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Doctored up Spaghetti Sauce (from a jar)

sauce on pasta

Doctored up Spaghetti Sauce is something that I make almost every single week! It starts with any ol’ jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce and turns it into a hearty meat sauce and can be used in so many different recipes.


Everyone can admit that a red sauce is always better after it sits for a couple days. Using a jar of sauce just gives the meat sauce that simmered-all-day taste.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

How to doctor up a jar of spaghetti sauce:

It starts with adding veggies and ground beef. Onion, bell pepper, and garlic add so much flavor! I start a lot of my dishes with this veggie combo for good reason!

I add the vegetables in at the same time as the meat and cook everything together. It flavors the meat and saves on time as well. We usually use ground beef but you can use any combination below.

What other kind of meat can you add to spaghetti sauce?

  • Ground beef
  • Ground turkey
  • Italian sausage (I would recommend only using this for half of your meat)

Once your meat and veggies are seasoned and cooked, you can add the jar of your favorite sauce, tomato paste, the canned tomatoes and remaining seasonings. The sauce then gets simmered for 20 minutes and then you can toss in a handful of parmesan cheese for even more yumminess!

Ingredients in spaghetti sauce

Recipes using spaghetti sauce:

Spaghetti sauce, doctored up spaghetti sauce

Our favorite way to use this meat sauce is over just plain ol’ spaghetti! Just boil your pasta, toss with the sauce, and top with extra parmesan cheese!

We sometimes will even make a double batch of this doctored up spaghetti sauce and store it in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal. Just thaw in the fridge then simmer in a saucepan to re-heat.

sauce on pasta


sauce on pasta
Print Recipe
4.89 from 9 votes

Doctored up Spaghetti Sauce (from a jar)

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American, Italian
Servings: 6 people
Author: Coco and Ash


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef (or a mixture of beef and turkey)
  • 1 small yellow onion (diced)
  • 1 small green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 garlic cloves (minced)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon italian seasoning
  • 24 ounce jar of store-bought pasta sauce
  • 14.5 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)


  • Prepare the veggies by dicing the onion and pepper and mincing the garlic cloves.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil, ground beef, and veggies, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • Sauté until the meat is fully browned and the veggies are soft. (about 7-10 min)
  • Drain the grease from the meat/veggie mixture and return everything to the pan.
  • Add in the spaghetti sauce, drained diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and another 1/2 teaspoon of salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning.
  • Stir everything together, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • After the 20 minutes add in the parmesan cheese. Stir until melted.
  • Serve over pasta or let cool and refrigerate until ready to use.

Doctored up spaghetti sauce

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  • Reply
    Jacqueline Meldrum
    July 16, 2021 at 7:55 pm

    Good idea! I always keep an emergency jar of pasta sauce in the cupboard.

    • Reply
      May 27, 2022 at 7:01 pm

      Very tasty, nice, and easy. Great additions to making jar marinara sauce. Thank you

  • Reply
    Heather Johnson
    July 16, 2021 at 8:48 pm

    i love anything semi-homemade – i do this all the time – these are some great additions and it was really great! loved it

  • Reply
    July 16, 2021 at 9:09 pm

    Great idea for making flavorful pasta sauce! Should be great with ground turkey.

  • Reply
    July 16, 2021 at 10:30 pm

    I love adding flavor to pasta sauce and I can’t wait to give this one a try! Looks so delicious and sounds so tasty with both ground beef and turkey! The family is going to love this tomorrow night for dinner!

  • Reply
    July 16, 2021 at 10:44 pm

    First of all, I was like “jar, what jar?” I couldn’t believe that sauce was once in a jar! You took it to the next level, and I want this sauce!

  • Reply
    July 19, 2021 at 11:40 am

    I thought everyone already did this since most jarred sauce varies from awful to bland. I also add oregano and fennel. Since I am Italian don”t tell anyone

    • Reply
      January 29, 2022 at 4:38 pm

      Fennel in my sausage/sauce/pizza only way I like it—-I tell everyone but I’m Irish—totally will keep your secret, Sharyn

  • Reply
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  • Reply
    Di Lemberger
    February 15, 2023 at 1:30 pm

    My grandkids are very picky, I’ve found if I omit the tomato paste and use frozen meatballs with only 1/2# of ground beef they eat every bite! I also buy frozen sliced peepers and onions to save time. For us adults, we use your recipe! No one knows I use jar sauce lol! Now if I just had a good garlic bread recipe….

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  • Reply
    Lynne Mullins Warren
    April 14, 2023 at 11:28 am

    I made doctored up spaghetti sauce for dinner last night and it was so delicious! My husband loved it too!! This will be the way I make spaghetti sauce from now on. Next time, I’ll add mushrooms.

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    August 15, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    what brands of jarred spaghetti sauce are good? The ones I have tried are too tangy/acidic and I cant enjoy them.

    • Reply
      Coco and Ash
      August 15, 2023 at 12:44 pm

      Hi Michelle! My absolute favorites are Mid’s and Carbone 🙂

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