Should You Simmer The Spaghetti Sauce Covered Or Uncovered?

Should You Simmer The Spaghetti Sauce Covered Or Uncovered
Should You Simmer The Spaghetti Sauce Covered Or Uncovered

For many home cooks, a rich, flavorful spaghetti sauce simmered from scratch is one of life’s great pleasures. The aroma of onions, garlic and herbs filling the kitchen is enticing, and the pride of serving a sauce made with your own two hands is incredibly rewarding. But to achieve maximum flavor, there is an important technique question to consider – should you simmer the spaghetti sauce covered or uncovered?

The answer depends on whether you are reheating a jarred sauce or simmering a homemade sauce. For the best results, follow these guidelines:

Homemade Just Tastes Better

When I think of a perfect Sunday, it involves a steaming pot of spaghetti sauce simmering away on the stovetop. The rich, complex flavor of a slowly simmered homemade sauce is truly hard to beat. Whenever I smell it bubbling away, it instantly transports me back to my Nonna’s kitchen.

One of the secrets to maximizing flavor in a homemade spaghetti sauce is to make a big batch on the weekend when you have time. That way, you can portion and freeze it for quick meals later when time is short. Here’s why homemade is best:

Making a big batch on the weekend to freeze individual portions for quick weeknight meals later on. This allows you to have homemade sauce without the time commitment during busy weeks.

Homemade sauce has a richer, deeper flavor than jarred varieties because it is slowly simmered for hours. This allows flavors to fully develop. It is also healthier as it does not contain artificial additives and extra sugar found in many jarred sauces.

So when you have the time, definitely go homemade. The long simmering time builds incredible depth of flavor that just cannot be replicated from a jar. Now let’s explore the central question – lid on or off while simmering?

Simmer The Spaghetti Sauce Covered Or Uncovered?

This heading introduces the main question of whether the sauce should be simmered with the lid on or off. Different methods are recommended depending on if the sauce is store-bought or homemade.

For a homemade sauce, the goal is to slowly reduce the liquid to concentrate the flavors. Leaving the lid off allows aromas to infuse the sauce and liquid to evaporate. For a jarred sauce, the goal is just reheating without reducing it further. Keeping the lid on prevents excess evaporation.

How Long Should You Simmer The Spaghetti Sauce?

Here are specific tips for simmering times for both jarred and homemade sauces:

Jarred sauce only needs reheating on the stove with the lid on to prevent excess evaporation and thickening. The flavors are already developed so no need to simmer for a prolonged time.

Homemade sauce is simmered slowly and gently over low heat for 1-6 hours. The long, slow cooking allows flavors to blend and ingredients like vegetables and meat to soften.

The lid is kept off during this time to allow aromas and flavors to infuse the sauce, and to evaporate excess liquid that would otherwise dilute the flavor. Removing the lid results in a thicker, richer sauce.

Stirring occasionally prevents the sauce from sticking to the bottom of the pot as it reduces and thickens towards the end of simmering.

So in summary, jarred sauce just needs a quick reheat with the lid on, while homemade sauce should simmer gently for hours with the lid off. This achieves the ideal textures and intense flavors.

Authentic Italian Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

To highlight just how incredible a homemade Italian spaghetti sauce can taste, here is a recipe for an authentic version filled with flavor:


  • Olive oil
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Garlic
  • Ground beef
  • Ground pork
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Tomato paste
  • Red wine
  • Fresh basil
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Milk


  1. In a large Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots and garlic until soft.
  2. Increase heat to high and add ground meats. Cook until browned.
  3. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, basil, oregano, salt, pepper and milk.
  4. Bring to a gentle simmer with the lid off.
  5. Allow sauce to simmer uncovered for 3-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. The finished sauce should coat the back of a spoon and have an intense, glossy color.
  7. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed before serving.

This slow simmered spaghetti sauce develops incredible depth of flavor. The herbs infuse the sauce beautifully when simmered uncovered. Be sure to stir periodically to prevent sticking and allow even evaporation.

In Conclusion

A homemade spaghetti sauce simmered low and slow with the lid off delivers maximum flavor intensity. For jarred varieties, just a quick reheating with the lid on is all that’s needed. Follow these guidelines for rich, silky sauces that will transport you to Italy with each bite.

The next time you cook up a pot of sauce, think about whether you want just a quick weeknight dinner or a sauce that simmers all day. Your patience will be rewarded with a spaghetti sauce that is well worth the wait.