San Marzano tomato sauce is the best version of homemade marinara. Fresh, simple ingredients, a real authentic Italian pasta sauce recipe ready in under 30 minutes. San Marzano tomatoes are perfect for making tomato sauce with a hint of sweetness and no sugar.
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We love this recipe because making San Marzano tomato sauce from scratch is perfect for weeknight dinners and Sunday family dinners where the whole family is looking forward to Italian red sauce and a big bowl of pasta.
This recipe is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan. And while we love it served over pasta (gluten-free or regular), it is great over zoodles too.
I was always intimidated by making marinara sauce. But after a few practice rounds, I have settled on the perfect Italian tomato sauce. This is the best San Marzano tomato sauce recipe for foodies and beginner cooks alike.
Homemade tomato sauce should not be complicated. You can add in additional flavorings but the base sauce should be simple high-quality ingredients.
- San Marzano Whole Tomatoes (D.O.P., canned)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Fresh Garlic
- Dried Oregano
- Kosher Salt & Black Pepper
- Crushed Red Flakes (optional)
- Fresh Basil
See the recipe card for quantities.
What are D.O.P San Marzano Tomatoes?
San Marzano tomatoes are a type of meaty plum tomato that is longer and thinner than the plum tomatoes typically sold in US grocery stores. D.O.P stands for Denominazione d'Origine Protetta which translates to protected designation of origin.
The designation was created to identify products that have been produced, processed, and developed in a specific geographical area, using the recognized know-how of local producers.
While San Marzano tomatoes can be grown anywhere the D.O.P. designated version is grown in the San Marzano region of Italy only. It is similar to Vidalia Onions, Wagyu Beef, Bourbon, or Champagne.
D.O.P. are slightly more expensive but significantly sweeter in taste. At my local grocery chain, they cost $0.50 to $1.00 more per can. Well worth it in my opinion.
Other Recipe Substitutions
Traditional Italian red sauces vary on if they include onion. Some add more and some have none at all. Personally, I think a small amount of onion is ideal but if you don't have any on hand just increase the garlic by a clove or two.
For a change of pace from traditional tomato sauce, you can substitute roasted garlic for fresh garlic.
🍝 How to Make San Marzano Sauce
San Marzano marinara sauce is a simple 3 step recipe. Most of which is hands-off. Let's get started!
Step 1- Prep
To prep the vegetables, finely dice the onion and mince the fresh garlic. The basil can be cut into ribbons or chopped up. Set it aside for the end.
Pour the San Marzano tomatoes and the puree into a bowl. Use your hands to gently crush the tomatoes.
Step 2- Saute
Heat your olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. If you're short on time use a saute pan so the water evaporates faster.
Add the onions and cook until translucent. With just a ¼ cup of diced onion, this should take about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until caramelized. This will take about 2 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent browning.
Step 3- Simmer
Add the tomatoes with the puree along with the dried seasonings (i.e. oregano, salt, and peppers). Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes. Stir occasionally and do not boil, this will prevent burning.
Taste for salt and pepper, sprinkle on the fresh basil. Serve as desired.
🥗What to Serve with San Marzano Pasta
San Marzano marinara has many applications. But when serving an Italian red sauce over pasta I like to keep it simple with a garden or caesar salad and homemade gluten-free garlic bread.
👩🏻🍳 Expert Tip
Save parmesan cheese rinds in your freezer. Toss one in when the sauce is simmering for a richer flavor and thicker sauce.
No special equipment is required for this recipe. But a saute pan will cook the sauce faster than a saucepan.
Personally, I prefer the longer cook time to help the flavor develop but time is not always on my side.
San Marzano tomato sauce can be made ahead of time, making it a great meal prep recipe. The cooled sauce can be stored in an airtight container and placed in the refrigerator for up to a week.
How to Freeze Marinara Sauce
Pour the cooled sauce into a container with an airtight lid. Place the container in the freezer for up to 3 months. You can also place the cooled sauce in a zip-top freezer bag. Once seal lay flat so the sauce spreads out evenly. Freeze flat to save on space.
💬Frequently Asked Questions
San Marzano tomato sauce is an authentic Italian red sauce, also called marinara, made from a specific type of plum tomato from the San Marzano region of Italy.
Yes. There are no gluten-containing ingredients found in San Marzano sauce. it is also dairy-free.
San Marzano tomatoes are specifically cultivated for the meatiness and sweet tomato flavor. They give a robust flavor without adding sugar.
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San Marzano Tomato Sauce
- Gently crush the tomatoes and set aside. Be sure to save the puree from the can. Alternatively, you can use already crushed tomatoes if you can find them.1 28oz can san marzano whole tomatoes
- Add olive oil to a medium saucepan or skillet. Heat on medium heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook stirring for about 2 minutes.2 tablespoons olive oil, ¼ cup onion, diced, 6 cloves garlic, minced
- Add the tomatoes, with the puree, salt, pepper, and oregano (and red pepper, if using). Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. After 30 minutes taste for salt and pepper and reduce down to desired consistency.½ teaspoon dried oregano, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, pinch crushed red flakes
- Serve over pasta and garnish with fresh basil.fresh basil
- The cooled sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 5 to 7 days.
- To freeze, store in an airtight container or plastic freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months.
Check out our San Marzano Tomato Sauce Recipe web story!