An authentic and delicious Italian Tomato Sauce that has been passed down through generations.

Italian Tomato Sauce

This recipe for Italian Tomato Sauce is a recipe that my husband Jack spent years perfecting. For Jack, knowing how to make a great Italian Tomato Sauce is a very personal thing – and it brings back fond memories of his childhood.

To this day, Jack clearly remembers the amazing smells coming from a pot of tomato sauce that was always simmering away on the stove anytime he visited his Italian grandparents. He worked hard to recreate that wonderful recipe in our own kitchen – and this is it!


Italian Tomato Sauce - A Family Feast

In fact, ever since posting this Italian Tomato Sauce recipe here on A Family Feast back in 2013, we’ve had so many readers write to us to tell us how much they love this sauce. And, many of our readers have told us that they now consider this their ‘go-to’ Italian tomato sauce recipe. (Note: We haven’t made any changes to the recipe over the years, we just included some updated photos today!)

There are so many different ways to make an Italian Tomato Sauce and depending on whom you ask – and where their family originally came from – you will find many different family recipes. Some use different types of tomatoes, some with or without meat, some cooked for a long time giving the sauce a deep, rich taste and others cooked for just a short time for a light fresh taste. Some families even refer to their Italian tomato sauce as Sunday Gravy or Marinara. (Click on those links – we have our own version of those recipes too!)

Italian Tomato Sauce

What’s the difference between Italian Tomato Sauce vs. Sunday Gravy vs. Marinara Sauce?

  • For Jack, an Italian Tomato Sauce is a tomato-based sauce that simmers for a long time on the stove so that the flavors really deepen and develop. (This recipe is a delicious example!)
  • A Sunday Gravy recipe is a tomato sauce cooked along with a variety of meats including meatballs, spare ribs, sausage, and pork chops, so the sauce picks up additional flavor from the meat.
  • Finally, Marinara is also a tomato-based sauce, but it’s a quickly-cooked sauce, yielding a bright, fresh tomato flavor.
  • And – since we’re talking about all types of tomato sauces – we also have a Roasted Tomato Pizza Sauce recipe AND an Easy No-Cook Pizza Sauce recipe you might be interested in checking out too.  Pizza sauces typically have a bold flavor that is meant to both complement and shine through the flavors of the dough, cheese and toppings on a pizza.

Italian Tomato Sauce


Today’s recipe is originally inspired by a version of Italian Tomato Sauce that Jack grew up with, and he credits his Aunt Mary for this recipe, plus some additional influences from the sauce that Jack’s father (aka Grampa) used to make. If you happen to be growing San Marzano Pomodoro tomatoes in your garden – definitely use those!  However, if fresh tomatoes aren’t available, we think some of the best San Marzano Pomodoro canned tomatoes are made by Cento and Pastene – and both brands are readily available at most local grocery stores.


homemade Italian tomato sauce

P.S. We freeze our Italian Tomato Sauce in gallon zipper seal bags for long-term storage, laying the bags flat after filling and squeezing out any excess air. Freeze the bags flat on a sheet pan, then once frozen you can fit them more easily in your freezer.  For information on how to can a high-acid food like tomato sauce, we suggest that you visit the Ball Canning website here.  Here is another interesting link about canning tomato sauce which suggests that the pressure method should be used to ensure safe canning of any homemade tomato sauce.

You may also like these other Italian family classics:

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Italian Tomato Sauce

Italian Tomato Sauce

  • Author: A Family Feast
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 mins
  • Total Time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Yield: 1 1/2 quarts 1x
  • Category: how-to
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


An important first step to note when making this sauce is to bring the olive oil up to temperature very slowly with the garlic, herbs, and spices, and cook for about five minutes to brown the garlic. This is a step that Jack has seen referenced in a number of great Italian cookbooks and although not clearly stated why, we believe this slow heat-up process allows the oil to be infused with the seasonings providing a really delicious base to your sauce.



  • 1/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • ¾ cup chopped onion (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped oregano, divided, or ½ teaspoon dried
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided, or ½ tablespoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon fresh chopped mint, divided
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes or two quarts of freshly canned garden tomatoes
  • ¼ cup freshly grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter


  1. Before you begin, pour your two cans of tomatoes into a bowl and crush with your hand. Don’t break them up too small, you want large chunks.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed pot with a lid, on a burner with no flame, pour in olive oil and add red pepper flakes, garlic, onion, most of the oregano, basil and mint (save a little bit of each for the end), sugar salt and pepper. Turn on the burner and slowly bring up to hot. When the onions and garlic start to cook, stir and heat for five minutes.
  3. Remove the pot from the burner and place a heat diffuser over the burner. Place the pot over the heat diffuser and add the tomatoes. Turn burner to medium high and stir until they start to boil. Then reduce to simmer, partially cover and simmer 90 minutes.
  4. After 90 minutes, remove from heat and add the reserved herbs and Parmesan cheese. Add the butter to round out the flavors. Stir again and serve.


The old saying about the sauce tasting better the next day reheated is true. It gives the flavors a chance to blend and mellow out.

Keywords: Italian Tomato Sauce


An authentic and delicious Italian Tomato Sauce that has been passed down through generations. So good, it's sure to become your family's go-to sauce recipe!


  • Meet The Author: Martha

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  • Amanda P. wrote:

    Is the heat diffuser absolutely needed? I don’t have one but want to make this sauce. 🙂

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Amanda! The heat diffuser isn’t absolutely necessary but it will help prevent the sauce from sticking and burning in the bottom of your pot. My husband suggests that you put a few crumpled pieces of aluminum foil over your stove burner and then put the pot on top of that. Or – be sure to stir the sauce frequently and use a very heavy-bottomed pan to avoid any burning while the sauce cooks. Hope that helps! Martha

      • Amanda P. wrote:

        Great thank you! I usually cook my sauces with a cast iron skillet so that should be heavy bottomed enough. Will still do the crumpled foil though, that’s a great idea. 🙂 Thanks!

        • Martha wrote:

          Amanda – I just realized that I misunderstood my husband’s suggestion when I responded to your question this morning!! You can use crushed aluminum cans (NOT foil – foil won’t be sturdy enough) – what Jack used to do before he had the diffuser was peel the paper label off a can, and remove both ends, then crush the can and use that under his pots. So sorry for the confusion – next time I will let him respond! Thanks again for visiting our site!

    • Florence wrote:

      I have a gas stove…I just grab one of the grates off another burner and use that.

      • Martha wrote:

        Great idea Florence!

  • Tabetha wrote:

    Can you can this tomato sauce? If you have, what are the instructions? This sounds delish!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Tabetha – You can definitely can the tomato sauce once it has been cooked! We don’t have canning instructions on our site (yet – we might do a post this summer) but Jack suggested this website – it’s the one he followed this past year when we canned some of our tomatoes!
      Hope this helps! Martha

      • Darcy wrote:

        Canning tomato sauce is different than just plain tomatoes. Because there are onions and cheese and herbs in it you will need to use a pressure cooker to can it. To determine the processing times for the sauce you must check processing for every item in the sauce and process for the item that has the longest time and adjusting for altitude. Honestly, I would just freeze this sauce. In freezer ziplocks or in canning jars with appropriate head space.

        • Martha Pesa wrote:

          Thanks Darcy!

        • Martha Pesa wrote:

          Thanks again for your comment Darcy! I’ve updated our post with a link to an article that also suggests that pressure cooker canning might be the safer option for canning homemade tomato sauce. We’ve not had any issues ourself with canning this sauce at home – but then again we used the jars up fairly quickly! Thanks again for your advice – appreciate the info! Martha

          • Mary wrote:

            I see that you mention canning the sauce in a pressure cooker that concerns me. The pan must hold at least four quart jars too be considered a canner. Canning time includes heat up and cool down time. Pressure cookers can not be used to can in. This is a if safety issue.

          • Martha wrote:

            Thanks Mary – There seems to be some confusion as to whether or not a water bath vs pressure canning is the best for a high acid item like tomato sauce. We are not experts, therefore we recommend that you (and all of our readers) follow the experts’ canning guidelines – such as those found on Ball’s website here:

  • tanya wrote:

    There is nothing like homemade sauce!! It sort of kills me to buy in when I know it’s easy to make. I love trying out new recipes! This will be pinned and tried for sure!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Tanya!

  • Winnie wrote:

    I am eager to make this sauce as it is different from any in my collections of tomato sauces. I believe it will be our favorite! Hopefully I will be able to can some this summer! Homemade sauce is much healthier and tastier than those bought in a store.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Winnie! We hope you enjoy the sauce!

  • Dianna wrote:

    Can you use fresh tomatoes?

    • Martha wrote:

      Yes – you can use fresh plum tomatoes for this sauce. You would need to remove the skin first. Here’s how:

      Bring some water to a boil; then cut an X in the bottom of each tomato before putting it into the boiling water. Leave in boiling water until the skin starts to peel (just a minute or so). With a slotted spoon, remove them to an ice water bath to cool quickly. Once cool enough to handle, remove to a sheet tray. Skin will peel right off. Pinch green stem and twist and pull. What is left will all be usable for the sauce. Plum tomatoes have few seeds so don’t worry about trying to seed them.

      Hope that helps! Thanks for visiting our site! Martha

      • Talia wrote:

        How many tomatoes should you use ?

        • Martha wrote:

          Hi Talia – It depends on the size of your tomatoes – that’s why we suggest going by weight. Kitchen scales are inexpensive and a great tool to have in your kitchen.

  • wendi vartabedian wrote:

    Will this sauce freeze well?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Wendi! Yes – this sauce will freeze well. We’ve frozen it in a zipper seal bag or a plastic container and it freezes fine! Martha

  • Chris wrote:

    Hi Martha and Jack, I am excited to try your sauce recipe, but I am a bit concerned about the mint. I have never heard of adding mint to sauce. Do you taste it much in the end?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Chris! You can leave it out if you prefer but it actually adds a nice subtle flavor that complements the basil really well. It’s not a strong flavor in the sauce at all! Thanks for visiting our site!

      • Mary wrote:

        I use a cooling rack rather than diffuser …I use it under the pot…works great have been doing it for years when I simmer or cook anything for a period of time

        • Martha wrote:

          Great idea Mary! Thanks for letting us know!

  • Wendy T wrote:

    I want to make this recipe for a get-together with a bunch of friends, and one of my friends is vegan. Would omitting the cheese and butter ruin the flavor of the recipe? Is there something I could use to replace the omitted ingredients? Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Wendy! The butter rounds out the flavors and the parmesan has a unique taste all its own…you can definitely make the sauce and omit the two. It won’t taste exactly the same but we think it will still be a good sauce! Unfortunately, I don’t have substitution suggests for you. Thanks for visiting our site!

  • Allisynne wrote:

    I put my sauce in the oven at 325 degrees after it comes to a simmer on the stove. That way, you don’t have to worry about the bottom burning. If you spray the sides of the stock pan first, it will be much easier to clean. Will it burn around the top sides of the pan? Yep…but since it cooks down, it won’t impact the sauce with a burned flavor.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Allisynne! Great idea!

  • Bella wrote:

    Do be careful about the San Marzanos. If you want the real ones that come from the region around Naples, make sure you see the “DOP” designation on the label and the seal of the consortium. Not all Cento San Marzanos are DOP (in fact perhaps none of them are anymore)… they are merely San Marzanos that are grown somewhere in Italy, but not necessarily in the Neapolitan area which produces the genuine and protected tomatoes. For the real taste of Italy, make sure you are buying the genuine product. If this doesn’t matter to you, than a “whatever” San Marzano is just fine. I would say your garden grown home canned tomatoes would be miles better than a whatever Cento San Marzano! My compliments!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Bella!

  • Gen wrote:

    I have tried several time to make sauce but have not been too successful. I can’t wait to try your recipe. Would love to be able to can our own sauce. Thanks so much for posting!

    • Martha wrote:

      I hope you have good luck with this sauce Gen! Thanks for visiting our site!

  • Bekki wrote:

    I came across your post from pinterest. This looks divine! I can’t wait to give it a try next week on pasta night. I read in one of the comments that you canned the sauce. I was wondering if you pressure canned or used a water bath? I have been looking for a new recipe to put up for the year so I can have some variety in my sauces.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Bekki! We use the water bath method! Thanks for visiting and we hope you enjoy the sauce!

  • Elissa R wrote:

    I’m trying to stay away from canned food, and your recipe sounds so delicious, is there a way I can make this with fresh organic tomatoes???

    • Martha wrote:

      Yes! Fresh organic tomatoes can be used for this recipe!

  • Paul wrote:

    I have fond memories of Sunday mornings, my dad at the stove, a cigar dangling out of his mouth, as he made a large pot of sauce for the week. I’m eager to try Jack’s version and I will let you know whether or not butter and mint (two ingredients my dad never used) are a satisfactory substitute for the cigar ash- my dad’s secret ingredient!

    • Martha wrote:

      Paul – you’ve made both Jack and me laugh this morning! We hope you enjoy the recipe! Thanks so much for stopping by! Martha

  • Chris L wrote:

    Thanks for this recipe! After perusing the web for a LONG time I finally settled on this recipe and I am in the “simmering” stage right now. The house smells awesome. I am going to put a jar in the fridge to use after a couple of days, and the remainder is going to be canned for winter use (I tripled the recipe and used fresh garden tomatoes! Although I did add most of a can of San Marzano tomatoes as they were left over from another recipe earlier this week). I cannot wait to try it! Only change I made was to add a carrot and stalk of celery which I will remove after simmering. Have never added parmesan directly to the sauce, buy I think it is a great idea.

    Leaving out the cigar ash…….

    Thanks again!

    • Martha Pesa wrote:

      We hope you enjoy the sauce Chris! Your garden tomatoes will be delicious for this sauce – we’ve been doing the same these last few weeks! (And agree…we can’t vouch for the cigar ash…LOL!) Thanks for writing to us! Martha

  • Jenni wrote:

    Hi! I have made your sauce tonight for dinner and it was delicious! Just can’t figure out why it didn’t thicken up? Any suggestions? Thanks 🙂


    • Martha Pesa wrote:

      Hi Jenni! You could try adding some tomato paste and cooking it down longer. Hope that helps! Martha

  • Lois Lettini wrote:

    I have been using Centro cherry tomatoes for other dishes, but NOT my Sunday meat sauce. They are much less expensive for the large can than the San Marzano tomatoes. Can I substitute these for sauce and what would be the difference in taste? They seem to be of very high quality and taste good. I love good sauce and believe the tomaotes are the key to it.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Lois! San Marzanos are considered the ‘gold standard’ for a good sauce but I’m sure the cherry tomatoes will still result in something delicious! We haven’t made this recipe using the Cento cherry tomatoes so I can’t speak specifically to how it will taste. Please let us know how it comes out and thanks for visiting our site!

      • Lois Lettini wrote:

        Thank you for your prompt reply. I am going to try it this Sunday and I will let you know. Because, as with the others on this site, it is the tomatoes that make the difference in the sauce. One only has to learn the hard way about THAT!!

  • Bruce wrote:

    Your 20 Italian dishes section will not allow me to print any recipes, they just come up blank page. So how can I print them?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Bruce – That page is a collection of links to our Italian Family Classics recipes on the site…so if you see a recipe you’d like to print, just click on the title right above the photo and it will bring you to the post with the printable recipe. (At some point in 2014 we are hoping to put them all into an e-book so it’s easier to view them all in one place!) Hope that helps in the meantime. Thanks for stopping by today! Martha

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Bruce – I received your reply about the blank page and this is the first I’ve heard of this issue. Thank you for letting me know! Would you let me know what browser and version you are using to view our site/recipes and to print? I don’t see the issue on my end but would like to test it further I would like to get in touch with ZipList which is how our recipes get published to let them know of the issue. Very sorry for the inconvenience! Martha

      • Martha wrote:

        Thanks Bruce! I am able to recreate the issue in IE myself and will contact ZipList about the issue! In the meantime, if you are willing to view our site using Firefox or Chrome as your browser, you should be able to view and print the recipe without a problem. Thank you for letting me know about the issue and again, my apologies for the inconvenience. I hope I am able to work with ZipList on a fix! Happy Holidays – Martha

  • Connie wrote:

    I am drooling over the picture, but I can’t find the recipe? Help! Thanks…cms

    • Martha wrote:

      Please scroll down to the bottom Connie! Thanks!

  • Jeannette wrote:

    Very very good. Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Jeannette!

  • Nikki wrote:

    This is a recipe my Nonna would be proud of! The last time I made this I used your basic sauce pot on a flat top electric stove without a diffuser because I don’t have one. I’d like to cook this in my Dutch Oven and now have a coil electric stove. I saw above about using cans. Will that work with this kind of stove? Also do I flatten the can from top to bottom or just squeeze the heck out of it? Better yet can I not use them and not worry about burning it in a Dutch Oven?

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Nikki! Even with the Dutch oven, we’d still recommend using a diffuser or crushed cans on your electric stove top to avoid any chance of sticking and burning. Just remove the top and bottom of the can and then flatten it sideways. Please let us know if you have any other questions! Martha

  • Anna Simmons wrote:

    I was this think about adding some sausage to this sauce ? What u guys think?

    • Martha wrote:

      Absolutely Anna! Sausage would be delicious as well as meatballs, etc.

  • Jonathan wrote:

    Dear Martha and Jack,
    First of all, thank you for taking the time to write down a recipe that took so long. I am often unwilling to give away my recipes, but I would rather make better cooks than keep them in the dark.
    Anyway, my question to you two is this; other than water, what would you suggest to help thin this sauce out just a wee bit?
    Thank you for your time,

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jon – Thank YOU for your very nice comment! If you need to thin the sauce a bit after it is cooked, we’d recommend a mild white or red wine, or beef stock. But try adding as little as possible – wine or stock will definitely change the flavor profile of the sauce if you add too much! I hope that helps! Martha

  • Click1st wrote:

    This has become my all-time favorite tomato sauce! It turns out absolutely PERFECT every single time I make it. I typically make up a very large batch & share with relatives who rave about it. I also use it as a base for making enchilada sauce and marinara for pizza and breadsticks. The slow heat up method really does make a big difference too. I’ve opted to add bay leaves which adds a nice touch. My family and I absolutely LOVE IT! Thank you so much Martha & Jack for sharing this truly fabulous recipe!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you – we’re glad you are enjoying the recipe!

  • Kitty wrote:

    I have always been told that if you heat garlic too fast in the oil…or get it too hot…it will turn bitter. At least that is what my italian grandmother told me when teaching me to cook. Just for your information.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Kitty! Your grandmother is absolutely correct!

  • josef rueschli wrote:

    with a sharp knife, I cut the stem end off and only a very thin slice off of the opposite end of each of our home grown, water washed clean, Roma tomatoes, then place them in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes, to make it easier to remove the tom. skin, then, after removing the tom. skins, place the skinned tom. into the largest s.s. pot with: EVOO, sliced garlic, dried/or fresh Basil, and dried/or fresh leaves of mint. reduce the skinned tom. over low heat to a desired thickness, and then hot pack the sauce into clean, sterilized quart jars. note: add one tbl of white wine vinegar to each jar of tom. sauce, fill jar with reduced tom. sauce to within 1/2 inch of the jar rim this is our traditional Italian family way of making our kitchen/table sauce, partially developed over the years, with the help of our Grandma . hope you try and eat it with your favorite pasta. josef

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you!

    • josef rueschli wrote:

      different grandma’s tell different stories, ours would take the end of the year garlic, place the skinned garlic in a small chafing dish along with olive oil, a sprinkle of dried Oregano and then place the chafing dish inside of our old stove, and leave it until the olive oil would just start to bubble (low simmer ?). it is still a favorite part of an antipasta that is regularly requested and which we serve….different tastes ?? josef

      • Karaine wrote:

        Sounds good Josef. 🙂

  • Angie wrote:

    I cannot thank you enough for this recipe. I have tried so many, but this is the absolute BEST ONE EVER!!!. Thank you so much. My search is over.

    • Martha wrote:

      Wow Angie – Thank you! We’re so glad you like the sauce!

  • Kathy wrote:

    Thank you for the recipe! I will make it today.

    If you add ground beef, would you brown it along with the garlic and onions or brown it separately and then add along with the tomatoes?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kathy – My husband Jack and I just talked over your question…our recommendation would be to brown the ground beef first – before you do anything – and drain most of the fat that renders from the beef (you can leave a few tablespoons of the drippings for flavor but since there is already a fair amount of olive oil in the sauce, you don’t want the beef to add too much fat to the sauce). Then follow the directions as written – and add the cooked beef with the tomatoes. Hope that helps! And we hope you enjoy the sauce!

      • Kathy wrote:

        Thank you Martha!

        • Kathy wrote:

          This was the best sauce I’ve ever made! I browned the ground beef first and then removed it and just about all the oil fromthe pan. Before browning it, I seasoned it with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and Italian seasoning. I only added the beef in the last 30 minutes.

          It made a very thick, beefy sauce. A little too beefy for me so I will make another batch of sauce and combine them. I think that will make it just about perfect with plenty for the freezer.

          Thank you for positing the recipe!


          • Martha wrote:

            So glad you enjoyed the sauce Kathy – and thanks for taking the time to write back to us about adding the ground beef!

  • Jamie wrote:

    I am so excited to try this recipe! Thanks for sharing! How long will the sauce keep in the freezer?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jamie – If it’s stored in an air-tight container or bag – I’d say up 3-6 months depending on how reliable your freezer is. Hope that helps!

  • Barb wrote:

    I just cooked your tomato sauce and it is the best-tasting sauce I have ever made!!! My whole kitchen smells wonderful. Not only is it tasty, but it is so easy! Wow!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Barb! We’re very glad you enjoyed the sauce as much as we do!

  • Alizia wrote:

    I found this recipe and made it for my boyfriend’s birthday dinner. Everyone loved it so much I have come back to make it again. It’s so great you will want to make more than one batch at a time! The directions were great and so easy to follow. I didn’t have a heat diffuser, so I used a little square cooling rack and it worked perfect. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Alizia! So glad you all enjoyed the sauce! Thank you for taking the time to write to us today!

  • Cindi wrote:

    I just made this sauce in preparation for making your lasagna. The sauce is really good. I did leave out the mint and I puréed it at the end with an immersion blender to breakup the tomatoes a little more and to thicken the sauce a little more.

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re glad you like the sauce Cindi!

  • Jackie wrote:

    Hi, I haven’t made this yet but plan on tomorrow, what I would like to know is I have fresh tomatoes and not canned, how many should I use? I would also like to can these, have you done this before, and if so could you give me the amounts and canning times, if not no worries I can copy recipe and figure it out from another site, looks good. Thanks in advance Jackie

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Jackie – Yes – you can absolutely use fresh. You would use the equivalent weight of fresh as the canned in the recipe (so about 3-1/2 to 4 pounds of fresh) – but you will want to remove the skins from the tomatoes before adding them to the sauce. For canning – I’d suggest visiting this site: (We actually freeze the sauce in plastic bags ourselves and then just thaw as we need it.)

  • Donna wrote:

    Fantastico! This is an amazing recipe! A wonderful melding of flavors and it made my house smell like a Tuscan kitchen. I made this for the base sauce of the classic lasagna recipe on this site and can’t wait to use it for this recipe. But after tasting the sauce alone, I’m also flooded with many other ideas on how to use it!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Donna! So glad you enjoyed the sauce as much as we do! (And we hope you enjoy the lasagna too!) Have a great evening!

  • Chef Herlan wrote:

    thank for your recipie. This really helped me in presenting a variety of foods. And of course I will try it.

    Chef Herlan from Indonesia

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Chef! Hope you enjoy the sauce!

  • Jen Knoedl wrote:

    Thanks for this! I don’t have time to prepare tomatoes from scratch, but starting with the canned tomatoes still makes it totally doable and super delicious!

  • Jane Tucker wrote:

    It’s early on a Sunday morning, and I’m ready to make this sauce again. Just wanted to let you know it’s become my go-to recipe. I love the addition of mint. Today I’ve finally printed it off, so if the unthinkable happens and the power goes out, I’ll still have the sauce recipe.

    • Martha wrote:

      So glad you are enjoying the recipe as much as we do Jane! Thanks for writing to us today!

  • Ellen wrote:

    I have seen it posted so many times but have to ask. What brand of olive oil do you use? Many cooks say use a “good brand” but don’t say which brand they think is good. Just curious. Thanks!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Ellen! Great question! You might be surprised to learn that we buy the Kirkland brand Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Costco – it is from Italy, and it’s the one that is sold in the 1-liter bottles, usually starting around this time of the year when the Fall harvest is imported to the US. (We stock up on it because it does sell out!) Costco also sells a Greek olive oil and an organic olive oil under the Kirkland brand but we don’t care for those – just the Italian.) It has a great, peppery taste and it really is one of our favorites. As an alternative, we also sometimes buy the Lucini brand EVOO – and that is sold in supermarkets. Hope that helps!

  • Krisinda wrote:

    I made this last night, and it was absolutely delicious. This will be my go to recipe from now on!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much! So glad you enjoyed the sauce!

  • Mimi wrote:

    I use your recipe regularly for any and all pasta dishes and it is a family favorite for sure. I am working on a post for my blog with my lasagna recipe, would it be okay to link to your blog for the sauce? Let me know.


    • Martha wrote:

      Sure Mimi – no problem!

  • Judy M wrote:

    What is a heat difuser? I have an electric stove with a glass top. What could I use? Don’t want to mar surface of stove. Could this be cooked in a crock pot?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Judy – It looks like you could use a heat diffuser made for induction cooktops on a glass cooktop. (Like this one on Amazon: – it has a smooth surface and it is meant to prevent the direct heat from a burner from burning the sauce. We’ve only made the sauce as written – you probably could make this in a slow cooker but the timing will be much longer. Hope that helps!

  • R. Guerrero wrote:

    I tried the lasagna & your sauce recipe and it was great
    The whole family loved it for Sunday Dinner. Good quality
    Ingredients like Ricotta,fresh mozzarella & fresh Basil makes a difference & extra delicious. Thank you I have to try making The meatballs.

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re so glad you enjoyed the recipes – and we hope you love the meatballs too!

  • Gabriella wrote:

    Hello Martha & Jack, We absolutely love this recipe! I have made this 5 times in the past few weeks. We had so many Italian Red Pear Tomatoes from the garden, I chopped them up and followed the recipe. I put one grate on top of the other, great idea I read in the comments here. Love the butter, makes it so rich. Thank you so much, so glad I found your recipe here!

    • Martha wrote:

      We’re glad you found us too Gabriella – so happy you enjoyed the recipe. Thank you for taking the time to write to us today!

  • joseph wrote:

    hello, my tip from my mon me 74years old ,she would heat olive oil med heat dry herbs need to release their oils .they go in first ,then tomato paste stir to break it down and combine wit oil, garlic next fresh only ,then tomatos crushed by hand . WE would add some pork and or beef neck bones that have been browned in oven wit da meat balls ,and as a treat farmers ribs bone in , hey do ya know why oil is put in pasta water, So it doesn’t boil over …A large deep pot is also a god idea.nice site have a blessed New Year !!!!

  • joseph wrote:

    Hi again we never add sugar to our sauce . some grated carrot added to oil with dry herbs will take its place … also the tomato paste is usually sweet so are canned Italian tomato San Marzano taste them , sometimes a cheap brand of Italian style tomato will be acidic in that case a sprinkle of baking soda on top will eliminate it enjoy !

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Joseph – Thank you for sharing all of your great tips! Your Mom’s recipe sounds delicious! Happy New Year to you too!

  • Cheryl wrote:

    Hello – Love all your great recipes! On the Italian Tomato Sauce, if I wanted to make a double batch of this sauce, would I double all of the ingredients?

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Cheryl! Yes – just double the ingredients. Also – if you are making a double batch all in one pot, be sure to stir it regularly so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom as the sauce reduces. Hope you love the recipe!

  • Cindy wrote:

    Made a big batch of this sauce today
    Had some on pasta tonight for dinner and froze the rest. I did add some chopped carrots and celery. I also see a can of tomatoe paste. I let It simmer about 3 hours.. It was
    Very good. Going to use it again on pasta in lasagna and for pizza.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Cindy! We’re glad you enjoyed the sauce!

  • Cindy wrote:

    I did not use the heat diffuser just had it a very slow simmer and stirred it often.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks for the additional comment Cindy – as long as you stir the sauce frequently and simmer over very low heat, the diffuser isn’t necessary

  • wrote:

    I would like to try this recipe in my instant pot…how would I convert this recipe for a pressure cooker?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi – We haven’t tried making this sauce in the Instant Pot ourselves (nor are we Instant Pot experts) so I’m super reluctant to even guess at how you would go about adapting it. Maybe you could start with a recipe like this: – the adjust the herbs and other seasonings to match our recipe? Hope that helps!

  • Alicia wrote:

    Hi, I want to try this sauce recipe … Am I able to use a Crock pot? If so how long do I leave it for?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Alicia – I wouldn’t recommend it – the liquids in this sauce need to reduce a bit as it simmers on the stove (which helps give it rich, delicious flavor). A slow cooker lid will trap the moisture and it won’t reduce – I think the sauce will end up watery.

      • Alicia wrote:

        What if you don’t have a heat diffuser?

        • Martha wrote:

          Hi Alicia – Just be sure to keep your heat under the pot at a low simmer and stir the sauce so it doesn’t scorch on the bottom.

          • Alicia wrote:

            Thank you. Also for how long?

          • Martha wrote:

            Hi Alicia – Your cook time will be the same as written in the recipe – about 90 minutes

  • Linda R wrote:

    Hi Martha… This is the recipe that will get me back in the kitchen after a difficult battle with shingles. I have missed cooking most of all….have saved several of your recipes for getting back on track. Today, I made my first batch of pesto for freezing. My DH planted my herb garden to cheer me up and it’s producing so much basil.
    I hope you are having cooler weather than we are, so humid and hot in Mid South.
    Thanks for the inspiration!!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Linda! I’m so sorry to hear about your recent bout of shingles. My brother-in-law had shingles a few summers ago and it was so painful! I hope you’ve turned the corner for good! Our sauce is a great way to use up some of that fresh basil from your garden. We’ve had a very cool June up until this week (so our garden basil isn’t producing very much yet at all) – and this week it’s hazy, hot and humid. I don’t mind it after such a cool and rainy last few months – but ask me again in a few weeks. 🙂 (I’m sure I’ll be wishing for cooler days again…) So nice to hear from you today and I hope you are feeling 100% better very soon. Martha

  • Becki wrote:

    I made one of your tomato sauces a little while back and it was the best. Tasted just like the popular Italian Restaurant in my town – which is a big deal! So good – will have to try this one, too.

    • Martha wrote:

      We hope you love this sauce too Becki!

  • Patricia wrote:

    Hi Martha, a friend gave me a freezer bag full of tomatoes from her garden ( last years ) and I would like to use them up. Can you tell me how I can make a tomato sauce or soup with them? Once they are thawed out, can I use your recipe? I don’t want to waste them.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Patricia – You can absolutely use them – in this sauce recipe (you’ll probably want to start with 3-4 pounds of fresh tomatoes), or we have a great tomato jam recipe ( – which is what we make with a lot of our own garden tomatoes that we freeze) or our Tomato Soup recipe ( I’m not sure what kind of tomatoes she gave you, but chances are you will need to remove the peel and seeds before cooking with them – all you’ll really want for your recipe is the tomato pulp. We’d suggest thawing them in a strainer – if they are whole, cut them in half – so that the excess liquids drains out. Once thawed you might be able to remove the skins by hand as well as the seeds, or you could put the tomatoes through a food mill which will push the pulp through holes, leaving the skins and seeds behind. Once thing to note – if the tomatoes are at all freezer burned, the flavor won’t be as good. I hope that helps! Martha

  • Roelene Carol Craig wrote:

    Wow, what a cache of recipes for a newly wed. I printed out all of them. I will include a copy of each one for every bridal shower I attend. Thanks so very much.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you!

  • Andrew wrote:

    Hi – I made this sauce and your Italian Meatballs today as written and just wanted to let you know that both are amazing!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you so much Andrew! So glad you enjoyed the recipes.

  • Carol wrote:

    This is the best sauce I have ever tasted. Adding a piece of pork roast while cooking really adds to the flavor but even without it is wonderful. Freezing in zip lock bags is a Great way to have fresh sauce handy all the time. Thanks for this great recipe.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re very welcome Carol – so glad you enjoyed the sauce as much as we do!

  • Dawn Johnson wrote:

    I would like to use this recipe as a base for my spaghetti sauce. Would you suggest cooking this first and then adding the other ingredients to be cooked longer- or would you suggest throwing everything in to cook together?

    • Jack wrote:

      Depends on what ingredients you are adding. My family used to make a sauce on Sundays that they added meat to like pork ribs and bone in beef chuck. They would sear the meat first then cook in the sauce until tender. So if that is the case, start the meat early and add it to the sauce before the sauce cooks. The longer you cook a tomato sauce, the deeper the flavor BUT the more of the true fresh tomato taste is lost. If you are adding ground beef or ground pork, I would cook that and add to the sauce about 30 minutes prior to the completion time. If you are adding vegetables like sautéed Green bell peppers and onions, I would again cook separate then add close to the end of the sauce cook time. If you are trying to make large batches of the sauce to use for different purposes, I would make it but remove it from heat before cooking for the 90 minutes. Zip bag it and freeze it that way. Then when you need it, pull it from freezer and thaw then use as needed as described above.
      Hope this helps,

  • Mike wrote:

    I would like to make this recipe but with fresh picked cherry tomatoes. I have an abundance of ripe cherry tomatoes. What modifications would I need to make? It seems like peeling the cherry tomatoes would not be practical.
    Also, I do not have a heat diffuser. My stove is a glass top electric. Any suggestions? I just saw other comments on this. Think I will use a cooling rack over the burner.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Mike – Agree – peeling cherry tomatoes would be very time intensive! I’d suggest cooking the tomatoes then straining the mixture in a cone-shaped chinois (here’s a link to one on Amazon that is similar to one that we have: ) – a wooden pestle like this ( would allow you to press the tomato pulp through the strainer while leaving the skins behind. (Other strainers will also work, but chinois is meant for situations like this.) The diffuser is suggested to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pot – alternately, you can just make sure you keep the cooking temp low and stirring the pot often. Hope that helps!

  • Joan Dempsey wrote:

    All of the ingredients were perfectly balanced and will stated for these items

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Joan!

  • Theresa Gregory wrote:

    I’m cooking this sauce as I type. My house smells heavenly. A little taste test makes me know when it’s done it will be awesome! Another good way to make a diffuser is to use the canning ring lids. It works great!

    • Martha wrote:

      Great idea Theresa!

  • Mimi. C wrote:

    I will be trying to Sauce tonight with some homemade stuffed garlic bread sticks. I hope it turns out well if so I will leave a comment later either way. I am also trying this with fresh tomatoes instead of canned ones.

    • Martha wrote:

      Hope you enjoy the sauce Mimi – fresh or canned will work well in this recipe.

  • John wrote:

    Wife and I both loved this sauce. Cooked it without the mint because we didn’t have any, still delicious. Thank you.

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome John – so glad you enjoyed the sauce as much as we do!

  • Renee Moore wrote:

    At what point do you add the sugar?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Renee – See step 2

  • Alex wrote:

    Hi there, how much does this recipe yield?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Alex – About 1 1/2 quarts

  • Danielle Hafelin wrote:

    Only changes I made we’re to double the garlic cloves and I added half a green pepper. Beat tomatoe sauce I’ve ever made!!!! Taste just like grandma’s.

    • Martha wrote:

      Glad you enjoyed it Danielle!

  • Kristine Gunnell wrote:

    Do you drain the whole tomatoes???

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kristine – No – you don’t need to drain the tomatoes – just add the juices/liquid to the sauce.

  • Kevin wrote:

    Hi. I’m excited to try this recipe to use and store for years to come. Just one question about the tomatoes. Before you crush the tomatoes, do you need to drain the juice before then crush or can I throw all in a bowl, crush, and toss all into pot?

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Kevin – You can use all of the juices in your sauce!

  • Dick Tebaldi wrote:

    Good Morning! I was just looking around to solve a problem, and wanted to let you know, if you make your sauce in a slow cooker, it comes out a lot better. Trick is to lightly brown your vege’s in another a skillet or pan first while you put your tomatoes and do exactly what you suggested, scrunch them up by hand or use a potato masher!

    I ran into a problem yesterday, making 3 cans of a different brand of San Marzano tomatoes, which, so far has made the best sauce if you can’t find locally grown Beefsteak tomatoes. The problem is, that the sauce came out quite astringent for my taste. Is sugar the only way to balance it?

    • Jack wrote:

      Hi Dick, this is Jack.

      My grandmother used to cook tomato sauce on the stove for hours and hours which would give the same deep flavor as a slow cooker, however I think it changes the sauce to the point where you no longer taste the fresh taste of the tomatoes. This is totally a personal preference, both methods work. To cut the acidity, I have occasionally used baking soda to calm down an acidy brand of tomatoes. Start with a miniscule amount and keep tasting until the acidity level is perfect for your taste. We took a long time testing many, many different brands of canned San Marzano tomatoes and Cento has always stood out for us, but again, personal preference.
      Good luck,

  • Lynne Donnelly wrote:

    This is my favourite tomato sauce and I have cooked a lot of them. It definitely tasted better after 24 hours in the fridge. Just divine. Thank you for this recipe. I am about to cook a huge batch and freeze. I would like to can a batch but have decided not to because of your safety concerns.

    • Martha wrote:

      Thank you Lynne! We freeze this sauce all of the time and it defrosts wonderfully!

  • Joanie wrote:

    Hi Martha! I tried this sauce and absolutely love it! Question.. when you say crushed garlic do you mean smashed with a knife or in a garlic press? Thank you Joanie

    • Martha wrote:

      Hi Joanie – Smashed with a knife!

  • Tia Williams wrote:

    I followed this recipe exactly, with the exception of allowing it to simmer on low for several hours. While my back was turned, my very fickle foodie boyfriend dipped his finger into the sauce “do not touch that sauce, it’s perfect!”
    And I agree, it’s wonderful! Thank you!

    • Martha wrote:

      You’re welcome Tia! 🙂 Simmering it longer will intensify the flavors – so you might like it that way too!

  • Tom R wrote:

    Is this Italian Tomato Sauce ok to make Lasagna? I would add ground beef and ground Italian Sausage to it.

  • Tina Hartnett wrote:

    This is fantastic. I’ve made it twice but I add a 28 oz. Can of crushed tomatoes as well…it is so yummy I will never need another recipe.!!

    • Martha wrote:

      Thanks Tina!

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