San Marzano tomatoes are the best-kept secret of the Italian cuisine. A san Marzano sauce from scratch is way more flavorful and rich than a regular tomato sauce.
This recipe is so simple, yet so exquisite. Few fresh ingredients that together make the best Italian sauce on this earth.
You can use this sauce for pasta (plain spaghetti with this San Marzano sauce and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese is a gift of the gods), pizza, bruschettas, eggplant parmigiana, seafood, etc. Everything that requires an “Italian touch” will appreciate this sauce.
As you may see in the pictures, the day I took the pictures I decided to make some spaghetti and, oh boy, it was delicious.
On a side note: I have to give a huge shout out to the new spaghetti brand of Dolce&Gabbana “Pastificio G. Di Martino”. This is by far the best pasta brand I’ve ever used. Yes, it is a splurge, but if I wanted this san Marzano sauce to shine, the pasta should be just as good.
Also, the packaging is
Big disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post — I wish— and I didn’t receive any money for the mention. It’s just a product I found in my local supermarket and that I’ve been loving so far.
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Why San Marzano tomatoes are best for sauces?
Firstly, they are sweeter, have fewer seeds, and a softer pulp which makes them great for sauces.
Unlike regular tomatoes, you won’t have to add a big amount of sugar to balance it out the flavor. Using 12 san Marzano tomatoes, I just have to add 1 tsp of sugar. If I use regular tomatoes, I would have to add up to 3 tsp of sugar for the same amount of sauce.
Because san Marzano tomatoes have a softer and juicer pulp they tend to give a more thick and rich sauce.
Fresh or canned San Marzano tomatoes?
Honestly, the one you feel more comfortable with.
I like to use fresh san Marzano tomatoes because here in Europe they are fairly easy to find.
I don’t find that the difference in flavor using canned vs fresh is too much.
If you find high quality canned San Marzano, go for it. It shortens the time of this recipe to just 10 minutes because you don’t have to boil and peel the tomatoes.
In case you use fresh tomatoes, choose the ones that are the ripest. Just before they go “bad”, the tomatoes are at their peak of sweetness and juiciness.
The fresh tomatoes must be boiled for 7 – 10 minutes until the skin starts to peel by itself like in the pictures. Take them out of the water, and let them cool down. Remove the skin, and crush them with your hands before adding them to the sauce.
Fresh or dry herbs?
Here, I’m a bit more bias towards fresh herbs. They give a slightly different flavor, more vibrant and stronger.
But, if you only have access to dry basil, oregano, and thyme, use it. It’s not the end of the world and you still will get a delicious sauce. Remember that the stars of this sauce are the tomatoes, so don’t stress so much about the herbs.
I use the holy trinity of Italian herbs:
Also, this recipe needs garlic, because a pasta sauce without garlic is just sad my friends.
Here is a picture of this sauce made just with dry ingredients and canned tomato. Just as yummy!
Can you store this san Marzano sauce?
This recipe can make up to 6 portions for pasta. You can make this big batch of sauce and be ready for a wide variety of dishes like cannelonis.
- In the fridge: it can be stored in a glass jar with lid for up to 1 week.
- In the freeze: it can be stored for up to 2 months.
- 10 – 12 san Marzano tomatoes (or 3 medium cans)
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp fresh basil (note 1)
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano (note 2)
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme (note 3)
- 1 tsp sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
If using fresh tomatoes, boil them for 7 – 10 minutes until the skin starts to peel. Let them cool and peel them manually.
Crush the tomatoes with your hand (either fresh or canned). Avoid using a blender because we want the texture of the pulp.
In a big pot over medium-low heat toss the garlic and the olive oil. Cook for 1 minute until it starts to get fragrant. Be careful of not burning the garlic.
Add the crushed tomatoes, the sugar and all the herbs finely chopped. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve.
- If you use dry basil, just add 1 tbsp
- If you use dry oregano, just add 1 tsp
- If you use dry thyme, just add 1 tsp
I’m Maria and I love cooking—and mostly EATING—food from all around the world. I’ve been sharing my abuela’s secret Latin-American recipes for the last 7 years with the world on this blog. I’ve been a full-time food blogger for many years and I’m always trying new delicious meals that don’t require a culinary degree or a Michelin-star chef. I also love traveling, cats, and knitting.