Authentic Italian Red Sauce (in a Crock Pot!)

by Heather on December 18, 2012

I’m confused.

Authentic Italian Red Sauce (in a Crock Pot!) from @HeathersDish

I guess let me start off with this (not-so-new) nugget of info:  I’m obsessed with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.  Like to the point that I’ve literally seen every.single.episode.  To the point that my husband is sick and tired of coming home and seeing re-runs on TV.  To the point that should you engage me in a conversation about the show, you should probably be prepared to chat for a minimum of an hour about it.


Obsessed.  Really.


So here’s where I’m confused though:  what do you call this sauce?  It’s not really marinara so to speak – I believe true marinara is made with onions and garlic and lots of basil.  I mean, this sauce has those things but in veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeery limited quantities.  On TripleD (totally just went there) I hear it called marinara, tomato sauce, red sauce, gravy, red gravy.  And since I’m only really Italian by marriage, I have not a clue what to call this.

Authentic Italian Red Sauce (in a Crock Pot!) from @HeathersDish

And so we’re going with red sauce.  Because it’s red and it’s a sauce.  Good?  Good!


I think the point that I should make here though is that this sauce is awesome on many many levels:

  • It’s inexpensive – even if you buy the fanciest of canned crushed tomatoes!
  • It’s flavorful – with only two ingredients!
  • It’s so very simple – two words: CROCK.POT.
  • It’s the kind of sauce that makes people ask, “WHAT is that recipe?” and you just respond with a smile and say you can’t give away your family’s authentic recipe.

My sister-in-law is real-deal Italian and has an amazing red sauce & meatball recipe that she literally will not even share with her husband (Nate’s brother).  It’s her grandmother’s and she’s been sworn to secrecy and have I mentioned that she WILLNOTSHARE the recipe?  (Brooke, I love you so much.  I just want the recipe :))  But I think it’s the intrigue that makes it that much more special, you know?


But like I said, I’m only Italian by marriage.  And I’m Texan by birth, which means I think sharing is caring.  So I won’t make y’all wait any more – as long as you promise to share!

Authentic Italian Red Sauce (in a Crock Pot!) from @HeathersDish


  • 2 28-oz cans crushed tomatoes**
  • 1 Tbsp prepared pesto

Put everything in a crock pot (I would recommend using a crock pot liner – cleanup will be so easy if you do!) and cook on low for 8-10 hours.  You really really do want to do the whole low and slow thing here; the sauce gets super sweet and rich and the pesto just melts into it!  Serve with whatever pasta you like, or feel free to simmer your favorite meatball recipe in there too!

**Note:  I know in the first photo I show a can of crushed tomatoes + a can of whole tomatoes.  I made a mistake at the store and bought the whole, but I would HIGHLY recommend only using crushed.  Another note on the tomatoes:  San Marzano really are the best if you can find them, but I’ve made this sauce several times with regular old Walmart store brand and it turns out fabulously.  I think the point is just make it – you won’t regret it!**

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Bev @ Bev Cooks December 18, 2012



2 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat December 18, 2012

Love the simplicity of this recipe – so many DDD recipes look so easy!


3 Aggie December 18, 2012

Need. To. Make. This. Happen.

Why haven’t I made sauce in the crockpot? Could this get any easier??


4 Heather December 18, 2012

Kinda makes me want pasta every day for the rest of my life…I’d hardly ever have any dishes!

Now if I could just figure something out for this laundry situation…


5 Maria December 18, 2012

My brother, who is a homemade pizza genius, SWEARS by the Walmart brand of crushed tomatoes. It just made me think of him when I saw the photo. :)


6 Heather December 18, 2012

They work so perfectly!


7 DessertForTwo December 18, 2012

Yes! Texans believe is sharing recipes, that’s for sure! Sometimes, I’m even so bold as to put a recipe card on something I bring, as if I know it’s so delicious you want the recipe before you even ask! :)


8 Heather December 18, 2012

And THIS IS WHY I LOVE YOU – this comment speaks to my heart! ;)


9 Stacey December 18, 2012

I’ve totally done that. Sharing IS caring, y’all! ;)


10 Jen @ Savory Simple December 18, 2012

So simple, yet so perfect


11 Laurie {Simply Scratch} December 18, 2012

This is one of those recipes I wish I thought of {but oh-so glad you did}!


12 kelley {mountain mama cooks} December 21, 2012

From only two ingredients…..I’m so intrigued! I am definitely trying it!


13 She Rocks Fitness December 22, 2012

YES another person who has seen almost every episode of Diners and Drives! HA! I thought I was the only female obsessed with it. High-Fives! This recipe is redunkulous and cannot believe it’s only 2 ingredients. I may just try it, because it’s so odd that it’s so simple. Enjoy the weekend!


14 Will Gould January 8, 2014

Hi Heather, I joined the Tasty Kitchen web site yesterday found from getting a recipe from the pioneer woman site. I made two of your recipies yesterday and both were a big hit. I had both crockpots going at once. One was Authentic Texas Crockpot Chili and the other was Authentic Italian Red Sauce (in a crockpot) I really had the urge for chili because where I live in Rhode Island has been extremely cold and chili was in order lol
I found Authentic San Marzano crushed DOP and used “RANA” basil pesto. The only other add was a pork chop and a stick of pepperoni. The sauce turned out better than I expected and will be making it again. Today I’m going to try your stuffed chicken breasts with roasted red pepper and goat cheese.
Thanks, Will Gould


15 Heather January 8, 2014

Thanks so much Will! I’m so glad you’re enjoying those recipes – they are some of our favorites too! So glad you’re here :)


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