A Taste of Italy: Taylor Hicks’ Secret Spaghetti Sauce Recipe

State Plate:

The host of INSP’s State Plate is charming, funny, and plays a mean harmonica—and he can cook! Now Taylor Hicks shares his secret spaghetti sauce recipe exclusively with INSP viewers! That’s not all! He also reveals the one ingredient that makes this meat sauce stand out among others: Brown sugar!

The trick is in the slow simmer to blend all these mouthwatering flavors! The longer it simmers the more savory the sauce. For many traditional Italian families, making the sauce is an all-day ritual.

Don’t forget the Italian bread, not only to accompany your meal, but to sneak in a dunk or two while the sauce is cooking!

So get out a big pot and get this flavorful sauce simmering on the stove for a hearty, satisfying meal.

We’ll leave the great debate about whether it’s “sauce” or “gravy” up to you. Either way, it’s delizioso!

And don’t forget to watch Taylor chow down on America’s favorite foods as the host of State Plate every Friday at 7p ET.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions (chopped and divided)
1 red pepper (coarsely chopped)
1 pound ground beef
1 pound Italian sausage
5 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
12 ounces tomato paste
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 teaspoons dried oregano


3 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 pinch red pepper flakes
28 ounces Italian style stewed tomatoes
56 ounces crushed tomatoes
8 ounces fresh mushrooms (sliced)
2 cups beef broth
1/4 cups brown sugar
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


  1. Use a large pot or stockpot.
  2. Sauté garlic, onion, mushrooms and peppers, in the olive oil for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef and sausage. Brown until the meat it completely cooked.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add the tomato paste, stewed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, beef broth, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and season with the oregano, basil, thyme, bay leaves and red pepper flakes.
  6. Stir well to mix all ingredients
  7. Simmer, uncovered, for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Remember, the longer it simmers the tastier the sauce.

Remember to remove the bay leaves before serving hot over spaghetti. Add a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a hunk of Italian bread and Mangia!