Puttanesca Sauce


The origins of puttanesca sauce are disputed, but food historians agree it was created in Naples in the mid-20th century. The classic combination of anchovies, olives, garlic, chile flakes, tomatoes, and capers gives this sauce a robust flavor. It comes together quickly and can be cooked in the time it takes to boil water and cook the pasta.

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
3 cups (enough for 1 pound of pasta)


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled

  • 6 anchovy fillets

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 (35-ounce) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes with their juices, crushed with your hands

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 2 basil sprigs

  • 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives

  • 1 tablespoons capers, drained

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic, anchovies, and crushed red pepper and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.

  2. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the canned tomatoes with their juices.

  3. Stir in the sugar, basil, olives, and capers. Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.

  4. Simmer the sauce over low heat, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and is reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic.

    Puttanesca Sauce
    Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Make Ahead

The sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.

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