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14 servings


0 hours 10 mins


1 hours 0 mins


1 hours 10 mins

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4 28-ounce Cans whole plum tomatoes

1/3 cCup olive oil

1/4 up minced onion

5 Cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 Tsp. Kosher salt

1 Tbsp. Sugar

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Small handful of ripped fresh basil leaves

2 Tsp. Dried oregano


1. Drain tomatoes into a large bowl, reserving juices. Crush tomatoes using your hands (be sure to discard that hard end on each tomato.  See photos below)

2. Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over a medium-low heat. Add onion and cook until soft (about 3 minutes). Stir in garlic, and cook until softened, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes and reserved juices and season with one teaspoon of salt. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 hour.  During this time, use a big spoon to break up the larger tomato pieces in the sauce.  If you find any of the hard ends missed during the hand crushing, just discard.  You’ll be able to “feel” that they are hard when trying to cut with the spoon.

3. Stir in basil and oregano and season with more salt and pepper (to taste); continue cooking for another minute. Enjoy on your favorite pasta dishes or in any of my recipes calling for a basic marinara sauce.  Try my Three-Meat Meatballs and Tagliatelle or my Spaghetti Squash with Seafood Marinara with this sauce.  It is also great on my Wonton Cheese & Spinach Ravioli

 NOTES:  Everyone needs a basic marinara sauce in their recipe arsenal.  This is a great one and relies completely on good tomatoes.  You will always read and see a call for San Marzano tomatoes.  They are pretty delicious but I’ve had great success using the brand I used when living in New York, Red Pack.  I think I was in my 20s and read this article about how all the fabulous pizza spots in NYC relied on this brand to create the perfect pizza sauce.  I’ve used them to make my sauce ever since.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made this with any tomatoes I’ve had on hand and it is always a winner.  But, I have been known to buy a case of Red Pack at Amazon and keep it for my big batch cooking like this sauce.  I believe these tomatoes are an “East Coast thing” since I’ve never seen them on shelves in the grocery store in the Midwest or California. Just use the best tomatoes you can find or like, and this will be a winner every time.

To get started on this recipe, you want to put a colander over a large bowl and drain the tomatoes.  You are using both so save both the tomatoes and juices.  Add the drained tomatoes to another large bowl.  Crush the tomatoes with your hands.  You will feel the tough ends.  Pull those off and discard.  You can also just cut those off before you break up the tomatoes with your hands.

In a large dutch oven over a medium-low heat, heat the olive oil.  Once hot, but not smoking, add the onion and cook until translucent and fragrant (about three minutes).  Stir in the chopped garlic and cook for about 30 seconds.  Add in the tomatoes and the reserved juices.  Season with one teaspoon of salt.  Increase the heat and bring the tomatoes to a boil. 

Immediately reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce starts to thicken, about one hour.  While the sauce is cooking, I use a big wooden spoon to break up the tomatoes further.  I’ll check to be sure I got rid of all those hard ends.

After an hour, stir in the fresh basil and the oregano.  Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Your sauce is now ready to be used.  This makes a lot of sauce and it freezes beautifully. So, if you aren’t using immediately, freeze in containers and use as needed.


.  When I need to mince a lot of onion and/or garlic, I’ll use my blender or food processor.  It really gets them chopped fine, draws a lot of juice out of the onion and saves a ton of time.

.  Getting the tough end of the tomatoes removed from the sauce is key (nobody wants to bite into a hard piece of tomato).  When crushing them with your hands, systematically go from tomato to tomato, removing the tough end and discarding it.  Don’t worry if you miss any.  When the sauce cooks, you’ll be breaking up those tomatoes with a spoon and you’ll feel any remaining hard bits and can discard.  The cooking process will also help break down any missed ends.

If you like this sauce recipe, be sure to try some of my other favorites:

Tomato Butter Sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce with Basil

Salsa di Parmigiano

Roasted Tomatoes in Olive Oil

Pee Wee’s Italian American Sunday Sauce