Recipe by Chef John
"This is one of my most requested food wishes, my all-purpose basic tomato sauce. Whenever I make a meat sauce, this is my base. You can only stir this with a wooden spoon, otherwise it's bad luck."
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onion, finely diced
celery, finely diced
2 (28 ounce) cans
whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
white wine vinegar
dried Italian herbs
red pepper flakes
chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
water, or as needed
I've made this twice exactly as written, and it is excellent. I like to add a bit of brown sugar near the end of it's simmer time to counter the acid and add a mellow note. Then I began to play with it. Balsamic vinegar (white or red) is a nice substitution. I was out of celery once and no one noticed, so I don't bother with it anymore. They're also just as happy with my quick-cooked take on this which uses (don't judge!) dried minced onions and only simmers for 30 minutes. It's more of a dump-and-cook affair. It tastes almost exactly like the longer-cooking original with much less time and effort. Most of the time I do it quick, but sometimes I bring the love with fresh onions and let it simmer it all day. Fast or slow, this is amazing tomato sauce, on par with the best of the restaurant sauces.
I cut the recipe in half for my family of four and this sauce was great tossed with some sausage and pasta. I omitted the anchovy paste and used a can of petite diced tomatoes...I was able to skip the step where you were supposed to hand-squash the tomatoes too. I also only simmered it for about 30 mins. It still came out great! This is a great recipe if you don't have a jar of sauce on hand or want something that tastes more like it came from a nice restaurant.
This sauce has many uses. My wife doesn't like the anchovy paste, so I used beef soup base ("Better the Bullion") instead, before adding in my beef meatballs. She loved it. You could also use their chicken soup base if using chicken in your recipe.
I used 2 anchovy fillets while sauteing (sweating) the onion and celery. This is such a good sauce - although I would probably cut back on the amount of oil next time. As for those who are against anchovies - don't be! You'd never know they were there and they dissolve into nothing but flavor - no fish chunks or anything. I loved this and will make it again.
This is a great basic red sauce that can be used in anything needing a red sauce. The first time you make it make the recipe exactly as written and include ALL ingredients including the anchovy paste which adds no anchovie flavor but a nice subtle richness to this sauce. Follow the instructions exactly. I'm a very experimental cook but sometimes I like to make recipes as written the first time to see what the chef intended. This was a very pleasant surprise and a staple in my kitchen. One thing, I did not buy the five dollar a can San Marzano tomatoes. I buy good quality name brand crushed tomatoes and they're more than fine for this sauce.
Really nice consistency, but too sweet for our tastes. I think the tomato paste and sweet baby tomatoes were enough without sugar. When making this next time, I'll omit the sugar and just add to taste. I used one can of tomatoes and cut up a bowl of little ones from our harvest.
Like the perfect handbag, I have been searching my whole adult life for the perfect tomato sauce - and this is it. I made it exactly as specified. I did taste it once all ingredients were combined and was not impressed but after it simmers for the hour and a half it is fantastic. I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.
Excellent! Really does need to simmer for an hour and a half as Chef John advises. Even better the next day. Freezes perfectly.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Chef John's Tomato Sauce
Serving Size: 1/8 of a recipe
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Amount Per Serving
** Calories: 116
** Calories from Fat: 64
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