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Spaghetti with homemade authentic Italian Italian tomato sauce and basil.

Quick Homemade Tomato Sauce {Sicilian Style}

  • Author: Emilie Raffa
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups or enough for 1/2 lb. pasta
  • Category: Pasta Sauce
  • Method: Stove-top
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


This quick, authentic homemade Italian tomato sauce, made with San Marzano canned tomatoes, is different than most tomato sauce recipes: there’s no garlic, only onions, which adds a unique sweetness. All you need is one pot, a handful of ingredients and 40 minutes to cook. Makes enough sauce for 1/2 lb of pasta (double the recipe if you want!).


For the Sauce

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, small 1/4-inch dice
  • (1x) 28 oz can San Marzano whole peeled plum tomatoes, in puree
  • 12 tsp blonde cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • Handful of fresh basil leaves

To Serve

Notes, Tips & Variations:

Food Mill Variation: If you want a smoother sauce, use a food mill to sieve the tomatoes. This is one of my most beloved kitchen tools, although not everyone has one. To do so, pass the tomatoes through the food mill and add the tomato liquid to the pot in step #2.



  1. In a pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Sauté the onions until light golden in color, about 5-7 minutes. This step adds key flavor to the sauce. Do not brown the onions; the sauce will taste bitter.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the pot. Add a splash of water to the tomato can, swirl it around and then pour the liquid into the pot. Add 1 tsp. of sugar, the salt and oregano. Increase the heat and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Do not boil. 
  3. Towards the ends of cooking, add the fresh basil leaves. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes or so. Taste, and correct with more salt and/or the remaining 1 tsp. of sugar if the tomatoes are tart and acidic. Note: When cooking with blonde cane sugar (I find it’s less sweet than regular granulated sugar), I add the full 2 tsp. to the sauce.

Optional Step: Remove the pot from the heat. Using a hand-help stick blender or regular blender, puree the sauce for a silky smooth texture (I remove the basil leaves first). Alternatively, leave the sauce chunky, for a more rustic texture.

To Serve: Cook the spaghetti according to the package instructions. Drain and mix with the sauce, reserving a bit of the cooking water to loosen the sauce if needed. I like to add a good knob of butter. Garnish with parmesan, basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil.

Keywords: tomato sauce, homemade, Italian tomato sauce recipe, authentic, classic, easy, quick, San Marzano tomatoes, Sicilian