by Anne Finch, Accredited Practising Dietitian for LiveLighter

red sauce pot

Looking for a fun new project? Want to know exactly what's in your food? Welcome to the MYO series, where we look at how to prepare some of your favourite foods from scratch.

Making your red sauce

This red sauce is a super-versatile and delicious tomato-based sauce. It’s fantastic on its own over pasta or as the base for other dishes (see inspo below).

 Basically, you’ll need to:

  1. Chop and fry onions and vegetables

  2. Add in canned tomatoes and flavourings

  3. Simmer for a looongggg time

 The recipe below makes about 3 cups of sauce but we’d recommend doing a bigger batch if you can! It’s pretty much the same amount of work for a double or triple batch, especially if you’ve got a food processor.

If you’re short on time, you can get away with only simmering hard for 30 minutes (lid off). As it’s the long cook time that intensifies the flavour, just adjust the seasoning.

Equipment needed

  • Knife and chopping board (or food processor)
  • Large pot with a lid


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 cup mushrooms (optional)
  • 2 tbs tomato paste (optional)
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 3 x 400g cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock (homemade or from a carton, cube or powder)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp worcestershire sauce or balsamic vinegar

What to do

  1. Finely dice your vegetables or blitz them in the food processor (do onion separately)
  2. Heat oil in a large pot and fry onion for 2-3 minutes
  3. Add garlic and the rest of the vegetables and cook on a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes
  4. Add tomato paste (if using) and herbs and cook for a couple more minutes
  5. Add tomatoes, stock, sugar and Worcestershire sauce
  6. Cover with lid and simmer for at least 2 hours (stirring every half an hour or so)
  7. If you want a thicker, richer sauce, take off the lid and simmer for another 1-2 hours. If you want a smoother sauce, blitz with a stick mixer

Red sauce recipe inspo

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redsauce on spanish eggs
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  • Simple spag bol: Fry beef mince, add red sauce and spaghetti and serve with a side salad. Tadaaa!
  • Lentil stew: Simmer diced zucchini and sweet potato with red sauce till soft. Add tinned lentils (rinsed and drained) and serve with crusty bread.
  • Spanish eggs: Simmer red sauce in a frypan, make little “nests” and crack in eggs. Cover with a lid for 5 minutes, till eggs are done to your liking. Serve with toast.
  • Spiced chicken or fish: Lightly brown chicken thighs or fillets of fish in a frypan with a tablespoon of curry paste. Add red sauce and a little stock and cover with a lid. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until cooked through. Serve with rice and steamed vegies.
  • Burritos: Add drained and rinsed kidney beans and Mexican spice mix to red sauce. Serve in a burrito with cheese, avocado, fresh capsicum and tinned corn.
  • Tomato soup: add more stock and serve with a cheese and zucchini (trust me) toastie. 
  • Eggplant parma: slice eggplant into 2 cm slices, drizzle with olive oil and roast. Pour over red sauce, cheese and breadcrumbs and bake till crunchy.

Frequently asked question

How do I store my sauce?

  • Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days
  • Freeze in convenient portions for up to 6 months

Can I do it in the slow-cooker?

Yes! Put it on LOW overnight. If you want a thick sauce you might need to take the lid off, or transfer to a frypan to reduce it at the end.

Can I use fresh tomatoes?

Yes, but it’ll be a different sauce. It probably won’t be as rich or smooth, and depending on the quality of your tomatoes, might need the seasoning adjusted.

Can I use different herbs and vegetables?

Please do! This flavour profile is Italian-y, but you can mix and match to use what you have and to suit the dishes you want to make.

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