The Secret Recipe to the Best Italian Gravy (Tomato Sauce)


First let me say, I’m an Irish gal married to an Italian guy.  My mother never taught me how to make tomato sauce, so I’ve had to learn from different strangers and friends over the years.

There are a million ways to make Italian Tomato Sauce.  I’ve tried so many different recipes.  Things changed when I tasted my friend, Diana’s (Diana Bagels) sauce.  It was by far the best one I’ve ever had and think you will agree.  I’ve changed the recipe slightly to make it my own.

Now, before we get started, let’s talk about ingredients.  If you want great sauce, you need to use top-quality ingredients.  Everything needs to be fresh.  Let’s face it, canned chopped garlic isn’t the same as fresh garlic. Same goes for basil.


Don’t be using Hunt’s or another cheap tomato puree.  Go for the good stuff.  If your local supermarket doesn’t have Tuttorusso, order it online, or substitute Progresso or another quality brand.


Now I realize Amore™ Italian Tomato Paste costs about $2.99 a tube. However, you only need 1/2 a tube and can refrigerate the other half.  Figure a regular can of tomato paste costs $1.29, but you can’t save the other half and end up throwing it in the trash.  Plus, the Amore is easily squeezed out of the tube.  No more tiny cans!


Another important ingredient is your grated cheese.  Here in NYC, we only use Locatelli™ Pecorino Romano Cheese.  We don’t even call it Romano cheese.  We just ask for Locatelli as if it’s the ONLY Romano cheese…LOL!  If you can’t find it locally, order it online.  It’s worth it!


And finally, let’s discuss meat.  This sauce is delicious because of the high-quality meats that are cooked for hours in the sauce.  It’s what gives it such a great taste.  Don’t settle for supermarket pre-cut meats.  Instead, go to a real butcher and splurge.


If you want, you can make your own braciole or get it already prepared from your local butcher.

Now let’s get started…


* Meatball recipe is HERE.

In a 8 quart stock pot, add enough Olive Oil to lightly coat bottom of pan.

Add fresh Garlic and Onion.  Heat over a high flame until soft.


Add a splash or two of Red Wine.  Lower flame on stove to medium.


Add Tomato Puree.  Rinse 1 Puree can with a 1/2 can of Water to remove excess Puree from can.  Poor into next Puree can and so on until the 6th can is full.  Now add remaining Puree/Water mixture to stock pot.  By doing this you get all the tomato puree and waste none.


Add Grated Cheese.


Add Sugar, Salt, Pepper, Basil, Oregano and Tomato Paste.


Bring to a boil.  Lower heat to a low to medium flame.


Add lots of Fried Meat including meatballs, Italian sweet and hot sausage, braciole and steak.


Do not cover.

Cook for at least 3 hours stirring every 20 minutes to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the stock pot.  Depending on how thick you want your tomato sauce, you can cook it for up to 5 hours.

Now that  you’ve made fantastic tomato sauce, why not make some Eggplant Parmigiana?  The recipe is HERE!




  1. I am DROOLING!!!
    Irish girl here too and I’m telling ya, our people have a lot going for us but cooking just isn’t on the list – we basically just boil the snot out of everything. LOL!
    Thank you so much for writing these up!!

  2. i dont understand the water part??

  3. Jordan…basically, by transferring the water from one can to another, you can both cleaning the can and getting all the tomatoes. You end up with just one can of thick tomato water. Does that make more sense? Happy Cooking!

  4. Looks good. Very similar to my family recipe. One extremely important step that is missing is browning the meatballs in salt pork grease. This adds some great flavor tot he sauce! This is how my Italian grandmother did, my mom and now me. I have a very detailed recipe of my family’s Sunday gravy here if your interested: Ciao, Mangiare, ottenere grandi! Anthony

  5. Hey Anthony! I usually brown the pork sausage in the frying pan first, then the meatballs. So I think that takes care of it, right? Thanks for your suggestion! I’ll check out your recipe! Have a great day!

    With friiendship,

  6. Hey Lisa,

    I brown the pork chops and through them into the sauce first. Then I chop up a bunch of salt pork (also called fat back), fry that up so I get a bunch of salt pork grease. Remove the salt pork bits and then brown the meatballs in the salt pork grease, then take the meatballs right from the pan into the sauce pot! YUM!!! Really adds a lot to the sauce!


  7. Thanks Anthony! I will definitely ask my butcher for some salt pork…I didn’t even know it existed! LOL!

    With friendship,

  8. I’m not sure what a “handful” is. I’m looking at my cupped hand and thinking… that’s a lot of garlic! Please help me understand what a handful is comparable to. I’d like to try your recipe but I can see it coming out very differently depending on how I interpret a handful of sugar, garlic, cheese, etc.

  9. Yep…a cupped hand…and yes, it’s a lot of garlic. I’m guessing about 7 – 10 cloves of garlic per handful. Hope that helps.

    With friendship,

  10. Hey!! I love your gravy recipe! do you have a good sausage & peppers recipe!??

  11. Thanks Krystle! I will post one for you by weekend. Stay tuned!

    With friendship,

  12. sausage and peppers…. YUM!!!!! I’m staring now 🙂

  13. uh… I mean Starving! 😉

  14. Awesome Lisa thank you! I make it different every time and I’m always looking for a new way to jazz it up! I’m looking forward to seeing the way you make yours! 🙂

  15. LOL Anthony!

  16. Florence Forestieri Lambros says:

    You sound like you came from my old neighborhood in Brooklyn! We use just about the same ingredients in our sauce which was passed down by Grandma Veltri! You are 100% correct, use the best ingredients for the best results.

  17. Florence…I’m in Staten Island now. But spend a good few years in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn as a child. What part of Brooklyn are you from? It’s it great that we can get everything fresh in NYC?
    With friendship,

  18. Florence Forestieri Lambros says:

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for your response. That’s so nice of you to respond.
    I was born and grew up in Sheepshead Bay. My entire family still lives there and visit there very often. I moved to Long Island after getting married but moved to PA 3 years ago. We pass through Staten Island to get to Brooklyn all the time. Every time we are there I pick up all my Italian groceries at the provision store to take back to PA because God only knows you can’t get too much of that good stuff here!
    Thanks again.

  19. my husband had his accounting practice in Sheepshead Bay for years (Nostrand Avenue between Y and Z)! Have a great one!

  20. Florence Lambros says:

    I lived on East 24th between Y and Z. Small world.
    Great day to you too!

  21. If you do a video, that would be wonderful.

  22. Jeanette…I’m a bit camera shy, but just maybe. Hope you enjoy the recipe!

  23. Can you tell me how to make the best lasagna. Or even roled lasagna?

  24. I also add the “heel” or the rind from Parmesean Reggiano into the gravy while I am cooking it. Adds a ton of good flavor. I cook my meatballs in the oven, then add to sauce and I cook the italian sausage part way in pan with a little water, then add to sauce to cook the rest of the way. I also keep a few seet sausage links and remove from casing and brown in frying pan slightly and add to gravy to give more flavor. I also grate my onion…new trick I have started using….the onions just melt away! By the way I am from Chicago…first generation Italian American!

  25. William…sorry, but I’ve never made lasagna. But it’s all in the sauce and cheese. I promise I’ll post a recipe in the next month. Stay tuned!
    With friendship,

  26. Hi, just found your website and it looks like lots of fun. I usually add a green pepper to the sauce midway of cooking (about 3-4 hours), if I’m just making the sauce with no meat. When I add meat then I’ll take the meatball mixture and put it in a couple of green peppers and let them cook about 2 hours or more till they change to a darker shade of green. Of course you need to cut off the top and clean out the seeds from inside (turn them upside down to let the water run out.
    I’m making a pot of sauce today as we speak. I did not have any meat, so intended to just make the sauce with some ravioli for dinner. Then I remembered I had beef stew meat frozen. I decided to use the meat frozen in the sauce and let the sauce cook it. I have never done this before and I’m a little concerned that it may not cook properly. I usually fry up all the meat prior to putting it in the sauce & season it as it is frying. I just washed off the meat with cold water before I put it in the sauce. Has anyone done this before & how did it come out? I’m trusting that it will be fine. I will let you know…

  27. Success!!! Well, it’s been a while since I put the frozen pieces of beef into the sauce. I tasted the sauce and it is still great and the meat has totally thawed and it tastes very good. The sauce flavored the meat very well. I’m glad it all worked out to perfection, but in the future I will make sure I fry the meat w/seasoning as I usually do. But in a pinch, this came out fine. whew!!!

  28. Hey Debra! Happy New Year! Glad it worked out for you. I’m guessing any meat would help flavor the sauce. However, I NEVER freeze meat…LOL! Here in NYC, you can easily get fresh cut meat from the butcher on the corner that day you plan to cook it. My friends use all different kinds of meats in their sauce (gravy). Some prefer their meatballs with a mixture of pork, beef and veal, while others prefer just beef (like me). Others use pork ribs in their sauce. Oh and green peppers? I’ve never tried that…but I only use yellow, orange and red peppers when I cook (see other recipes). Thanks for sharing!

    With friendship,

  29. Hi Lisa, Happy New Year to you too.
    I usually don’t freeze meat either. I live in NY (Queens) and get my meat at the local big food store…no more butchers in my neighborhood for a few years now. I just felt like making a pot of sauce that day. I usually fry the seasoned meat too and use a mixture of meats for the meatballs, thin sausage w/cheese, pieces of beef and pork and add wine to the sauce too. Try stuffing the peppers with the meatball mixture next time you make the sauce, any color pepper will do. The flavor the peppers gives the sauce is wonderful and I think you will always add stuffed peppers to your sauce in the future. You can even cut up a pepper and add to the sauce, just to get the flavor. Put in the stuffed peppers about 1-1/2 – 2 hrs before the sauce is done. I cook my sauce about 3 hrs. You’ll know when they are done by the change in color & texture of the pepper. Good cooking and Happy New Year!!!

  30. Thanks Debra! Definitely going to try adding the pepper! Also, I have to learn how to make stuffed peppers. Got a recipe? Oh and I was born in Queens (Elmhurst General Hospital) and spent my earliest days in Rosedale! Happy New Year!
    With friendship,

  31. Hi William Hodge. I make lasagna all the time. You can follow the instructions below:
    12 Ronzoni lasagna (enough for 1 tray, 4 deep)
    about 8 meatballs mashed
    1 Large whole milk Polly-O Ricotta or 2-32 oz containers
    1 large Polly-o mozzarela cut into strips
    handfull of finely chopped parsely or about a tbl dry parsley
    1 egg for each 32 oz container of Ricotta
    grated Locotelli or Pecorino cheese

    1) 1st you need to make the sauce according to your favorite recipe and let it cook for at least 3 hrs. you will need to make a lot of sauce because you will be using some for the lasagna. Make an extra amount of meatballs.
    2) you will need lasagna trays. I do not recommend the aluminum ones, they are too flimsy. But if you do decide to use them, place them on a cookie sheet when you put them in the oven and lift that out of the oven when it’s done. the aluminum tray will bend and you can burn yourself. Use 11 x 9 x 2 trays – deep enough for 4 layers
    3) I use Ronzoni lasagna…boil them according to the instructions on the box. When they are done, drain them and run under cold water so they are easy to handle. I usually use about 12 lasagna pieces for each tray.
    4) cut up mozzarella
    5) cut up meatballs
    6) add egg(s) & parsely to ricotta and fold together till egg is fully incorporated
    7) place a layer of sauce on bottom of tray
    8) take 3 strips of lasagna and line bottom of tray one next to the other
    9) spoon in ricotta on each slice about 1/8″ deep on each piece (don’t be cheap w/ricotta)
    10) lay mozzarella strips about 1/4″ apart from each other
    11) lay chopped meatballs on top
    12) spread a layer of sauce over each strip
    13) continue next 3 layers the same way till you reach the top
    14) a strip of lasagna should be on top…add more sauce and sprinkle cheese 15) cover with aluminum foil and bake @ 350 for about 1/2 hr.
    16) take off foil and bake another 15 minutes.
    17) remove carefully from oven and cover with foil for about 10 or 15 minutes till it sets a bit
    18) when ready to serve cut lasagna down the strips to separate and across to make squares. If you’re using the aluminum trays, be careful not to cut through tray.
    19) use a spatual to remove from tray and enjoy
    20) Lasagna can be make a day ahead and heated in oven when ready to serve. It is more firm when reheated next day….but delicious when served the same day of course.

    Hope this helps

  32. Hi Lisa, I use the meatball recipe to stuff the peppers. My recipe for meatballs is 1/3 beef, 1/3 pork and 1/3 veal. Sometimes I use just beef, depends on my mood, but using the other meats along with the beef make the meatballs (meatloaf) more tender. I add a chopped onion, about 4 cloves chopped garlic, salt/pepper/oregano/dry or fresh chopped parsley, grated cheese, 1 egg for each lb of meat, 1 slice white bread for each lb of meat ( I soak under tap water and squeeze excess), about 1 tbl plain bread crumbs to help it hold together. Mix all together and fry in olive oil till nice and browned. Add to the sauce and let it cook a little while longer. For the stuffed peppers….cut the stem out and rinse out the inside seeds. turn upside down to drain water out. stuff peppers with the meatball mixture and drop them in the sauce to cook for about 1-1/2 hrs or longer. you’ll be able to tell when they are done. the skin of the pepper changes texture and color. when they are soft, they are done. Enjoy Lisa…

  33. Debra, YOU ROCK!!!! I’m so going to try my hand at lasagna next time I make sauce! Thanks so much!

  34. Awesome Debra! I think I’m going to move into your house so you can feed me! LOL!

  35. HA….hi Lisa, you’re welcome anytime….it’s really easy to make, but time consuming. but it tastes sooooo good. you’ve got to try it with the peppers in the sauce. awesome!!! I usually make a traditional meal of lasagna on the 1st day of the new year for my family & friends, but didn’t this year because both my sons had to work and then my youngest went to the Giants/Cowboys game in NJ. Wouldn’t make the dinner unless everyone is together…that’s the reason I do it….start the New Year with people I love. Have a very prosperous, healthy New Year Lisa!!

  36. You had me hooked up until the sugar, my grandfather was an Italian chef from Padova he would never ruin a good tomato sauce with sugar (use a carrot or a peeled potato)

    ~ J

  37. J….great idea! Definitely going to try a carrot next time as my husband doesn’t like when I add sugar to the sauce.

  38. Hi ladies,
    I use only a “pinch” of sugar to the sauce after adding a can of tomato paste. It takes the bitterness out. My sauce never tastes sweet because I use only a pinch. I usually use 2 cans of “crushed” tomatoes. I like it better than puree which I used for many years until I tried the crushed. Now I use it exclusively. After the 2 cans of crushed tomatoes, I add a full can of tomato paste, 2 to 3 small cans of tomato sauce. And, of course, adding water to the cans to get the remainder of sauce from the can (not a lot of water, just enough to swooch around what’s left) & adding to the sauce.
    This amount is usually good for 3 people with left over sauce. If we don’t eat it the next day, I freeze smaller portions so I have some when I want to make a small dish of pasta. I put it in one of the pint size containers from the Chinese take-out.
    J, I think the potato is added to the sauce to thicken it, not for taste. I don’t know about adding the carrot. Never heard of using it in sauce. What kind of taste does it add?

    Happy cooking…

  39. this recipe is wonderful my family loved it!

  40. awesome!

  41. Hi Lisa,
    Have you made lasagna or stuffed peppers yet?


  42. Hey Debra…
    Not yet…been so busy. Haven’t had time to do much. Hopefully things will quiet down here and I can get back to my kitchen! Hope all is well!
    With friendship,

  43. My family (from Calabria) has never used sugar in their recipe. I was surprised to find it in yours.

  44. My mother past away a few months back, her sauce and meatball recipe lost with her. With my grandparents gone and now my mother it is up to me to pass on the family legacy of making a damn good Italian sauce and meatballs. I dabbled in cooking years ago but gave it up after getting married. Without my mom’s recipe I searched the net for a comparable recipe and came upon your blog.

    I ventured out to my local Italian grocer (born and raised in NYC now in AZ hard to find a good one) and picked up the proper ingredients.

    With a few tweaks I learned from my mother (whole carrot instead of sugar for sauce and part ground veal for the meatballs) I almost fainted by the final product, I wish my brothers were out here to try this. I called them immediately that I came close to mama’s recipe and let them know I found the recipe from a NYC girl.

    I will be visiting The City in April to dispense my mother’s ashes and will make a fresh batch for my brothers and their families in honor of my mother.

    Thank you for sharing, it may not be mama’s but at least we are passing on a family legacy of making a damn good sauce and meatballs as my mom, and her mom before, and her mom before.

    ~ J

  45. My husband’s family is from Sicily and they never use sugar either. The amount of sugar I use is so little that it can easily be made without it.

  46. J…
    First let me say I’m sorry to hear of your Mom’s passing. Sounds like you are going to make your Mom proud.

    I’m am definitely going to try the carrot instead of the sugar. I can’t imagine how hard it is to find the right ingredients out in AZ. I always tell people it’s our NYC water that makes our cooking so good…from the bread to the mozzarella cheese, etc.

    Happy Cooking!

    With friendship,

  47. I agree about the water, not sure if you can do this now but when growing up we used to drink straight from the faucet. I have water delivered from Deer Park, I use it for everything from cooking to ice cubes.

    The Italian deli out here is awesome, they originate from Chicago and everything is imported from Italy, I cannot say how awesome it is to find a Manhattan Special in the middle of the AZ desert.

    ~ J

  48. Water from the faucet is still awesome here in NYC. That’s great that you have a great Italian deli in AZ! Happy Cooking!

  49. says:

    How much fried meats not including the meatballs is recommended in this recipe. It sounds so delicious, planning to make this this Sunday.

  50. Hi! I use between 8 – 12 sausages…mostly sweet with a few hot ones thrown in. And then you only need one piece of brascoile. There really is no golden rule about how much meat and what kind. Everyone has their favorites…many people put ribs and steaks in their sauce. It’s all a matter of taste. Good luck!
    With friendship,

  51. Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for the great advise. My mouth is watering now! It seems like a recipe for a party of 8. What if I’m just cooking for 2?

  52. Paul…invite some friends over or freeze what you don’t eat in portions enough for two. You’ll have at least 4 dinners! Enjoy!

    With friendship,

  53. Just made a large pot of sauce – then decided to go on line to see if there could be a better recipe. Everyone tells me I make the best – but – your recipe sounds great. I use Pastene kitchen ready ground peeled tomatoes and add paste only if I add too much water or if I want to stretch the amount needed. Never use oregano; however, I do use crushed basil leaves.
    I also use fresh basil whole leaves and put in sauce through various stages of cooking time. I do use as much sugar as you – and have tried the carrot instead. You are right – it is the meat that you fry lightly – meatballs, country pork ribs, sausages along with the juices from the frying pan that give ithe sauce the flavor as it cooks. As for the onion, I cut a large onion in half and saute both with the meat and put in sauce all together. You should try the Pastene tomatoes as although they can be very expensive, i find them to be the best.

  54. Hey Valerie- I’ve never heard of Pastene tomatoes. I’ll check in my local grocers to see if they are available! Thanks for the comment. With friendship, Lisa

  55. My mother always puts a little bit of the sauce in her meatballs before mixing – she makes great meatballs always moist …… anyone else do this?

  56. What size cans for the puree????

  57. Casey…I use the large can. I believe it’s either 26 or 28 ounces.

  58. I don’t, but it sounds like a great idea!

  59. Hi Lisa/guys, I have not ever heard of putting sauce in the meatball mixture. sounds like a good idea and will try it next time. been making sauce/meatballs for years & never heard of this technique. thanks for the suggestion.

  60. I don’t remember where I heard it this but someone said if you add a little bit of ricotta cheese in the mix before cooking your meatballs it makes them more moist – well I tried it and I must say my family went crazy for the meatballs…. it worked!!! YUM! love this site thanks for all the great tips !!

  61. Kim…I’ve heard the same thing about ricotta cheese in the meatballs. I’ve got to try it next time! Thanks!
    With friendship,

  62. I am so glad ot worked out for you. I had given the ricotta cheese tip to some friends and they had the same results. Enjoy!

  63. Approximately how many cups of sauce does this recipe yield?

  64. Would you please recommend a good red wine to use and drink?

  65. hi everybody. my grand mothers right off the boat. ( mary depasquale ) i wish i had learned the languauge alot better. she made stuffed peppers, lasagna, home made gravy. w/ her gravy she would get a crate of plumb tomatoes fresh. then she douse them all in boiling water for about 10 seconds and take em out and put them in cool water. this allowed the skin to come right off w/ her fingers. she then put them through a mill which lets em cook easier into a gravy and deseeded em. and yes fresh, fresh, everything. the addition shed make i loved was she would put in a small piece of pepperoni and a very small amout of red pepper flake. and a couple tablespoons of sugar to a big pot. she made big batches of it. she didnt use the paste though as she would let that simmer all day to thicken it up. my mom uses canned plumb tomatoes and a little paste though. another great thing she used to make was this corn meal stuff w/ sauce over it and then shed grate some fresh romano over it. i was looking up a recipe and it brought me here. and reading alot of the comments it brought me back. got a little choked up writing that as i miss her so much. thanks folks.

  66. Matt…sounds like you’ve been spoiled by some wonderful women! You’re getting me hungry!

  67. I wish I could recommend a good wine. But I don’t know much about wine…hubby is far more knowledgable.

  68. don’t quote me, but I usually have almost a gallon of sauce.

  69. Tuttorosso is very, very poor quality, and should never be used. Oregano is used only by poor mountain people to mask the poor quality of the foods available to them. You have learned how to cook what you call an “Italian” sauce from American trash (Tuttorosso) who descended from Italian trash (Oregano).

  70. I didn’t have overly high hopes for this sauce because I have tried a few internet recipes over the last year, even one with Louie Prima singing in the background, for our cooking pleasure, with no luck.
    I have used my very italian MIL’s sauce recipe for the last decade, and it was “just ok”. About a year ago, no matter what I did, the sauce was bitter. I gave up making it for a while, than tried a few internet recipes, but my heart wasn’t in the sauce anymore.
    This morning I once again googled tomato sauce recipe and looked at about 25 before coming across yours. I ran out to get the few things you use that I didn’t have.
    I was having no idea what you meant by handfuls, LOL, so I winged it. I only made meatballs in it because the bracciole wasn’t available by the time I got to the store. (It was 1:30 on a Sunday)
    I put it all together, and ran to Target. Asked the hubby to stir it in 20 minutes and 20 minutes again. Got home about an hour and 20 minutes later and noticed the entire loaf of italian bread was gone. Hmmm…
    It turns out the stirring turned into tasting, turned into part of the sauce and meatballs and the entire loaf of italian bread missing.
    MY husband said the sauce was the best I’ve made. It is actually STILL on the stove for maybe about another hour, but I tasted for myself and the bitterness is magically gone. (I also have used tutturosa puree only in the past to make sauce).
    So, THANKS. You have truly made a difference in our home. LOL

  71. great sauce!!enjoyed on the other side of the world in australia! thanks for the receipe

  72. Lisa – when you make the sauce for your eggplant parm – do you still add all the meats as you do for Sunday gravy? I know that flavors it so fabulously, but I’m wanting the Eggplant dish to be an alternative dish for a couple of friends who are vegetarians. I’m a meat eater but love eggplant parm too – I’ve just never made it and I want it to be KILLER – ha! Thanks so much for all your tips, Lisa!

  73. Thanks for the recipe it is very near to my mum’s. My Irish dad married my Italian mum so I was lucky enough to grow up with her wonderful cooking. She cooked with. Her sauce would be simmering ALL day. I cannot understand how people here can have a spaghetti dish cooked in an hour, and that includes cooking the meat!! I am a Brit living in the USA, I still cannot get used to early dinner, food rushed to your table and the bill presented so quickly. We in Europe go to restaurants to DINE NOT EAT. America, take note

  74. Great site! just found this while googling’ sauce recipes’….im not Italian so I wouldn’t know…I use regular canned sauce for my lasagnas etc….without sounding too silly…what is the difference if I make my own sauce flavor wise? 5 hours sounds like a looooong time when I can purchase a can in 5 minutes? Thanks!

  75. Are you on Pinterest?
    Would love to PIN this!

  76. Dear Lisa – your recipe is very much like the one handed down to me by my husband’s mother. They are Italian (I’m Irish/Polish). She always used Tuttarossa tomatoes and I thought they tasted the meatiest. However, in doing some research about Tuttarossa I found that they are grown and distributed by a company in Indiana (definitely no Italian heritage there). Perhaps at one time there was. I have noticed of late, that Tuttarossa tomatoes are not that great looking – kind of pale and not well packaged. One of the best tomatoes to use for sauce are San Marzano – this is a particularly kind of meaty plum tomato. Deep red in color. I am going to try this tomato for my next batch. Also, crushed tomatoes are probably the best in sauce if you cook for a long time as it breaks them down and makes the sauce thick. The brand of tomato paste also is important. Contadino is one of the oldest companies and has probably one of the best quality pastes. Love your recipe — thanks for sharing. Joanne

  77. Nichiolas Citarella says:

    AAAAAAAAAAAAAAhhhh!!!! YOU NEVER ADD WHITE TABLE SUGAR TO AN ITALIAN GRAVY!!! That’s what the fresh onion, WINE, and, maybe, if needed,… the carrot. is for!!!

  78. Neil…above.. Is a classless Cafone, but, alas, he’s right. Tuttorosso so poor…if fact hunts is better. And Italians dont use oregano much……and Neil’s the kind of dick that his “friends” only PRETEND to like… well as his cooking…….douche..

  79. Never use sugar in a gravy, and tuttorossa is the cheap stuff. You should always use San Marzano tomatoes.

  80. As an Italian with my own family gravy/sauce recipes, one thing that I think is missed in this recipe is to brown the meats in the olive oil first (don’t cook all the way, just brown – keep the meat well spaced so they brown and do not steam). Do this in the large pot that you are going to make the gravy. Reserve the browned meats for later, THEN fry the onions & garlic in this same oil, scrapping all the brown bits off the bottom of the pot. Now make the gravy according to the instructions above. The gravy will pick-up much more flavor this way. Enjoy!

  81. You don’t need the sugar. Take your time, 3-4 hours and the acidity will cook out of the tomatoes. Just my humble opinion.


  82. Jerry…you are probably right! LOL

  83. Thanks for your advice Tony! I may change tomatoes!

  84. great advice Vince! Thanks!

  85. watch the language! LOL

  86. thanks for the advice. Think I shall omit the white sugar going forward! And add a carrot!

  87. thanks for your thoughts Joanne! What brand of San Marzano tomatoes do you recommend?

  88. yes…search LisaDiva Carroccio

  89. I agree I do the same thing However… you should brown the onion before you add the garlic. Garlic cooks a little quicker and if garlic is burned it can give a bad taste to the sauce… 🙂

  90. Hi Lisa… I just want to say Thank You for this site… I enjoy listening to everyone share their tweeks to recipes and I love when they share the Old Italian memories (or anyone’s memories) because we can all relate to the Sunday Dinners when the whole family gathered and Grandma cooked all day (sometimes all week long) I remember when I grew up and used to visit my Nana I used to marvel at how All of us fit into the kitchen/dining area but we did!! I miss those days so hearing everyone elses memories are heart warming…. Your site is a delight and so simple to navigate…. Thanks – I hope you continue always…. Kim PS – Listen people everyone has their own recipes and preferences and not everyone is going to agree & everyone thinks their way is best…. so Please no nasty comments or cursing on here.. I mean if you can’t discuss food without becoming vulgar what sites are safe any more??
    I have a friend who thinks she makes the best meatballs in the world & even tells people this as she proudly makes them taste… To me it tastes like chopped meat with salt…. I say nothing… I too can imagine people preferring Jar sauce to homemade maybe they never tasted a real good sauce or maybe that’s what they were served as a child & that is what they are used to… I know when my son’s friends come to dinner they are Blown away by my sauce & meatballs They never have real Italian cooking & I do consider myself one the best cooks around however I know how to make a gravy!!! Have a Great Sauce !!!

  91. OOOPS I meant to say is I CAN’T Imagine anyone preferring jar sauce to homemade sorry!!!!!!!!!!!!

  92. LOL Kim!

  93. i’m shocked about the sugar too! and that you say half a handful-that is A LOT! and that you cook cheese in the gravy! on the other side: we use 1/2 can of paste all the time and take the rest and put it in a demitasse cup and put it in the fridge and most certainly use every last bit!

  94. shelley stroschein says:

    I have had a dark redish-brown,gravish minestrone from a restaurant no sadly,longer around and was wondering if this sauce could be a foundation for this kind of thicker soup? The Farmhouse was the name of the restaurant and their soup and bread was divine. When I hear gravy I think of this soup, which also had a mysterious ingredient of mystery meat. The bits were tiny and flavorful. I am wondering if it was salt pork? Can anyone help for I am in mourning

  95. First..NOT Italian Gravy! Never use puree ! ITALIAN PLUM TOMATOES. and ITALIAN CRUSHED TOMATOES only.. NO wine

  96. Never mix pasta with the sauce! Some sauce on top of pasta in bowl. …rest in bowl. Cook six less also…do not ever put veal in meatballs.

  97. Let me start by telling you my boyfriend comes from an italian family and his mom is an amazing cook! He’s always talked about her spaguetti and meatballs. She won’t however, share the recipe (I know right?!). I’m brazilian, and my mom has never thought me how to make italian sauce either, so I had to do my research. I tried this recipe, being careful to pick the best ingredients around, like you suggested, and OMG! Him and I were BLOWN AWAY by how awesome it tastes!! Perfect texture and flavor! Now he says this is the best thing I’ve ever cooked and begs me to make it every so often. Lol thanks so much for sharing!

  98. I use canned tomato paste. Whatever is left over I saute with some olive oil, fresh herbs and then mix it with softened butter. roll it into a thin log with waxed paper, let it harden, then slice it into disks. freeze it and have it for just about anything. steaks and potato topping. cooking just about anything in it. Great recipe on the gravy.


  1. […] Homemade Italian Sauce (Don’t you dare use canned sauce.  Use the recipe here). […]

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