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Closeup of spaghetti with tomato sauce on a white plate.
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5 from 1 vote

Napoli Pasta Sauce

Napoli sauce is quick and easy to make. Low in calories and budget friendly too.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Mains
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Low Calorie, Low Fat, Low Lactose, Low Salt, Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: budget recipe, healthy dinner idea, spaghetti neapolitan, tomato pasta sauce
Servings: 4
Calories: 100kcal
Author: Harriet Britto


  • 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 canned diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 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.


Small red chilli – you can use fresh or frozen chilli or leave it out if you don’t like chilli.
  • If you just want a hint of chilli in the sauce, leave it whole and remove it after cooking.
  • If you don’t mind a bit of a bite to 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.
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 teaspoon each of dried basil and parsley.
Dried herbs give a slightly different flavour but are ideal to use when fresh herbs are out of season.
Make a smooth sauce - If you prefer a smooth sauce use an immersion blender to puree until smooth.
Don’t 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.
You can also use fresh tomatoes, pasata or a combination for fresh and tinned tomatoes to make this sauce:
Fresh tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes can be used to make this sauce. I don’t bother peeling or removing the seeds. I will use a blender to either roughly chop them or puree them smooth before cooking. We don’t mind the tomato skin or seeds in the sauce.
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 prefer 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 Italian bottled uncooked pureed tomatoes with the seeds and skins removed. You can use an equivalent amount of passata instead of the canned tomatoes.
Fresh and tinned tomatoes – If you have one or two overripe tomatoes rather than throw them out use them in the sauce. You can roughly chop them and add these in with the tinned tomatoes as the start of cooking.
Throw in a few extra basil leaves and a little more parsley because you’ve added extra tomatoes.
When cooking is done taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper if needed.
There are a number of 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 as your fry it until golden brown. Drain away the excess fat, pour in the prepared Napoli sauce, simmer covered for 5 minutes before serving.  This sauce is great for plain pasta as well a 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. Seasoning 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.
Chicken Parmigiana
You don’t need to eat out to enjoy chicken param you can make it yourself, it’s so easy to do.
  1. 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.
  2. Next prepare three containers one with plain flour, one with two well beaten eggs and the third with panko breadcrumbs.
  3. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip each into the flour evenly coating both sides, shaking of the excess.
  4. Next, dip into the beaten eggs, coating both sides.
  5. Then coat both sides with the breadcrumbs, gently pressing so that the crumbs stick to the chicken.
  6. You can crumb the chicken and store covered in the fridge for several hours before cooking.
  7. When ready to cook preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  8. 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.
  9. 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 under side is golden brown, turn the chicken over and cook the other side until golden.
  10. Remove the chicken from the pan and place it on the cake rack on the prepared tray. Cook the remaining chicken.
  11. Place 2 -3tablespoons of Napoli sauce onto each of the cooked crumbed chicken pieces. Layer on some slices of mozzarella cheese.
  12. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes or until the cheese has melted and is just starting to turn brown.
  13. 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 a low heat until the liquid has evaporated.
Stir the sauce often as it becomes thicker. Allow the sauce to cool completely before using.
Recipe makes about 400 grams (14 oz) of sauce.


Serving: 100grams (3.5 oz) | Calories: 100kcal | Carbohydrates: 8g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 436mg | Potassium: 267mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 277IU | Vitamin C: 28mg | Calcium: 41mg | Iron: 1mg