Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

Shop Ingredients
Serves 4


900g fresh, ripe tomatoes roughly chopped,  or 2 tins of whole peeled tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
75g butter
1 medium onion, peeled and cut in half
Salt and pep to taste
Handful of basil, optional


This is possibly the most celebrated of all the tomato sauces. Three ingredients, minimal faff and 45 mins later you’ve got a silky, rich sauce you can use in a multitude of tomato based dishes. Make a big batch and freeze portions for a rosy surprise come winter.


Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce

If you are very offended by tomato skins then you’re welcome to remove them, see hints below, we kept them on and weren’t disappointed.

Coarsely chop the fresh or canned tomatoes. Trim both ends of the onion; peel it and cut it in half lengthwise.

Put the tomatoes, onion, butter, and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the tomatoes begin to bubble, lower the heat to a slow but steady simmer. Cook, stirring every 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are no longer watery and the sauce has reduced, about 45 minutes, depending on the size and shape of the pot. The sauce is done when the butter has separated from the tomatoes and there is no remaining liquid.

Stir through basil if using, and remove onions (you could leave them in and pull apart their tender layers or chop/blitz them, but the original recipe says to remove them and somehow we don’t want to mess with the magic. We sense the subtlety of the flavour is part of the charm of this sauce)  – If you’re looking for ways of using the onion halves outside of the sauce, you can find inspo here.

You can leave the sauce as is or if you prefer a smoother consistency you can blitz it in a blender.

Enjoy tossed through pasta, in shakshuka, parmigiana, soups, involtini – the list is endless!

Skinning tomatoes
Plunge the tomatoes in boiling water for a minute or less. Drain them and, as soon as they are cool enough to handle, skin them, and cut them into coarse pieces. You can also run them through a food mill to remove seeds.

Recipe by Marcella Hazan



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  1. Love the recipe thank you. Was keen to read the other ways to use the discarded onions, but the “here” link didn’t work.

  2. Just curious as to why the onions are removed? Is it to create more of a Passata than a tomato pasta sauce?

    1. The truth is, we don’t know. Yes, perhaps the sauce was meant as more of a passata than a sauce, or perhaps removing the onions is essential for the subtlety of flavour (it’s a delicate sauce!). Whatever the reason, we’ve always fished it out and have never felt like it lacked flavour. We do consult this list of wonderful things to do with the onions though If you try keeping the onions in please let us know how it goes!