By Christie Vanover | Published September 20, 2020 | Last Updated June 13, 2022
If you want a truly robust homemade spaghetti sauce, try adding smoked fresh tomatoes. This recipe makes 8 cups – enough for two full meals.
Disclosure Cuisinart compensated me for this review. Opinions are my own.
Everyone needs a good homemade spaghetti sauce recipe in their kitchen arsenal. It’s one of those staples that always makes me think of family. And it can be used in so many ways, such as on pasta, on meatball sandwiches, in calzones or as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks.
I usually use a recipe that was passed down to me from my Pops. It’s a winner every time. But today, I added my own little Christie twist by firing up my Cuisinart Woodcreek 4-in-1 Pellet Grill and smoking some of the key ingredients.
Start By Smoking Your Ingredients
Every good homemade spaghetti sauce starts with fresh tomatoes. If you can get some from your garden, that’s even better. I don’t have a green thumb, so I pick mine up from the market.
When I’m cooking tomatoes, I use Roma tomatoes., because they are hearty and cook down really well, producing a smooth texture. Some of the other varieties can become a little mealy.
Start by cutting the tomatoes in half and drizzling them with olive oil and salt and pepper. Place them on a foil lined sheet pan, cut side up. The tomatoes take longer to break down than the meat, so they get an extra hour of smoke.
Mild wood pellets are nice for this sauce. Go with something like pecan, maple or cherry. Hickory, oak and mesquite can be a little too aggressive. You still want the tomatoes to be the star.
On another pan, add ground beef and Italian sausage. You have a few options here. You can use a more lean ground beef, or even ground turkey. You can also go with hot or sweet Italian sausage. Personally, I use 80/20 beef and hot sausage, but I like to live boldly.
You’ll also want to sprinkle some onions and garlic onto the meat. Then, add that pan to the smoker and smoke it with the tomatoes for 45 minutes.
If you’d like to make a meatless homemade spaghetti sauce, skip the meat, but you’ll still want the onions and garlic for flavor. If you add them to the tomatoes at the beginning, the garlic will burn. Instead, smoke the tomatoes for an hour and then add the garlic and tomatoes to the pan for the last 45 minutes.
Preparing Your Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
Once your tomatoes are smoked, it’s time to peel off the skins. They come of easier if you peel them right away…but they’re also super hot, so I recommend wearing gloves.
Discard the peels and place the tomatoes in a medium bowl. Pulse with an immersion blender to your desired texture. I prefer to keep them a little rough, so people appreciate that this is homemade spaghetti sauce.
Finally, combine the smoked tomatoes with the rest of the ingredients. I like to get in there with my hands and break up the meat and blend everything together.
As I mentioned above, this sauce can be used in so many ways. You can jar it up and share it as a gift, or get dinner going right away. If you do jar it, it’ll last about a week in the fridge. You can also freeze it for a month or two.
For a quick smoked pasta bake, just combine 3-4 cups of smoked homemade spaghetti sauce with 2 cups of cooked noodles. Place it in a baking dish and top with lots of cheese.
Set your smoker to 350F degrees and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until that cheese gets nice and bubbly. During the last 5 minutes of the cook, add your garlic bread to the smoker, too.
That’s all there is to it. If you make this recipe, I’d love to get your feedback. Shoot me a comment below, or share your meal on social media using #GirlsCanGrill.
Smoked Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- 12 Roma tomatoes halved
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt divided
- 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper divided
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb Italian sausage
- 1/4 cup white onion diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 15 oz can tomato sauce
- 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1/4 cup beef broth
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- Line two rimmed sheet pans with foil. Heat the pellet grill to 300F degrees.
- Add the tomatoes, cut side up, onto one sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pepper.
- On the other sheet pan, break up the ground beef and sausage and spread it out. Sprinkle the onions and garlic on top.
- Place the pan of tomatoes on the smoker and smoke for 1 hour.
- After 1 hour, place the pan of meat on the smoker next to the pan of tomatoes and continue smoking for 45 minutes.
- Peel the skins off the tomatoes and discard. Place the peeled tomatoes into a large bowl. Use an immersion blender or fork to break up the tomatoes.
- Stir in the tomato sauce, tomato paste, beef broth, Italian seasoning, and remaining salt and pepper.
- Break up the meat with your hands and add it to the bowl. Stir to combine.