bucatini with homemade tomato butter anchovy sauce
bucatini with homemade tomato butter anchovy sauce

Bucatini with Butter Anchovy Tomato Sauce

Here's a super simple, super flavorful homemade pasta sauce that can be prepared all year using pantry staples: canned whole, peeled roma tomatoes, anchovies, and your favorite pasta noodles. It's a classic combination, and it couldn't be more delicious!
Work in this order for a 30-minute meal: sauce, boil water, pasta, serve.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes
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Recipe Rundown

If you have a glut of ripe tomatoes, it’s worth the effort to make my roasted Roma tomato sauce. For the rest of the year, this simpler tomato sauce recipe, featuring canned, peeled tomatoes, is every bit as flavorful and impressive thanks to:

  • butter
  • anchovies
  • plenty of garlic
  • and a time-saving method: simmering in the Dutch oven, as opposed to oven-roasting, which melds everything together into one lush, rustic sauce in just 30-minutes
bucatini with butter roma tomato sauce in bowl

I find most jarred pasta sauce to be overly sweet. Not so with this. It’s tangy with true tomato flavor–a winning combination. This is a great all-purpose red sauce that I’ve paired with Bucatini though I’ve also tried it with thick spaghetti noodles.

And I haven’t yet tried this, but I’d love to work in a white beer with some clams and serve with a side of crostini. Any votes?

And how about those anchovies?

Years ago, when I was working in a restaurant kitchen, I realized something about the way chefs sub anchovies for salt. Because, those little fish are little umami bombs that, when worked into a dish in the beginning, yield powerful results. Nothing fishy. Think more savory goodness.

Honestly, anchovy-haters will love this sauce. And anchovy fans? You’ll want to work in a couple extra fillets.

As always, I hope you find this super simple pasta as satisfying and worthy of your dinner table as I.

PS: Another favorite Dutch oven sauce: Dutch Oven Meatballs.

PPS: Another favorite pesto sauce that can be made with walnuts or pumpkin seeds: Pumpkin Seed Pesto

Ingredient FAQs

Can I leave out the anchovy fillets?

While this sauce would still be amazing without them, I recommend trying it at least once.

Where can I find anchovy fillets?

You can find anchovy fillets packed in oil in a tin can in the grocery store next to the canned tomatoes or order the jarred kind online because they have an incredibly long shelf life and can be used for many months stored in the refrigerator.

Where can I find Bucatini?

It’s sold next to the spaghetti but is becoming harder to find. You can substitute any toothsome pasta noodle, such as penne.

Here’s the play by play: Gather your ingredients:

Bucatini noodles, San Marzano tomatoes, anchovies, butter, red pepper flakes, parmesan, garlic

Decide if you want a rustic, chunky sauce or a smooth sauce. For the former, mince the garlic cloves (you won’t be blending). For the latter, smash the cloves or mince (you’ll be using an immersion blender).

minced garlic

Grab an enameled Dutch oven and set the heat to medium. Add the entire can of tomatoes, the red pepper flakes, butter (salted or unsalted are fine), and at least 2 anchovy fillets.

canned roma tomatoes, anchovy fillets, butter, garlic, and red pepper flakes in Dutch oven

Bring to a simmer, adjusting the heat to prevent sputtering. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil for the pasta.

Bucatini in boiling water

When the water comes to a full boil, add a pinch of salt and the Bucatini (hollow spaghetti-like noodle) and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente.

Simmering tomato sauce

Use a wood spoon to crush all of the tomatoes. This will be easy to do after about 20 minutes of cooking.

crushing tomatoes with wood spoon

Continue cooking until you reach a thick consistency. Taste your sauce and adjust for salt, sweetness, fat, or heat using the red pepper flakes, black pepper, butter, or sugar to your liking.

Thickened tomato sauce

Serve as-is or blend until smooth using an immersion blender.

Blended smooth tomato sauce in dutch oven

To test your noodles, break them open and look inside. If chalky, continue cooking.

Bucatini noodle inside

Strain the bucatini (no need to rinse the pasta).

Bucatini noodles strained in collander

Fold the noodles into the sauce and serve directly out of the Dutch oven.

Bucatini served in Dutch oven with tomato sauce and pamesan

Top with shaved parmesan. Crack more pepper over each dish, if you wish.

Bucatini pasta in bowl with tomato sauce and parmesan
Bucatini with butter tomato sauce

Bucatini with Garlic Anchovy Tomato Sauce

Here's a super simple, super flavorful homemade pasta sauce that can be prepared all year using pantry staples: canned whole, peeled roma tomatoes, anchovies, and your favorite pasta noodles. It's a classic combination, and it couldn't be more delicious!
Work in this order for a 30-minute meal: sauce, boil water, pasta, serve.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: pasta, tomato sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 429kcal
Author: Chef Sara Furcini


  • ¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled Roma tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 2 fillets anchovies packed in oil
  • 8 garlic cloves minced (about 8 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 12 ounces Bucatini or spaghetti noodles
  • Parmesan cheese for serving


  • Make the sauce. In a medium Dutch oven, combine the butter, canned tomatoes (juice included), anchovy fillets, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a low simmer (lid off) and stir occasionally, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent sputtering. Simmer until you can easily crush each tomato with a wooden spoon and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes.
  • Cook the noodles. While the sauce simmers, bring a large pot of water to boil. Add a large pinch of salt and add the Bucatini. Cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Strain.
  • Taste and serve. Taste the sauce and balance the acidity, if desired, with butter or sugar. For a rustic presentation, simply fold the noodles into the chunky sauce or use an immersion blender first. Serve with freshly grated parmesan and cracked black pepper.


Make Ahead: You can make and store the sauce inside the Dutch oven in the refrigerator with the lid on up to 3 days in advance. Be sure to avoid un-enameled cast iron with this acidic recipe.
Garlic: If using an immersion blender, feel free to crush the garlic instead of mincing. The results will be the same.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit’s Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce.


Serving: 1bowl | Calories: 429kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 32mg | Sodium: 112mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 393IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1mg

Photography Credit: Megan Johnson

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