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This Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is Boss

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The Story Behind the Sauce

Do you have a restaurant in your hometown that’s just known for something you can’t get anywhere else? Well in Huntington, WV that restaurant is Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti house.

My family has frequented Jim’s as long as I can remember, but no one goes for steak. It’s ALL about the homemade spaghetti sauce and the strawberry pie, but that’s for another post. You can even buy their spaghetti sauce by the quart, which we frequently did growing up and simply boiled the spaghetti at home. I can remember mom parking curbside and sending me in to buy sauce as a child, cash only of course, which just changed only a few weeks ago. Jim was ALWAYS there and would give me a dollar when I went in by myself; I thought I was a big deal!

recreating the original

There’s something about Jim’s, from the hometown feel to the all-white waitress uniforms, to the blank faces place-mats for the kids, to the green retro diner décor.

It just feels like home, but now that I’m in Tennessee, I rarely get to frequent the one and only. It’s also straight folklore as to what’s the secret to their AMAZING sauce. WARNING: their sauce is not a traditional Italian “gravy” (my Italian uncle was not impressed, to say the least). Their sauce is more of a meaty, chili style spaghetti, but I promise it does not disappoint.

I have seen a thousand different recipes for Jim’s Spaghetti sauce, but all of them haven’t really come close until this one. I have even had some friends and family say this is even better than Jim’s (is that even possible?).  Whether you agree or disagree, what we can all agree on is that this is a damn delicious homemade spaghetti sauce recipe.


Batch is Clutch!

The beauty of this one is that it’s a crowd-pleaser, freezes well and can be made in bulk. This is so clutch on busy nights where you barely feel like boiling water much less cooking dinner. It’s also fantastic to take new moms, friends or family that have lost loved ones or to easily entertain a large group at home. I actually made this twice (per my young daughter’s request) for her birthday party and it was super easy.  I love to make a large batch and freeze in quart-sized containers, perfect for a family of four! Just grab one out of the freezer to heat up, boil some noodles and you’re in business. In true Jim’s fashion, I serve applesauce and (gasp) white bread with butter, but you can opt for the traditional salad and garlic bread if you choose. Also, some grated parm on top is a MUST!

Did I mention that all bowls are empty on spaghetti night?

Spaghetti Sauce Recipe: batch and single dinner

This ingredient list uses all products bought at Walmart. You can save even more by referring to the helpful hints section…

Batch Spaghetti Sauce Recipe:

  • 4lbs Ground Chuck- $5.98/each total 23.92
  • 3 Medium Onions diced- $2.57
  • 3 Large Cans Tomato Sauce (28oz)- $5.52
  • 4 Small Cans Tomato Paste- $2.88
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder- $0.50 (full container $3.97)
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper- In cupboard
  • 4 Bay Leaves- $1.00 (full container $3.97)
  • 4 tsp Chili Powder- $1.32 (full container $3.97)
  • ½ cup Sugar- In cupboard
  • 6 oz. Hot Sauce (Frank’s)- $1.34 (full container $2.68)
  • 2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar- $0.04 (full container $2.12)
  • 4 tsp Salt- in cupboard

Total- $39.09 before tax

Yield- 5 quarts

Mix in above order. Simmer (med-low heat) 3 hours uncovered stirring frequently (every 15-20 minutes)

Single Dinner Spaghetti Sauce Recipe:

  • 1lb Ground Chuck
  • 1 Medium Onion diced
  • 1.5 Small Cans Tomato Sauce (14oz)
  • 1 Small Can Tomato Paste
  • ½ tsp Garlic Powder
  • ½ tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1 tsp Chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1.5 oz. Hot Sauce (Frank’s)
  • ½ tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Salt

Mix in above order. Simmer (med-low heat) 3 hours uncovered stirring frequently (every 15-20 minutes)

Helpful Hints for cooking spaghetti sauce

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Stirring frequently is actually pretty important for this one! If you let it sit too long the sauce will burn to the pan. I prefer to use a large stainless steel stockpot for cooking.

I’ve used a ceramic dutch oven style pot and couldn’t keep the sauce from sticking. I’ve found that stirring with a spatula helps keep any sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pan best. Also, if you have a splatter screen, this is definitely one of those recipes where you want to use it. The sauce will pop out of the pan and you don’t want a mess or any little ones getting hit. Alternatively, you can put a lid on it while cooking, but leave it cracked so the liquid can still evaporate.

homemade spaghetti sauce storage

After the sauce is finished, you can divide it into quart-sized containers. Allow the sauce to cool before putting the containers into the refrigerator or freezer. Gallon-size freezer bags are also awesome for easy thawing. Just lay flat to freeze and it can save you some freezer space. Here are some reusable freezer bags you may want to pick up if you’re looking to cut down on waste!

final helpful hints

Save $1.50/pound on organic ground beef at Aldi when the family fresh pack goes on sale ($17.96 for 4 pounds) and up to $2 on organic spices every day. Once you have everything on hand you are really buying the meat and tomato products when you make a batch.

LASTLY!!! If you have family that doesn’t like spicy reduce the amount of hot sauce to 4oz. for the bulk batch or 1oz. for the single batch. This seems to work better for little ones that aren’t used to a little heat and you can always shake a little hot sauce on top of your individual serving as my husband does.

fourganic sisters spaghetti sauce

Batch Recipe Jim’s Spaghetti Sauce (Copycat)

Alissa Hornbuckle
A homemade spaghetti sauce recipe so close to the original Jim's Steak and Spaghetti House you'll swear you were sitting in a green booth on Fifth Avenue in Huntington, WV.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Course dinner
Cuisine Italian
Servings 5 quarts


  • Stockpot


  • 4 pounds organic ground beef
  • 3 Medium Onions diced
  • 3 28- ounce Cans Tomato Sauce
  • 4 Small Cans Tomato paste
  • 2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 4 tsp Chili Powder
  • ½ cup Sugar
  • 6 oz. Hot Sauce Frank’s
  • 2 tsp Red Wine Vinegar
  • 4 tsp Salt


  • Mix in above order. Simmer (med-low heat) 3 hours uncovered stirring frequently (every 15-20 minutes). Let cool completely before freezing.
Freezer-Friendly spaghetti sauce PINTEREST

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