Food / Main Dishes / Pescetarian

Easy Homemade Puttanesca Sauce

If you love pasta (who doesn’t?) and you dig salty flavors, this Easy Homemade Puttanesca Sauce is just the thing for you!Homemade Puttanesca Sauce

So, here’s a little lesson in Italian for you: alla puttanesca means in the style of a prostitute. I’m not sure what the connection is here, but this sauce is pretty easy

(BA-doom TSS!)

Don’t throw tomatoes at me. You’ll need them for the sauce.

It truly boggles my mind that I hadn’t tried this pasta dish until recently. For one, I love pasta (just like everyone else on this planet), and second, I absolutely LOVE salty flavors. Considering this sauce comprises kalamata olives, capers, and anchovies, it’s pretty friggin’ glorious. If you’re not okay with the use of anchovies, no worries – you can omit them. I’ve stumbled upon several recipes that didn’t use the ‘chovies, but I wasn’t having any of that. I shamelessly like my salty bits with extra salt.

In addition to all of those wonderful salty bits, garlic is a prominent flavor in this dish. And, if you like to spice things up alla puttanesca (EH-ohhh!), crushed red peppers are encouraged!

Cutting the acidity in a tomato sauce

When I started making homemade tomato sauce, acidity was a big problem for me. After trying several methods, my go-to is baking soda, because science. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity. A little goes a long way, so add it bit by bit. I typically sprinkle in about 1/2 teaspoon and that does the trick without mucking up the flavor of my gravy, baby. A tablespoon of butter stirred into the sauce prior to serving doesn’t hurt either. A creamier tomato sauce will never be acidic! So, butter safe than sorry?

Homemade Puttanesca

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Easy Homemade Puttanesca Sauce


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced,
  • 6 anchovy fillets minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 4.5 oz grape tomatoes approx. 1 cup
  • 35 oz can whole peeled Italian tomatoes w/ juices crushed by hand
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 2 leaves basil ribboned
  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers
  • 1 tablespoon butter optional
  • Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
  • Fresh parsley for garnish optional


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan.
  • Add the garlic, anchovies, crushed red pepper, and grape tomatoes. Simmer over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is fragrant. (approx. 5 minutes.)
  • Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  • Add the canned tomatoes and juices.
  • Add the sugar, basil, olives, and capers.
  • Season with kosher salt and cracked black pepper.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower heat.
  • Allow the sauce to simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to approx. 3 cups.
  • Taste, and season to your liking.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of butter and stir until it melts (optional). This adds a wonderful touch of creaminess and can also lend a hand in reducing any acidity. (See notes.)
  • This sauce keeps in the fridge for up to 3 days.


1. If you find the sauce to be too acidic, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to neutralize the acidity. It will not affect the flavor.
2. If you find the sauce too runny (it happens!), sprinkle in 1/2 tablespoon of corn starch. This will help thicken the sauce without altering the flavor.

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