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This sauce is my signature, Jughandle’s Tomato Sauce.  Also known as Red sauce in some circles.  I have developed this recipe for 55 years.  It was the first thing I learned to cook.


If you use good quality ingredients it will never fail you.  Everyone’s tastes are different so add or subtract as you need to.  A taste of tomato sauce should not surprise you.  It is something to savor, and enjoy.  It should enhance a pasta or dish and not taste flat.


At the bottom of the page I include a mean meat sauce variation.  Enjoy – jughandle

5 from 1 vote
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Basic Tomato Sauce aka Red Sauce

I've been perfecting this sauce for 55 years. I think I've got it down. But, by all means make any changes you would like. See the Variations for a meat sauce. - jughandle
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keywords Italian Red Sauce, Tomato Sauce
Cooking Method saute, Stove Top
Hot/Cold Dish Hot
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Author jughandle

What You Will Need:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 onion - large white or yellow, finely diced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano - chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 teaspoon Thyme - fresh chopped or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 2 garlic cloves - roughly chopped or pressed
  • 2 teaspoons salt always to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper crushed
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste - very good quality or don't use any
  • 56 ounce tomatoes - 2 * 28 ounce cans of whole plum or roma, chopped with their liquid
  • 12 ounce tomato sauce - 1 - 12 ounce can
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce - to taste
  • 1 tsp Tabasco Sauce - to taste. Not meant to be spicy, just to brighten the flavor. Lemon juice would also work
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar - or lemon juice

Equipment Needed:

  • 3-4 quart sauce pan


  • In a 3-4 quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the minced onion and a large pinch of salt to sweat the onions. Saute for 5 minutes then add the garlic, and cook until soft and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes. If the onions or garlic brown too fast turn the heat down. Do not burn the garlic or the sauce is ruined. Start over.
  • When the onions and garlic are right. add the tomato paste and stir to combine for 30 seconds.
  • Add the thyme and oregano, and cook 5 minutes more, until the spices are soft.
  • Add the remaining tomatoes with their juices, the pepper and the bay leaves. Raise the temp to med-high and bring to a low boil, stirring often.
  • Taste, then add the worcestershire sauce, Tabasco Sauce and vinegar, in that order, tasting between each addition. Adjust the salt and all seasonings. The sauce should have a tangy acidic taste to the tongue with a back flavor of tomato and spices. None of the individual seasonings should stand out.
  • Lower the heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes up to 3 hours, until the sauce has an oatmeal consistency.
  • Taste and adjust the seasonings once more.


Note: all quantities are just starting points. Add or subtract as you deem necessary.
This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.  Can be frozen flat in plastic freezer bags.


Nutrition Facts
Basic Tomato Sauce aka Red Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 114 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 869mg38%
Potassium 663mg19%
Carbohydrates 12g4%
Fiber 3g13%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 3g6%
Vitamin A 1910IU38%
Vitamin C 32.1mg39%
Calcium 30mg3%
Iron 1.3mg7%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Meat sauce:  To make a meat lovers meat sauce –

  • prepare the basic tomato sauce recipe.
  • While it is simmering
  • Brown 1-2 lbs or more of ground meat.  It could be beef, pork, turkey, sausage or any combination.
  • Render out the fat and drain.
  • Add to the tomato sauce and combine thoroughly.
  • Continue to simmer to combine the flavors.


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5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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