Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce -An authentic Italian pasta sauce recipe made totally from scratch! This tomato sauce is so easy and is done with just a few simple steps. All you need are some fresh or canned tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil.
This is that one recipe that you need in your back pocket! A great sauce is sometimes all you need in life! Vegan, dairy-free, sugar-free. A really simple recipe to use for meal prep! Make a batch on Sunday and use it during the week.
As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases. Since I’m super passionate about high quality Italian tomatoes, I was asked to collaborate with the Greatest Tomatoes From Europe and I Love San Marzano DOP campaigns. As always, all opinions are my own.
You can check my Baked Penne with Tomatoes and Eggplant to see another recipe made with San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP
This tomato sauce recipe is versatile and can be used on pasta, pizza, and so many other ways. A delicious weeknight sauce that works with all types of pasta. This quick and simple sauce can be used in so many recipes that require a homemade sauce.
You may use basic ingredients you probably have on hand to easily prepare our family's beloved homemade spaghetti sauce! You won't be reaching for that store-bought pasta sauce after trying this one!
You'll want to make a double or triple batch of this recipe. With its perfectly thick texture and zesty taste, it will quickly become a mealtime favorite.
This quick vegetarian pasta sauce may be made ahead and frozen for later use!
It happens to be another one of those recipes that is not even a recipe. I don't follow a written recipe. I just put it together like my mom taught me how to.
Why this is a favorite quick tomato sauce
- A simple tomato sauce may be made quickly and simply in the comfort of your own home with only a little simmering.
- This versatile sauce can be used in a variety of ways.
- This sauce can be frozen and may be doubled or tripled for a larger batch.
Ingredients and Variations
- A whole can of tomatoes, some garlic, fresh basil leaves, and some seasonings make this sauce aromatic and delectable!
- If you don't have any canned whole tomatoes in your pantry, it's fine! Use a can of diced or crushed tomatoes instead. The sauce texture may turn out slightly different.
- Change up the basil by using other fresh or dried herbs. You could use fresh rosemary, thyme, a bay leaf, or even ground oregano (I have the best ground oregano from Calabria...you can't beat the flavor!).
What ingredients are in a simple Italian sauce? (full recipe below)
This authentic Italian sauce for pasta comes together with ingredients you most likely have on hand. Here is all you need to get it started:
- Extra virgin olive oil- I can't emphasize enough that this sauce comes together with just a handful of ingredients. The better the quality olive oil, the better your sauce will taste.
- Garlic- Garlic or onion can be used. I happen to grind up fresh garlic and store it in oil in my refrigerator. Use 2-4 cloves (depends on how much you enjoy garlic).
- Onions- If you only have onion on hand, use 1 diced medium onion (yellow, sweet, or red is fine).
- Canned Tomatoes- Use whole Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP. The most incredible flavor and is truly the best quality canned tomatoes.
- Salt- I like to use sea salt. Use the amount you like for your taste.
- Seasoning- I kept this simple, but if you like spice, add some heat with crushed red pepper flakes.
- Fresh herbs- When it's summer, my garden is packed with fresh basil. If you can find fresh basil, the flavor is best! Add 1/4-1/2 cup torn leaves packed. Add more or less to your taste. If you have Italian parsley on hand, add some of that as well.
Here is helpful information on how to find the real San Marzano canned tomatoes
If you are interested in a high quality canned tomato, you must buy the Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino DOP. They are the only authentic San Marzano tomatoes. The name is long, but that's because it is a serious tomato. Seriously delicious!
Since Italians are very passionate about using the best ingredients, these tomatoes are given two seals of approval. And with the double seal, you're guaranteed the highest quality tomatoes.
When you’re buying San Marzano, look for the cans to also say “pomodori pelati”, which means “Italian peeled tomatoes”.
What San Marzano brands should I buy?
- Mutti (I really love their purée in glass jars)
- La Doria
- La Valle
How to make a quick tomato sauce?
Here is what you need to do (full recipe below).
Heat the oil on medium heat in a large skillet (or sauce pan). When the oil shimmering, add in the garlic and let it get fragrant (it turns brown quickly, so shouldn't take more than 1-2 minutes).
Add in the tomatoes and the juices. Break it up with a wooden spoon and stir.
Mash the tomatoes with your hands or a potato masher and add to the skillet along with the juices and add the basil.
Simmer everything together for 20 minutes on medium heat. Blend to desired consistency.
Should I use fresh or canned tomatoes to make sauce?
In the summer, fresh tomatoes are delicious in this sauce. One of the first recipes I shared here was spaghetti al pomodoro e basilico (spaghetti made with a fresh tomato sauce).
However, when you can only get grocery store tomatoes that might be flavorless, canned tomatoes are a superior option for homemade tomato sauce. Note that if you use fresh tomatoes, the simmering time may be longer.
Which canned tomatoes should I buy?
I typically buy San Marzano DOP. It's important that you read your canned tomato label. If you can hunt down Pomodori San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese-Nocerino, DOP, from the region of Campania. They are authentic and the BEST. They have less seeds and also, are naturally sweet. You could look for tomatoes in a can, jar or even a carton.
If you buy the best quality tomatoes, without any strange things added into it, you won't need to add any sugar to these tomatoes.
Is there a difference between Italian tomato sauce and marinara sauce?
Simply put, an Italian tomato sauce is the homemade version anyone puts together quickly (at home or in a restaurant). Explaining marinara gets more confusing. Because what marinara is in the US is not the marinara you'll find in Italy.
In the United States, marinara refers to a meatless or vegetarian sauce. But in Italy, it is a seafood sauce. Adding to the confusion, a marinara pizza is made without fish. It's simply a pizza with tomato sauce, garlic, oil and oregano.
How long does homemade tomato sauce keep?
Once the sauce has cooled down, refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week. You could store in a glass (which is best) or a plastic container (or even a large zipped lock freezer type bag.
Is this sauce gluten-free?
Yes, this tomato sauce is totally gluten-free and you can make it with your favorite gluten-free pasta.
How to Freeze Italian Tomato Sauce
It's really easy to freeze this sauce. Allow the sauce to come to room temperature. Then put it in an airtight container (or a large zipped lock freezer bag) to chill in the refrigerator.
Once it has chilled, store it in the freezer. Then simply label and transfer it to the freezer for later use. It will keep fine in the freezer for up to 2 months (I guarantee you'll use it up before then!).
Some other pasta recipes to enjoy:
- Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce
- Pasta with Ricotta and Peas
- Pasta e Ceci-Italian Chickpea Soup
- Eggplant Timbale-Timballo di Melanzane
One last thing…I promise!
Just a quick request: if you enjoyed this easy homemade tomato sauce as much as we did, would you kindly leave me a 5-star rating and a short (or long!)comment–the ratings are what helps get my recipes and hard work discovered, so I can keep leaving you more delish recipes!
Did you make this? Please RATE THE RECIPE below:)
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Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 can 28 ounces whole peeled San Marzano DOC tomatoes
- 1-2 teaspoon sea salt
- Italian parsley chopped (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
- To Serve:
- ¾ lb to 1 lb of cooked pasta of your choice I used penne
- Heat oil: In a large saute' pan or medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high until it's shimmering.
- Add some garlic: Add garlic and cook until fragrant (no more than a minute, or it will brown).
- Tomatoes: Add in the tomatoes and the juice(I break up the tomatoes with my hands, removing the hard end before adding to the sauce).
- Bring to a boil: Bring the sauce to a boil and use a wooden spoon to stir, breaking up the tomatoes while they’re cooking.
- Lower heat: Once the sauce comes to a boil for a few minutes, lower heat to a simmer.
- Season sauce: Season with the salt, and let the sauce cook and thicken.
- Check the consistency of sauce: If it’s getting too thick, add a little bit of water (start with a ¼ cup).
- Add fresh basil: Finally, stir in the fresh basil and stir to combine (and parsley, if you’re using).
- Simmer sauce: Let sauce simmer for 20 minutes total. Check the salt and add more if needed. Add hot pepper flakes, if you like it spicy.
- To serve: Cook the pasta to the directions on the box and strain it just before al dente, reserving some of the pasta cooking water.
- If the sauce seems too thick, add some of the pasta water.
- Add cooked pasta to sauce: Add the pasta to the sauce and turn heat back up to medium-medium-high. Let it cook together for a minute with the sauce to combine.
- Serve the pasta: Add in some more chopped fresh basil for serving. Plate up the pasta and ENJOY!
Please keep in mind that the nutritional information presented below is an approximation and may vary depending on the exact ingredients used.
Thick or thin sauce: If you like the sauce thick, leave it chunky. Once it has cooked, you could make it totally smooth and blend it with an emulsifier or in a blender (just be careful if blending it while hot to let the steam come out by leaving lid open a little. I use a towel to protect from hot splatters). Herbs + Spice: Fresh basil is amazing in the sauce. Italian parsley is also really nice. If you have fresh thyme on hand, use it! Use whatever herbs you enjoy, but fresh basil is really all you need. Like it hot? Add some hot pepper flakes! Storage: Once sauce has cooled down, stir it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. You could make the sauce ahead of time and enjoy during the week.
Freezer Instructions: Double or triple the recipe. This sauce freezes nicely. Let it cool completely, then transfer to airtight freezer safe container (or a large zipped lock freezer bag). Don’t forget to date the bag (or container)and store for up to 6 weeks (could do fine even up to 2 months). When ready to enjoy, thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat in pan when ready to enjoy.