marcella hazan's (super simple) tomato sauce

A tomato sauce with four ingredients.  You probably have all four in your house too.  I am not quite sure why I haven't tried this before, because I've read about this recipe several times this year on various blogs. Perhaps I thought it was too good to be true.  Impossibly easy and full of butter!  (As an aside, The 9-Year Old Bossy Literal Son was complaining to me that I should post only recipes with butter included in them, so I think he'll be happy with this one.)

For a basically no-prep tomato sauce, this is my go-to recipe now.  It does take 45 minutes to simmer, but that gives you oodles of time to tackle something on the never-ending to-do list.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

Printable Recipe

1 28-ounce can of plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano- you can read about them here.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in half
salt, to taste

Combine the tomatoes, their juices, butter and onion halves in a medium saucepan.

Add a pinch or two of salt.  Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.  Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, 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 tomatoes.  Mash any large pieces of tomato with the back of a wooden spoon.  Taste and salt as needed.

Discard the onion.  Serve with spaghetti or your favorite pasta.


  1. Even better than mashing the tomatoes with the back of a spoon - squish them between your fingers! By the way, have you been able to find the giant 128 ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes at Costco?

  2. SG- you know, I was actually going to write that into the post- I saw Scott Conant, chef of Scarpetta, doing that with his sauce. I'll have The Son do it for me next time; he loves getting messy. As for Costco, no, I haven't checked it out. I forgot last time I was there.

  3. What a simple recipe....it's got to be good with that butter in it!!!!

  4. I just made this recipe and have been eating continually for the past 45 minutes! I used Muir Glen tomatoes (personal favorite). I'm already so happily full, but Harp Girl is making your browned butter brownies as I speak!!!!:)

  5. There are few things that are perfect in this world. The first is Rebecca's pianistic artistry. Next her cooking/ baking. The last being this recipe. I've tried every variation imaginable, Do not change a thing. Perfection!


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