Website: Smitten Kitchen

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter


Cuisine: Italian | Course Type: Sauces/Gravies

(7 reviews)

Tags: tomatoes sauce basics

Recipe Reviews

15th June 2012

wester from Soesterberg, Utr

Why did I wait so long to make this recipe? Over two years since I first saw it here. Maybe it looks too simple. All the raving in the blogosphere may raise the expectations a bit too high. You shouldn't expect miracles here. It is as velvety as advertised though, and the flavors are very well balanced. It is a bit plain, but that doesn't matter. I will definitely make this again, and I don't feel the need to add anything to it.

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18th April 2012


This sauce has a very rich, velvety tomato flavour that suggests you went to more trouble than you did. It's my go-to for an easy, night-on-the-couch comfort food, or as a simple pasta course before an elaborate meat or fish course.

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26th April 2011

kfranzetta from San Francisco, CA

This sauce was very good and super simple to make. It was the perfect complement to fresh pasta.

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17th April 2011


I love this recipe! it really could not be easier--you don't even have to chop the onion--and it produces a delicious sauce.

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5th April 2010


Super easy and tasty. More 'complicated' versions aren't that much more work, though, and I enjoy them more. Also, maybe it had to do with the tomatoes I used, but my sauce came out more orange than red.

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22nd January 2010

friederike from Berlin,

Basically, this is a very nice sauce. I do find pure tomato sauce a little boring, so I added some fried chopped onions and mincemeat during the last ten minutes (could be earlier, though). Adding the mincemeat meant that the sauce lost some its simplicity of taste and tasted slightly less velvety; perhaps adding flakes of bacon and some red or green pepper might be a more suitable choice to spice up this sauce. Or try it as it is!

Otherwise, I think it's a very good sauce that you can also use for other pasta dishes - e.g. make some extra sauce and use it as a tomato sauce for lasagna the following week (bring it to a boil and fill it into a large jar - my guess is that this way you should be able to keep the sauce some 2-4 weeks).

The same recipe has already appeared in other blogs, as Deb acknowledges, for instance Orangette, Rachel Eats and The Amateur Gourmet. Originally from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.

Edited 7 March 2010:
Ah, I gave it another try (what else should you do on a Sunday evening when you originally had other eating plans) and I was disappointed again... This time it didn't taste very velvety, or at least not velvety enough to make up for the fact that it was actually quite plain. It made a great base for my favourite spaghetti sauce, though, with onions, garlic, red and green bell peppers, ham and ...

Edited 24 January 2012:
I actually canned a few jars of tomato sauce back in July 2011 - just poured the boiling hot sauce into sterilized jars up to the rim and closed them properly - and then used them in a pasta dish this week. The sauce was delicious as always, not a bit spoiled, and made DH crack jokes that it had 'ripened', and that next time we should use oak barrels.

In any case: this can make an ideal gift for people who will be short on time or cooking resources for a while - kids going to college, people under time pressure to finish a project, new mothers, people whose kitchen is getting renovated and who have to rely on a camping pit in the meantime (they'll need it for the pasta..), you name it.

Edited 29 June 2013:
On second thought... Read this before you decide to can any tomato sauce.

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21st January 2010

aj12754 from Montclair, NJ

Easiest tomato sauce in the world -- can of San Marzanos, 5 T. butter and an onion --- simmer 45 minutes and the result is a lovely, fresh-tasting, velvety-textured sauce. The write-up at the website and the comments give some interesting background on the origins of this simple delicious sauce.

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