This three-ingredient Tomato Sauce Recipe with Butter and Onions recipe is based off a Marcella Hazan-inspired one that’s quick and easy to make and ready in 45 minutes.
How to Make Tomato Sauce Recipe with Butter and Onions
When you want a great pasta sauce, then this Tomato Sauce Recipe with Butter and Onions, is just the ticket. And, it only takes three ingredients to make the the best tomato sauce—ever!
Long story, short: I was looking for a tomato sauce recipe, not marinara, when I came across this recipe by Marcella Hazan. It looked too good to be true. Three ingredients? San Marzano tomatoes, butter and onion? No way!
And, no, you don’t have to pay big bucks to taste the essence of tomatoes nestled in a rich tomatoey sauce—perfect for pasta—or more closely: pasta-perfect. It tastes like an authentic Italian sauce that you make from scratch.
Tomato Sauce Recipe Ingredients
You’ll also need a yellow onion that has been peeled and sliced in half, width-wise. My favorite is Spanish onions, although Vidalia is also a great choice that’s a bit milder and sweeter.
Finally, you’ll need butter. You can use either salted or no-salt version—you choose.
Cooking Note: Unsalted butter allows you to control the amount of salt in this dish.
Step by Step Instructions for Tomato Sauce with Butter and Onions Recipe
Start by opening your can of tomatoes I like to use a scissors or even my hands to crush the tomatoes into smaller chunks.
Then, everything goes into the sauté pan and simmer this for approximately 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
I like to move the onion halves around, now and again along with the tomato bits, mashing any offending tomato chunks into the smallest of pieces.
While the tomato sauce cooks, cover the pan, but not completely. Why? Tipping it allows some of the steam to escape which also helps it thicken nicely, plus it also keeps my stovetop fairly clean.
And, after 45 minutes, you’ll have yourself a sauce that is amazingly rich and creamy! Serve over with your favorite pasta, along with some freshly baked baguettes and Enjoy!
Tomato Sauce Recipe Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How much sauce does this recipe make?
This recipe only ends up making 2 cups of tomato sauce, which relates to approximately four half cup servings to one half amount of cooked pasta (when cooking a 1-lb package). Roughly it’s one cup of pasta to one-half cup of sauce.
What type of pasta should I use?
This recipe goes well with spaghetti (thin or thick), rigatoni, penne and gnudi and gnocchi.
Should I use water or broth?
You might be tempted to add more liquid, but I would say wait and see what the sauce looks like after 30 minutes or so of cooking at a simmer. Really, the recipe should be reduced down to a thick sauce that you should see bits of tomatoes and little liquid. If you are using canned whole tomatoes, you should have more than enough juice to take it to its end point. If however, you are using fresh tomatoes, that’s another story. You may have to add a smidgeon, and I mean a smidgeon amount of water or broth. But see how it goes.
Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of canned?
When using fresh tomatoes (2 1/2 cups), chop them up into small chunks and add approximately 2/3 cup of water, along with the tomatoes.
Can I add salt to this recipe?
For me adding too much salt is a no-no for health reasons. So, I’ve acquired a taste for “less is best” when it comes to salt. That being said, add salt if you like but first taste the sauce it before adding any salt to your pasta sauce. If you find it lacking, then add salt, a pinch at a time.
Can I double this recipe?
Absolutely! If you’d like more sauce, then you will need to double the tomato, onion and butter amounts to coincide accordingly, otherwise the sauce will change in taste and consistency.
Do I have to use onions?
My recommendation is that it will taste best when you use onions. I would suggest trying first Spanish onions (larger) or yellow onions (smaller). These are very flavorful versions and pair well with long cooking times and tomatoes. However, once cooked, some folks like to take the onions out and chop them up and put them back into the sauce. You can do that or do as Marcella suggests and remove the onion altogether. For me, I removed the onion and used it in a breakfast omelet the next day. Delish!
Do I have to use butter?
This ingredient may seem foreign to Italian-recipe diehards, but butter does add not only flavor but thickness to the sauce. Don’t be put off by this, you won’t even know there’s butter in this sauce, honestly.
Can I add vinegar and sugar to the sauce?
Some folks say to add a bit of vinegar and a touch of sugar to their homemade tomato sauce. You don’t need to but if you’d like, you can.
Can I add spices to the sauce?
Absolutely! You can add your favorite spices to the tomato sauce, but before you do, it’s always best to taste-test the sauce. All I ask is that you give this sauce a chance on its own. Make this sauce per the instructions below and then add any additional spice(s), vinegar, sugar, salt, etc. once the sauce has come to completion. You’ll get better results by far than trying to concoct something ahead of time. It’s just my humble opinion, though, this sauce is so creamy and flavorful, you’ll wonder how you ever pulled off this recipe without adding garlic, basil, oregano—just to name a few.
For more delicious Italian-inspired dishes, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Recipe Section.
Tomato Sauce Recipe with Butter and Onions
- 28 oz whole tomatoes canned
- 1 Spanish onion peeled and sliced in half
- 8 tbsp butter
- 1/2 lb dry spaghetti cook to package instructions
- Parmesan-Reggiano grated (optional)
- Open can of tomatoes and crush or cut them into small pieces with a scissors.
- Peel and cut onion. Place that along with the tomatoes and butter into a large sided fry pan or sauce pan.
- Cook on a simmer (covered slightly) for approximately 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
- Cook until the sauce is thick. Remove onion if wanted, or chop into small pieces and add to sauce.
- Spoon sauce over cooked pasta. Serve with grated Parmesan-Reggiano. Enjoy!