The Best Tomato Sauce in the World

So, apparently I am the among the last people on the planet to find out about this incredibly amazing, incredibly easy tomato sauce.  When I think of all the many years of my life that have gone by without having this sauce, it makes me want to hide under the covers.  But as they say, better late than never, and now I get to make up for lost time. Silver lining!

If you, like me, haven’t heard of this great great great sauce, here are the key things to know.

First, it tastes AMAZING.  I might have mentioned that.  Second, it only involves three ingredients and less than an hour of cooking.

Ingredient number one: tomatoes.  You can use fresh (which is how I made it) or you can use canned.  Which means you can make it all year round.  Which I plan to do.

Second ingredient: an onion.  You peel it and cut it in half and let it simmer in the sauce…but then you take it out at the end, so you are just getting a subtle taste of it.

Third ingredient?  BUTTER.  Because everything is better with butter.

Not THIS much butter, but this was the picture I had of butter, so I thought what the heck.  It gets the point across.

So there you have it – tomato, onion, butter.  Simmer for 45 minutes, then take the onion out and toss it.  If you like your sauce chunky you are ready to roll.  If you like it a little smoother, you can do what I did and give it a whirl with the immersion blender.  Boil up some pasta and ladle it on.  You can sprinkle on some parmesan cheese and fresh pepper if you want, but you don’t have to.  Honestly, you almost don’t even need the pasta.

So, with thanks to the amazing Marcella Hazan, here’s the world’s best tomato sauce.  Get ready to rock your pasta.

The Best Tomato Sauce in the World!
Serves: 4
  • 2 pounds fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped*, or 2 cups canned imported Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
  • Salt to taste
  1. Put either the prepared fresh tomatoes or the canned in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until it is thickened to your liking and the fat floats free from the tomato.
  2. Stir from time to time, mashing up any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.
  3. If you like your sauce smoother, whirl it with an immersion blender, or pour carefully into a regular blender and blend.
  4. Taste and correct for salt. Discard the onion before tossing with pasta. Serve with freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese for the table.
  5. *Peel fresh tomatoes by cutting a shallow X in the bottom of each tomato, plunging them into boiling water for one minute, scooping them out with a slotted spoon and then peeling with a paring knife when cool enough to handle.

Recipe by Marcella Hazan via Food 52


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  1. Joanne says

    Oh yeah. I've heard AMAZING things about this sauce. I think it needs to happen. Especially now that I'm carb loading like an insane woman!

  2. Becki's Whole Life says

    This really is the best. It's kind of velvety and has a rich flavor from the butter and the onion. I make it with the canned whole tomatoes and it's just perfect. Marcela knew what she was talking about with this one..

  3. sarah @ pao e queijo says

    You're right, everything IS better with butter! I love recipes that can use either fresh or canned tomatoes. Thanks for this one! You can never have enough great tomato sauce recipes in your repertoire!

  4. gatesofgrace says

    Here is how you make this sauce even bettah. Mini Powdered Donuts. Add a package of them to the sauce while simmering (mush em' up first). Do it. Do it now.

  5. aBroad says

    Even when I cook with olive oil .. I will throw in a dab of butter at the end , it seems to just richen everything up more .. like your recipe that I love .. Velvet Pasta.
    Tonight I am making Zucchini pasta, thankyouveddymuch !

  6. Georgia says

    Kate — This recipe has been all over the food blogs lately! Recently, when I noticed where it originally came from, I realized I had the Marcella Hazan cookbook right on my shelf! Probably been there two or three years. I made it the same day and WOW. Tasty!

  7. More Cowbell says

    I can believe that's good. I have a problem with acid foods and discovered when I was in college that a chunk of butter dropped on the spaghetti sauce on my plate really reduced that acidity. A food scientist told me that it's probably the calcium binding the acid or something like that.

    I don't know that I could give up my massive amounts of garlic — rather leave out the onion and make garlic my third ingredient. 😉 But it's good to see that someone as knowledgeable as Marcella Hazan supports the butter thing.

    It may be all over the web, but this is the first I've seen of it.

    • Kate says

      Hi Jackie,

      I’ve never canned anything in my life (shhh!) so I don’t know about that part. But you get about 4 servings or so from this recipe…and you MUST make it, it really IS the best sauce in the world. :)


  1. […] Like all dumplings, these babies are made from a soft dough – in this case ricotta cheese, egg, parnesan cheese and flour – dropped into salted water and cooked until they are tender and perfect.  Right before I made the dumplings (which take all of about 15 minutes) I cooked up a batch of what I fondly call The Best Tomato Sauce in the World – a quick and luscious tomato butter sauce that will be the only tomato sauce you ever want once you have a taste of it. Click here for that one. […]

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