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4.31 from 43 votes

My Italian Grandmother's Basic Homemade Tomato Sauce

My grandmother's easy Italian tomato sauce made with San Marzano Tomatoes
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time4 hrs
Total Time4 hrs 15 mins
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 10 cups
Author: Angela Roberts


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion coarsely shopped
  • 1 carrot coarsely chopped
  • 4 large cans 28 ounce San Marzano Tomatoes (I use these)
  • fresh basil or parsley
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Saute onion and carrots for 5 minutes on low.
  • Add in garlic for a few minutes, being careful not to brown. You don't want bitter sauce.
  • Strain tomatoes either using a food mill or colander. If you don't have that, break up with your hands and take out the bigger pieces of pulp.
  • This recipe is for a smooth marinara sauce. You can, however, chop the tomatoes and use entire can. If you use good tomatoes as I recommend, you will not have any waste, when using food mill.
  • Add in softened butter.
  • Season with salt pepper and herbs.
  • Cook on very low without a lid for 2 to 4 hours, stirring frequently, or put in a crock pot on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  • Strain out the vegetables and herbs before serving.
  • If you don't have a food mill, just feel free to put all the tomatoes crushed in your hands into the pot. You will have a thicker sauce with some chunks of tomato but it's equally delicious.


If you're stretched for time, you can make my grandmother's homemade tomato sauce in one  hour. 

If you're stretched for time, do this. Do NOT add water. Use one onion, quartered and one carrot quartered per 2-4 cans of strained tomatoes. Cook for one hour on low. For extra flavor, use an immersion blender and blend in the onion and carrots.