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The Best-Ever, Only-Recipe-You’ll-Ever-Need: Tomato Sauce

The Best-Ever, Only-Recipe-You’ll-Ever-Need: Tomato Sauce

We tested the internet’s 5 “best” recipes to find “the bestest”

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Every other month on Kitchen Stories, we investigate the best-ever recipe for classic dishes by putting the top 5 recipes from chefs and food blogs to the test. We prepare and serve them to our highly-qualified Kitchen Stories Eat Force and rank them to find the ‘bestest’ recipe. If you have a special request for the next best recipe, leave a comment underneath the article!

When I first mentioned that our next contest would be all about the best tomato sauce around, my fellow editor Ruby called out: “You have to include Marcella Hazan’s recipe. Everyone on the internet is crazy about it!”

Although I’d already heard of the recipe by the famed Italian-American cookbook author, I had never tried it. And with that level of endorsement, I just couldn’t say no.

But did the classic convince the Kitchen Stories team? To find out who the other contenders for the best tomato sauce were, and who in the end, authored the best ever tomato sauce recipe, please read on—and keep your pasta at the ready! .


1) The quickest tomato sauce by Jamie Oliver

It doesn’t get much quicker than this 20 minute recipe by Jamie Oliver, which asks for tinned plum tomatoes to be brought to a boil with garlic and basil. The sauce is then passed through a sieve and boiled up again for about 5 minutes. Sounds too good to be true? Can this quick version also win in taste?

2) Tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes by TheKitchn

Did we include a version made with fresh tomatoes? Of course! ! For this recipe you should plan on spending more time in the kitchen: The tomatoes need to be blanched and peeled and then simmer for 60 to 90 minutes.

3) Tomato sauce made with tomato purée by The Spruce Eats

This sauce is made with tomato passata seasoned with shallots and basil. The sauce takes just about 10 minutes until it’s ready to serve, but you could also let it simmer on the stove for 20 – 30 minutes longer. You can find the recipe here.

4) Tomato sauce made with tomato paste by Tablespoon

We’re definitely not talking about tinned triple-concentrate tomato paste, but run-of-the-mill concentrate to carry over the taste of ripe tomatoes. This recipe by Tablespoon also takes garlic, olive oil, and a mix of Italian spices—which you can, alternatively, easily replace with the same amount of dried basil, oregano, tarragon, and thyme.

5) Three-ingredient tomato sauce by Marcella Hazan

Only three ingredients? Tinned tomatoes, onions, butter,that’s all? And is this actually THE tomato sauce everyone claims to be the best? Don’t be fooled: Its secret lies precisely in its simplicity. You don’t even have to chop or sauté the onions, just cut them in half, add them straight to the pot with the tomatoes and butter, and let the magic happen. After 45 minutes, the onions will be really tender and can be removed before serving or kept in for some added, silky texture. You can find the full recipe here.


As always, we set up a blind tasting. This time, the 5 incognito bowls of tomato sauce served next to a giant tangle of pasta, much to the delight of our tasting jury.

The team sampled every sauce and rated each one according to taste, consistency, looks, and overall ‘’wow factor’—from 1 (worst) to 5 (best). After every sauce had been rated, all that was left to do was calculate the average score to find out which tomato sauce was “the best of the best.” Here are the results:

There has never been a clearer result in one of our contests! Our editor Ruby was proven right: The 3-ingredient tomato sauce recipe by Marcella Hazan won by farwith, believe it: 4.28 out of 5 points!

Want to know what else we’ve learned from our contest and its results? Here you go.

How to make the best tomato sauce: 3 tips for perfection

1. What kind of tomatoes should you use?

You might have noticed this before: For pasta, lasagna, or pizza, a fragrant tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes is not usually the best choice. Not to mention that blanching and peeling them in advance can be quite tricky. This kind of sauce would probably work with best-quality tomatoes right in the midst of their high-summer season.

Tomato paste as base for tomato sauce was also not such a big hit—something our co-workers agreed on unanimously, noting that his sauce would be more suited to homemade pizza given its intense taste.

For the perfect pasta or lasagna sauce, we recommend canned puréed, diced, or whole tomatoes.

2. How long should you let it simmer?

Opinions are divided. While some are positive that a great tomato sauce has to sit on the stove for at least 2 hours to develop its full depth of flavor, others think it’s unnecessary.

Well, now you could assume that a cooking time of 45 minutes is a good rule of thumb, just like in the winning recipe by Marcella Hazan. But our second place proves that boiling tomato purée for only 10 minutes can also make for a really good tomato sauce. However, other ingredients alsoplay a role here: For example, if you want onions or herbs to give off all their flavor, we recommend cooking your sauce for longer.

3. The secret ingredient

While tasting, one word came up a couple of times: butter! Almost all of our colleagues agreed that there could only be one winning recipe, namely the one containing butter. Although this is also a matter of personal preference, let’s be honest: This clear result can hardly be a coincidence, am I right?

Tomato sauce recipes to try now

There’s a perfect recipe for all kinds of tomatoes, whether fresh, canned whole, diced, puréed,or tomato paste. If you’re still unsure which one to begin with, why not try them all? We recommend starting with the following:

Gnocchi in marinara sauce

Gnocchi in marinara sauce

Pasta with quick tomato sauce

Pasta with quick tomato sauce

Turkish-inspired scrambled eggs

Turkish-inspired scrambled eggs

Meatballs in marinara sauce

Meatballs in marinara sauce

And here’s our very own recipe for an all-time-favorite, quick and easy tomato sauce:

Homemade tomato sauce

Homemade tomato sauce

Now it’s your turn! Upload your recipe for the best ever tomato sauce to our app and share it with the Kitchen Stories community!

Published on April 14, 2019

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