Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner
comments 5

Instant Pot Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce over spaghetti noodles, with a piece of basil, on a red plate, with text Instant Pot Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce below it

Marcella Hazan’s three-ingredient tomato sauce is famous, and rightfully so. Butter, onion, and canned whole tomatoes make a simple, yet fantastic sauce. Let’s try it in a pressure cooker with Instant Pot Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce.

The only tricky part of this recipe was getting the timing down. 30 minutes under pressure is the Goldilocks zone: a balance of breaking down the tomatoes into a sauce without overcooking and losing the bright, tomato flavor.

Marcella recommends Italian San Marzano DOP tomatoes, which are fantastic…and expensive. I get good results with American brands of canned plum tomatoes, which are less than half the price of San Marzano tomatoes. (I usually go with American canned tomatoes.) The big difference between Italian and American canned tomatoes was the amount of salt in the can. Italian tomatoes don’t have salt; they need some, or the sauce comes out tasting a little flat.

Looking for a simple tomato sauce that replaces hours of simmering with 30 minutes of pressure? Try this one out. Thanks, Marcella!

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Instant Pot Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce

  • Author: Mike Vrobel
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: Sauce to cover 1 pound of pasta


Instant Pot Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce. The famous sauce from Marcella’s Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, adapted to work in a pressure cooker.


  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes (or plum tomatoes), crushed by hand, with juices
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt (If using Italian tomatoes – American canned tomatoes have extra sodium and don’t need more)


  1. Melt the butter, crush the tomatoes, everything in the pot: Set the Instant Pot for Sauté mode (medium heat in a stovetop PC) and add the butter to the pot, and then the onion halves, cut side down. When the butter stops foaming, pour in the hand-crushed tomatoes. (Sprinkle with the fine sea salt if they are Italian canned tomatoes, otherwise, hold the salt.)
  2. Pressure cook for 30 minutes with a natural pressure release: Pressure cook on high pressure for 30 minutes in an Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker (“Manual” or “Pressure Cook” mode), or for 24 minutes in a stovetop pressure cooker. Let the pressure come down naturally, about 15 minutes.
  3. Discard the onion and serve: Discard the onion, give the sauce a vigorous stir to break up the tomatoes, and serve.


  • This recipe makes enough sauce to cover a pound of pasta
  • Chunky vs. smooth sauce: This is a chunky sauce – hand-crushing the tomatoes only goes so far. If you want a smooth sauce, use a stick blender to puree the tomatoes in the pot after cooking.
  • Extras: The beauty of this sauce is in its simplicity. And…I can’t help myself. I mess with it. Marcella tosses everything in the pot; I melt the butter and brown the onions a little before adding the tomatoes. I will add a teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning or dried basil, or maybe mince fresh basil and sprinkle it over the sauce right before serving; Marcella uses her sauce straight up.


  • Category: Weeknight Dinner
  • Method: Pressure Cooker
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: Instant Pot Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce, Pressure Cooker Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce

What do you think?

Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.

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My other Instant Pot Pressure Cooker Recipes

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Filed under: Pressure cooker, Weeknight dinner


Hi! I’m Mike Vrobel. I’m a dad and an enthusiastic home cook; an indie cookbook author and food blogger with a day job, a patient spouse, and three kids who would rather have hamburgers for dinner.


  1. We love her recipe, so glad you adapted it for the pressure cooker! Will have to try it out soon!

  2. pat r says

    Curios if you had any issues with scorching? The few times I tried tomato sauce in the IP I had some burning issues

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