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Chef John's Tomato Sauce

Rated as 4.74 out of 5 Stars

"This is one of my most requested food wishes, my all-purpose basic tomato sauce. Whenever I make a meat sauce, this is my base. You can only stir this with a wooden spoon, otherwise it's bad luck."
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2 h servings 116 cals
Original recipe yields 8 servings


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  1. Place olive oil, onion, celery, and a pinch of salt into a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Cook until onions are very soft, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix garlic into onion mixture and cook just until fragrant, about 1 more minute.
  2. Pour tomatoes and their juice into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to crush the tomatoes until they look pureed.
  3. Mix sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, anchovy paste, white wine vinegar, Italian herbs, and red pepper flakes into vegetable mixture. Raise heat to medium and cook just until liquid has evaporated. Stir in tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Pour in San Marzano tomatoes and parsley. Bring sauce to a simmer, turn heat to low, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, adding a little water as the sauce cooks down. Stir occasionally.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 116 calories; 7.1 g fat; 13 g carbohydrates; 2.2 g protein; < 1 mg cholesterol; 674 mg sodium. Full nutrition

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  1. 153 Ratings

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Most helpful positive review

I've made this twice exactly as written, and it is excellent. I like to add a bit of brown sugar near the end of it's simmer time to counter the acid and add a mellow note. Then I began to play ...

Most helpful critical review

Very disappointing. I did everything according the recipe, exactly. Expected the house to begin smelling heavenly. I was even excited to savor the anchovy paste within the recipe, as one reviewe...

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Least positive

I've made this twice exactly as written, and it is excellent. I like to add a bit of brown sugar near the end of it's simmer time to counter the acid and add a mellow note. Then I began to play ...

This is a great basic red sauce that can be used in anything needing a red sauce. The first time you make it make the recipe exactly as written and include ALL ingredients including the anchovy ...

This was VERY good. My husband just loved it and I served it with gnocci. A couple of things I did differently was; I used white wine instead of vinegar and I didn't use tomato paste as it giv...

Like the perfect handbag, I have been searching my whole adult life for the perfect tomato sauce - and this is it. I made it exactly as specified. I did taste it once all ingredients were combin...

I used 2 anchovy fillets while sauteing (sweating) the onion and celery. This is such a good sauce - although I would probably cut back on the amount of oil next time. As for those who are aga...

This sauce has many uses. My wife doesn't like the anchovy paste, so I used beef soup base ("Better the Bullion") instead, before adding in my beef meatballs. She loved it. You could also use...

Duuuuuuuuude!!!! That's all I can say...well not really but it sums it all up. This is so simple but so good. I went to the "big city" today and actually found some San Marzano tomatoes and ...

I cut the recipe in half for my family of four and this sauce was great tossed with some sausage and pasta. I omitted the anchovy paste and used a can of petite diced tomatoes...I was able to sk...

I've been making this recipe for years almost exactly as written and it is perfect. My only change is to add more garlic because we both love lots of garlic. However if I was making it for o...