The Best Spaghetti Sauce You’ll Ever Have

Picture this: It’s a chilly Tuesday night. You’re craving something rich, but you don’t feel like slaving over a stove. Maybe a few friends are coming by, and you want to whip up something warm and welcoming. Well! Luisa from The Wednesday Chef shares her deceptively simple spaghetti sauce that she says never fails to floor people…

The Best Pasta-with-Tomato-Sauce You’ll Ever Have
By Luisa from The Wednesday Chef
(Photos by Laura Ratliff)

This simple bowl of pasta is over-the-top amazing and so easy to boot. All you do is make a plain tomato sauce (empty a can of good-quality plum or cherry tomatoes into a pot, add two cloves of garlic, a sprinkle of salt to taste and a few spoonfuls of good-quality olive oil; and bring the tomatoes to a simmer before letting the sauce cook over medium-low heat for about 20 to 30 minutes, adding some fresh basil at the end) and boil up a bunch of penne or rigatoni in salted water until they’re al dente. Then, in a serving bowl, combine the drained pasta with the tomato sauce–but, before mixing it all together, add a big dollop of fresh ricotta (calculate a scant 1/4 cup per person). If you’re lucky enough to find ricotta imported from Italy, use that: it’s worth it. Working quickly, mix the cheese, sauce and pasta together until you have a pink sauce that’s fragrant and creamy and delicious, then serve IMMEDIATELY (passing grated Parmigiano at the table). Your guests will be floored.

That’s it! Easy and crowd-pleasing. I’m bookmarking it:) Thank you so much, Luisa! And more best basic recipes, including chocolate ice cream and a lazy egg sandwich

(Photos by Laura Ratliff)

  1. OMG!! So delicious!! So easy to make and the house smelled glorious while cooking. It really is the best tomato sauce I ever ate!

  2. Hope Franz says...

    This is the most delicious sauce. The kids couldn’t get enough of it. They were literally eating it by the spoonful out of the pot. Thank you for sharing!

  3. VK says...


    I always wanted to try making a homemade pasta sauce. How would you make it using tomatoes (not from can)?

  4. I just made this sauce (doubled) for my husband and I and we loved it. I stirred the ricotta into the sauce at the end, served over whole wheat Barilla penne pasta and served with these vegetarian meetballs (I made mine with an egg instead of an egg replacer). This is one of the best meals I have ever had (with plenty of leftovers too), thanks so much!

  5. Yum! This looks amazing! I will be trying it out very soon!

  6. Anonymous says...

    This looks really, really tasty. I’m a embarrassed to say that I need more detailed recipes. I LOVED how the egg sandwich recipe covered everything you could possibly encounter while making it. But here — what sized can of tomatoes? chop, slice, or whole cloves? what does al dante mean? etc.

    So if you have a food blog — thank you! Your pictures and recipes are enough to make me want to be better in the kitchen! But know that you’ll appeal to a larger audience if you teach people instead of assuming that the average college kid knows as much as a sous chef.

  7. SO good! Have made this twice for friends now and they all ask for the recipe and can’t believe how simple it is!! Thanks heaps!

  8. Krysten says...

    I made this last night. My boyfriend and I loved it! (It made delish leftovers for lunch too.)

  9. Anonymous – thank you, it’s H&M!

  10. Anonymous says...

    Yummy Goodness! Just made this. I added extra garlic because I just love it. Will be making this many many more times.

  11. playing around with different variations on tomato sauce is one of my favorite past times, especially exploring how completely different they can be by just changing few methods or ingredients. adding ricotta is a nice new idea for me!

  12. Anonymous says...

    I made this last night and it is now officially my family’s favorite! thanks v much. A non related question for Luisa, I love your animal print scarf in the photo. What beand is it if I may ask? Thanks again.

  13. YUM! Can’t wait to try it.

  14. last night I stayed the night at my family’s cabin. I made this because it seemed so easy. It was and GOOD. Oh my goodness… it took no time or effort.

    This is something that I think even Hannah on My Drunk Kitchen could handle and love.

    Thanks for sharing Jo! MmmMmmmMMmmM

  15. Anonymous – I leave the garlic cloves whole and throw them out once the sauce has stewed, just so that they give the sauce some aroma, but don’t overpower it.

  16. I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. When I told my boyfriend what we were having he complained he didn’t feel like pasta…then had 3 servings :) Thanks for the great recipe!

  17. I made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. When I told my boyfriend what we were having he complained he didn’t feel like pasta…then had 3 servings :) Thanks for the great recipe!

  18. Anonymous says...

    Do you chop or mince the garlic, or do you leave the cloves whole?

  19. This looks amazing and so easy! Can’t wait to try it. Thanks for sharing!

  20. Hi, I’m Chiara from Venice, Italy.

    Your blog is amazing, I read it every day. I like it.

    But, this sauce’s name is: Pasta Alla Nonna Rosa (Rosa Grandmather’s Pasta).


  21. Hi, i’m Silvia from ITALY. I read you blog every day and it feel so good when you talk about italian food. Here we eat that sort of PASTA each day, It’s classic and cooked like that (or without ricotta) by everyone. So it’s strange to read about it as if it was a fantastic food. Can i suggest to you all, another simple one? Take 2 green zucchini, boil them quickly for 5 minutes. Then put them in the mixer. Add basil, a piece of italian parmigiano, a spoon of PINOLI, a spoon of olive oil. Mix everything until you a have a soft green cream. Cook pasta al dente. Mix pasta and the cream. BUON APPETITO!

  22. Looks yuumy. I always wanted to make fresh sauce

  23. I can’t wait to try this!

  24. I made this tonight and it was SO easy and SO delicious! I am NEVER going back to using a jar sauce ever again. It was so light and fresh. I just can’t believe how easy it was. Love love love love love!

  25. i made the mistake of reading this at work in the middle of the day…

    and now it’s all i can think about.

    can’t wait to try it – thanks for sharing!

  26. that looks fantastic! cant wait to give it a try.

  27. So happy to hear so many happy comments – hope you all enjoy making the sauce! Fiend by name: If you’re lactose-intolerant you can just leave out the ricotta when saucing the pasta. The tomato-garlic-basil sauce is delicious on its own, too. :)

  28. I’m lactose intolerant. Any tips for a simple sauce without cheese?

  29. This is kind of how I make my sauce whenever I want to bake it with some mozzarella on top. Super creamy and uber delicious :)

  30. M. says...

    Mmmm, looks sooo yummy, love it!

  31. Wow… Definitely gonna try this!!

  32. I am really loving this series! Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated, and these recipes have really helped boost my confidence in the kitchen. Awesome idea, I can’t wait for more!

  33. Blogissima! ;) Just a thanks because I signed up for Smitten Kitten because of the egg sandwich post and then just found her recent egg, bacon, blue cheese salad sandwich post which was the. perfect. thing. for a homesick me coming back to France after a great visit to Michigan and family!

  34. I pinned this recipe to my “Everything about this says ‘yum’ ” board. I can’t wait to taste it! Thanks for sharing!

  35. Love! I do a variation of this where I bake the ricotta in the oven while I’m making the sauce and cooking the noodles. You cover the ricotta with olive oil, s&p, cayenne and oregano and bake for about 20 minutes and add it on top of the pasta with sauce. Ricotta is so delicious!

  36. this is so simple! especially after a long day of work and not wanting to slave away in the kitchen. thanks for sharing!

  37. Once my Italian husband taught me how to make red sauce, I never went back to using jars. Not even comparable. I like the ricotta trick. I make a variation by sauteeing onions and red bell peppers then adding the San Marzano. Get good quality canned tomatoes if you can.

  38. The rural area I live in has only bland ricotta cheese at the grocery store, so I have put full fat cottage cheese in a food processor with great results! This recipe sounds fantastic!

  39. Might try replacing the ricotta w. whipping cream.

  40. Mmmmm…I can smell it from Germany!

  41. just pinned it! YUM!

  42. Great recipe – I use Mascarpone instead of Ricotta, but I’ll give this a try.

  43. I’ve been putting ricotta in my spaghetti sauce forever. I actually put ricotta on anything and everything I can. Confession: sometimes I eat it out of the container with a spoon. It’s so yummy.

  44. This sound so yummy and really easy! I’m all about easy. Thanks, I’m going to try this one soon, while the weather is still cool.

  45. Oh boy, that looks so good! I’m going to have to make that this week :)

  46. It looks so delicious!! Wish they made lactose free ricotta cheese. My partner is lactose intolerant. But I wonder if substituting a little cottage cheese (lactaid brand) would work.

  47. Wow, this sounds delicious!!! I’ve only used half & half to make a cream sauce, but I love the idea of using ricotta. It should rich and creamier than the half & half. Can’t wait to give it a try!!!


  48. MJ says...

    So glad you shared this – I always steer clear of spaghetti because it gets boring! But this looks really amazing.

  49. oh i just adore fresh ricotta it really does make such a difference! in nyc i recommend grabbing it from the italian food store in chelsea market- delicious and not too expensive!
    in dramatic fashion

  50. Oh my goodness this looks so easy and SO delicious I may have to try it this evening. Really enjoying your cooking posts so thank you!

  51. ooohhhh this sounds amazing and i just picked up some ricotta yesterday! i’ll probably add some hot sausage to it too!!!

  52. I never make my own sauce — always just doctor up a bottled one — but this is inspiringly easy. Thanks for the tip!

  53. This looks amazing! I can’t wait to try it!

  54. Oh, yum!! We just had Italian last night and this sauce reminds me of the bucatini dish I had. I’m gonna try this at home, thanks!

  55. I love her and adore quick recipes that pack a punch

  56. YUM! We had mushroom red pepper spaghetti last night and I always make homemade sauce. Will definitely make this!!!

  57. So, this sure beats my usual store-bought pasta sauce!! Can’t wait til it warms up so I can start growing my own basil again! :-)

  58. This is the only pasta sauce I make in my house. It’s cheaper and easier. I’ve been making this for ages. Even better in the summer when you can use fresh pasta sauce.

  59. HEYO! I’m giving this recipe a go THIS EVENING!!! I LOVE pasta, and this sounds incredibly simple and totally delicious – A combo I most definitely can appreciate!!!

  60. Luisa’s recipes are the best. This sounds so delicious.

  61. My oh my, you had me at the first photo. It looks so scrumptious that I could go for a bowl-ful of that pasta right now. Thanks so much for the recipe. I can’t wait to try it. Wish you both a lovely day. xo

  62. this sounds like perfection! I have tried SO many sauces and still haven’t found the one that is both easy and drop-dead tasty. can’t wait to try this one!

  63. Yumm! I’ve never used ricotta for my tomato sauce before, but it makes so much sense! The recipe looks absolutely delicious – I want to try it this week! Also love the photos! Luisa looks like such a fun and sweet person!

  64. I make something similar, but I see it more as a base to add other ingredients to. So when I serve this i always put out bowls of olives, feta cheese, shrimp, marinated mushrooms and artichoke, etc etc.

    And I have to say I am missing the black pepper in the recipe. Seriously, a tomato sauce with no black pepper? Doesn’t that get, well… bland?

  65. Buonissima!!! And just a little Italian tip: the pasta always goes in the sugo (sauce), not the sugo in the pasta.

  66. Anonymous says...

    Looks so easy and I love the tip about the ricotta!

  67. This is my quick version of spaghetti sauce too! Well except I use whole tomatoes, and if I don’t have ricotta on hand, I’ll use some half and half or cream. Works like a charm!

  68. This looks wonderful, I can’t wait to try!

  69. This recipe looks delicious!! Joanna, what would we do without you showing us everything wonderful in the world? Seriously…you’re the BEST. Please be a blogger forever.

  70. Sounds AWESOME!!! I cannot wait to try this one! Thank you for the Recipe! xo

  71. Great recipe! I grow and can my own tomatoes each summer (usually about 30 quarts of “sauce” tomatoes alone), and having handy recipes like this that can be made quickly is a tempting option versus making large batches of marinara in the middle of August :)

  72. it does look pretty spectacular!! X

  73. Perfect!! I’m having friends over for dinner tomorrow and I will be making this for sure!!

  74. This sounds amazing! And so easy too! I’m bookmarking this for later use! Thanks!

  75. That sounds so amazing! There are some non-carb eaters in my house, so it would be fun to try this with some meatballs or something other than pasta. Yum!

  76. I thought I made the best pasta souce, but I will have to give this recipe a try ;)

  77. this sounds AMAZING!! i feel the more basil the better, and for vegans, fresh cashew creme can stand in for the ricotta!