Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce Recipe—& 8 Other Favorites

Feast like an Italian!

August 24, 2021
Photo by Rocky Luten

French food has Julia Child and Jacques Pépin. Mexican, Rick Bayless and Diana Kennedy. Italian? Marcella Hazan, who emigrated from Italy to the United States in her early thirties, had no cooking experience when she started, and yet rose to become one of the foremost experts on Italian cooking. She wrote seminal cookbooks, hosted television shows, and influenced a generation of Italian chefs, such as Lidia Bastianich.

She believed that simple food is the best food, and we couldn't agree more.  The hallmark of her recipes is simplicity at its best—no need to gratuitously fuss about—and the results are sublime. Here are nine brilliant recipes that celebrate her legacy; make them, and know that each time you do, your technique will get better and your food will be utterly fabulous. Just like Marcella.

Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce With Onion & Butter

If there’s one Marcella Hazan recipe that you should cook, it’s this one. It’s her hallmark, her magnum opus, her most famous sauce ever...and it absolutely lives up to the hype. It just has three ingredients: onion, tomatoes, and butter. Yes. really. 

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Marcella Hazan's Tomato Sauce

Marcella Hazan's Rice & Smothered Cabbage Soup

On a chilly night, there’s nothing like digging into a big bowl of this Venetian-style soup that falls somewhere in between a hearty vegetable soup and creamy risotto. Use really good quality beef or chicken broth—it’s the secret to so much of the flavor here.

Marcella Hazan's Braised Celery with Onion, Pancetta, and Tomatoes

Finishing an entire bunch of celery without putting half (or more) of it into the compost is never an easy feat. A stalk here or there for snacking, a little bit more for stews and soups, but the amount never seems to whittle down. Leave it to Marcella Hazan to save the day with this simple side dish recipe. 

Marcella's Broccoli and Potato Soup

The star power in this Marcella Hazan soup recipe does not come in the form of the broccoli or Yukon gold potatoes. Sure, both of those are great, but the real trick is caramelizing thinly sliced onions until they’re jammy and golden brown. It adds a layer of sweetness that cuts through the heavy potatoes and bitter broccoli.

Marcella Hazan’s Croccante (2-Ingredient Almond Brittle)

Homemade candy makes the perfect little gift...or the perfect little afternoon snack. The only tool you need is a potato. Wait, potato? You thought I was going to say a candy thermometer or silicone baking mat, right. Just trust Marcella on this one. It works.

Marcella Hazan Croccante

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables and Olive Oil

This recipe isn’t quite as famous as Marcella’s other tomato sauce recipe, but it’s just as simple and incredibly versatile. The base of it is made with two pounds of super fresh, super-ripe tomatoes. 

Marcella Hazan’s Tomato Sauce with Sautéed Vegetables and Olive Oil

Marcella Hazan's Fettuccine col Sugo di Tonno con Aglio e Panna

Canned tuna is a familiar ingredient in pasta sauces. Although I was once very fond of it, there was a harshness to the taste of tuna sauces, both other cooks' and my own, that began to trouble me,” writes Marcella Hazan. Her dissatisfaction motivated her to find a way to enjoy tuna, which became this salty, savory pasta.

Marcella Hazan's Fettuccine col Sugo di Tonno con Aglio e Panna

Marcella Hazan's White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley

In 10 minutes (yes, 10!), this recipe from Marcella Hazan goes from a few ingredients scattered throughout your pantry to a delicious bowl of vegan soup.

Marcella Hazan's White Bean Soup with Garlic and Parsley

Chicken Liver Pasta Sauce Inspired by Marcella Hazan

This isn’t exactly a Marcella Hazan recipe...but it’s pretty darn close! In addition to chicken livers, it’s also made with salty prosciutto (or pancetta) and ground beef for an extra-hearty sauce.

Chicken Liver Pasta Sauce Inspired by Marcella Hazan

Do you have a favorite Marcella Hazan recipe? Let us know in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jrodricks
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    at yvonne's table
Mei Chin

Written by: Mei Chin

Let's have dinner sometime. There will be champagne and ice cream for sure; everything else is up in the air.


Jrodricks February 14, 2022
Ms Hazan’ Minestrone alla Romagnola is the best soup on this and all other planets. Although you have to make it with NO DEVIATIONS from her directions, including waiting a day after cooking to consume it…..
Samg September 8, 2018
The braised celery (above) is perfect. Other standout recipe from my teen years that I make now: the Tuscan meatloaf. Lots of mushrooms, and maybe company worthy.
Sharon April 12, 2015
I'm on a mission to cook all 466 recipes in her 'Essentials' cookbook. On Friday night I reached the 25% mark with recipe #116 'Baked Crespelle with Bolognese Meat Sauce'. Like the other 115 recipes, it worked and tasted delicious - though I must confess I was not so keen on the chestnuts boiled in red wine...
Melissa October 25, 2017
Wow. Impressive! Did you finish?
Sharon October 26, 2017
Hi! I haven’t finished. Things slowed down a bit for me that following year. But I have progressed a little further to 137 recipes, with a recent renewed zeal :) You’ve encouraged me to keep at it!
Melissa October 26, 2017

AWESOME! I actually just picked up a copy yesterday. It's been on my wishlist for years but I always got sidetracked. I'm looking forward to it. Do you blog about it?
Sharon October 26, 2017
I did. Not for a while now. Will have to do a catch up post :) The address is [email protected] Called 'At My Table'
Melissa October 28, 2017
I'll check it out. Happy cooking. I'm not sure where to start!
acmegumbo April 10, 2015
Our favorite Marcella Hazan recipes include:
1) Chicken with Vinegar (Pollo con l'Aceto (Marcella's Italian Kitchen)
2) Spaghetti with Herbs and Raw Tomato (Marcella's Italian Kitchen)
3) Drunken Pork Roast (Essentials of Italian Cooking)
4) Minestrone di Romagna (The Classic Italian Cookbook)
at Y. April 10, 2015
last night was her red and yellow bell pepper sauce with sausages, page 197 of the essentials cookbook.....if i had to say i had one favorite....this would in in the top 5...(i can't even commit to a favorite!! my book is so worn and loved)
Fairmount_market April 9, 2015
Her Bolognese sauce is our household standard, and I love her sfinciuni (Palermo stuffed pizza).
john G. April 9, 2015
Pork loin braised in milk.
Bruce B. April 9, 2015
Definitely, the Gorgonzola Sauce recipe on p194 of "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" is my favourite by far, and I thought I didn't like Gorgonzola! It's heaven on a plate!
Stephanie J. April 9, 2015
OMG - the rice and smothered cabbage soup (not really a soup, more like a risotto) - was so good and filling. On the second day added 1/2 lb kielbasa cut into rounds - thought I'd died and gone to heaven! Really, just rice and cabbage. I am amazed.
Corinne April 9, 2015

Marcella's pesto sauce is a favorite. Yet almost everything I have prepared from her Classic Italian Cook Book has become a standard for my family. My copy of this book which I purchased as a new bride in 1978 is well worn.
TryItSheSaid April 9, 2015
Marcella Hazan's pear cake, from the Essential NYT Cookbook is one I return to. Repeatedly amazed at its simplicity and divine results!
Brenda J. April 9, 2015
Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Italian Cooking is a regular weeknight go-to book for me. Her carbonara recipe has spoiled me for any other approach, and her pan-roasted chicken recipes are a staple in my house. Chicken with rosemary and garlic, chicken with lemon and rosemary, etc.-- I routinely make these on weeknights, using good quality chicken thighs. Her veal scallopine recipes are easily redone with thin-sliced chicken breasts if you can't get good veal (or don't do veal anyway), so I make them often as well.