Chef John's Tomato Sauce


This red sauce recipe for all-purpose basic tomato sauce is one of my most requested food wishes. Whenever I make a meat sauce, this is my base. You can only stir this with a wooden spoon. Otherwise, it's bad luck.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
2 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 15 mins


  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 1 onion, finely diced

  • 1 rib celery, finely diced

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 2 teaspoons white sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste

  • 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar

  • ½ teaspoon dried Italian herbs

  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

  • 1 cup water, or as needed


  1. Place olive oil, onion, celery, and a pinch of salt into a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are very soft, about 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, pour tomatoes with juice into a large bowl and use your hands to crush tomatoes until they look puréed. Set aside.

  3. Mix garlic into vegetable mixture in the saucepan; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, anchovy paste, white wine vinegar, Italian herbs, and red pepper flakes. Increase heat to medium; cook and stir just until liquid has evaporated.

  4. Mix in tomato paste until incorporated. Stir in hand-crushed tomatoes and parsley; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens and flavors meld, about 1 1/2 hours. Add a little water as sauce cooks down to reach desired consistency.

    close up view of Tomato Sauce in a blue pot

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

111 Calories
7g Fat
11g Carbs
2g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 111
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 337mg 15%
Total Carbohydrate 11g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 30mg 152%
Calcium 31mg 2%
Iron 1mg 4%
Potassium 538mg 11%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

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