San Marzano Tomato Sauce Recipe

4 servings
30 min

Vibrant, rich, and flavorful, this San Marzano tomato sauce is easily the best homemade marinara sauce you will ever taste. Made in less than 30 minutes, with minimal ingredients, this tomato sauce has a rich flavor and is sure to be a household favorite!

Ingredients used in making this recipe.

For a delectable flavor and a smooth consistency, this San Marzano sauce recipe only requires five main ingredients. Where possible, I recommend using fresh herbs for the best flavor.

  • Garlic - 5 - 7 garlic cloves - Minced - Garlic offers an aromatic and savory note which will also reduce the acidity.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil - ¼ cup - Extra-virgin olive oil elevates the rich and fruity taste of the tomatoes.
  • San Marzano Whole Tomatoes - 28 ounces - You can easily find top-quality, certified whole canned tomatoes in the pasta section of grocery stores or on Amazon.
  • Tomato Paste - 2 tablespoons - You can use your preferred types of tomato paste. I recommend Cento, the same brand as the canned tomatoes, for this recipe.
  • Fresh Basil - 3 tablespoons - finely chopped - is the perfect herb for this sauce. The simple flavor complements the sauce.

Optional Ingredients

I normally add all three ingredients to my tomato sauce. However, these are not required for a great-tasting sauce.

  • Red Pepper Flakes - ¼ teaspoon (optional) - if you prefer a spicy sauce or a dish that requires heat, add red chili flakes.
  • Red Wine - 1 - 2 tablespoons (optional) - I love adding a little red wine to get a more decadent sauce. It enhances the flavor.
  • Sugar - 1 pinch (optional) - Although adding sugar is optional, I find it necessary to decrease the acidity to ensure a balanced flavor.

Garnish Ideas

  • Fresh Basil - Sprinkle the top for a green splash of color and flavor.
  • Parmesan Cheese - Use a small amount of cheese as garnish.
  • Red Pepper Flakes - For a spicier sauce, sprinkle a little red pepper on top.

A wooden spoon with sauce on it.

What are San Marzano tomatoes?

Originating in Naples, Italy, San Marzano tomatoes are thin, and long plum-shaped tomatoes used to prepare an authentic Italian sauce. The thick flesh and plum shape separate San Marzano tomatoes from other types. To be a San Marzano tomato, they must be grown in a specific part of Italy with a D.O.P. certified seal.

These tomatoes are canned whole and preserved at the peak of their freshness. These cans are easily accessible in most supermarkets.

San Marzano tomatoes have a unique, sweet, rich, and less acidic taste than traditional tomatoes. These tomatoes are grown in volcanic soil that offers a mineral-rich environment, allowing them to thrive and giving them a distinctive flavor.

Moreover, these tomatoes are less watery, giving a slightly thick texture. As a result, you get rich and thick tomato sauce.

You will always find whole, peeled plum-shaped tomatoes in 14 or 28-ounce cans. To prepare the Italian tomato sauce, blend the tomatoes into a smooth or chunky consistency.

San Marzano Tomato Sauce Recipe
Recipe details
  • 4  servings
  • Prep time: 10 Minutes Cook time: 20 Minutes Total time: 30 min
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  • ▢ 28 ounces San Marzano whole tomatoes
  • ▢ 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ▢ 5 -7 cloves garlic, minced
  • ▢ 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons red wine (red wine)
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons fresh basil (2 tablespoons dried basil)
  • ▢ 1 pinch sugar

Prep: Place the canned tomatoes and their juice in a food processor and pulse until smooth. Set aside.
Saute: Over medium heat in a dutch pot or large saucepan, heat the olive oil until it begins to shimmer. Add the minced garlic and optional red pepper flakes, saute for one minute. Add the tomato paste and cook until the color darkens, about 2 - 3 minutes.
Sauce: Add the tomato sauce and optional red wine to the saucepan with the garlic and ½ the fresh basil, and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil, often stirring, for 15-20 minutes. Add salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar (optional) to the sauce to cut down on any bitterness from the tomatoes. Before serving, add the remaining fresh basil leaves.
  • Quantity: The total yield of the sauce is 3.5 cups. Generally enough for 1 pound of pasta.
  • Garnish suggestions include:
  • Fresh Basil - Sprinkle the top for a green splash of color and flavor.
  • Parmesan Cheese - Use a small amount of parmesan cheese as garnish.
  • Red Pepper Flakes - For a spicier sauce, sprinkle red pepper flakes on top.
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  • C. Prouty C. Prouty on Mar 21, 2023

    Cooks only for 20 minutes? That would make my Italian grandmother spin in her grave! She cooked sauce all day do I!

    • Kathy Kathy on Mar 22, 2023

      So do it! Why be critical of someone else’s recipe? If you want to spend the day cooking sauce, go for it!!

  • C. Prouty C. Prouty on Mar 22, 2023

    I was wondering how long it would take someone to send a reply like yours, Kathy. YOU WIN! I was not being critical of someone else's recipe. I was just saying what my grandmother would do! Get a life!