Spaghetti with meat sauce (Μακαρόνια με κιμά)

Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.

Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.

Stop! Before you read any further, you need to be prepared to forget everything you already know about making meat sauce.  If you don’t know anything, then google ‘how to make a great meat sauce’, learn a few things, and then go ahead and forget those. That’s because our parents’ meat sauce recipe is so beautifully unusual that you’ll be left wondering what you have gotten yourselves into.  If you’re worried that it’s going to be a flop…relax.  There’s always take-out.

So, what makes this meat sauce different?  Well actually, if you have Greek parents, then it might be quite familiar to you. However if your parents do not come from the birthplace of democracy and modern medicine, chances are you’ll find it odd. Except for the onion, there are no finely chopped vegetables, sautéed until soft and sweet. There is no browning of the ground meat, no gentle stovetop simmering for hours.  There is no added cheese, no tomato paste, no secret spoonful of sugar, and no fresh (or dried) herbs.  Instead, you will lightly sauté some onion and then toss the rest of the straightforward ingredients together in a pot where your ground meat will basically boil in tomato sauce. There’s a little more to it than that…but barely.

Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.

Helpful hints:

Once again, a few simple ingredients come together to create a dish which is remarkably delicious.  And once again, the quality of these ingredients is key.  In particular, the meat that you use will greatly influence the sauce.  Our parents use equal quantities of both pork and veal in their meat sauce.  Although you can certainly substitute either of these for another type of meat, we suggest that you stick to the original recipe, at least the first time.  We doubt you will play around with it too much later on, as the original version is so good.

Our parents always use the best cut of meat they can find for their spaghetti and meat sauce and then grind it themselves. Here they use pork tenderloin and veal front and end up using 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat total.  If you don’t have the ability to grind your own meat then we strongly suggest that you make friends with your local butcher, because he or she can do it for you.  Go ahead, introduce yourself.  Feeling a little intimidated making nice with someone holding a meat cleaver?  Looking for an ice breaker?  Tell them about Mia Kouppa.  Don’t be shy…we won’t mind.

We realize that not everyone has a kitchen scale, so we measured that 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat is the equivalent of approximately 3 cups of ground meat.

Our parents always serve this meat sauce with spaghetti. Although you can certainly substitute penne, macaroni or fancy bow-tie shaped pasta, we think that spaghetti is the perfect companion for this sauce.

If you love pasta, we think you’d love our “Spanakopita mac and cheese”, watch video below:

The cloves listed in the recipe are optional…primarily because one of us hates cloves, and is convinced that there is a significant portion of the population that hates them too.  So, if you don’t have a strong opinion either way, add the cloves.  If you are a clove-hater, omit them and be happy (and relieved that you won’t accidentally bite into a whole clove which was mistakenly left in the sauce).

This recipe makes enough meat sauce for 4 generous servings of pasta, each with a very generous serving of meat sauce (just look at the pictures!).  Even at that, you will likely have sauce left over.  It freezevery well and is perfect to have on hand for a last minute supper idea or take-along lunch.

Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.
Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.
Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.

Looking for some more pasta dinners, how about these?

Spaghetti with olive oil and mizithra

Pasta with Nea Fytini

Spanakopita mac and cheese

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Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.
Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Greek-style spaghetti with meat sauce is a meal that is pure comfort food.
4.96 from 23 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Greek
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 822kcal
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 500 grams spaghetti
  • 1 teaspoon salt, for the pasta water
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 4 3/4 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 ½ lbs total; mixture of ground pork, and ground veal (3 cups total)
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon heaping
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 whole cloves, optional
  • grated mizithra cheese, optional or you can use a combo of parmesan and romano cheese


  • Heat oil in a medium to large sized saucepot and cook onion for about 5 minutes over medium high heat until soft and very slightly caramelized.
    1/2 cup olive oil, 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • Add the rest of ingredients: tomato sauce;  meat;  1 tablespoon salt;  cinnamon; nutmeg;  and cloves if you are using,  to the pot.   Stir well.
    4 3/4 cups tomato sauce, 1 ½ lbs total; mixture of ground pork, and ground veal, 1 tbsp salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 whole cloves, optional
  • Reduce heat to low/medium and cook, uncovered for approximately 45 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent sauce from sticking to the bottom.
  • When sauce is almost ready, boil your pasta.  Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a pot of boiling water and cook spaghetti according to the instructions on the package.
    500 grams spaghetti, 1 teaspoon salt, for the pasta water
  • Drain pasta once cooked.  Serve on plates.  Top with meat sauce and sprinkle with mizithra cheese if desired.
    grated mizithra cheese, optional
  • Enjoy!


Meat sauce freezes very well.  


Calories: 822kcal | Carbohydrates: 75g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 44g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 24g | Cholesterol: 82mg | Sodium: 2249mg | Potassium: 1182mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 11g | Vitamin A: 849IU | Vitamin C: 16mg | Calcium: 67mg | Iron: 4mg

Thanks for sharing!


  1. Ann-Marie says:

    This has become a weekly go-to recipe for us! Tasty and almost effortless make for a wonderful combination! I’ve even snuck in some carrots and zucchini without the kids noticing because it tastes so good. 😊

    1. miakouppa says:

      You are brilliant!! Sneaking in vegetables is never a bad idea 🙂 Glad you are enjoying this meat sauce (it freezes great too, in case you ever feel like making a really big batch to have some on stand-by) 🙂

  2. Jennie Govas says:

    Hello dear ladies, I was looking over this recipe in order to make it. Just a clarification please. After you sauté the onions you put in the kima with the tomato sauce without sautéing the kima first? First time I see this. You “break up” the kima in the tomato sauce?
    Thank you

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Jennie, you understood correctly! There is no sauteing of the kima. Weird, we know!! But trust us, it turns out beautifully. Hope you love it! Please let us know what you think 🙂

  3. Stephanie says:

    Hi ladies – I live in the UK and am just wondering what “tomato sauce” is? Is it grated tomatoes? Canned tomatoes? Passata? LOVE your recipes and seeing your newsletter in my inbox is highlight of my day 🙂

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Stephanie! Thank you so much for your kind words! This is a question we get pretty frequently as we have readers from all over the world! We really need to do a post about it 🙂 Thanks for reminding us! When we say tomato sauce in our recipes we are referring to passata. Hope this helps! xoxo Helen & Billie

  4. Bessie Condos says:

    Would you happen to have a recipe for Psari Marinato?
    Thank you
    Bessie Condos

    1. miakouppa says:

      Hi Bessie! Thanks for the message. That is not a recipe we have posted yet unfortunately. Hope you find other stuff to love here with us however! xoxo Helen & Billie

  5. Dia Nicolopoulos says:

    I have made this recipe quite a few times for my family and they were delighted! Simply scrumptious.

    1. miakouppa says:

      Wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to comment Dia. We are thrilled to know that you family loves this recipe! xoxo Helen & Billie

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