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Rating: 4.77 stars
275 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 236
  • 4 star values: 27
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 5

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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Ingredients

8
Original recipe yields 8 servings
The ingredient list now reflects the servings specified
Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • 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.

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  • Pour tomatoes and their juice into a large mixing bowl and use your hands to crush the tomatoes until they look pureed.

  • 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

116 calories; protein 2.2g; carbohydrates 13g; fat 7.1g; cholesterol 0.3mg; sodium 674mg. Full Nutrition
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Reviews (192)

Read More Reviews

Most helpful positive review

Rating: 5 stars
12/01/2013
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 with it. Balsamic vinegar (white or red) is a nice substitution. I was out of celery once and no one noticed, so I don't bother with it anymore. They're also just as happy with my quick-cooked take on this which uses (don't judge!) dried minced onions and only simmers for 30 minutes. It's more of a dump-and-cook affair. It tastes almost exactly like the longer-cooking original with much less time and effort. Most of the time I do it quick, but sometimes I bring the love with fresh onions and let it simmer it all day. Fast or slow, this is amazing tomato sauce, on par with the best of the restaurant sauces. Read More
(67)

Most helpful critical review

Rating: 1 stars
11/15/2015
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 reviewer assured us to just add it you won't even know it's there. The house immediately began to fill with an acrid smell far beyond the expected aroma of spaghetti sauce aroma. An hour in I realized that I was not going to be able to eat this very different spaghetti sauce sauce. Got out the jar of Newman's Sockarooni so I could eat what I'd been craving. Sorry Chef John. I took in the whole of this recipe based on the solid reviews but the sauce is nothing like I expected. The aroma alone set me off. (was it the anchovy paste?) Read More
(7)
275 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 236
  • 4 star values: 27
  • 3 star values: 5
  • 2 star values: 2
  • 1 star values: 5
Rating: 5 stars
12/01/2013
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 with it. Balsamic vinegar (white or red) is a nice substitution. I was out of celery once and no one noticed, so I don't bother with it anymore. They're also just as happy with my quick-cooked take on this which uses (don't judge!) dried minced onions and only simmers for 30 minutes. It's more of a dump-and-cook affair. It tastes almost exactly like the longer-cooking original with much less time and effort. Most of the time I do it quick, but sometimes I bring the love with fresh onions and let it simmer it all day. Fast or slow, this is amazing tomato sauce, on par with the best of the restaurant sauces. Read More
(67)
Rating: 5 stars
12/06/2014
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 paste which adds no anchovie flavor but a nice subtle richness to this sauce. Follow the instructions exactly. I'm a very experimental cook but sometimes I like to make recipes as written the first time to see what the chef intended. This was a very pleasant surprise and a staple in my kitchen. One thing, I did not buy the five dollar a can San Marzano tomatoes. I buy good quality name brand crushed tomatoes and they're more than fine for this sauce. Read More
(59)
Rating: 5 stars
08/05/2014
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 gives me serious heart-burn. So I just simmered slowly with the lid off and let the sauce thicken on its own. SO good I'm going to make it again tonight and serve with linguini and chorizo. Oh...by the way, we have Roma tomatoes galore in our freezer - so easy to run them under hot water and pop them right out of their skins (while they are frozen) and so I used them instead of the canned ones. Read More
(43)
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Rating: 5 stars
07/15/2014
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 snagged them up and knew exactly what I was going to make with them. It was just a matter of what pasta dish was going to grace the presence of this sauce. I chose Chef John's Penne with Vodka Sauce found on this site. Amazing! Both of them. I didn't change a thing. I mushed the tomatoes up in my hands like I knew what I was doing and even though my taste test of the sauce at 30 minutes was to die for, I gladly cooked it another hour because well thats what we honorary Italian's do. I felt authentic, it tasted authentic and I'm happy happy. Read More
(34)
Rating: 5 stars
05/04/2014
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 against anchovies - don't be! You'd never know they were there and they dissolve into nothing but flavor - no fish chunks or anything. I loved this and will make it again. Read More
(27)
Rating: 5 stars
11/15/2014
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 combined and was not impressed but after it simmers for the hour and a half it is fantastic. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars. Read More
(26)
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Rating: 5 stars
01/15/2014
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 their chicken soup base if using chicken in your recipe. Read More
(25)
Rating: 5 stars
08/20/2015
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 other people I would make it as written. The first time I made it (as written) my husband said it was better than our favorite Italian restaurant. To the person who used different tomatoes and then gave it 4 stars, don't change the recipe and then downgrade it. He tells you in the video that the San Marzano tomatoes are the key. Read More
(22)
Rating: 5 stars
04/22/2014
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 skip the step where you were supposed to hand-squash the tomatoes too. I also only simmered it for about 30 mins. It still came out great! This is a great recipe if you don't have a jar of sauce on hand or want something that tastes more like it came from a nice restaurant. Read More
(13)
Rating: 1 stars
11/15/2015
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 reviewer assured us to just add it you won't even know it's there. The house immediately began to fill with an acrid smell far beyond the expected aroma of spaghetti sauce aroma. An hour in I realized that I was not going to be able to eat this very different spaghetti sauce sauce. Got out the jar of Newman's Sockarooni so I could eat what I'd been craving. Sorry Chef John. I took in the whole of this recipe based on the solid reviews but the sauce is nothing like I expected. The aroma alone set me off. (was it the anchovy paste?) Read More
(7)