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. #
    sally @ sallys baking addiction — March 18, 2013 @ 7:16 am

    oh Jessica. How perfect. I’ve been searching high and low for a perfected homemade tomato sauce recipe lately. It honestly sounds phenomenal. Oh and now I want a huge bowl of pasta for breakfast today. :/


  2. #
    Laura — March 18, 2013 @ 7:26 am

    this looks and sounds right up my alley. maybe I should finally get out my crockpot after a year of hybernation.


  3. #
    Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers — March 18, 2013 @ 7:28 am

    I love tomato sauce in a crockpot, heck I love homemade tomato sauce, I’m just to lazy to make it! lol


  4. #
    Rachel Cooks — March 18, 2013 @ 7:30 am

    This looks perfect! Love that it is slow cooker friendly. :) Pinning!


  5. #
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — March 18, 2013 @ 7:32 am

    I haven’t had a chance to make full-fledged homemade tomato sauce… but I never buy the jarred kind. I usually take crushed tomatoes and make my own creation. And it’s kind of amazing how wonderfully it turns out. I may or may not hit mine with a a few additional hunks of butter at the end. Yeah, it’s decadent.

    I’m going to have to try romano cheese next time.


  6. #
    Averie @ Averie Cooks — March 18, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    I never made pasta + sauce…and this weekend…I made pasta + sauce! It was cold and windy the day I decided to make it and it hit the spot! I love the type of noodles you used. And your sauce is perfect!


  7. #
    Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat — March 18, 2013 @ 7:51 am

    I love the simplicity of this! I’m definitely more of a tomato sauce person than a cream sauce fan, but like you, I’ll probably never marry an Italian because I’ve never been a huge pasta fan! As you’ve described though, there are about a bazilion other tomato sauce applications (hello, pizza!) so you can bet I’ll be trying this one!


  8. #
    misschelsmangia — March 18, 2013 @ 8:14 am

    Jess! I swear, one day with my family and you will be hooked on authentic Italian cuisine! Trust me! :) Mangia!


  9. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — March 18, 2013 @ 8:21 am

    Yes, I have Bulleit in the background of a good number of my photos too! No judgement whatsoever.
    Love the thought of how easy this is, thanks to the crockpot. Saving for our next round of spaghetti! (Meatball recipe soon? Please?)


  10. #
    Kelly — March 18, 2013 @ 8:24 am

    Sauce looks yummy… but that bread in the last few pics look awesome! Where can I procure the bread?! LOL!


  11. #
    Tieghan — March 18, 2013 @ 8:38 am

    I love how simple this is! I am not a fun of the red stuff either, but hey if you like this I am guessing I probably will to! Normally, I put brussel sprouts with pasta and LOAD it with cheese, but this is very tempting!


  12. #
    Elisa @ Insalata di Sillabe — March 18, 2013 @ 9:32 am

    Well, I’m Italian and so pasta and tomatoe sauces are a staple in our food routine. (I’ve recently blogged about my favorite ragù sauce!) If I have to be sincere, I already have my favorite and trusted tomato sauce recipe, the one that my grandma taught me, but I’ll be happy to give yours a try!

    xo, Elisa


  13. #
    Amy Powell — March 18, 2013 @ 9:33 am

    I’m always amazed at how much better homemade tomato sauce is. Can’t wait to try this!


  14. #
    Christine @ Cooking with Cakes — March 18, 2013 @ 9:52 am

    Jessica, I’m slightly horrified that you are not an Italian food gal, but I’ll stay your invisible friend anyway :)

    Also, that last picture is gorgeous! Great shot!


  15. #
    Abbe@This is How I Cook — March 18, 2013 @ 10:10 am

    Great sauce or gravy as some would say! And that’s a lot of gravy!


  16. #
    Marie @ Little Kitchie — March 18, 2013 @ 10:32 am

    This sauce sounds great, and if your tomato sauce hating self craves it, it has got to be good!


  17. #
    allie@sweetpotatobites — March 18, 2013 @ 10:51 am

    i love simple tomato sauce recipes – i’ll definitely have to try this one!


  18. #
    Karen @ Best Foodies — March 18, 2013 @ 10:53 am

    I am thrilled when I see a good tomato sauce because pasta is my favorite dish! For fun I have asked local restaurants for a tad of their special seasonings just to create special sauces and that has been fun. So glad you found one that you enjoy.


  19. #
    Chris — March 18, 2013 @ 10:59 am

    How did you know I have spaghetti squash to bake today?!? I’ll be happier all day just thinking about this!!!


  20. #
    FashionEdible — March 18, 2013 @ 11:20 am

    This crockpot tomato sauce idea looks great! I cook mine on the stove and caramelize the onions – adds some great flavor too!

    FashionEdible Blog


  21. #
    Emma — March 18, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    I’ve never thought to make sauce in a crockpot but what a great idea! i hate that when i make sauce there’s a huge pot on the stove for hours that always seems to get in my way. I’ll have to try this next time! Do you think it would work with fresh tomatoes?


  22. #
    Krissy @ Make it Naked — March 18, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    Ha. That last picture made me laugh bc I just JUST shot tomato sauce/meatballs while hungry. So I ate one of the bowls while sitting on the floor with a camera around my neck and now I’m grossly full and slightly embarrassed. Glad I’m not alone. It’s comforting.


  23. #
    Jess — March 18, 2013 @ 11:41 am

    Interesting. I have never put butter into the sauce myself, I only use a bit of EVOO to cook the onions. I wonder if it makes a big difference taste wise.

    Some Snapshots Blog


  24. #
    Holiday Baker Man — March 18, 2013 @ 12:05 pm

    Easy and yummy! Thanks!


  25. #
    Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats — March 18, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

    I’m bookmarking this one for sure!


  26. #
    Michelle — March 18, 2013 @ 12:23 pm

    What a great simple recipe!


  27. #
    Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes — March 18, 2013 @ 12:37 pm

    I love making tomato sauce – it’s so easy and lasts for many meals. Never thought to make it in the crock pot!


  28. #
    Dana @ Conscious Kitchen Blog — March 18, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    I’ve never been a huge fan of tomato sauce either (pasta, very much though) and I think it’s probably because jar sauce really isn’t that good. This recipe looks perfect though. I feel a kitchen experiment coming on.


  29. #
    Mandy — March 18, 2013 @ 1:29 pm

    Tomato sauce in a jar is gross and always sweet. I do not do sugar in tomato sauce! Sugar is for cupcakes!
    The only one semi-acceptable jarred sauce is Giada deLaurentiis’s plain tomato sauce. This recipe is similar to the one my mom always makes, but she uses EVOO and no onions. Sometimes a jar of diced tomatoes too. Oh and toss about quarter cup parmesan cheese and some chopped fresh basil near the end. So simple and delicious, but I could get behind the crockpot idea while I’m slaving away at work.


  30. #
    Amanda — March 18, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

    Love the last photo of the aftermath! :)


  31. #
    Chloe @Ergo-Blog — March 18, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

    There has been a constant battle in my house over what type of pasta sauce is best but my boyfriend still only likes Ragu. It drives me nuts!!!!! I have to try this to maybe prove him wrong that Ragu is not the best! =)


  32. #
    Kelly — March 18, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I love a good pasta sauce and this one is definitely worth trying! Thanks for the recipe! :)


  33. #
    Ashley Bee (Quarter Life Crisis Cuisine) — March 18, 2013 @ 4:02 pm

    I am a fan of the making marinara from “scratch” via canned tomatoes on the stovetop. This would be an awesome time saver!


  34. #
    Honey What's Cooking — March 18, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

    Looks great.. since you don’t like tomato sauces, you should try Rao’s Marinara Sauce, all the ingredients are imported from Italy.. about $9 a jar.. but it’s unfreakin believable. Just try it, once. :-)


  35. #
    Kristy @ Southern In Law — March 18, 2013 @ 4:18 pm

    Mmm there’s nothing better than a good tomato pasta sauce! I want to actually use my crockpot this winter and now since Jesse’s finally coming home, i’ll have to add this to my must-make list!!


  36. #
    Laura — March 18, 2013 @ 6:58 pm

    I love cooking with Italian spices. Mmhmmm. This sounds somewhat like this marinara recipe which is basically the best marinara recipe ever! But it’s hard to go wrong with butter, onion and tomatoes:


  37. #
    natalie @ wee eats — March 18, 2013 @ 10:06 pm

    this sauce looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it!


  38. #
    LouAnn — March 19, 2013 @ 8:11 am

    I bookmarked this and am excited to try it – thank you so much


  39. #
    Debbie — March 19, 2013 @ 8:48 am

    So are there big hunks of onion in this sauce? I’m not sure how I feel about that…


    • Jessica — March 19th, 2013 @ 9:22 am

      nope you remove the onion before serving!
      unless you’re like my husband and want to eat it.


      • Debbie — March 19th, 2013 @ 4:47 pm

        Guess that’s what I get for not reading the whole recipe! Thanks – I’m giving it a try this weekend. :)

  40. #
    Kathleen — March 19, 2013 @ 8:59 am

    This looks perfect for my guys. Hubs and kids aren’t big fans of tomato sauce, so maybe this will change their minds. :-)


  41. #
    Meghan @ The Tasty Fork — March 19, 2013 @ 11:00 am

    I’ll make just about anything in a slow cooker! This is a great recipe to pin! Thank you for sharing!!


  42. #
    Barb | Creative Culinary — March 19, 2013 @ 11:32 am

    When I read the title of your post; my first thoughts were, ‘Interesting; I have to check this out BUT no way can it beat Marcella Hazan’s Tomato and Butter sauce.’

    It is deceptively simple yet so amazingly good…but then what isn’t better with butter right?


  43. #
    Michelle — March 19, 2013 @ 11:39 am

    If you like this tomato sauce, then it has to be good! Personally I am a huge fan of tomato sauce and Italian food which is my favorite. But it really does make a huge difference when on makes it oneself, particularly when using fresh tomatoes.


  44. #
    Nutmeg Nanny — March 19, 2013 @ 11:42 am

    oh, this is perfect! i love using my crockpot :) and i’m always in the mood for simple, savory tomato sauce!


  45. #
    Rachel @ Bakerita — March 19, 2013 @ 12:06 pm

    Yum, this sauce looks amazing and I love how simple it is to prepare in the crockpot. I’m not the biggest tomato sauce fan either, but my dad LOOOVES it, so I’ll have to try this!


  46. #
    Alyssa — March 19, 2013 @ 12:49 pm

    So simple and delicious! I will be trying this one myself :-) Have you tried canning it, and if so, does it last?!


  47. #
    Gloria @ Simply Gloria — March 19, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

    Love the after picture! This seems super easy … and delish!


  48. #
    Gerry @ Foodness Gracious — March 19, 2013 @ 1:24 pm

    I made a version of this last night to go with my arancini. Wish I had spotted this one , it has way more garlic :)


  49. #
    Nancy @ CouponClippingCook — March 19, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

    So few ingredients and butter included too. Sounds really good. Love the simplicity of this.


  50. #
    Jessica@ Stuck On Sweet — March 19, 2013 @ 3:08 pm

    This sauce looks great and super easy! I am marrying an Italian man so tomato sauce is VERY important to him, his mother, his grandmother, his grandmother’s mother…you get it. I will have to try this!



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