Today I’m being a hypocrite.

Favorite Simple Crockpot Tomato Sauce I

Well, sorta.

If you’ve read this blog for, like, five minutes then you know that tomato sauce is not my favorite thing. While I enjoy some Italian food in moderation, it is still easily my least favorite cuisine and most tomato sauces can take a hike… unless it’s a just a small spread on pizza. I’d still choose white pizza first.

Pizza sauce amounts and consistencies are a huge source of contention in this house.

Favorite Simple Crockpot Tomato Sauce I

So a few years ago when I tried this original tomato sauce recipe? My mind was slightly blown that I loved it. It tasted so simple and fresh – and most importantly, light. Which is where I think most other tomato sauces get me. I find them to be too heavy and acidic for my liking, and it’s not like the pasta really helps because I don’t care much about that either. Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I’m an Italian guy’s worst nightmare. Probably his mother’s worst nightmare too. And grandmother’s. And… and… yeah.

Uh huh, that there’s a bottle of Bulliet bourbon in the background there. Don’t judge. It’s Monday.

Favorite Simple Crockpot Tomato Sauce I

Just my luck – I married someone Irish who doesn’t want tomato sauce 24/7. Crazy enough, he loved this sauce too. He loved it even more than I did, but does that really say a lot considering for the last five years I’ve served him some sort of marinara out of a jar? No. It does not. But still.

I find the original recipe to be pretty perfect. The only slight downside is that it still takes about 45 minutes, which for me in kitchen time is really not long at all, especially considering it’s really 40 minutes of sit-around-and-wait time. But I still thought it would be cool to have a way to make a really large batch of the sauce completely hands-off, to have it stored so I could stop buying jarred stuff. And it took a few trials given the liquid in the canned tomatoes and crockpot scientifics that I don’t really understand, but this is it… our favorite. I make it once or twice a month and freeze some leftovers. Then I totally OD on it and eat something else until I crave it two weeks later.

That is my life.

Favorite Simple Crockpot Tomato Sauce I


Favorite Crockpot Tomato Sauce

Yield: serves 4-6

Total Time: 8 hours


4 (28 ounce) cans of whole, peeled tomatoes
2 sweet onions, ends removed, peeled and sliced in half
4 garlic cloves, minced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Drain 2 cans of the tomatoes, reserving the juice if you desire. You won't need it for this recipe.

Add the drained tomatoes, the 2 other cans of tomatoes (juice and all), the onion, garlic and butter to the crockpot. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally if desired. The tomatoes will break down but near the end, I like to take a potato masher and crush them as much as I can. I prefer to remove the onion, but my husband likes to keep it in there, so it's your choice! Season with salt and pepper, then taste and season additionally if needed. Sometimes I need to add a little more salt and pepper. You can also add some dried oregano or basil if you'd like. Use as desired on pasta, pizza, casseroles, etc. This is a very simple, fresh-tasting tomato sauce. If you're a tomato sauce connoisseur, it may not be for you - add whatever you'd like to make it your own!

I've also stirred a 1/2 cup of freshly grated romano cheese into this and it's... amazing.

[adapted from marcella hazan via smitten kitchen]

Favorite Simple Crockpot Tomato Sauce I

Ever wonder what the end of a photo shoot looks like when I’m hungry? Yeah. Like that.

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71 Responses to “Our Favorite Simple Crockpot Tomato Sauce.”

  1. #
    Georgia — March 19, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    Great recipe. My tip from an Italian friend of mine is if you add a bit of sugar to the tomatoes it will make it less acidic. Yum.


  2. #
    Melissa — March 19, 2013 @ 10:55 pm

    Interesting and sounds yummy… all up to the point of the butter. Butter? really… had never thought of that one and 6 Tbsp even which adds more fat that is not needed. Perhaps I will try with 3 Tbsp. butter.


  3. #
    Joshua Hampton (Cooking Classes San Diego) — March 20, 2013 @ 7:06 am

    Homemade tomato sauce is the best. My mother used to make it all the time. Her recipe is almost like yours, except she puts in a bit of sugar in it. Thanks for sharing this.


  4. #
    Jennifer B. — March 21, 2013 @ 8:41 pm

    I trust all of your recipe judgment. Everything I make from your blog is my new favorite recipe. I also hate canned tomato sauce, but OMG this is so yummy! I made it yesterday and used it for pizza sauce, and today it’s topping my pasta. Thank you.


  5. #
    Michelle — March 24, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

    I knew there was a reason I loved your blog! I too get the sideways glances at the mention of dislike of tomato sauce, and gasps when I decline pasta. This clinched it, we are kindred spirits my friend. I must try this one! (oh and every other recipe you post, must not visit hungry…)


  6. #
    Aggie — April 1, 2013 @ 3:28 am

    I always add a little bit of milk to my tomato sauce (from a store-bought jar, shame) to make it creamier, but adding butter sounds heavenyl!


  7. #
    Jill — April 16, 2013 @ 2:17 pm

    I’m cooking this now and it smells heavenly! I make my Grandmom’s meat sauce often, but that has a lot more ingredients and stove time. I’m going to pulse mine in the food processor (we don’t like chunky sauce) and add some minced herbs from my garden :) Thanks!


  8. #
    jana — May 17, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

    I’m definitely trying this Monday. My son always wants spaghetti and I don’t care for red sauce. A little amount is fine if it’s baked with pasta and topped with cheese (that how we had it two weeks ago so I could tolerate it). I’m in the same boat as you! White sauce, olive oil anything, but red. I just discovered your blog today and love it!


  9. #
    Sarah — August 2, 2013 @ 9:50 am

    Just saw this come across my fb via Crockpot’s fb page. I am not a red sauce fan,either, but not because I don’t like tomatoes, but I have geographic tongue that is irritated by food acids. That being said, I have 6 tomato plants that have about a million blooms on them. Wonder what I would have to do differently to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned? Anyone have a good idea?


    • Sarah — August 17th, 2013 @ 6:22 pm

      Boil whole tomatoes until they crack put them in ice water remove skins and they are ready to go!


    • Bonny Lee — October 25th, 2013 @ 5:38 pm

      You can put a few fresh tomatoes on a microwave safe plate, and microwave until the skins start to pop. Then they are easy to peel off. Use in place of the canned tomatoes.


  10. #
    AnneMarie @ Gen X Quilters — October 13, 2013 @ 12:13 pm

    Sounds yummy! Do you know if I can freeze this?


    • Bonny Lee — October 25th, 2013 @ 5:40 pm

      Easy to freeze. It will even taste better if it is allowed to sit in the fridge before using.


  11. #
    Bonny Lee — October 25, 2013 @ 5:45 pm

    In the pics you posted it looks like the sauce watered down and settled on the plate. There are 2 reasons for this -either the pasta was not drained well enough, or you did not add the drained pasta to some sauce before plating it.

    My parents used to drain their pasta and then rinse it with cold water (to stop the cooking supposedly) and then sprayed it with hot water (to warm it up again). Washing the starch off doesn’t allow the sauce to stick to the pasta.



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