The Simplest Tomato Sauce Ever (Marcella Hazan)

Total Time
Prep 5 mins
Cook 45 mins

In its very simplicity lie the secrets. This sauce is incredible. It has 3 ingredients, and no chopping. The amateurgourmet calls it Marcella Hazan's CRAZY tomato sauce. This is not your thick pasty sauce, it is a light luscious wonder. Add garlic or basil or mozzarella to it as you choose but try it this way first. The butter..DON'T switch to olive oil, it makes the sauce.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Combine the tomatoes, their juices, the butter, and the onion halves in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add a pinch or two of salt. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, at a very slow but steady simmer, adjusting the heat as necessary, for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of fat float free from the tomato.
  3. Stir occasionally, mashing any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and salt as needed.
  4. Discard the onion.
Most Helpful

Simple, straight-forward, no skill required. I had very unpleasant metallic-tasting results with Cento brand tomatoes, but the San Marzano tomatoes (with the white label) work for me every time. I make no changes until the end, when I add a generous squirt of the pulverized Italian herbs that come in a tube in the produce case (just like Grandma....) No matter what I put this sauce on - pasta, frittata, calamari, store-bought! meatballs - my husband seems surprised at how good it tastes and suggests that I make it again. Either the stuff is very versatile, or his memory is even worse than I thought. Freezes well, too. The sauce...not the husband...

Nadacook December 26, 2014

I've been cooking this sauce occasionally for years. It is simple and delicious and the flavour is wonderful. This is NOT a sauce to use in other recipes, it is only for simply combining with pasta. I have the cookbook it's from and this is very clear in that (Marcella is always very clear, her tone is like a fairly strict schoolteacher I always think!). The recent comment comparing this sauce to Honey Boo Boo's "sketi" is purely idiotic and inappropriate - Marcella Hazan is about as far away from that as you can get. Also, Marcella does not dislike garlic but like most traditional Italian cooks she does not combine onion and garlic in a pasta sauce - it's one or the other.

heatherbelleday August 11, 2015

You think this sauce is easy? Sure. But going to the store and buying a can of SpaghettiOs will provide you with the same flavor and is even easier. This sauce is a disgrace. Remember on the riveting show called 'Honey Boo Boo' when they mix ketchup and butter together to make their sauce? Same thing here. Never trust a cook that dislikes garlic.

Cody Tyler Murphy June 24, 2015