The Ultimate Italian-American Tomato Sauce Recipe

Classic Italian-American Tomato Sauce Recipe: Authentic and Delicious

Discover the secrets to creating the most flavorful, rich, and authentic Italian-American tomato sauce right in your own kitchen. This slow-cooked masterpiece will transport you straight to the heart of Little Italy with its deep, complex flavors and velvety texture.

Get ready to embark on a culinary journey that will elevate your pasta dishes, meatballs, and chicken parmesan to new heights. This isn’t your average weeknight sauce – it’s a labor of love that’s worth every minute.

Unlocking the Flavor: Key Ingredients for Success

The foundation of any great tomato sauce lies in its ingredients. For this recipe, we’re using premium canned whole peeled tomatoes, preferably D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy. These tomatoes offer the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, setting the stage for an unforgettable sauce.

But tomatoes alone don’t make a sauce sing. We’re bringing in heavy hitters like garlic, oregano, and fresh basil to create a symphony of flavors. A touch of butter adds richness, while a secret ingredient – fish sauce – amplifies the umami factor to otherworldly levels.

The Magic of Slow-Cooking: Transforming Simple Ingredients

What sets this sauce apart is the slow-cooking process. By simmering the sauce in the oven for 5-6 hours, we allow the flavors to meld and deepen, creating a sauce that’s both sweet and savory, with a hint of caramelization that will leave your taste buds dancing.

Don’t be tempted to rush this process – good things come to those who wait, and this sauce is no exception. The long cooking time allows the sugars in the tomatoes to caramelize, the herbs to infuse their essence, and the garlic to mellow into a sweet, aromatic dream.

A Sauce for All Seasons: Versatility at Its Finest

While this sauce shines brightest when paired with pasta, its uses are limited only by your imagination. Slather it on homemade pizza, use it as a base for shakshuka, or simply enjoy it with a crusty piece of bread. No matter how you serve it, this sauce is sure to become a staple in your culinary repertoire.


  • 4 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, preferably imported D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 medium carrot, cut into large chunks
  • 1 medium onion, split in half
  • 1 large stem fresh basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce, such as Red Boat (optional)
  • 1/2 cup minced fresh parsley or basil leaves (or a mix of the two)


  1. Preheat your oven to 300°F (165°C) and position the rack in the lower third. In a large bowl, use your hands to crush the tomatoes, leaving some chunks for texture. Set aside 3 cups of crushed tomatoes in the refrigerator for later use.
  2. In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter in olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Stir in red pepper flakes and oregano, cooking for another minute to release their flavors.
  3. Add the crushed tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil to the pot. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer. Cover the Dutch oven, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and transfer to the preheated oven. Cook for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has reduced by half and deepened in color.
  4. Remove the sauce from the oven and discard the onion, carrot, and basil stem. Stir in the reserved crushed tomatoes and fish sauce (if using). Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly minced herbs. Serve immediately or store for future use.


The quality of your tomatoes will make or break this sauce. Opt for whole peeled plum tomatoes packed in juice or puree. D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are the gold standard, but any high-quality canned tomatoes will work well.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
204 Calories
16g Fat
16g Carbs
4g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6 to 8
Amount per serving
Calories 204
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 16g 20%
Saturated Fat 5g 25%
Cholesterol 15mg 5%
Sodium 823mg 36%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 8g 29%
Total Sugars 11g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 56mg 282%
Calcium 155mg 12%
Iron 3mg 16%
Potassium 822mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

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