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Emerils Basic Red Sauce

I know a lot of people buy store bought spaghetti or red sauce, like Ragu and Prego. In the past I have purchased it some, but I have never been a big fan of it. Now that I am trying to stay away from packaged and processed things, I never buy it. I have a jar that has been in my pantry for over a year. I just don’t use it. Why use it when homemade sauce is so much better and really very easy.

I also think homemade sauce can be more frugal. I know the jars of sauce at the store can be really inexpensive, especially when on sale. But I really don’t think homemade costs anymore, especially when I get tomatoes on sale. Plus, I know what goes into it.

I found this recipe several years ago in one of Emerils Kids Cookbook. I love his kids cookbooks. Not so much for cooking with my kids, but for kid friendly meals. And this is one of my favorites from his kids books.

This recipe makes a lot. It makes about three meals worth for us. Four meals depending how I use it. But I like to make it up a batch and freeze most of it. That way I have it ready when I need it. But you may want to half the recipe.

I like to add meat to this for a great spaghetti sauce. I also serve it with my meatballs over pasta. I have used this in a ravioli casserole and also for meatball subs. I use this for all kinds of Italian type recipes.

Now, do you buy your sauce or make it? I am starting to wonder if I am the only one that still makes it.

For more frugal ideas see Grocery Cart Challenge and Frugal Fridays.

Lynn's Kitchen Adventures


  1. Don’t you just love how Emeril makes it so easy? I LOVE his cookbooks. I make his “essence” all the time – its always in my spice cabinet.

  2. My mom never used jarred sauce and neither have I. I have even passed this tradition on to my children.

  3. I have been reading your blog for about a month, but I think this is the first time I commented.
    I also make my own spaghetti sauce. I do not follow a recipe however, but I think it is pretty much the same as yours. Sometimes I only use 1 can of diced tomatoes and add 1 can of crushed or pureed to give it a smoother texture. It is so yummy!
    Funny thing though, as much as I love this sauce recipe, for our “everyday” quick spaghetti we just use plain old tomato sauce from the can and we eat it out of a bowl, since it is so runny. My dad was the spaghetti maker in our family and this was how he would make it for lunch every Saturday. It sounds weird, but my family likes it, it is simple, quick, cheap, and does not have any additives or high fructose corn syrup (yuck!). My grandma uses tomato juice! That is yummy too! 🙂

  4. I just caught your banana chocolate cookie recipe over at Cents to Get Debt Free and thought I’d let you know how yummy they sound.
    I also agree that homemade sauce is much better than anything you can buy in a jar!

  5. I’ve been making my own for years, though I usually use pureed tomatoes instead of diced or whole (unless they’re coming from the garden!), since I prefer my sauce smooth. Or at least with the lumps coming from onion and such, not the tomatoes.

  6. I make my own sauce. Most of the time I will throw in some zucchini, squash, onion, pepper, mushrooms and any other veggies that need to be used up making a veggie sauce. Most of the time I throw in a little meat too. Much better than you can buy in the jar and freezes well too for that quick meal.

  7. We’ve been making our own homemade sauce for a long time – and you’re right, it does taste so much better than store bought. I love that I can control the salt and seasonings. I’ve never used a recipe, just tossed in the ingredients until it tasted just right!
    I do the same with pizza sauce, which I make just a bit spicier than pasta sauce!
    Thanks for sharing!

  8. Aren’t tomato sauce and tomato paste also processed? Just asking. I’m really not sure but thought anything in a can was!

  9. Paula, yes I guess I should use a better term when speaking about processed things. I use canned tomatoes, sauces, and paste because that is all that is in them. Just pure tomatoe products. Yes they are processed b/c they are canned. But they do not contain all the extra things ingredients and preservatives that canned spag. sauces do. I hope that answers your question. If not let me know.

  10. I am also a big fan of Emeril! He infuses such an authenticity into his dishes. And few celebrity chefs are as charismatic as he is! Anyhoo, I just wanted to say that no, you are not the only one cooking homemade sauce these days. I have been making homemade marinara and red sauces since the age of 16! Of course, like a good Merlot, it has only improved over time and with age. By the way, in my opinion, canned tomatoes (just straight up tomatoes) are as good as fresh whole tomatoes. So, let’s just call it “from scratch”. The hard work of cooking/peeling the tomatoes and pureeing them has been done for you, but they’re still just plain ol’ tomatoes! Thanks for posting this recipe! Keep em’ coming!

  11. We usually make our spaghetti sauce from scratch too. So you’re not alone. My husband grows a garden, so we’ll have fresh tomatoes, to use. Spaghetti is one of my husband’s favorites. Thank you for sharing your recipe. Making a larger batch of sauce, in order to freeze is a great idea, especially in the summer time, to avoid heating up the house, by cooking. My husband is cooking pork ribs, potatoes, carrots and onions in the crockpot, outside. He does his own cooking. We eat differently.

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