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+ servings
two bowls of pasta with tomato sauce and bowl of meatballs and cheese

Homemade Italian Red sauce

A homemade spaghetti sauce that's almost as easy as opening a jar.
Course Main Course, Pasta, Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 4


  • 1 28 oz can whole, peeled Italian tomatoes preferably San Marzano, see note
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped, ½ cup
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • ½ cup red wine optional - see note below
  • 3 oz tomato paste or ½ of a 6 oz can
  • 2 tsp kosher salt to start
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • crushed red pepper to taste - try ¼ teaspoon to start if you like heat.
  • water as needed (in ¼ cup increments)
  • fresh basil optional


  • Place tomatoes in a blender with their juices and pulse until desired consistency reached.
  • Heat olive oil in a 4qt. saucepan (or larger if doubling) over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until translucent and rich in color, about 5 minutes. Briefly add garlic for 30 seconds until you smell it. 
  • Add red wine here, if desired. Cook for at least two minutes until wine is incorporated. See note below.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low and add tomato paste. Swirl around until softened and combined with onions about 2 minutes. Add spices ending with sugar and quickly combine because you don’t want the sugar to burn but to caramelize just a bit.
  • Quickly add pureed tomatoes and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes. Check the seasoning after 30 minutes or so. Add more salt/pepper or a little more sugar if the tomatoes are more on the acidic side.
  • Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • The sauce will thicken which is what you want. You are looking for a rich, red, sauce with kick-butt flavor. You can leave it as it and use it w/meat or as a pizza sauce.


Cooking Options
  • Check flavor and consistency after 30 minutes. The sauce can be thinned down with ¼ cup of water.
  • You also can add some red wine (½ cup) right after the onions and garlic are added.
Serving Options
  • Make my homemade meatballs using this sauce.
  • You can cook down and use as dipping sauce for focaccia, a pizza sauce or even your favorite appetizer (I see you, frozen mozzarella stick lovers!).