San Marzano Tomato Sauce {Family Recipe}

A famous family recipe – San Marzano Tomato Sauce also known as “Italian gravy”. This luscious red sauce is simmered for several hours to develop the most rich and hearty taste. Fresh herbs, authentic Italian flavors, and the most inviting aroma. Easily the best tomato sauce I’ve ever had!

From my family to yours. 

a pot of san marzano tomato sauce with fresh herbs

This San Marzano Tomato Sauce is quite special. It was the very first recipe my mom ever taught me how to make and was the very beginning of my love for food. For years this sauce has brought my loud, bold, and very loving family together and has been a part of many memorable family dinners.

This sauce is luscious, rich, developed in flavor, and is the perfect sauce to compliment your favorite Italian dishes. Although tomato sauce is quite simple, using quality ingredients matters, and letting your sauce sit low and slow for hours will give you the most thick and savory sauce you’ve ever had.

First steps for making this sauce – put some Frank Sinatra on, grab a glass of vino, and enjoy the cozy aroma of simmering garlic & tomatoes and the authentic flavors of this incredible Italian tomato sauce. From my family to yours..

Why are San Marzano tomatoes the best?

San Marzano tomatoes are not just a staple in my family’s famous recipe, but are considered to be the best tomatoes in the world to use in sauces. These tomatoes are set apart from others because of their rich flavor and low acidity. They are also known to have a thicker consistency compared to other canned plum tomatoes.

How to Make San Marzano Tomato Sauce

step 1 saute garlic step 2 add tomatoes and cook step 3 add herbs at the end

  1.  Saute garlic in olive oil: Saute your minced garlic for 30 to 60 seconds on medium heat – constantly stirring. Using tons of garlic in this recipe will give your tomato sauce the foundation of it’s flavor.
  2. Add Tomatoes – cook low and slow: The key to a good tomato sauce is cooking it for up to 4-6 hours. This allows the sauce to thicken, flavors to richen and develop, and acidity to balance.
  3. Add herbs at very end: Cooking herbs in the sauce for hours can actually result in bitter flavor. For a fresh, vibrant herb flavor add at the very end when sauce is finished for best results.

Special Tips for Making San Marzano Tomato Sauce

step 1 get san marzano tomatoes step 2 sun-dried tomato paste

  1. Use San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes: to make a perfect tomato sauce you need San Marzanos. These tomatoes give your sauce a thicker consistency, and are sweeter, richer, and less acidic in flavor.
  2. Use Amore Sun-Dried Tomato Paste: Rather than using normal tomato paste, my family loves to use this sun-dried tomato paste for it’s thickening factor and extra added depth of flavor.
  3. Add a Parmesan cheese rind to your sauce while it simmers. This will instantly add flavor. The rind won’t melt (though it will get soft); it will just sit in your sauce or soup and infuse it with extra umami and savor.

What to Serve with San Marzano Tomato Sauce:

  • Any type of pasta – spaghetti, rigatoni, orecchiette, or penne.
  • Stuffed shells, eggplant parmesan, or lasagna.
  • Zucchini pasta or spaghetti squash.
  • I also use this recipe in some of my favorite recipes – Authentic Italian Chicken Parmigiana and Italian Sausage Lasagna.

I hope you love this San Marzano Tomato Sauce – it is dear to my heart and to this day haven’t tasted an Italian tomato sauce like it.

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a pot of san marzano tomato sauce with fresh herbs

If you try this recipe or any other recipe, I would love to hear how you enjoyed it! Review and comment below and let me know your thoughts. Also share your pictures on instagram #asimplepalate - I love seeing your recipe creations! You can also follow me on PINTEREST, INSTAGRAM, and FACEBOOK.

a pot of san marzano tomato sauce with fresh herbs

San Marzano Tomato Sauce

5 from 15 votes
Servings 8 servings
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
4 hrs
Total Time
4 hrs 5 mins

A famous family recipe - San Marzano Tomato Sauce. A luscious red sauce simmered for several hours to develop the most rich and hearty tomato sauce. Fresh herbs, authentic Italian flavors, and the most inviting aroma. Easily the best tomato sauce I've ever had! From my family to yours. 

Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: homemade tomato sauce, italian sauce, marinara sauce, san marzano tomato sauce
Calories: 63 kcal
Author: A Simple Palate

Ingredients

  • 8 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 28oz cans San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp amore sun-dried tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp (each) salt & black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp fresh basil (for dried basil - 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh oregano (for dried oregano - 2 tsp)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh thyme (for dried thyme - 1 tsp)

Instructions

  1. In a large pot on medium heat saute garlic in olive oil for 30-60 seconds - constantly stir. Garlic can burn very easily in this process. 

  2. Add San Marzano tomatoes to garlic. Add tomato paste, salt & pepper. Mix, and cover on low heat for 4-6 hours. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.

    The whole tomatoes will break down as they cook and result in a thicker, chunkier sauce. If you prefer a smooth sauce you can use a hand-puree tool or transfer to a high-powdered blender.

  3. When sauce is finished mix in fresh herbs. Serve with your favorite pasta, lasagna, or chicken parmesan. 

Recipe Notes

Use San Marzano Peeled Tomatoes: to make a perfect tomato sauce you need San Marzanos. These tomatoes give your sauce a thicker consistency, and are sweeter, richer, and less acidic in flavor.

Use Amore Sun-Dried Tomato Paste: Rather than using normal tomato paste, my family loves to use this sun-dried tomato paste for it's thickening factor and extra added depth of flavor.

Add a Parmesan rind to your sauce while it simmers. This will instantly add flavor. The rind won't melt (though it will get soft); it will just sit in your sauce or soup and infuse it with extra umami and savor. 

Fresh Herbs vs Dried Herb Measurements: Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you'll need less -- typically three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. For example, since this recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of dried Oregano, you'd need 2 Tablespoons of fresh oregano (since 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon).

Nutrition Facts
San Marzano Tomato Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 63 Calories from Fat 32
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3.6g 6%
Cholesterol 0.6mg 0%
Sodium 164.7mg 7%
Total Carbohydrates 7.7g 3%
Sugars 2.8g
Protein 1.7g 3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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