Tomato Sauce with Basil

Tested & Perfected Recipes

Based on Marcella Hazan’s famous recipe, this is a simple and delicious homemade tomato sauce.

tomato sauce

I have to admit: I have an entire shelf in my pantry devoted to my favorite jarred tomato sauce. I’m usually in a hurry when I make pasta for dinner — and who has time to simmer a sauce on the stove for over an hour?! 

But when tomatoes are in season, and I’ve got a little extra time, I love to make tomato sauce from scratch. It’s so delicious and always makes me question how I can ever eat that run-of-the-mill jarred stuff!

My recipe is based on one of the most popular Internet recipes, cookbook author Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Butter Sauce. Over the years I’ve tweaked it a bit to make it my own, adding a little olive oil, garlic, sugar, and basil. The recipe calls for fresh tomatoes, which need to be peeled (no worries, I show you how below), but you can use canned if you don’t want to bother. This is such a mellow and rich sauce; it doesn’t even need Parmesan cheese.

What you’ll need to make tomato sauce

ingredients

How to make tomato sauce

Begin by scoring the tomatoes on one end. Don’t cut too deep — about 1/4-inch is good.

scoring-tomatoes

Boil the tomatoes for a few minutes.

boiling-tomatoes

Then plunge into cold water.

plunged-in-water

Peel the skin off the tomatoes (it should come right off), then cut them into 1/2-inch chunks.

peeling-and-chopping-tomatoes

Place the chopped tomatoes, along with all of their seeds and juices, into a large sauce pan, along with the butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, salt and sugar.

ready-to-simmer

Bring to a simmer.

cooking

Cook over low heat, uncovered, for 75-90 minutes, or until the sauce is no longer watery.

almost-done

Remove the onion and discard. If there are any large chunks of garlic, remove those as well (mine usually dissolve into the sauce).

thickened-sauce

Add the basil right before serving for the freshest taste.

adding-basil

Toss with pasta and enjoy!

plum-tomato-basil-sauce

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Tomato Sauce with Basil

Based on Marcella Hazan’s famous recipe, this is a simple and delicious homemade tomato sauce.

Servings: About 3 cups, or enough for 1-1/2 pounds of pasta

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds plum tomatoes (or two 28-ounce can diced plum tomatoes)
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut in half
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. If using fresh tomatoes: Using a sharp knife, cut an 1/4-inch deep X on one end of each tomato. Then, place scored tomatoes into a pot of boiling water and cook until you see the skin starting to wrinkle and split, 1-3 minutes, then lift the tomatoes out with the slotted spoon and plunge them into a bowl of ice cold water. Peel the skin off of the tomatoes and cut into 1/2-inch chunks. (Cut off and discard the cores at this point.)
  2. Place the diced tomatoes and all of their juices into a large saucepan. Add the butter, olive oil, onions, garlic, salt and sugar and bring to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 75-90 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce is no longer watery. Remove and discard the onions and any large chunks of garlic (the garlic should have mostly dissolved into the sauce). Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Add basil right before serving.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 256
  • Fat: 21 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 17 g
  • Sugar: 10 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 503 mg
  • Cholesterol: 31 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

Gluten-Free Adaptable Note

To the best of my knowledge, all of the ingredients used in this recipe are gluten-free or widely available in gluten-free versions. There is hidden gluten in many foods; if you're following a gluten-free diet or cooking for someone with gluten allergies, always read the labels of your ingredients to verify that they are gluten-free.

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Reviews & Comments

  • Hi Jenn, I love this sauce. It’s so light and flavorful. When I make it, I’m always proud that I made something so good. What would you think about adding some baby spinach to the pot and just wilting it in? I’ll feel better about eating a bowl of pasta if I have some veg in there. I know it’s changing the recipe — but do you think it would taste good? Thank you!

    • — Melinda on April 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Sure, I think it’s perfectly fine to add some spinach here (and so glad you like it)!

      • — Jenn on April 10, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made this sauce tonight and it turned out so yummy! I didn’t have 4 lbs. of plum tomatoes, so I did a mixture and just simmered it a bit longer to boil off the extra liquid. After pulling out the onions, I used my immersion blender to blend it into a beautiful consistency. I’m planning on freezing this sauce to use in winter. Question – seems like a waste to throw out the onions after simmering in all that great flavor. Ideas on how I could use them?

    • — Jennifer Dingman on September 11, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jennifer, Glad you liked it! You could dice the onions and add them to soups, stews or even scrambled eggs (or for next time, just leave them in the sauce). Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on September 11, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn – I have been making your recipes now for a couple of years I think. I’ve found you are my “go to” site and everything I’ve made has been amazing. Friends started giving me tomatoes a month or so ago so I started making this sauce. And the first time I had a friend over, and he kept complimenting me on how good it is. So, then he gave me tomatoes and I made more for my freezer (and his fridge). I’m making it for the 3rd time tonight with some friends to go with fresh homemade sausage ravioli. The first couple of times I used random garden tomatoes and tonight I’m using romas from a local farm stand. I don’t think it really matters which tomatoes you use – if you can get garden or farm tomatoes, the sauce will be amazing. For those curious, I never put in the sugar (don’t think it needs it and I try to avoid sugar). Also as a garlic lover, I add extra garlic and rough chop it and leave it in the sauce. Also, I tend to just smash the tomatoes as I’m peeling them (I probably leave them in the water too long so they start to stew), and depending on the tomatoes and the amount of juice, I just let it simmer for as long as it needs (could be 2 hours). The butter makes this so rich and gives it that unexpected flavor. Thank you for another amazing recipe. I have shared so many of your recipes with friends.

    • — Nicole on September 6, 2020
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this twice and both times it comes out very watery. I use fresh tomatoes. Any suggestions on how to thicken it up?

    • — sara on August 28, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Sara, I would just simmer it a bit longer until it thickens up to your liking. 🙂

      • — Jenn on September 1, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made this for the first time and my family loved it I added some Adobe to give it a kick with olive oil I used canned tomatoes and it was a thumbs up

    • — Dee on August 4, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hey Jenn still loving all your recipes! Had a great homemade pizza the other night . My friend stated she made her own sauce which lead me to search for one on your site. I’m assuming this can be used for pizza sauce as well? Quick question …any suggestions as to how to use slow cooker with this sauce? Any tips would be appreciated and time saving for me as I’m on the go a good bit!
    Thanks, Staci

    • — Staci on July 8, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Staci, So glad you like the recipes! This would work as a pizza sauce but it would be pretty chunky. If you wanted to smooth it out a bit, you could blitz it briefly in a food processor. Another option is the sauce from this pizza recipe. Hope you enjoy whatever you try!

      • — Jenn on July 9, 2020
      • Reply
      • Looks delicious! Do you think it would turn out ok if I subbed olive oil for the butter to make it vegan?

        • — Suzanns on July 23, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Suzanns, I love the flavor that butter adds here, but yes, it’s fine to use olive oil in place of it. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

          • — Jenn on July 23, 2020
          • Reply
  • Hi, at what point would you add the minced meat if making a bolognese sauce? Or do you need to cook the meat separately?? Thank you.

    • — Jackie on April 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Jackie, I would use this recipe as a guide for bolognese.

      • — Jenn on April 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Delicious! I have my own sauce recipe that I’ve been using for years that my family loves, so my teenagers were very skeptical when I said I was trying a new sauce recipe. The reviews of this one prompted me to make it. It must be the butter that makes the difference. Loved it!! Will definitely make again.

    • — Amy on April 9, 2020
    • Reply
  • Love this recipe! It’s my go-to recipe for any pasta dish!

    • — Mrs. L on March 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank you, Jennifer for all your wondrous recipes! My better half’s newest request is that I cook every one of your recipes! Thank you, too, for the step by step pictures— most helpful. This dish—like every one I have tried—is exceptional.

    • — Pat on March 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • So glad you and your better half are enjoying them! 🙂

      • — Jenn on March 21, 2020
      • Reply

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