Pressure Cooker Tomato Sauce Recipe

Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt

Why It Works

  • Great sauce starts with great ingredients. Use the best canned whole peeled tomatoes you can find, preferably San Marzano D.O.P. tomatoes.
  • A mixture of butter and olive oil gives the sauce extra richness while mellowing out the stronger flavors.
  • A whole onion and a carrot added to the sauce while it simmers add natural sweetness, without overwhelming the sauce with extra flavors or being cloying.
  • The pressure cooker cooks the sauce hot enough to trigger the Maillard reaction, creating complex, browned flavors in record time.
  • Fish sauce, if you'd like to use it, adds rich, intensely savory flavor (and no, it won't make the sauce taste fishy).
  • Saving some of the tomatoes to stir in at the end gives the sauce a layer of freshness.

The pressure cooker gives you a red sauce with all-day flavor on a weeknight schedule.

Recipe Facts



Active: 20 mins
Total: 75 mins
Serves: 12 servings
Makes: 1 1/2 quarts

Rate & Comment


  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes (about 1.5kg total) (see note)

  • 2 tablespoons (30ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing

  • 2 tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon (about 2g) red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 tablespoon (about 4g) dried oregano

  • 1 small carrot (about 4 ounces; 110g), cut into large chunks

  • 1 small onion (about 5 ounces; 140g), split in half

  • 1 large stem fresh basil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) Asian fish sauce, optional

  • 1/4 cup (about 10g) minced fresh parsley or basil leaves (or a mix of the two)


  1. Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Using your hands, crush tomatoes by squeezing them through your fingers until pieces no larger than 1/2 inch remain. Transfer 1 cup (240ml) of crushed tomatoes to a sealed container and reserve in the refrigerator until step 3.

  2. Heat olive oil and butter over medium heat in a pressure cooker until butter is melted. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until softened and fragrant but not browned, about 2 minutes. Add pepper flakes and oregano and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, and basil and stir to combine. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Seal pressure cooker and bring to high pressure. Cook for 45 minutes, then release pressure and open lid.

  3. Using tongs, discard onion halves, carrot, and basil. Add reserved tomatoes to sauce and stir to combine. Add fish sauce, if using. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir in minced herbs, along with additional olive oil as desired. Serve immediately, or allow to cool at room temperature, transfer to airtight containers, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Sauce can also be frozen in sealed containers for up to 6 months. To reheat, warm very gently in a saucepan with 1/2 cup (120ml) water, stirring until it all melts and heats through.

Special equipment

Electric or stovetop pressure cooker


Use the best tomatoes you can find. D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy are readily available and a guarantee of quality, though any high-quality domestic or imported canned tomato will work. Make sure that the San Marzano tomatoes you buy are labeled "D.O.P.," not just "San Marzano–style."

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
64 Calories
4g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 12
Amount per serving
Calories 64
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 4g 6%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 5mg 2%
Sodium 218mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 20mg 98%
Calcium 23mg 2%
Iron 1mg 3%
Potassium 330mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)