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How to make 'The Godfather' Sunday sauce recipe

Discover the secrets behind Clemenza's legendary spaghetti sauce from the iconic movie, "The Godfather." Unravel the ingredients and cooking techniques behind this cherished recipe.

Few films have made as lasting an impact in popular culture as "The Godfather." 

And beyond the silver screen, its influence extends from the couch to the kitchen. 

One of the most iconic culinary elements in the movie is the tomato sauce recipe, a closely guarded secret in the Corleone family. 


Here's a deep dive into the mystique of "The Godfather" tomato sauce — and how to recreate this legendary concoction.

While Clemenza never actually offers the exact measurements in his Sunday sauce, the ingredients and measurements can be interpreted by tuning into the film.

Before Clemenza coaches Michael through his recipe, he is seen in the film adding one 28-ounce can of tomato sauce and one 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes to a pot.

Then, he says to the Corleone son, "You see, you start out with a little bit of oil. Then you fry some garlic. Then you throw in some tomatoes, tomato paste, you fry it; ya make sure it doesn’t stick. You get it to a boil; you shove in all your sausage and your meatballs; heh…? And a little bit o’ wine. An’ a little bit o’ sugar, and that’s my trick."

Based on this and the beloved scene from the film, here are the ingredients best recommended for recreating Clemenza's gravy recipe for 20 guys.

In a large pot, heat a pan over low to medium heat. Once hot, add minced garlic. 

Fry the garlic until golden brown, but be sure to avoid burning. 


Garlic will fry in around 30 seconds, so pay attention to the color of the onion.

Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste to the pot. Stir to combine with the garlic and oil and also, as Clemenza says, to avoid sticking to the pot. 

Bring the sauce to a boil and add whole or cut Italian sausage and the already cooked homemade meatballs.

Add a splash of red wine, preferably dry wine like a Cabernet or Pinot Noir. Finish off the sauce with ¼ cup of sugar and stir.

In terms of time to cook, ideally, Sunday sauce takes several hours to cook – and up to eight hours total. In the film, Clemenza throws everything together and serves the meal pretty quickly. However, you may want to cook the sauce for a few hours before adding the cooked meat. Adding the meat too soon may overcook it and dry it out.

In "The Godfather," the Corleone family's tomato sauce is more than just a culinary creation; it's a symbol of tradition, family and the preservation of heritage. 

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