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A bowl of red authentic Italian Sunday sauce with meatballs and Italian sausage inside

Old World Authentic Italian Sunday Sauce

Nancy Blackstone
Slow cooked with Italian sausage and meatballs, this spicy and flavorful authentic Italian Sunday sauce is the best you'll ever have!
5 from 6 votes
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 3 hrs
Total Time 3 hrs 15 mins
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 Guys
Calories 170 kcal


  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
  • 18 ounces tomato paste
  • 56 ounces San Marzano tomato puree
  • 56 ounces San Marzano crushed tomatoes
  • 9-¼ cups water
  • 1 Tablespoon salt heaping
  • 1 Tablespoon black pepper heaping
  • 1 Tablespoon oregano heaping
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 1 ½ pounds Italian meatballs browned
  • 6 Italian fennel sausage links browned and cut in half
  • ½ - 1 cup red wine optional


  • Coat the bottom of a large stockpot in oil and add the drippings from browning meatballs and sausage, if you have them.
  • Saute the garlic and red pepper in the pot over low heat for one minute.
  • Add the 3 cans of tomato paste and saute in oil for one minute, being careful not to burn.
  • Add the cans of crushed tomato and tomato puree, then stir in the water and mix well.
  • Stir in the salt, black pepper, oregano and bay leaf. 
  • Cook sauce on medium-low heat until it begins to boil, then turn it down to a simmer. 
  • Drop in the meatballs and sausage. Stir well. 
  • About half way through cooking, stir in ½ to 1 cup red wine if desired.
  • Simmer on low for 3 hours uncovered, stirring frequently. Sauce will cook down; if it gets too thick add water to desired consistency. 
  • After 3 hours, remove bay leaf. Serve over pasta, or reserve the sauce for the lasagna recipe.


You can substitute country style pork ribs or pork chops for Italian Sausage in this recipe, or you can use both. If using ribs or pork chops, brown on all sides in the same skillet used to brown the meatballs, and add them to the sauce at the same time you add the meatballs. Simmer in the sauce for 3 hours.
Use San Marzano tomatoes for the best flavor.
Use hot Italian sausage if you like it spicy/hot, use mild if you don't. Use a combination of the two if you like it somewhere in the middle.
Start out by gradually adding the red pepper, tasting as you go. You can't take it out once it's in, and it can get hot! It's okay to eliminate it if you prefer a milder sauce.
If you prefer a meat sauce to whole meatballs and sausage, after the sauce is done cooking mash the cooked meatballs and sausage well, and mix it into the sauce.
If you like your tomato sauce a little sweeter, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to cut the sharpness of the tomatoes. 
Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.


Calories: 170kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 9gFat: 7gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 21mgSodium: 699mgPotassium: 956mgFiber: 4gSugar: 11gVitamin A: 1003IUVitamin C: 22mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Italian pasta sauce, Italian Sunday Gravy, Italian Sunday Sauce, Spaghetti and Meat Sauce, Spaghetti and Meatballs, The Godfather pasta sauce
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