This recipe for a flavorful, triple meat sauce is similar to Olive Garden’s homemade meat sauce and has a rich and buttery flavor. This triple meat sauce contains diced pepperoni, ground beef and ground Italian sausage, making it so delicious for any pasta, zoodles (zucchini noodles), fried eggplant or spaghetti squash. This sauce can be prepped ahead and left to simmer for 5-6 hours to develop its full, rich flavor. See below the recipe for more photos and notes.
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Copycat Olive Garden meat sauce
- 1/2 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage mild or hot
- 1 cup pepperoni finely diced
- 1/3 cup diced carrots
- 3 minced garlic cloves
- 2/3 cup onion white or yellow
- 1/4 cup diced celery (optional)
- 1 1/2 cup diced tomato (see note below)
- 1 1/2-2 tablespoons finely diced fresh herbs or Italian seasoning (see note below)
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- Brown the sausage and ground beef together. Once the meat is cooked through, remove it from the heat and drain the excess grease.
- Place browned ground beef and sausage in a 2.5-4 quart crockpot and add diced pepperoni, carrots, celery, onion, tomato, minced garlic and freshly diced herbs.
- Combine the tomato paste and water along with salt (or you can add salt to taste later, once the sauce has cooked). Pour the tomato sauce mixture over the meat, veggies and herbs in the crockpot. Stir all together to combine and then cover and cook on low for 5-6 hours. *See notes below.
Pepperoni, Ground beef and ground Italian sausage. If you wish, you can dice the pepperoni even more finely, or you can chunk it if you prefer a chunkier sauce.
I like to brown a full pound each of beef and sausage together, then freeze the extra pound of meat for sauces or other dishes later!
Once again feel free to dice the vegetables or mince the garlic to preference.
Some tomatoes will be juicier than others, I prefer to use a well ripened tomato in this recipe so that the sauce has plenty of juice.
Substitution for fresh herbs:
You can also use a mixture of dried herbs in this recipe or Italian seasoning. You can add your favorite herbs to the sauce, or subtract the ones you don’t enjoy or simply don’t have on hand.
Stir everything up and then it is ready to cook, low and slow!
The sauce will seem dry after it is stirred together, but as it cooks and the vegetables soften and release their juices, the mixture will gradually become saucier. If needed you can add more water and/or paste if you see that the sauce is not to your preferred consistency after 4-5 hours.
The sauce after 5 hours. My preference is 5 hours in my 2.5 quart crockpot but cooking times may vary due to crockpot size and strength.
Feel Free to pin for later and comment below if you have tried it!