This is a very basic tomato sauce recipe. It’s what I make as a base for spaghetti sauce or meat sauce. I also use it in vegetarian versions of lasagna, and on pizza. It’s really simple and really delicious.
What makes this homemade tomato sauce so much better than others? There are a few things.
1) It uses San Marzano canned tomatoes. Why? San Marzanos are a variety of tomatoes that are a bit longer, skinnier and pointier than regular plum tomatoes. Crucially for our sauce, they’re also a bit sweeter and less acidic too. The sauce is then sweeter and less acidic as a result of using them. You can learn more about San Marzano tomatoes and why they’re so good in sauces over here.
2) Butter. I use butter instead of olive oil in this sauce. It adds so much richness to the mix.
3) Raw onions and garlic. Instead of sautéeing the onions and garlic before adding the tomatoes, I add them raw right to the canned tomatoes (with the juices from the can too). This gives a slightly stronger onion and garlic flavor to the tomatoes as they cook together. It’s not overpowering at all. Just more there than if you sauteed them first.
4) Control over the salt. I prefer homemade tomato sauce over canned sauce because I have control over the salt. You may not know this but canned tomato sauce has A LOT of sodium. You can buy salt-free tomato sauce instead but it’s incredibly bland and if you add salt to it, you really taste the salt. Instead, I like a sauce that has some salt added at the beginning of cooking, but not as much as you find in canned sauce.
5) Sugar. Once your sauce is finished simmering, give it a taste. You can add more salt and pepper at this point. The other thing to add though is sugar. Not a lot. A teaspoon at a time then stir and taste. What it does is to bring out the natural sweetness of the tomatoes. It’s so so good.
There you have it. The reasons why this is my favorite homemade tomato sauce. Now here’s the recipe for you:
If you like a spicy tomato sauce, add 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes when you add the canned tomatoes. You can also optionally add 1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano and 1/2 teaspoon of dried basil to the mix. I've kept this version plain though so that you can adapt it however you'd like.