This has become my go-to sauce for homemade pizza, pasta, lasagna, and the like! Made with canned tomatoes, onion, garlic, and lots of fresh basil, it tastes incredibly fresh and comes together in just about 20 minutes. What’s more, you can easily adapt it to make a quick, creamy vodka sauce!

An overhead shot of homemade tomato sauce in a quart container.

Last month, Memorial Day weekend’s frigid temperatures and relentless rain upended our annual camping trip with my sister’s family, sending us straight past the exit for the campsite, en route to her home instead.

So in place of heating chili and cornbread over a campfire, we baked pizzas under a roof, in the shelter of a waterproof house, a woodburning oven keeping us cozy all the while. My brother-in-law had made the pizza dough that morning, balled it up, and chilled it until we arrived.

Upon learning the pizza plan, I set to work making sauce. Without enough time to make Ina’s vodka sauce, my favorite for pizza, I turned to a faster sauce I hadn’t made in years: Marcella Hazan’s other tomato sauce. Unlike her famous one, this one calls for sautéed onions, crushed garlic, white wine, fresh parsley, and a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. After 20 minutes of simmering, it’s done.

Friends, I had forgotten how simple and fresh tasting this miraculous little sauce is! That night, I used basil instead of parsley, cut back the oil slightly, and simmered it for 5 minutes less — what can I say, we were hungry! The pizzas, topped with this basil-scented sauce, a hodgepodge of cheeses and toppings exhumed from the fridge, and my brother-in-law’s homegrown wine cap mushrooms (delicious!) and garden greens were fabulous.

The most exciting revelation about this sauce came upon returning home when I again found myself short on time and wanting Ina’s vodka sauce. In place of the wine, I used vodka, and I added 1/2 cup of heavy cream at the end. It turned out beautifully! Delicious, homemade vodka sauce in one-third the time? I’ll take it.

Hope you love it, too.

5 More Favorite Tomato Sauces

Tomato season couldn’t arrive a second too soon, and when it does, these are the fresh sauces I make on repeat:

Quick Homemade Tomato Sauce, Step by Step

First: gather your ingredients.

Ingredients to make quick, homemade tomato sauce from canned tomatoes.

You need about 2 cups of diced onions and about a tablespoon of minced garlic (from two cloves).

Minced onions and garlic on a cutting board.

Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until they are soft.

A pot of minced onions and garlic simmering stovetop.

Then add white wine and simmer 2-3 minutes or until the alcohol smell dissipates.

A pot of minced onions and garlic simmering stovetop with olive oil.

Add a can of peeled tomatoes.

A pot of homemade tomato sauce simmering stovetop.

Snip them with scissors right in the pot; then simmer 15 minutes.

A pot of tomato sauce simmering stovetop with scissors inside.

Add basil.

A pot of tomato sauce simmering stove top with fresh basil added.

Purée with an immersion blender or transfer to a food processor or blender and purée until smooth.

A pot of homemade tomato sauce simmering stovetop with an immersion blender inside.

Taste, and adjust seasoning with salt to taste.

A pot of homemade, quick tomato sauce.

This will give you about a quart of sauce. I love these deli containers for storing sauces and dressings. At this point, you can freeze the sauce for up to 3 months.

Homemade tomato sauce in a quart container.

Here’s the vodka sauce variation:

A pot of homemade, quick vodka sauce.
An overhead shot of homemade vodka sauce in a quart container.

Such a great feeling having homemade sauce on hand!

Two quarts of homemade tomato sauce on a counter top.
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An overhead shot of homemade tomato sauce in a quart container.

Quick Homemade Tomato Sauce (Canned Tomatoes)


  • Author: Alexandra Stafford
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart
  • Diet: Vegetarian
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Description

This recipe has been adapted from this favorite Marcella Hazan recipe (not the famous 3-ingredient recipe.)

Notes:

  • These are a few brands of canned tomatoes I really like: La Valle, Mutti, DiNapoli, and Cento.
  • To make a vodka variation, use vodka in place of the white wine, and purée the sauce with 1/2 cup of cream at the end.
  • Freeze the sauce for up to 3 months. I love these deli containers for storing sauces and dressings.  

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt
  • Pinch crushed chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 28-oz can of peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, see notes above
  • 1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil (about 1/2 ounce)

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot, combine the oil, onions, and garlic. Add a pinch of salt. Turn the heat to high. As soon as the onions and garlic begin simmering, give them a stir, turn the heat to low, and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes.
  2. Uncover the pot, add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, stir once or twice, raise the heat to high; then add the wine. Let it simmer for 2 to 3 minutes or until the alcohol smell dissipates.
  3. Add the tomatoes. Using scissors, snip the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Season with a generous pinch of salt, and cook at a gentle simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Transfer the sauce to a blender or food processor. Add the basil. Purée until smooth. Taste and adjust with more salt if necessary. (Alternatively use an immersion blender to purée)

 

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian, American

Keywords: quick, tomato, basil, sauce, canned