Grandma LaBarber’s Red Sauce

 This is the red sauce recipe I always use, although I have been known (on many occasions) to add some extras. The original is a copy her son (my husband’s uncle) sent us – it’s hard to read but we’ve got this!

My husband talks about his grandmother’s cooking all the time: red sauce, homemade Italian bread, gnocchi, pasta, cookies, Italian Easter egg baskets … I wish I could have met her. I do my best to honor her memory by using recipes of hers that I do have. These recipes have surprised me, since somehow I expected that she would start red sauce from fresh tomatoes and gnocchi from fresh potatoes  🙂 

Grandma LaBarber's Red Sauce
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
2 hrs
Total Time
2 hrs 20 mins

The recipe calls this Tomato Sauce and credits Ma LaBarber as the author. To us it's Grandma's red sauce...

If you're going to pressure can this sauce, double the recipe to make about 6 quarts.

Course: Main Course, Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 12 people
Author: WW
  • 1 ea. onion, large chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, large chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 29 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 2 29 oz. can crushed tomatoes with puree
  • 3 ea. bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • pinch pepper (large pinch)
  • 4 ea. allspice, whole
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tbsp. fennel seeds (heaping tbsp.)
  1. In large stockpot, heat olive oil over medium heat. 

  2. Add onion, garlic, and parsley, and cook until onion is transparent.

  3. Add rest of ingredients (tomato sauce through fennel seeds) and stir well to blend.

  4. Bring to low boil then reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 hours.

  5. Add water if sauce is too thick.

Recipe Notes

Optional ingredients (add with main ingredients):

  • sliced Italian sausage links or crumbled Italian sausage 
  • sliced bell peppers (red, green, yellow)
  • mushrooms
  • meatballs
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes (for a little more kick)

I make this sauce twice a year and pressure can it. No, dear husband, I do not make sauce-on-demand.



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