Looking for a dairy-free tomato based sauce that is simple to make and delicious? Try this Napoli sauce recipe!
It is easy to prepare, full of flavor, and wonderfully healthy.
Napoli, also known as Neapolitan sauce, is a hassle-free, rich tomato-based sauce that comes together in no time.
If you enjoy uncomplicated tomato based recipes such as marinara sauce dip, might also like these simple and flavorful dishes - Italian-style green beans in tomato sauce, a mildly spicy tomato pulao, slow cooker Italian meatballs in tomato sauce perfect for family gatherings, an incredibly effortless roasted tomato and red pepper soup, and a delicious tinga de pollo recipe that is bursting with taste.
Make a delicious and simple Italian Napoli sauce recipe. It is made with tomatoes, tasty herbs, and a touch of garlic, this sauce is perfect for a simple pasta dish and more.
Cost To Make
Estimated cost = $2.50 or $0.63 a serve
Why You'll Love This Recipe:
You will love this easy Italian tomato sauce recipe because:
- With less than 5 minutes of prep and a 30-minute almost hands-free slow simmer time, this can be made even on your busiest day.
- This Napoli sauce is dairy-free, gluten-free, low-calorie, low-fat, and suitable for both vegan and vegetarian diets.
- This version is made from economical canned tomatoes and is a budget-friendly recipe.
- You can also use this quick Napoli sauce recipe to minimize food waste by using soft and overripe fresh tomatoes – details in recipe notes below.
- This homemade pasta sauce can be used to make cheap easy meals on a budget - see our section on “What To Make With Napoli Sauce” for some great ideas.
What Is Napoli Sauce Made Of?
Napoli sauce also known as Napoletana sauce or Neapolitan sauce, is an Italian tomato-based sauce that originated in Naples.
It is made from the following ingredients: fresh peeled and seeded tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, onions, basil or oregano, and salt and pepper.
Ingredients In This Recipe
The printable recipe further down the page has the complete list of ingredients, including quantities and step-by-step instructions.
Tomatoes - We prefer to use a can of diced tomatoes for this recipe, simply for convenience.
It just means opening the can and pouring it into the pot with no messy chopping.
However, if all you have is whole canned tomatoes, these can be roughly chopped before adding to the pot or just crushed in the pan before cooking.
Onion - use a large brown onion.
Olive oil – Use a mild-flavored extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil.
Salt and sugar – The salt enhances the flavors of the sauce and the sugar helps to cut back the acidity of the tomatoes.
Small red chili – you can use fresh or frozen chili or leave it out if you don’t like chili.
- If you just want a hint of chili in the sauce, leave it whole and remove it after cooking.
- If you don’t mind a bit of a bite of the sauce, chop it up and mix it.
- If you can’t get fresh chilli you can always use a whole dried chilli or red pepper flakes.
Parsley and basil – try and use fresh if you can but, if these are out of season or simply not available, it is okay to use 1-2 teaspoons each of dried basil and parsley.
Dried herbs give a slightly different flavor but are ideal to use when fresh herbs are out of season.
Step By Step Instructions
Below are the step-by-step instructions for how to make Neapolitan sauce.
Finely dice the onion and gently fry until soft, then add chopped parsley, torn basil leaves, salt, sugar, chili, and then the canned tomatoes.
Bring everything to a boil, stir well, turn down the heat, put the lid on, and simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes stirring occasionally.
After about 30 minutes you will be left with a thick creamy Napoli sauce. If the sauce looks a little watery continue to cook covered, over low heat for about 10 more minutes.
Use this sauce to make spaghetti Napolitana which is spaghetti with a simple tomato sauce like this.
How to thicken Napoli sauce?
When cooked correctly this sauce will naturally become thick in about 30 – 40 minutes.
However, if your sauce looks watery, which can happen if you use fresh tomatoes, continue to simmer the sauce uncovered for a little longer until you get the consistency you are after.
Make A Smooth Sauce
If you prefer a smooth sauce use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
If you do not have a blender, place the sauce into a sieve and use the back of a spoon to push the sauce through the sieve and into a clean bowl.
The serving size of the sauce is about 3.5 ounces (100 grams).
Calories Per Serve
There are about 100 calories in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.
You can also use fresh tomatoes, passata, or a combination of fresh and tinned tomatoes to make this sauce:
Napoli sauce recipe with fresh tomatoes - Fresh tomatoes like San Marzano tomatoes are in an authentic Napoli sauce recipe, but you can use other varieties.
The tomatoes are peeled and seeded, but we do not bother peeling or removing the seeds.
We will use a blender to either roughly chop them or puree them smooth before cooking. We do not mind the tomato skin or seeds in the sauce.
However, if you want a smooth sauce, you could cook the sauce as above, then pass the sauce through a sieve to remove the skin and seeds.
Or, if you can blanch tomatoes to remove the skin, then cut in half to remove the seeds and process in a blender before cooking.
- Note: The sauce when made with fresh tomatoes does need to be cooked a little longer, this is due to a higher moisture content. After 30 minutes of cooking covered, remove the lid and continue to simmer uncovered until the sauce has reduced and thickened.
Passata is an Italian bottled uncooked pureed tomato with the seeds and skins removed. You can use an equivalent amount of passata instead of canned tomatoes.
Combination of fresh and tinned tomatoes - If you have one or two overripe tomatoes, roughly chop them and add them to sauce the canned tomatoes.
Throw in a few extra basil leaves and more parsley because you have added the extra tomatoes.
When done cooking, taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning to taste with salt.
You can easily introduce other flavors to this basic napoli sauce:
- Add 1-2 anchovy filets when you are frying the onions. If using anchovies don’t add the salt, rather taste the sauce once you have finished cooking and add a little salt and ground black pepper if needed at the end.
- You can add 2-3 cloves garlic finely chopped or grated. Add these to the onions in the last minutes of their frying time and before you add everything else. They only need 1-2 minutes of cooking, just to remove the raw taste.
- You can stir in 1-2 teaspoons of drained and rinsed capers.
- Throw in a handful of sliced or whole black olives.
- Use other herbs like oregano and sage.
How To Use
There are several things that you can make with this sauce you could make:
Creamy Napolitana Sauce
For a rich and creamy sauce stir in ¼ - ½ cup of heavy cream and 1 tablespoon butter at the end and heat through.
Cheesy Napoli Sauce
For a cheesy sauce stir in a small handful of mixed cheeses like mozzarella, ricotta, cheddar, or parmesan at the end of the cooking time. Allow the cheese to melt into the sauce before serving.
Napoli Chorizo Sauce
Remove the skin of one chorizo sausage. Break the sausage meat into small pieces and fry it until golden brown.
Drain away the excess fat, pour in the prepared Napoli sauce, and simmer covered for 5 minutes before serving. This sauce is great for plain pasta as well as meat-free ravioli.
Easy Meatballs In Tomato Sauce
While the sauce is cooking, make small meatballs with about 250 grams (8 oz) of lean ground beef. Season the meat with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder before shaping.
In the last 10 minutes of cooking add the meatballs to the sauce, gently pushing them under. Bring back to the boil, turn down the heat to a simmer, cover, and continue to cook for the remaining time or until the meatballs are cooked through.
To avoid a salty sauce don’t add the salt to the sauce at the start, instead add it at the end.
This is because the meatballs are seasoned with salt and this should be enough to flavour the sauce. If not, you can easily add some salt to the sauce at the end.
You could serve this as spaghetti and meatballs or serve the meatballs on skewers with a little sauce for easy party appetizers.
Use this sauce as a healthy alternative to bottled sauce next time you make lasagna.
You don’t need to eat out to enjoy chicken param you can make it yourself, it’s so easy to do.
- Cut horizontally one small chicken breast to give two even steaks – which is enough for two servings. Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt.
- Next prepare three containers one with plain flour, one with two well-beaten eggs, and the third with panko breadcrumbs.
- Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip each into the flour evenly coating both sides, shaking off the excess.
- Next, dip into the beaten eggs, coating both sides.
- Then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs, gently pressing so that the crumbs stick to the chicken.
- You can crumb the chicken and store covered in the fridge for several hours before cooking.
- When ready to cook preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
- Line a baking tray with foil or baking paper and place a cake rack onto the tray. Baking the chicken elevated on the cake rack will stop the bottom of the chicken from going soggy when baked.
- Fill a frying pan with about 2-3 cm (1 inch) of oil and heat. Careful place 1 – 2 pieces of chicken into the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the underside is golden brown, turn the chicken over and cook the other side until golden.
- Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on the cake rack on the prepared tray. Cook the remaining chicken.
- Place 2 -3 tablespoons of Napoli sauce onto each of the cooked crumbed chicken pieces. Layer on some slices of mozzarella cheese.
- Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is just starting to turn brown.
- Serve hot sprinkled with chopped parsley or fresh basil leaves.
Napoli Sauce Pizza Topping
Use this as a pizza topping but do make sure that the sauce is thick and paste-like and not watery.
If necessary, cook the sauce uncovered over low heat until the liquid has evaporated.
Stir the sauce often as it becomes thicker. Allow the sauce to cool completely before using.
Refrigeration – Store in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezing – This sauce freezes very well and can be stored in an air-tight container or bag for up to three months.
Reheat Napoli sauce in a saucepan over low heat on the stovetop or heat the sauce in a microwave oven in a microwave-safe container.
A basic Napoli sauce is dairy-free. It's made with olive oil, onions, herbs and tomatoes.
However, there are recipe variations where dairy products such as cream or cheese are added to make a creamy sauce.
Yes, it can be considered spicy if you are not used to chilli.
If you are not used to eating chilli it can be left out or use half or a quarter of a large red chilli with the seeds removed.
Large chillies are generally milder in heat when compared to small red chillies.
Napoli sauce and passata are different.
Napoli sauce is a quick sauce made with tomatoes, onion, chilli and herbs, it can be made with canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes or passata.
Passata is made from uncooked peeled and seeded tomatoes. The tomatoes are then processed in a blender until smooth.
The pureed tomatoes are then poured into bottles, sealed tightly, placed in a hot water bath to be sterilized. Treated this way the bottle tomatoes can be stored for up to two years.
The answer to this is yes and no, some recipes will have it some won’t. Ultimately it comes down to personal taste. This recipe does not have garlic, but it can be added to the recipe if you wanted to include garlic.
When properly stored the sauce will last for about 4-5 days in the fridge.
More Easy Recipes
- Slow cooker ground beef and pork ragu
- Slow cooker Hungarian goulash
- Slow cooker meatballs in tomato sauce
- Hamburger soup with macaroni
- Beef chilli bean soup
So now you know how to make Napoli sauce, why not start with the basic sauce and then venture out and try one of the easy recipe variations above?
We would love to know what you are going to make with this Napoli sauce. Let us know in the comments below.
Napoli Pasta Sauce
- 1 large onion
- sprig of parsley <- see notes
- 10-15 fresh basil leaves <- see notes
- 1 small red chilli <- see notes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 x 400 gram (14 ounces) canned diced tomatoes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon white sugar optional
- Peel and roughly dice the onion.
- Finely chop the parsley.
- Coarsely chop or tear the basil leaves.
- Roughly chop the chilli.
- Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan and fry the onion until they become translucent.
- Add the parsley, basil, tomatoes, salt, sugar (if using) and chilli, bring to the boil.
- Turn down the heat, put the lid on the saucepan and simmer over a low heat for 30 – 40 minutes, or until it become thick and cream like in consistency.
- Taste for seasoning and adjusts if necessary. Serve with spaghetti.
- If you don’t mind a bit of a bite of the sauce, chop it up and mix it.
- If you can’t get fresh chilli you can always use a whole dried chilli or chilli flakes.