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Pot of sugo recipe topped off with fresh basil leaves with wooden spoon.

Authentic Sugo Recipe without Meat (Italian Tomato Basil Sauce)

This Authentic Sugo Recipe is an easy, foolproof Italian Tomato Basil Sauce with loads of flavor that you can enjoy with your favorite pasta or in lots of other dishes. It’s simple, delicious and will become your new go-to recipe that you and your family will love. Once you try this homemade sugo, you’ll likely never return to the store-bought versions!
4.72 from 14 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Sauce, Cooking Basic
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12 cups


  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
  • ¼ cup finely chopped garlic
  • 1 cup sliced or hand-torn fresh basil, lightly packed (can also leave the leaves whole)
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • 4 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, crushed by hand + 1 can water
  • 2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Large handful fresh basil leaves, whole or torn by hand


  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and the onions together on medium heat and sauté until the onions are soft (about 5-7 minutes). Cover the pot for a couple minutes to speed up the softening process, if desired.
    (Please see the section above in the blog post for Step-By-Step instructions with photos.)
    ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil, 2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
  • Add the garlic and continue to sauté until the garlic is soft.
    ¼ cup finely chopped garlic
  • Add the basil and crushed red pepper and cook for two minutes, to release the flavors of the herb, while stirring.
    1 cup sliced or hand-torn fresh basil,, ½ tsp crushed red pepper
  • Add tomatoes, water, salt, black pepper and dried oregano and bring to a light boil, then immediately reduce heat to a low simmer. Simmer, partially-covered, for about 45-60 minutes. Adjust seasoning, if necessary.
    4 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes,, 2 tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • Remove from heat and stir in the second amount of basil and the sauce is ready to go! Sauce can be held in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or in the freezer for 3-6 months. Buon Appetito!
    Large handful fresh basil leaves,


  • Fresh basil should really be used in this sauce. However, if you don’t have any, you can use 2-3 teaspoons dried basil added to the sauce at the same time as the dried oregano.
  • If you prefer a smoother sauce, use tomato puree or crushed tomatoes. Diced tomatoes can also be used. If you use either whole or diced tomatoes in juice (as opposed to sauce), either cut back on the amount of water added by 25% or simmer and reduce until your desired consistency.
  • The best part of this sugo is that you can start with this basic recipe and tweak it to your personal preferences of heat, sweetness and thickness. The longer it cooks, the thicker and more fragrant it gets!
  • This sugo freezes really well! Freeze it in an air-tight container for 3-6 months.
  • This recipe makes about 12-13 cups sauce. The recipe can be cut in half or doubled, based on how much sauce you need.
Recipe by Mangia With Michele. Please visit my site for more great cooking inspiration!
If you try this recipe, please share a photo on INSTAGRAM or FACEBOOK and tag it @MangiaWithMichele and #MangiaWithMichele. I’d love to see it!
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