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Homemade Napolitana sauce recipe

Homemade Napolitana sauce recipe

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  • Sauce

This is a traditional recipe of the famous Napolitana sauce given from mother to daughter in Naples, for generations. It's easy to make, everyone likes it and it complements spaghetti perfectly, for a light meatless meal.

Attica, Greece

196 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 500g fresh ripe tomatoes, chopped (or tinned)
  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
  • fresh basil leaves

MethodPrep:5min ›Cook:30min ›Ready in:35min

  1. In a pan heat olive oil, add garlic and when it starts getting golden, add the tomatoes and sugar. Sugar is important because it takes away the acidity of the tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper, and, if you like, the chilli. Lower the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes. That's all.
  2. To serve, pour over cooked spaghetti and sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(4)

Reviews in English (4)

I don't know what the previous reviewer is talking about - this napolitana sauce is delicious! Napolitana sauce can vary widely - there's not necessarily one 'right' way. I've served this simple sauce with spaghetti as suggested and it's a lovely meal that the whole family enjoys. It's also nice to top pizza or to make quick pizzas with either pitta or baguette. Try it, you'll like it too!-07 Feb 2014

... this recipe is as bad as its photo. No offense, but, please name your sauce anything you like, but not Napolitana.-14 Jul 2013

Very tasty - quick and simple! Halved the ingredients (except garlic) to use up some cherry tomatoes and the result was magnifique!-22 Aug 2014

Many consider Marinara and Napolitana sauce pretty much the same thing. Both sauces are made with tomatoes, olive oil, and/or garlic. Marinara sauce is the name most commonly used in the US, while Napolitana is a more popular name in Australia and New Zealand.

Neapolitan sauce is a good example to test the difference between a factory processed sauce and one prepared at home. Garlic, extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs such as basil, oregano, and in some cases parsley are added to this delicious Italian tomato room. Although there is a traditional Italian way of preparing it, today there are many variants of the recipe, but they are all similar in taste.

Neapolitan sauce is used in many dishes such as meats, chicken, pizzas, pasta, vegetables such as zucchini, seafood such as squid, meatballs, and Italian dishes that are eaten all over the world.

The Napolitana is one of the best known in the world and also one of the simplest. Keep reading and take note of how to prepare it, it is very easy It is used for the base of pizzas, for pasta, for sandwiches, and even as a dip.

Homemade Neapolitan sauce

  • 1/2 kilo of ripe tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Fresh basil
  • 3 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt and black pepper
  1. Blanch the tomatoes, bring a pot of water to a boil and with a sharp knife, make a small cross at the bottom of the tomatoes.
  2. When the water is boiling, add them and leave them for 3 or 4 minutes. Remove them with a spatula and peel them underwater. Then cut them into quarters.
  3. In a pot, heat the oil and add the garlic cloves. Be aware that it does not burn or everything will have an unpleasant bitter taste.
  4. Add the tomatoes to the food processor. Lower the heat and cook for 15 minutes. Taste and according to the level of acidity add the sugar.
  5. Add the basil leaves and add the salt and pepper. Let cool, serve with pasta and that’s it. Enjoy!

Homemade Marinara Sauce

The marinara sauce is a consciously prepared sauce that can mean the before and after in any ordinary dish. A good sauce in which to dip a rustic bread can end the monotony, give any ingredient a touch of flavor, and, in addition, make a dish that is characterized by having many vegetables in its preparation much healthier.

If you are one of those who needs a good background of flavor in any dish, take note of the best seafood sauce you have ever tasted, by itself it is already a winning recipe.

How is a marinara sauce made?

The main ingredients of marinara sauce are:

  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 chili
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons tomato sauce
  • Olive oil
  • Salt

We start this seafood sauce by preparing the vegetables. It is a sauce that will have among its rows some classic ingredients, we will peel and mince the garlic, onion, and pepper. In the case of peppers, it can be red or green depending on the final flavor that we want to give it or the availability we have.

We add two tablespoons of olive oil and begin to fry the vegetables. We will start with the onion, when it begins to be tender we will put the garlic and finally the pepper. The ideal is to prepare this background over low heat allowing the aromas and flavor of these ingredients to blend perfectly.

We will add white wine to this background. With this ingredient, we will achieve a fruity flavor that combines perfectly with all kinds of fish, a delicate and fine white wine that will perfectly fall into that unique mixture of flavors.

When the alcohol has evaporated, we add the two tablespoons of tomato paste. We will let them mix and give us that characteristic color and flavor.

We will dissolve the tablespoon of cornstarch in half a glass of water so that you can finish binding the sauce. We can use conventional flour if we do not have this ingredient.

We add it to the sauce while stirring, this last step will take about 5 minutes to achieve the desired texture for a marinara sauce. The flour should be cooked to avoid adding that annoying gritty flavor.

If the sauce is very liquid, we can add more cornstarch and if it is too thick we will add a little more water. Rectify with salt and pepper, and we will have an exquisite marine sauce ready!

Homemade Napolitana sauce recipe - Recipes

Napolitana (Marinara) Tomato Sauce

A great versatile basic tomato sauce for most Italian recipes.

Make this sauce yourself, it really doesn’t take long and the difference to the bought one is immeasurably tastier than the best of supermarket sauces you can find. Marinara sauce is of course an Italian sauce that originated in Naples and correctly should be called Napolitana sauce.


    One 700g - 24 oz. bottle of Italian tomato passata (tomato purée) or use canned tomatoes. 1 brown onion 3 garlic cloves 2 tbs of fresh oregano (or use dried) 4 tbs of virgin olive oil 1 tsp table salt Cracked black pepper


Firstly chop the whole onion finely.

To a saucepan, add the olive oil on medium heat.

Add the chopped up onion and sweat until soft.

Add grated garlic and continue sweating for a few minutes. (Do not brown)

Roughly chop some fresh or dried oregano and add to the onions.

Add tomato passata (If using canned, blitz your whole tomatoes) into pot.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add one cup of water and simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Little Tips

If using canned tomatoes, from past experience I found the whole tomatoes to be superior to the crushed ones.

If making a standard 15 x 10 inch tray lasagna, double this sauce recipe.

Napoli sauce

In summer tomatoes are in abundance so they are preserved uncooked in bottles or jars so they can be cooked in the winter. Tomatoes are the base for most Sicilian dishes. The following recipe is my mother’s version of fast food. The Napoli sauce is first cooked then placed into clean bottles sealed with a metal lid and boiled.



Skill level


  • 5 kg tomatoes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 chilli (optional)

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Makes 20 x 250 ml bottles

Make a cross in the base of each tomato and blanch in boiling water. When they are cool the skin will peel away easily. Chop the flesh and put to one side.

In a large pot, heat some olive oil and fry the onion and garlic until brown. Add the tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper and the chilli (if you choose).

Add 1 litre of water and bring to the boil. Allow to simmer for 2½ hours, stirring occasionally.

Cook for a further 30 minutes with the lid off to reduce down. At this stage you should have a ready to eat sauce. Allow to cool a little, pour into clean bottles and seal.

Place the bottles in a large pot, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. When the water boils, turn off the heat and allow to cool in the water. The bottles will keep for years.

Questions about this recipe?

I had read that San Marzano (canned) tomatoes are the best. Again and again and again.

Then I read that most San Marzano tomatoes are really just imposters. Apparently, 95% of San Marzano tomatoes sold in the US are fake.

Then I found this article, in which Epicurious does a taste test. The surprise winner is Redpack (aka Red Gold) tomatoes! Right from the US.

For an organic option, it looks like Muir Glen San Marzano-style Whole Peeled Tomatoes would be the best to buy. They come from California.

To be honest, I just used store-brand organic canned tomatoes. And I loved the result.

I would recommend finding a different recipe for Neapolitan sauce that specifically calls for fresh tomatoes. You’d either have to blanch and peel the tomatoes or use whole unpeeled tomatoes but simmer longer and then possibly use an immersion blender or food processor.

It’s super versatile. You can use it over pasta, as pizza sauce or in lasagna or other pasta dishes.

Olive oil is, of course, the traditional oil to use but you can use any fat you’d like.

Yes, but then you’ll have to add a bit of sugar. How much, I don’t know. Add a pinch at a time until the sauce is sweet enough.

Garlic adds so much flavor but if you’re allergic, you can omit it. The other three you can omit if you must, without it making a huge difference.

I know (I talked about it in my posts for Italian tomato salad and mozzarella bruschetta), which is why it’s optional and specifically called out as non-authentic in the recipe. :) We tried this sauce with and without black pepper and preferred it with.

I assume most people want to make the recipe in the most delicious way, even if it means adding a tiny addition that isn’t authentic.

This one I have to insist on. You need the basil! And it needs to be fresh. The result with dried basil tastes totally different and is not at all delicious, in my opinion.

If you give this Napoli sauce a try, I’d love to hear what you think!

Here's what you'll need:

In a large stockpot, heat oil on medium add chopped onions cook 5 minutes add chopped garlic

Add crushed San Marzano tomatoes, tomato paste, dried Italian seasonings, and crushed red peppers (optional) to stockpot Bring to boil for 3 minutes reduce heat to medium-low and allow to cook for at least 30 minutes

What is a San Marzano tomato?

Authentic San Marzano tomatoes make the best pasta sauce, or "red gravy" as Italians call it. These delicious Italian tomatoes are grown in the volcanic grounds of Campania near the Mount Vesuvius, and offer a very distinct and rich flavor.

Their elongated shape resembles what Americans know as &ldquoplum&rdquo tomatoes, but they have fewer seeds and are less acidic than conventional plum tomatoes.

The lower acid content contributes to their natural sweetness.

How to identify Authentic Italian San Marzano tomatoes

In American grocery stores, there are several brands that label their tomatoes as San Marzano on the front, but the ingredient list labels them as &ldquoSan Marzano style tomatoes&rdquo. Tomatoes labeled as such are not true San Marzanos.

It&rsquos like buying a knock-off Louis Vuitton bag&hellipit&rsquos not the real deal.

In Italy, there are strict labeling rules regarding San Marzanos. The label must include the DOP, (the Italian protected designation of origin), which entails strict requirements for the growth and production of these red beauties.

A true San Marzano tomato brand will include the:

  • DOP on the front and a round seal with a series of production numbers underneath. The front label might read something like, &ldquoSan Marzano Tomato of Agro Sarnese-Nocerino area D.O.P&rdquo or &ldquoPomodoro S. Marzano dell &rsquoAgro Sarnese-Nocerino D.O.P.&rdquo
  • The label will also indicate the product is produced and packed in Italy
  • Look for a statement of certification (in Italian)

Cookware for tomatoes

Even though San Marzano tomatoes are less acidic than other varieties, they still contain acid therefore, you want to use a stainless steel or ceramic stockpot for the San Marzano Pasta Sauce.

As with all tomatoes, avoid using a cast-iron skillet to cook tomatoes as the acids conflict with the elements of the cookware and cast off a weird, metal flavor.


But if we are to believe that meatballs were in fact a “noble” dish to begin with, it must be said that there are no traces of this recipe until the fifteenth century, where meatballs are mentioned for the first time in the “Book of the Cooking Art” (Libro de Arte Coquinaria), written by Martino da Como (commonly known as Maestro Martino), who shares the recipe for Italian meatballs and sauce, together with comments on how to best cook the meat of various animals. He goes into detail describing how to slice the meat and mix it with lard and other spices.

It would take several more centuries for Pellegrino Artusi to write in his book “Science of the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well” in 1881 to contest the nobility of the dish, saying they were made using recycled leftover meat. So again, just like it happened with pasta, the origins and purpose of the dish can’t be traced with exact accuracy.

How To Make Your Own Pizza Sauce! NY & Neapolitan Sauce Recipes

There are two distinct styles when it comes to tomato-based pizza sauces and although many people choose one and stick to it, I think we should be using both. Not only do they both have their own distinct flavor but they also have their own purposes.

A Neapolitan style sauce has to be one of the easiest pizza sauces to make if not the easiest sauce to make. It requires little more than adding ingredients to a food processor. There’s no cooking, heck there’s not really a need for a knife except to peel a couple cloves of garlic. The sauce is light and bright and really works for a classic Margherita pizza. I usually use this sauce for pizzas that have a few pieces of fresh mozzarella and only one or two other toppings. Since the sauce isn’t cooked it needs to be exposed while the pizza is cooking. This allows some of the moisture to evaporate while still maintaining a bright tomato flavor and crispy crust.

New York style pizza holds a special place in the hearts of millions. It’s that classic pizza by the slice with all its cheesy goodness and glorious toppings. With all the cheese and toppings it’s important to have a sauce that is rich and flavorful. By adding a few more ingredients and cooking the sauce, we are able to get a great tomato flavor. This sauce takes longer than the Neapolitan sauce but it is crucial to have a thicker and more forward flavored sauce to stand up to the extra cheese and toppings.

Neapolitan Style Tomato Sauce

  • 28oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 anchovy fillets*
  • ¼ cup extra oil
  • Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until the mixture is well incorporated. Add salt to taste.

*You can leave out the anchovy fillets if you like, but please don’t. You can’t taste the anchovies, I swear. However, they add a slight savory umami richness to the sauce that mimics the richness that a cooked sauce would have.

New York Style Pizza Sauce

  • 28oz can of whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 and ½ tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon of dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon of red pepper flakes
  • 1 large sprig of basil
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter
  • sugar and salt to taste

In a small sauce pot add the olive oil and butter and turn the burner to medium. Once the butter has melted add the diced onion. Continue to cook the onion until it becomes soft and translucent but make sure it doesn’t get any color.

Add the garlic to the pot and cook while stirring for 30 seconds. Add the oregano and red pepper flakes and stir until the spices are evenly mixed. Immediately add the tomato paste. Keep stirring and cooking the tomato paste until it gets slightly darker and has a sweet smell.

Add the can of tomatoes to the pot and crush using a potato masher or alternatively crush them with your hands before adding. Do not worry about crushing them into tiny pieces we just want to break them up enough to release their juices. Bring the mixture to a simmer and turn heat to low. Continue simmering for 30 minutes. Turn the heat off and place the basil in the hot mixture for 5 minutes. Remove the basil and transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender and pulse until the tomatoes and onions are small but the mixture isn’t totally smooth. Add salt to taste and add sugar if the sauce tastes a little acidic.

Try both sauces yourself and let us know what you think. As always if you have any questions please reach out, we love to help our fellow pizza chef.

Check out some of our other pizza tips:

See what we cooking today in the Pizzacraft kitchen - Instagram: @_Pizzacraft

A Brief History

The exact timeframe of the birth of this dish is a little muddy. We can somewhat piece together it’s invention given the following information: 1) Pasta, once eaten primarily by the wealthy , began to be eaten by the common classes shortly after World War II. 2) Spaghetti allo Scarpariello used to be prepared with the leftover ragù or traditional Neapolitan sauce prepared for Sunday lunch. 3) The dish takes it’s name from the word “scarpari,” which in Neapolitan dialect means cobblers . 4) Scarpari or cobblers take credit with inventing the dish and they were poor, working class people.

Given these facts, we can assume that the dish got invented not too long after the close of World War II in 1945. Though we don’t know the exact year when the dish was invented, we do know the precise location of the birth of this delicious pasta dish: The Spanish Quarter in Naples . The Spanish Quarter had many shoe factories where the cobblers worked for hours everyday and produced the most beautiful shoes around. It is said that during their lunch hour they would prepare this dish in the back of their shops because it was a quick and low cost recipe . Using their leftover Sunday ragù and cheese, which they had an abundance of due to the fact that many of the cobbler’s clients were short-on-cash farmers that paid with cheese, the cobblers would prepare the scarpariello. This was the perfect meal for the cobblers because they didn’t have a lot of time or money to spend on lunch.

What To Do With Napoli Sauce

There are a number of things that you can make with this sauce. You could use it to make any of the following:

Creamy Marinara Sauce

For a rich and creamy sauce stir in ¼ – ½ cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon butter at the end and gently heat through and serve with pasta.

Cheesy Napoli Sauce

For a cheesy sauce stir in a small handful of mixed cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, cheddar or parmesan at the end of the cooking time. Allow the cheese to melt into the sauce before serving.

Napoli Chorizo Sauce

Remove the skin of one chorizo sausage. Break the sausage meat into small pieces as your fry it until golden brown. Drain away the excess fat, pour in the prepared Napoli sauce, simmer covered for 5 minutes before serving. This sauce is great for plain pasta as well a meat free ravioli.

Easy Meatballs In Tomato Sauce

While the sauce is cooking, make small meatballs with about 250 grams (8 oz) of lean ground beef. Seasoning the meat with salt, pepper, onion powder and garlic powder before shaping.

In the last 10 minutes of cooking add the meatballs to the sauce, gently pushing them under. Bring back to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover and continue to cook for the remaining time or until the meatballs are cooked through.

To avoid a salty sauce don’t add the salt to the sauce at the start, instead add it at the end.

This is because the meatballs are seasoned with salt and this should be enough to flavour the sauce. If not, you can easily add some salt to the sauce at the end.

You could serve this as spaghetti and meatballs or serve the meatballs on skewers with a little sauce for easy party appetisers.

Use this sauce as a healthy alternative to bottled sauce next time you make lasagne.

Chicken Parmigiana

You don’t need to eat out to enjoy chicken param you can make it yourself, it’s so easy to do.

  1. Cut horizontally one small chicken breast to give two even steaks – which is enough for two servings. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt.
  2. Next prepare three containers one with plain flour, one with two well beaten eggs and the third with panko breadcrumbs.
  3. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip each into the flour evenly coating both sides, shaking of the excess.
  4. Next, dip into the beaten eggs, coating both sides.
  5. Then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs, gently pressing so that the crumbs stick to the chicken.
  6. You can crumb the chicken and store covered in the fridge for several hours before cooking.
  7. When ready to cook preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  8. Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper and place a cake rack onto the tray. Baking the chicken elevated on the cake rack, will stop the bottom of the chicken from going soggy when baked.
  9. Fill a frying pan with about 2-3 cm (1 inch) of oil and heat. Carefully place 1 – 2 pieces of chicken into the pan, cook for 2-3 minutes or until the under side is golden brown, turn the chicken over and cook the other side until golden.
  10. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on the cake rack on the prepared tray. Cook the remaining chicken.
  11. Evenly spread about 2 -3 tablespoons of Napoli sauce onto each of the cooked crumbed chicken pieces.
  12. Top with slices of mozzarella cheese.
  13. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is just starting to turn brown.
  14. Serve hot sprinkled with chopped parsley or fresh basil leaves.

Napoli Sauce Pizza Topping

Use this as a pizza topping but do make sure that the sauce is thick and paste like and not watery.

If necessary, cook the sauce uncovered over a low heat until the liquid has evaporated.

Stir the sauce often as it becomes thicker. Allow the sauce to cool completely before using.