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ladel full of san marzano tomato sauce over a pot
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4.79 from 37 votes

Simple San Marzano Tomato Sauce

Choosing San Marzano tomatoes will bring your tomato sauce to a whole new level. This delicious san Marzano sauce recipe is simple and fresh. Just 4 simple ingredients plus salt and pepper.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 15 mins
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Servings (change as needed): 6 Servings
Author: Cheryl


  • 2 cans of San Marzano whole tomatoes packed in puree (796ml/can)
  • 4 tablespoons good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 small-medium onions, diced (I use a food processor to dice them)
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

optional seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or oregano, 1/2 teaspoon or more red pepper flakes, splash of red wine.


  • SAUTE ONIONS AND GARLIC: Heat oil in a medium-large pot on medium heat. Add onions and cook for about 5 minutes until translucent. Add the minced garlic, cooking it for another minute. I like my sauce to be garlicky so I use 8 cloves, but if you are looking for a more subtle flavor, use 6.
  • ADD TOMATOES: (Prepare to have messy hands!) Take out tomatoes one or two at a time and squish them in your hands over the pot to break them apart. I usually take off the top part where the stem was attached and throw it out. Add  the puree from the cans and the salt and pepper. Stir. 
  • SIMMER: Bring tomato sauce to a boil and then lower it to a medium-low heat to simmer for 45-60 minutes depending how thick you like your sauce and how watery your tomatoes are. Stir occasionally.
  • FINISH SAUCE: Once the sauce has thickened (It shouldn't be a paste, but should not be watery either), remove it from heat. Taste and adjust seasoning , adding fresh basil and/or red pepper flakes if you like. If you find the sauce a bit too acidy for your taste, add a pinch of sugar. If preferred, you can puree or just partly puree the sauce with an immersion blender. Serve over your favorite pasta, in a casserole, with meatballs or on pizza. 


    • Add chopped fresh basil leaves at end of cooking - or other fresh herbs like oregano. 
    • Add a parmesan rind while the sauce cooks for rich flavor.
    • If you like your sauce spicy, add some red pepper flakes.
    • Add a splash of red wine
  • Extras
    • Drizzle some good quality extra virgin olive oil after cooking or when serving.
    • Add cooked meatballs to the sauce and simmer for 20-30 minutes.
  • Texture
    • Cook the sauce longer to make it thicker for a great pizza sauce.
    • Purée half or all of the sauce. Or leave it chunky.
Make Ahead: The sauce can be made ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge for 5-6 days. It can also be frozen in freezer friendly ziploc bags or a sealed container for 4-6 months.
Nutrition values are estimates. 
Calories: 187kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 1128mg | Potassium: 843mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 570IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 104mg | Iron: 4mg