to Western-style restaurant in Japan.  I would even describe myself as a spaghetti meat sauce connoisseur since I’ve ate it so many times!

Anyhow, I may not qualify as an official expert, but at least I know exactly what kind of meat sauce I like.  In fact, I have many different Meat Sauce recipes because I am always finding ways to improve my recipe.  So far, this recipe is my favorite “Japanese style” meat sauce that I came up.

Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe | Easy Japanese Recipes at

One big difference with Japanese meat sauce vs. American version is the Japanese often use both ground beef and pork and I really like using both type of ground meat.  You can get a package of ground beef and pork combined (see a picture below) in Japanese supermarkets and it’s very convenient (a little pricey but quality of meat is excellent).

My kids love this meat sauce with short pasta but I still love Spaghetti Meat Sauce and I don’t even mind boiling spaghetti separately just for myself!  I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Spaghetti Meat Sauce Recipe | Easy Japanese Recipes at

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Spaghetti Meat Sauce
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 3-4
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • ¼ lb ground pork (Today I use ground beef & pork package from Japanese market)
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 bay leaf, cut in half
  • 1 large onion, minced
  • 1 carrot, minced
  • 1 celery stalks, minced
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 28-oz whole tomato can and their juice
  • 2 cubes vegetable bouillon or 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water (omit if you use vegetable broth)
  • 2 cups white mushrooms
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parsley for garnish, finely chopped
  • Fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  1. In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium heat and cook garlic and bay leaf until fragrant.
  2. Add onion, carrot, and celery and sauté until golden browned.
  3. Add the meat and break into pieces with wooden spoon.
  4. Add red wine and turn up the heat. Mix well and let the wine evaporate until the liquid is almost gone.
  5. Add whole tomato and bouillon (if you are not using vegetable broth) and break up the tomatoes with the wooden spoon.
  6. Add water (or vegetable broth) and mushrooms.
  7. Skim off the scum and fat from the soup with a fine mesh strainer. This process is important to achieve refined taste. You can easily clean the sieve in water.
  8. Cook uncovered on medium low heat for 1 hour. Stir once in a while and it’s done when you see the bottom of the pan when you use scoop with the spatula.
  9. And add butter and mix well. Sprinkle generous amount of salt and pepper to taste (since we eat with spaghetti). Serve the meat sauce on spaghetti and garnish with parsley. Grate fresh Parmesan cheese at the table.
Recipe by Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook. All images and content on this site are copyright protected. Please do not use my images without my permission. If you’d like to share this recipe on your site, please re-write the recipe in your own words and link to this post as the original source. Thank you.


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  1. I love this recipe..guess what spaghetti and sauce with both pork and beef was also my favorite, and still is! My MIL is making it all the time. Never tried with red wine though, also I love the addition of mushrooms and celery! Looks wonderful, so tempting..and beautiful pictures too!:)

  2. Please wake me up for this dish!! You weren’t kidding when you said you loved pasta huh? I love your meat sauce! I always eat “red” sauce because that seems to be healthier then “white” sauce. And to be honest…I wouldn’t know how to make white sauce hahah.
    If I can I sneak some cubed eggplants in the sauce. The hubby isn’t a fan of eggplant so this is a good way to cover it up =)

    Congrats on your awards!! I didn’t know if I could pass it on to someone on Purabi’s list, but your blog was surely on my mind! I like your personally (you are so super nice!), your pictures and your recipes and I enjoy reading your blog very much.

  3. Hehehe this looks very Italian to me! We make it almost exactly the same way… I think the only 2 small differences between the Japanese version and the Italian version are that we do not put mushrooms and butter in it. The rest is 100% the same!

    It looks delicious by the way! Now I am craving pasta!!! :-)

  4. Nami, your spaghetti sauce looks fantastic and actually very Italian (no soy sauce? no mirin? just kidding!). When I make bolognese sauce I also put butter (they use butter in Bologna, the Northern Italy often uses it instead of olive oil) and I also put mushroom (dried) and many other things… You meat sauce reminds of my bolognese sauce a bit (I only put beef though, as you said, Italian style). On the other hand, I think best meat balls or patties are made with a mixture of beef and pork (my mum always used to make them this way), so I think I would enjoy the Japanese meat sauce. Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • Sissi, good point. I actually have a recipe that use soy sauce as hidden accent (like 1-2 tsp). Japanese like to use soy sauce as a replacement of salt to tighten up the taste (how do you say in English?). But this one, I didn’t add because I wanted to add butter (salted)… =) You know Japanese food very well! 😉

  5. This is my ultimate comfort food. It was the one thing my mum liked to make, so it just tastes like my childhood. NB, have just discovered your blog and spent the most delightful and sneaky hour trawling through the archives- thank you!

  6. Looks nice. I thought the Japanese version might have some Japanese influences such as mirin. Your version has quite a lot of hidden vegetables, great for kids who probably won’t notice it:)

  7. I’m excited to have discovered your blog – I *love* Jap food..or food with a Jap twist to it! :)
    Will be trying this bolognese sauce this weekend when I stock up my kitchen! Maybe I should make extra and freeze them so I can have it anytime I want hahah.

  8. This is definitely one of my all time favourite pasta sauces!! It is not only delicious but I love preparing it because it is fun! I notice you have used a mixture of both beef and pork which is essential in making the meat texture softer and more flavoursome. I will definitely try adding some butter for a bit more decadence and flavour next time :)

    Fresh parmesan makes all the difference because when I was growing up in Malaysia, the only fresh cheese that we could get was from a nasty Kraft container! Here’s my recipe in case you want to compare notes. Your pasta looks really al dente and delicious too!

    • Hi C & MSP! I remember your post! Add even a little bit of butter adds richness. We used Kraft cheese growing up. I think it’s only for the last 10 years that fresh cheese appears in “regular” supermarkets. Till then, we use Kraft and even some (or most?) restaurants still bring Kraft container to the table!

  9. As usual, whatever you cook look delicious! I’ve never added butter in my spaghetti sauce but maybe that’s what gives it the extra rich taste. Maybe it’s time I try your recipe, Nami. Welcome back, the two weeks just went by so fast, yet I’ve missed you and glad you’re posting regularly again.

  10. Nami, your spaghetti sauce looks delicious, I love the butter at the end and sure that it enhances the flavor of the sauce. I love the pictures, always so tempting. I used to cook the spaghetti sauce with veggies to “hide” them from my son when he was growing up :-)
    Hope you are having a fantastic week!

  11. I can see that the meat sauce was made with love as it looks totally amazing!!
    Italians make the meat sauce with both beef and pork too so you’ve been making Italian meat sauce all along too! 😉

  12. sensiblecooking

    Looks like this is going to be one of my favorite grown up dish too. I love the way you cooked and brought together all those flavor. Just one question “can I make it using ground chicken?”

    • Hi Chandani, yes you can make with chicken. It might tastes better with ground chicken thighs since thighs are more flavorful. I think chicken will go with white wine better than red.

      • sensiblecooking

        Thanks Nami. I will give it a go this weekend. And luckily I got some white wine from winery when I was in Chicago that will be perfect with it.

  13. Old Doug in BC Canada

    Nami, away back in 1950 I ended up in hospital for an appendix operation. My room mate was there with same problem! He was an Italian artist, and we became friends. I asked him for his
    mother’s recipe for pasta meat sauce. The one you posted is identical to what came from Italy! His
    mother could not speak English so he wrote it our for me in English, as she told him in Italian. She gave me a big smile, and said something, he translated it. My mother said ENJOY! Which we have done now for over 60 years! He is long gone, but here I still am. Still cooking at 85! And Marie still baking at 81! AND married since 1949! And still in love.
    Cheers, old Doug in BC Canada

  14. I agree with Old Doug, Nami. This is Spaghetti Bolognese, the very one that’s popular here in the UK. It sounds so delicious. I could polish off a big plateful of that.

  15. That looks great! Different than what I’m used to but it looks yummy. I’m going to save your recipe to try it and maybe if I’m lucky my hubby will like it too – it’s got lots of other veggies in it – which I love!

  16. Jamie @ wokintime

    Good to have you back nami! Spaghetti is such a great family dish. I have to try mixing with ground pork next time. I bet it adds a lot of flavor!


  17. What a great version of ragu’ (Italian for meat sauce)!! Adding red wine is a great way of getting more flavor in your meat sauces! And I totally agree with Manu this is almost 100% Italian.

    I suggest you try cooking it for 3-4 hours, seems like a waste of time but I can assure you it can bring your ragu’ to the next level!

  18. Wow..I never make sauces at home ..other than curry and I must say that butter sounds so so delish..butter makes everything Love the pictures too Nami.I think I ll try try your recipe with ground chicken coz my husband loves it.This can make such a great weeknight dish!
    Thanks for sharing!
    I got your email & will reply missing all my web friends :(

  19. Nami, this is such a delicious looking meat sauce recipe! I love the simmering sauce with all the tasty ingredients in there. I am sure it would become a favorite of mine too if I tried this! Adding butter at the end is a very interesting addition. I can’t wait to try it!

  20. BBQ ribs was my favorite food growing up! Who would have ever thought that I’d become a vegetarian! LOL! This sauce looks awesome Nami! Is your Mama still in town? HUGS!

  21. I love a homemade meat sauce for spaghetti anytime, my dear! I usually use the three root veggies you are using too and I like it homemade because the spaghetti with meat sauce outside are usually so salty!

  22. I guess every culture has it’s own take on Spaghetti with a meat sauce… I know there’s an Indian version too, made in Indian homes that enjoy ‘western’ foods :) Love the addition of pork & mushrooms :) Sounds yummy, and I love how well the spaghetti is cooked… Perfectly al dente… Great post!

  23. Oh Nami that looks fabulous! My whole family love meat sauce, though Jon refuse to eat store bought spaghetti, so I reserve it for when he works late at night. I will have to give this recipe a try for our game night, looks like something I can make ahead and just serve with hot noodles when he gets home. Yum!

  24. Your pictures look lovely! And, I think knowing what you like, what your “favorite” is because you’ve tried tons of versions makes you an expert. How else does someone really understand what they’re talking about? This is great!

  25. Wow this sauce must be amazing- since it is slow cooked for so long! Great tip about skimming the fat off too (I dont think ive done that before?) and adding butter at the end. I’m not a huge meat sauce fan (issues with texture of loose ground beef) but I love Japanese style pastas!

    • Hi Lindsey! Skimming the fat/**** is very important step for cooking Japanese food and we are so used to doing it that we do it for even non-Japanese food… LOL. But the soup gets clear and I think it’s very easy step to make your food better. 😉

  26. Hey Nami! I feel like such a bad blogger friend – it’s been a bit since I’ve been over… the look has changed just a bit, hasn’t it? I love it!

    And this spaghetti sounds amazing, I will definitely have to try it your way soon!

    • Hey Peggy – don’t feel bad.. same here. I just came back from vacation but I’ve been so busy that I haven’t started reading google reader yet… We are both busy and I already appreciate your friendship! 😉 Same thing to everyone here…. I’ll be visiting everyone soon!

  27. Red meat sauce has to be in my all time top three favorite foods. Something about it is just magical and I have been known to eat it by the spoonful with nothing else to wash it down. That’s for reminding me how much I love it!

  28. Another Japanese pasta I really love is the mentaiko pasta…I’ve not tried Japanese style meat sauce before because I always thought it would just be the same American/Italian style. I noticed that sometimes they add a soft-boiled egg on top though! I’d love this with a side of kimchi. :-)

    • Hi Kay! I like adding butter or soy sauce at the end – even tiny bit. :-) $28 for marinara sauce! I would love to try that…has to be good!

  29. I must definitely try your Japanese style meat sauce the next time I cook spaghetti! 😀
    We always cook the Filipino version (slightly sweeter taste with some sugar added) ever since Cathy came and we love it very much. Previously, I only cooked it the very traditional way (I presumed) as instructed on the pasta sauce bottles and it tasted slightly sour but still nice. lol
    I like the idea of adding red wine and butter in the sauce! Must be very good! 😀

  30. Wow, who doesn’t love sphagetti and meat sauce? I can have this anytime…In fact, i can eat this every day, day after day! Your recipe looks great and I am going to try this for sure! Have a great weekend, Nami!!

  31. Orchidea

    I am very surprised about your story… And I have to say thi recipe is not too far from the Italian version.

  32. sid

    hey Nami,

    I am a silent reader of your blog and have tried many recipes! and I haven’t been disappointed yet! 😀 I am dying to try this recipe and was wondering if you can tell me what I can substitute red wine with as I don’t have wine or alcohol in my diet. thank you :) eagerly waiting for your reply!

    • Hi Sid! If you don’t take alcohol, don’t worry about the wine. The flavor will lack bold flavor a little bit but with all the vegetables and the ground meat, it’s still flavorful. :) I’m very happy to hear you have cooked many dishes from my blog and you enjoyed them. Thank you so much for your feedback. You made my day! :)

  33. I just discovered your recipes within the last few days and have already cooked your Gyudon and this spaghetti meat sauce! I’ve been yearning for Japanese styled spaghetti meat sauce since the Italian Tomato restaurant in my area closed down a few years ago. Your recipe was really great, the only addition I made to it was that I added sugar to the seasoning to give me the sweeter sauce that I’m used to in Japan.

    I’m so glad I found your blog! All of your recipes take me back to my childhood and my past times in Japan!

  34. Yum! I went to Japan almost 15 years ago and one of the most surprisingly things I discovered was how delicious the Italian food was! I had some amazing pasta dishes. This looks so good!

  35. Kate

    I’m cooking this right now. I lived in Japan for a few years while I was in the U.S. Navy, and I’ve been trying to mimic the awesome Japanese style spaghetti sauce since I’ve been back in the U.S.! I will have to let you know how it turns out later, but I must say this site is great! Thank you for sharing these wonderful recipes! Japanese culture and cuisine is SO much more than American sushi bars want us to think haha! :-)

    • Hi Kate! I hope you enjoyed this dish. It’s one of my favorite dishes and I always get cravings when I hear or see someone making it (like right now!). :) I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed your stay in Japan and that you continue to enjoy the Japanese food/culture. :)

  36. bearmon2010

    I dont used the BUTTERS because its not healthy. I prefer HEALTHFUL so I minus it and and I used dry basil instead of bay leaf and it works. Delicious and I cook it again — twice. :) :)

  37. Kitsune

    I was looking for a recipe similar to Goemon Pasta Restaurant in Japan that I had the Bolognese meat sauce, and yours tastes very close to it. Followed your recipe exactly, it’s flavorful and I love that’s it such an easy recipe. Thank you for the deliciousness!

    • So glad to hear you enjoyed this recipe! I love Goemon too and wish that we have Wafu pasta restaurants here haha. :) Thank you for your kind comment!

    • Oh! I sometimes don’t take it out but don’t notice the taste… =P It helps to remember if you put in a mesh bag or cotton and tie with strings. :)