The best, and incidentally the easiest, tomato sauce you will ever make

Easy peasy tomato sauce from Kiwiandbean.comI consider myself a bit of authority on tomato sauce. While living in student residence in my first year of university, I ate pasta with tomato sauce every night. True story. Those were the good ol’ days when pasta, being low fat, was considered a health food. Sigh.

Notwithstanding the depth and breadth of my tomato sauce experience I struggled for years to find a recipe  that really knocked it out of the park. Until now. Enter Marcella Hazan, who I am told by the ever-reliable Wikipedia is “one of the foremost authorities on Italian cuisine”. Her tomato sauce with butter and onion (I know that sounds a bit gnarly, but bear with me!) has become a bit of a food blogger legend. Google “Marcella Hazan tomato sauce” and see for yourself. One is not a proper blogger until one opines on Ms. Hazan’s sauce, apparently, and so I weigh in…

As it turns out this sauce fits perfectly into my overall mommy-has-no-time-to-cook theme. The sauce has the double benefit of being (1) the best tomato sauce you will ever eat, and (2) the easiest tomato sauce you will ever make. And by easy, I mean: you barely even need to stir it easy. I am dead serious. I have taken to making a pot of this sauce weekly, and sometimes twice and thrice weekly even, on the back of the stove while I’m busy making something else, and then using it for dinner the following day. You literally put three ingredients into a pot, turn it on and mush it all up a few times, and an hour later you’ve got a rich, toothsome, fabulously versatile sauce.

Tomato sauce ingredients Tomato sauce cooking

The sauce is great on noodles topped with a bit of shaved parmesan, goat or feta cheese (as I’ve shown it above), or stirred into cooked crumbled sausage and greens and poured over quinoa or some stubby pasta (as I’ve Instagrammed below). It’s also a fabulous base for spicy baked eggs (recipe to come soon!), a topper for chicken parmigiana and a simple homemade pizza sauce. I haven’t tried it, but I can imagine it might also make a great starting point for a quick chick pea curry. Fodder for a future post, I’m sure.

Penne with tomato sauce, chicken sausage and swiss chard from

AND…if very simple, very delicious and very versatile are not enough to commend this sauce to you, it is also the stuff that toddler dreams are made of. Evidence:

Toddler with tomato sauce face

Three Ingredient Tomato Sauce

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

Cook this tomato sauce on the back of the stove while you are making something else and--presto!--you have dinner for another night. Adapted from


  • 1 28 oz (796 mL) can of whole tomatoes in their juices (ideally without salt)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, peeled and cut in half


  1. Combine the three ingredients in a pot and cook over medium heat until juices come to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low and cook, occasionally breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a large fork, until the sauce is the consistency you like it, about 45 minutes or so.
  3. Remove the onion and discard it (or if you are Kiwi, eat it!).
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. If you used canned tomatoes with salt, you almost definitely will not need to add any salt.


This is a sauce that ought to be consumed within a day or two max--I wouldn’t let it sit in the fridge for much longer than that (though I am experimenting with freezing it, and will report back).

Also, I have been avoiding canned tomatoes for awhile now, owing to the BPA in most can linings. I have now managed to find BPA free canned tomatoes, which is a great relief, as canned tomatoes are so useful! Tomatoes packed in glass jars are another great and BPA-free option.

10 Responses to The best, and incidentally the easiest, tomato sauce you will ever make

  1. en October 19, 2017 at 3:48 am #

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  2. Michelle May 8, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    So, did it freeze? Talk about a cliffhanger. I need to know about the freezing!

    • Michelle May 8, 2015 at 4:28 pm #

      Sorry, managed to bungle my commenting.

    • Sarah May 15, 2015 at 4:38 pm #

      Freezing works 🙂

  3. Michelle May 8, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    So, did it freeze? How was the freezing?

  4. Dakshadesai June 16, 2013 at 10:07 am #

    Dear Kiwi and Bean,

    I hope you both father and daughter have a very happy Father’s Day and have a funfilled day.

    I just thought I let you know that I tried your receipe for Rasberry squares and my friends loved it. I substituted blueberries, rhubarb and sliced apples for raspberries. The receipe was doubled with only half receipe brown sugar and used a tablespoon of cornstarch to replace egg. I always enjoy your blog and look forward to it every Friday .

    Also liked your Suite rental add posting, now you check this one out.


    Love from bean’s gramma

  5. Kaitlin Lilley March 12, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Love the sounds of it!! Where the heck do you find your BPA free tomatoes?!

    • Sarah March 12, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      Admittedly BPA-free canned tomatoes are a bit tough to find. Utopia Organic is pretty good: most but not all of their tomatoes are BPA-free. Look for the cans with the golden colour top (as opposed to the silvery coloured cans, which are not BPA free). Ontario Natural Food Co-op tomatoes are also BPA-free, but not sure if you can buy them outside of Ontario: Eden Organic’s cans are not BPA-free, but according to the Eden website only contain a “minute” amount of BPA: The nice thing about Eden is they offer salt-free tomatoes, which allows you to control the salt level of the sauce. I am obsessed with this stuff — can you tell? 🙂

    • Sonu March 17, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

      Just made it! So easy and so good! Now the frittata – bought a pan! You are helping with meal planning!

    • Sarah March 25, 2013 at 8:52 pm #

      So glad to hear it worked out! I aim to help with meal planning :-).

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