Best Italian Pasta Sauce

    5 hours 10 min

    The secret ingredient in this pasta sauce is bicarbonate of soda - but do not taste the sauce right after adding it. Wait a while, and this sauce will not disappoint. Stir in Parmesan and keep simmering. Let the flavours meld overnight, then serve over your favourite pasta.

    152 people made this

    Serves: 8 

    • 4 (400g) tins whole peeled plum tomatoes
    • 1 (700g) jar passata
    • 680g (24 oz) tomato purée
    • 675ml (1 pint 4 fl oz) water
    • 280g (10 oz) fresh sliced mushrooms
    • 2 onions, chopped
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 4 teaspoons caster sugar
    • 1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
    • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 2 pinches bicarbonate of soda
    • 4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

    Prep:10min  ›  Cook:5hr  ›  Ready in:5hr10min 

    1. Mix together whole tomatoes, passata, tomato purée, water, mushrooms, onions, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, and 1 pinch of bicarbonate of soda in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce to a simmer, and cook for at least 4 hours.
    2. Stir in another pinch of bicarbonate of soda; the sauce will foam. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thick and almost brown. Make sure to scrape the sides of the pan into the sauce.
    3. After the sauce is fork consistency, stir in Parmesan. Watch that the cheese does not burn. Taste sauce. If it is too tangy or acidic, add another pinch of bicarbonate of soda and simmer another 1/2 hour.
    4. Cool, cover and refrigerate overnight. The next day, reheat and serve.


    This sauce freezes well - just ladle the cooled sauce into plastic containers. Its a great way to enjoy the taste of homemade, slow cooked pasta sauce anytime!

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    Reviews in English (101)


    Something else. This is a good recipe for starters. I am 100% italian and my family owns restuarants all over where I live. My homemade recipe is very similar to this, however I deleted the mushrooms, parmesan cheese and the bicarb. I add a little more garlic then this recipe calls for and NO water. I also add oregano to mine. When cooking it is important to cook the onions and garlic in some olive oil first. This brings out the flavour. I also add the fresh parsley basil and oregano (chopped), and salt and pepper to that first and cook a few minutes. Then I add the whole tomatoes and the juice, very important to take your hands to them and crush them a little. I let that come to the boil first before adding the sauce. After adding the sauce, I simmer and let it cook for 3 or 4 hours, stirring occasionally with the lid partially on. I also add additional seasoning as I taste and go along. What really turns the sauce unbelievably good is that I make meatballs seperately in a frying pan and once they are cooked I add them to the sauce during the last hour. WOW!  -  21 Jul 2008


    Altered ingredient amounts. This is the first pasta sauce Ive made. I reduced the ingredients to about a third as i was only cooking for two and i didn't have a pan big enough but, this still tasted great. I altered the ingredients by eye e.g. 1 1/2 garlic, half the basil, about a third of a passata carton etc. We also ended up with chopped tinned tomatoes having bought the wrong type so the cooking time was reduced. I would keep some of the mushrooms back next time or add extra to the sauce half way through cooking (personal preference) but would definitely add more garlic and basil even to the original recipe.  -  31 Aug 2009


    Used different ingredients. removed the sugar & bicarb, used red n green peppers, to add the sweetness u get from the sugar. simmer on hob for half hour, then transfer sauce and cooked meatballs ( sometimes bacon ) to a over dish, stir in a teaspoon of ceyane pepper and let sit in there for 2 hrs ( stiring quite often throughout ).  -  31 May 2009