Tomato Sauce with Butter, Onion and Garlic

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This is the sauce that makes me literally stand over the pot, eating spoonfuls as it cooks (and barely tasting it because it is so hot, but it’s such a sweet burn).  You need to make this because we’re going to make some meatballs on Wednesday and they must be paired with this sauce.  No exceptions.

Okay, okay.  In the nature of the Ina memes we’ve all seen, if you can’t make it yourself, store-bought is fine.  But I highly encourage you to give this a try when you have a little extra time.  This is very hands-off, you barely have to chop anything and the sauce cooks away on the stove with little intervention from you.

This recipe is inspired by the rightly famous and classic Marcella Hazan recipe for Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onion (a quick search of the Internet should find you many sources for the original).  It is so perfect in its simplicity and flavor and is my go-to tomato sauce recipe.  Any recipe I make that requires tomato sauce is sure to get this one.  I must always add garlic to anything I possibly can and a pinch of red pepper flakes never hurt anyone.  I know the ENTIRE STICK of butter may scare you, but hey, if Marcella Hazan says to do it, you do it.

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Tomato Sauce with Butter, Onion and Garlic

Just a perfect tomato sauce!

  • Author: Amanda
  • Yield: about 4 cups of sauce
  • Category: Sauces


  • Two 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 small onions, halved
  • 5 to 6 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • 1 stick high-quality butter
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Using your fingers, crush the tomatoes into a chunky sauce.  Add the onion halves, whole garlic cloves, butter and a pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste.  Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until the flavors have melded and the sauce has reduced and thickened, 45 minutes to one hour.  Taste throughout the cooking process and season with salt and pepper as needed.

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