Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce
Penne Pasta with Meat Sauce

So easy! Penne pasta with a simple tomato sauce with ground beef, onions, Italian spices, garlic and basil. This penne pasta dish is a perfect budget weeknight meal that everyone will love.

My mom made a penne pasta dish the other night that surprised everyone.

My 10 year old skinny nephew who doesn’t eat ate these penne pasta with gusto and asked for more. My carb-avoiding sister couldn’t resist. My father declared it a triumph!

When we asked her to do it again a few days later (so we could get a good photo for this post), she actually had a hard time remembering the details. The diligent father provided a few notes and everything came back to her.

Tip for the meat sauce

The main trick to this penne pasta recipe? Fry the meat sufficiently for the meat sauce! This means using a cast-iron skillet over high heat, letting the ground beef cook in its own fat, and not stirring to allow the meat to brown properly.

How to store and freeze

Leftovers of this penne pasta keep for about five days and reheat well in the microwave. If the mixture seems dry, stir in a splash of water or milk to fluff it up again.

The meat sauce can also be frozen quite well, but not with the pasta. If you want to freeze some or all of the meat sauce for future meals, just skip adding the pasta.

To freeze the sauce yourself, Fully cook the sauce and then allow it to cool completely. Transfer to freezer containers or bags and freeze for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating, or reheat straight from the freezer in a saucepan over low heat. Add a splash or two of water or milk to fluff up the sauce if it seems dry.

Try these other great pasta dinners

  • Baked ziti
  • Hamburger and macaroni
  • Pepperoni Pizza Penne Pasta
  • Shrimp pasta alla vodka
  • Pasta pan with chicken sausage, cheese and spinach

Penne pasta with meat sauce

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
45 minutes

total time
55 minutes

4 servings


  • 8th ounces penne

  • Salt

  • 2 tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 cups chopped Onion (Above 1 big Onion)

  • 2 Garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon Italian spice (mixture of dried basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram and savory)

  • hyphen red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme,or a pinch dried

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 lb ground beef (16% fat)

  • 3 fresh basil leaveschopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 2 1/2 cups chunky out of the can Tomato sauce (almost a 28 ounce can, Muir Glen brand if you can get it)

  • 1 teaspoon sugar

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley


  1. Cook Penne Pasta:

    Heat a large saucepan with 4 liters of water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, salt it with 2 tablespoons of salt. Once the water is boiling again, add the pasta to the pot.

    Leave uncovered, simmer vigorously over high heat. Set the timer for 8-10 minutes or whatever says al dente (cooked but still slightly firm) on your pasta package. drain.

  2. Sweat onions, garlic, with spices:

    Once you’ve started heating the water, start working on the sauce. Heat olive oil in a very large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes.

    Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft. Add garlic, fresh thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cook an additional minute until the garlic is fragrant. Remove from stove and set aside.

  3. Roast ground beef:

    Heat a large cast iron skillet on high. Generously salt the bottom of the pan. Once the pan is hot, shred small pieces of ground beef and add to the pan without stirring. (You may have to work in batches; don’t overcrowd the pan.) You want the meat to brown well.

    If the pan is too hot and the meat is burning but not browning, remove the pan briefly from the heat and reduce the heat to medium-high. On our electric coil cooker it needs the high heat setting to brown the meat properly, but your cooker may be different.

    Once the meat is browned on one side (a few minutes), use a metal spatula to turn the meat over to brown the other side. At this point, assuming you’re using a cast iron skillet, you can remove the skillet from the heat. The residual heat in the pan finishes cooking the meat.

  4. Add beef and tomato sauce to onions:

    Using a slotted spoon, lift the meat out of the cast iron pan and add to the pan with the seasoned onions.

    Add tomato sauce. Use the edge of your metal spatula to break up the larger pieces of meat into smaller pieces.

    Add basil. Add a teaspoon of sugar. Bring to a simmer over low heat, cook uncovered for 15 minutes.

  5. Adjust the seasonings and add the pasta:

    Once the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, adjust the seasonings. Season with salt and pepper. If the sauce is too acidic, add a little more sugar. Add more tomato sauce if sauce is a little dry. Stir in the cooked penne pasta. Sprinkle with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

nutritional information (per serving)
516 calories
28g Fat
31g carbohydrates
36g protein
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Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!