Vibrant, rich, and flavorful, this San Marzano tomato sauce is easily the best homemade marinara sauce you will ever taste. Made in 30 minutes, with minimal ingredients, this tomato sauce has a rich flavor and is sure to be a household favorite!
San Marzano tomato sauce is an easy homemade Italian tomato sauce with a unique flavor from San Marzano tomatoes. You can prepare this vibrant sauce in under 30 minutes, resulting in a delicious homemade tomato sauce with a complex flavor. Pair it with oregano or fresh basil to elevate the flavor of ANY dish.
This sauce is versatile and works great with diets of all types. It is a dairy and gluten-free recipe that is popular amongst vegans. You can serve it with pasta, over zoodles, meatballs, or inside calzones.
I have included several paring suggestions below. However, if you are looking for an easy and flavorful dinner, toss this sauce with pasta and serve with my easy homemade bread and Greek cucumber salad.
Why You Will Love This Recipe
- Simple to make – You can prepare it within 30 minutes or less. You only need five fresh ingredients to rustle up a big batch of authentic Italian pasta sauce. No unique ingredients are required.
- Packed with flavor – This authentic Italian sauce is full of flavor thanks to the delicious San Marzano tomatoes.
- Healthy sauce – This Italian red sauce is gluten-free and vegan-friendly, which will be useful if you want to prepare a meal for a family that follows a different dietary regimen.
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.
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.
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 for a more decadent sauce. It enhances the flavor.
- Sugar - 1 pinch (optional) - Although adding sugar is optional, I need to decrease the acidity to ensure a balanced flavor.
- 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 - Sprinkle a little red pepper on top for a spicier sauce.
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 cloves and optional red pepper flakes, and saute for one minute. Add tomato paste and cook until the color darkens, about 2 - 3 minutes.
Sauce: Add the pureed tomato sauce and optional red wine to the saucepan, ½ the 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 to the sauce to reduce any bitterness from the tomatoes. Before serving, add the remaining basil leaves.
Being versatile, this recipe perfectly pairs with just about any Italian dish. The flavor of the San Marzano tomatoes uplifts any meal, such as meatballs, chicken cutlets, lasagna, calzones, etc. Here are some dishes that you can pair the delicious sauce with:
- Pizza sauce – This San Marzano sauce recipe is easy to prepare and will be useful if you make homemade pizza. Spread the sauce on the dough and add your favorite toppings. The variations are unlimited. In addition, you can also make pizza rolls using the sauce as your base over the dough.
- Zucchini Fries – Do you enjoy having loaded fries? Opt for a healthier version and top your zucchini fries with this gluten-free simple tomato sauce. The recipe is not overwhelming and is affordable.
- Garlic bread – Pairing this San Marzano tomato recipe with pasta and garlic bread is heavenly.
- Lasagna – Various sauces in the lasagna layers are every foodie’s dream. Layer your lasagna with a cheese sauce and this quick tomato sauce. This sauce will elevate your dish if you plan to make Italian sausage, vegetables, or eggplant lasagna.
- Pasta dish – Nothing pairs better than pasta, be it baked or not, with this authentic Italian pasta sauce recipe. You can add it to your baked ziti or pour the Italian red sauce over fusilli, spaghetti, penne, etc. Adding garlic bread will complete your pasta dish.
- Eggplant and Chicken Parmesan – You can add San Marzano tomato sauce to prepare a delicious parmesan chicken dinner. It will also taste excellent when you serve the sauce with eggplant parmesan or other veggies.
- Sandwiches – Do you love experimenting with different flavors while making your sandwich? Make a mouthwatering sandwich by spreading this vibrant San Marzano tomato sauce over grilled Italian sausages or patties with roasted veggies.
San Marzano Tomato Sauce Tips
Even though making an authentic Italian pasta sauce recipe is super simple, there are specific tips to get consistent results:
- Do not compromise on ingredient quality – To ensure you get the perfect flavor, use certified San Marzano tomatoes. In addition, using fresh herbs will uplift the flavor without much effort. Authentic tomatoes will give the right consistency and will not be acidic in taste.
- Avoid overpowering garlic flavor – If you aren’t a fan of garlic, cook the cloves in the oil until they turn golden. Remove the cloves from the oil so that the flavors stay mild. This way, you will not get an intense garlicky flavor. It is an excellent trick because it allows tomatoes to shine in this simple tomato sauce recipe.
- Adding herbs – You will need basil or oregano to prepare an authentic Italian pasta sauce. Some recipes might even use a combination of both. For this easy tomato sauce recipe, we will just be using basil. However, if you love adding a little heat, throw in some red chili flakes. We recommend adding the herbs at the end for an intense flavor and aroma.
- Season the sauce properly –To make the best tomato sauce recipe, you must taste it while preparing it. This way, you can tell if the salt is enough. Adding the salt to the San Marzano pasta sauce at the table will leave an uncooked taste.
Frequently Asked Questions
In some Italian dishes, the sauces are interchangeable. However, both sauces are different. The marinara sauce tends to be thinner, spreadable, and brighter than tomato sauce. On the other hand, a simple tomato sauce is generally thicker, creamier, and similar to gravy.
Regarded as high-quality tomatoes in Italy, San Marzano canned tomatoes have thick flesh, a plumb shape, and a sweet flavor. In addition, San Marzano tomatoes have fewer seeds and lower water content than other tomato varieties. With all these qualities, these tomatoes are ideal for making a hearty tomato sauce.
San Marzano tomato sauce is gluten-free and dairy free. Apart from being delicious, this sauce is also healthy and versatile enough to be added to just about any dish.
Storing the sauce is easy, and keep it fresh by following the tips below:
Refrigerator storage – Allow the sauce to cool to room temperature—place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The sauce will stay good for 5-7 days.
Freezer storage – Allow the sauce to cool thoroughly. Then transfer it to an airtight container or ziplock freezer bag for up to three months. I find the Ziploc bags easy to store by serving size and laying flat in the freezer.
Reheat instructions – Before using the sauce, allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. Reheat in a pan at low heat. Make sure that you frequently stir till the sauce is warm.
San Marzano Tomato Sauce Recipe
- 1 Food Processor
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Medium saucepan
- 28 ounces San Marzano whole tomatoes
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 -7 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ 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.28 ounces San Marzano whole tomatoes
- 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.5 -7 cloves garlic, minced, ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 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.2 tablespoons fresh basil (2 tablespoons dried basil), 2 tablespoons red wine (red wine), 1 pinch sugar
- 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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