Slow Cooker Puttanesca Sauce


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This Crock Pot Puttanesca Sauce is sure to hit your taste buds perfectly, thanks to the combination of tomatoes, olives, anchovies, and capers. Not to mention, it’s made in your slow cooker for a pasta sauce that pairs perfectly with spaghetti or your favorite pasta.

This puttanesca sauce recipe isn’t the only fantastic pasta; I recommend that you try my Vegetarian Slow Cooker Spaghetti Sauce is another great hit!

Puttanesca sauced being ladled over spaghetti noodles.
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What is Puttanesca Sauce?

A sauce deriving from the beautiful area of Southern Italy, it is known for lots of capers, garlic, and anchovies. There are several variations of spaghetti alla puttanesca – some without anchovies – but always with lots of garlic, olives, capers, and spaghetti cooked al dente.

Now that this pasta dish has made it to the U.S., you’ll find it with anchovies, kalamata olives, onion, and other pantry staples.

Recipe Ingredients

Ingredients for puttanesca sauce on a table.
  • Tomatoes: This pasta puttanesca features a can of whole tomatoes and canned tomato sauce. Using canned tomatoes makes this recipe much easier to make. You can go with the store brand or use canned San Marzano Tomatoes.
  • Capers: Gives the flavors of tangy lemon meshed with the brininess of olives.
  • Kalamata Olives: Used in most Greek dishes, these olives provide a rich, smoky, and fruity flavor all in one. Or you can use pitted black olives if your family prefers.
  • Anchovies: Salt-cured and canned in oil, the fishy taste of anchovies is perfectly balanced with the other ingredients in this pasta dish. Use three chopped anchovy fillets or anchovy paste.
  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is a must-have in homemade pasta sauces, especially when you want to weld together flavors featured in this special sauce. Use what you have on hand; regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil will work fine.
  • Seasonings: Salt and freshly ground pepper, crushed red pepper flakes, lemon zest, garlic, and onion help season this sauce to perfection.
  • Herbs: Chopped parsley, basil leaves, and oregano add the perfect balance of herbal flavors.

Step-by-Step Directions

Overhead shot of puttanesca sauce in the crockpot.

Step One – Add the canned tomatoes to the crockpot and crush them into pieces (using a potato masher or your clean hands).

Step Two – Add the remaining ingredients (except the fresh herbs and lemon zest).

Step Three – Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours and stir at least once halfway through cooking.

Step Four – When cooking time is complete, stir in the fresh parsley, fresh basil, fresh oregano, and lemon zest. Season to taste. Serve immediately and enjoy! Cook your pasta to al dente and serve with the amazing sauce.

2 images of cooked puttanesca sauce.

How to serve pasta puttanesca sauce

  • Serve with spaghetti or your favorite pasta.
  • Garnish with more fresh parsley or basil. Provide these on the dinner table for individual use.
  • Add some variation by cooking mussels with this sauce and serving a nice helping over pasta.
  • As for side dishes, you can’t go wrong with a nice Caesar salad. Don’t forget the garlic bread!
plate of spaghetti with puttanesca sauce on top.

Recipe FAQs and Variations

How do I store the leftover spaghetti puttanesca sauce?

Any leftover puttanesca sauce can be stored in an airtight container and kept in the fridge for up to 4 days. It also freezes well. Make sure to store it in a freezer-safe container. It will keep for up to 3 months.

Can I skip the anchovies?

Even if you’re not a fan of anchovies, I recommend trying the recipe with them at least once. You really can’t necessarily taste them, and they only provide a hint of umami flavor. If you absolutely must skip them, adjust seasonings by adding a bit more kosher salt. Some people use canned tuna instead of anchovies.

Can I use black olives?

Although in the olive family, black olives taste significantly different than the kalamata olives; however, if that’s all you have on hand, you can use them. They are less bitter and taste more “floral.”

Can I add cooked pasta to the crock pot?

Cook pasta according to the package directions, and you most certainly can add it to the finished sauce. Do not add uncooked noodles to the sauce.

Can I cook this recipe on the stovetop?

Yes, you’ll need to use a large saucepan and cook the sauce on no higher than medium low heat to keep it from burning or sticking.

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Overhead shot of puttanesca sauce in the crockpot.

Slow Cooker Puttanesca Sauce

5 from 3 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 6 hours
Total Time: 6 hours 15 minutes
Servings: 6
A homemade puttanesca sauce with tomatoes, anchovies, olives, capers and more! A unique sauce to try for pasta night.


  • 28 oz. whole peeled tomatoes, canned
  • 15 oz tomato sauce, canned
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 cup Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise
  • 3 Tbsp. capers
  • 3 anchovies, chopped or 2-3 tsp anchovy paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • ½ tsp. crushed red pepper
  • ¼ Cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 3 tsp fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 lemon, (you'll need just the zest)

Serving ideas

  • cooked spaghetti
  • parmesan cheese


  • Add the canned whole tomatoes to the slow cooker. Using a potato masher, crush them into pieces; you'll want to leave some nice chunks of tomato. If you don't have a potato masher you can break the tomatoes apart with clean hands.
  • Add everything else BUT the fresh herbs and lemon zest.
  • Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 6 hours, stir at least once halfway through cooking.
  • When done, stir in the fresh parsley, fresh basil, fresh oregano, and lemon zest. Season to taste.
  • Serve immediately with spaghetti or your favorite pasta, garnish with more fresh parsley or basil. Enjoy!

Sarah’s Notes

  • If the sauce is too thick, add in hot pasta water ¼ cup at a time until at desired consistency.
  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
  • Reheat on the stovetop or the microwave.
  • Black olives or green olives can be used as a substitute for the kalamata olives, or try mixing all three into your sauce.
  • The anchovies can be left out if desired. Or tuna can be used.
  • Nutritional values are just for the sauce.


Calories: 174kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 13g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 1mg | Sodium: 1381mg | Potassium: 558mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 685IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 95mg | Iron: 3mg

Nutrition info is auto-generated. This information is an estimate; if you are on a special diet, please use your own calculations.

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Recipe Rating


  1. Christa Cantwell says:

    5 stars
    My son had made this for us when we came to dinner.
    It was fabulous. I got the recipe and have made this for our friends, which are Italian. They even agreed that this recipe was as good as hers. Love this recipe will make it a lot.

  2. Tania says:

    5 stars
    By accident I put twice the amount of chopped anchovies, but it still tasted great! It cooked while I was studying so that’s a plus 😉 Thanks for the recipe.

    1. Sarah Olson says:

      Good to know about the anchovies. Glad you enjoyed it.