Skip to Content

15 Herbs and Spices That Go in Spaghetti Sauce

Knowing what spices go in spaghetti sauce (or herbs, for that matter) can be the difference between a sauce that’s “meh” and one that’s truly delicious.

Spices and herbs can enhance the flavor of your sauce, making it more complex and interesting.

If you’re looking to take your spaghetti sauce to the next level, consider adding one or more of the following herbs and spices!

Read Also: How to Thicken Spaghetti Sauce (10 Easy Ways)

what spices go in spaghetti sauce

15 Herbs and Spices That Go in Spaghetti Sauce

I always make sure to have a variety of herbs and spices on hand because you never know when you’ll need them.

They’re like the salt and pepper of the cooking world; they can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor.

When it comes to spaghetti sauce, there are a number of great herbs and spices that can take the dish from good to great.

Here are 15 of the best herbs and spices for spaghetti sauce:

1. Basil


Basil is a balance between sweet and savory that can add a flavorful depth of character to your sauce.

When used in spaghetti sauce, it can help to round out the acidity of the tomatoes while still allowing their flavor to shine through.

Additionally, basil has a slight anise-like flavor that can lend a unique twist to your sauce.

You can experiment with different types of basil to see which you like best – sweet basil, Italian basil, or Thai basil are all common varieties.

However, you could also try something more exotic, like Holy Basil or Purple Basil.

2. Oregano


Oregano has a slightly bitter, pungent flavor that can be used to add depth and interest to a variety of dishes, including spaghetti sauce.

It’s commonly used in Italian and Greek cuisine, and is a key ingredient in many traditional recipes.

Oregano is a versatile spice that can be used to flavor a wide variety of dishes.

It has a strong flavor, so it’s best used sparingly.

A little goes a long way!

When used judiciously, oregano can add a wonderful depth of flavor to your sauce.

3. Thyme


Thyme has a sharp, almost minty flavor that goes well with the other common spices used in spaghetti sauce, such as garlic and onion.

It’s also a good choice if you’re looking for an herb that won’t overwhelm the other flavors in your sauce.

4. Rosemary


Rosemary is lemony-pine-like (and a little minty) due to its essential oils.

These give homemade tomato sauce an herbal, woodsy flavor reminiscent of the Mediterranean.

But rosemary is more than a one-hit flavor wonder.

In addition to being a delicious way to flavor your sauce, rosemary is also a good source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.

Other herbs and spices that pair well with rosemary in tomato sauce are oregano, thyme, basil, garlic, and onion.

5. Garlic

minced Garlic

Garlic is like the superhero of spices.

It’s one of those ingredients that can make almost anything taste better.

Spaghetti sauce is no exception.

A little bit of garlic can go a long way in enhancing the flavor of your sauce.

6. Onion

Chopped Onions

Onion is amazing for adding flavor to spaghetti sauce.

I love the way it makes the sauce taste, and it’s always one of my go-to choices when I’m making spaghetti sauce.

I find that it really enhances the flavor of the sauce and makes it more complex and interesting.

Plus, it’s a great way to add a little bit of extra nutrition to your sauce.

7. Pepper

Black pepper

Pepper has a complex flavor that can be sweet, spicy, and earthy all at once.

It’s a versatile spice that can be used in many different dishes, from Italian sauces to Asian stir-fries.

When adding pepper to your sauce, start with a small amount and add more to taste.

There are many different types of pepper available, from black pepper to white pepper to red pepper flakes.

Each type of pepper will give your sauce a different flavor, so experiment until you find the one that you like best.

8. Salt


Salt is likely the most important spice in spaghetti sauce.

It enhances all the other flavors and creates a more complex overall taste.

Too little salt and the sauce will be bland; too much and it will be oversalted.

Use a light hand when adding salt, and taste as you go.

For example, if your tomatoes are on the sweet side, you may want to add a little more salt to balance out the flavors.

9. Crushed red pepper flakes

Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

Crushed red pepper flakes can add a nice bit of heat and flavor to spaghetti sauce.

They can really liven things up and give the sauce a more complex flavor.

If you’re looking to add a little bit of spice to your sauce, start with a small amount of crushed red pepper flakes and add more to taste.

There are different types of crushed red pepper flakes available, so you can experiment to find the ones you like best.

Some are milder while others are quite hot, so be sure to check the labels before you buy.

10. Cumin


Rich and hearty, earthy and warm, cumin is a perfect choice for your spaghetti sauce.

This spice gives the sauce a deep flavor, while the texture of the ground cumin adds a lovely depth of flavor.

Just a teaspoon or two is all you need for a delicious sauce.

There are two types of cumin available: whole cumin seeds and ground cumin.

Ground cumin is more commonly used in cooking, as it is easier to incorporate into recipes. However, whole cumin seeds can also be used.

  1. To use whole cumin seeds, simply toast them in a dry pan over medium heat until they are fragrant.
  2. Then, grind them in a coffee grinder or mortar and pestle.

Both types of cumin will give your sauce a delicious flavor.

However, ground cumin is more convenient to use and will give the sauce a more consistent flavor.

11. Fennel


Fennel has a very mild anise or licorice flavor and a slightly crunchy texture.

It is a good choice for adding flavor to spaghetti sauce because it is not overwhelming and can be used in small quantities.

There are two types of fennel that are commonly used in cooking: bulb fennel and seed fennel.

Bulb fennel has a more pronounced flavor, while seed fennel is more mild.

I prefer to use seed fennel in spaghetti sauce because it doesn’t overpower the other flavors.

12. Cinnamon


Cinnamon has a sweet and woody flavor that can add depth to your sauce.

It’s best used in small amounts, as too much can make your sauce taste bitter.

There are two main types of cinnamon – Ceylon and cassia.

Ceylon cinnamon is milder and sweeter, while cassia is more pungent.

Both types will work well in your sauce, so it’s up to you to decide which flavor you prefer.

13. Nutmeg


Nutmeg tastes nutty, warm, and slightly sweet – which I think makes it a perfect addition to spaghetti sauce!

A little goes a long way with this spice, so start with a pinch and add more to taste.

You can find nutmeg already ground or in whole form.

I prefer to use whole nutmeg and grate it as needed, but either way will work.

14. Cloves


This intensely aromatic spice has a subtly sweet flavor with a hint of bitterness.

It’s often used in sweet dishes, like cakes and cookies, but it can also be used to add depth of flavor to savory dishes like spaghetti sauce.

Cloves are the unopened flower buds of the clove tree, and they’re available both whole and ground.

When using whole cloves, it’s best to remove them before serving, as they can be quite sharp.

A little goes a long way with this spice, so start with just a few and add more to taste.

15. Allspice


Allspice tastes like a combination of cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg.

It is often used in baking, and can be used to add flavor to savory dishes as well.

Allspice is available in whole form or as a ground powder.

When using allspice, a little goes a long way.

Too much allspice can make a dish taste bitter.


What Spices to Put in A Beef Stew: 18 Spices & Herbs

What Spices, Herbs & Foods Go Well with Turmeric?

28 Spices & Herbs You’d Never Have Guessed Went with Sage

15 Spices and Herbs That Go Well with Pumpkin Soup

12 Best Spices and Seasonings to Put in Mashed Potatoes

what spices go well in spaghetti sauce

15 Herbs and Spices That Go in Spaghetti Sauce

We all want our spaghetti sauce to be packed with flavor, but sometimes it can be hard to know which herbs and spices to use. This helpful list will give you a great starting point for creating a delicious and flavorful sauce that your whole family will love.
Herbs and spices are a great way to add flavor to your spaghetti sauce without having to add any extra calories. This list of 15 herbs and spices will help you create a sauce that is packed with flavor and sure to please everyone at the table.
Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes
Course Herbs, Sauce, Spices
Cuisine American, Italian
Servings 4 people
Calories 25 kcal


  • Basil
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Rosemary
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Pepper
  • Salt
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Cumin
  • Fennel
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves
  • Allspice


  • Pick your favorite spices or herbs from this list to add to your sauce recipe.
  • Prepare the rest of your tasty meal.
  • Serve in no time!
Keyword what herbs go in spaghetti sauce, what spices go in spaghetti sauce