Traditional recipes

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce

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Makes about six 1-pint jars Servings


  • 12 1/2 pounds red tomatoes, peeled, seeded, coarsely chopped (about 20 cups), divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped shallots
  • 1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed slightly
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons bottled lemon juice (preferably organic)

Recipe Preparation

  • Combine 4 cups tomatoes and next 6 ingredients in large stockpot. Stir over medium-high heat until tomatoes begin to release juice, about 5 minutes. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer until mixture is thickened, stirring frequently, about 20 minutes. Add remaining tomatoes; increase heat to high and bring to rolling boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until mixture is reduced to 11 cups, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes. Season with more salt and pepper, and with sugar to taste, if desired.

  • Pour 1 tablespoon lemon juice into each of 6 hot clean 1-pint glass canning jars. Spoon sauce into jars, leaving 1/2-inch space at top. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 35 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.

Recipe by Jill Silverman HoughReviews Section

  • 2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties in a mix of colors and shapes
  • 3 to 4 plump peeled garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 6 large basil leaves (about 3 tablespoons shredded)
  • 1/4 teaspoon peperoncino, or more or less to taste
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup or more grated Grana Padano or cubed fresh mozzarella


Recipe Summary

  • 2 1/4 pounds unrefrigerated ripe tomatoes (preferably plum)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic (from 2 garlic cloves), plus more if desired
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 pound spaghetti or spaghettini
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)

Finely chop tomatoes, basil, parsley, and garlic, and mix together with oil (or pulse ingredients, including oil, in a food processor to blend).

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook until al dente. Drain pasta, and toss it in a serving bowl with the raw sauce. Transfer to 6 shallow bowls, and drizzle with oil. Serve with cheese.

You DO NOT need to! I used my immersion blender (more on that later) to make the sauce very smooth and eliminated the need to skin the tomatoes!

Well, as always, the Instant Pot is an amazing tool and gives this sauce so much flavor!

I highly recommend using an Immersion Blender to blend the sauce and make it smooth. Alternatively, you can use a regular blender, but you need to be extremely careful when blending hot liquids.

Recipe Summary

  • 2 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • About 1 tsp. salt
  • 10 basil leaves

Core and halve tomatoes. Remove seeds (either scoop them out with a spoon or hold a half in your hand and squeeze out the seeds) and cut tomatoes into 1/2-in. dice. Set aside.

Thinly slice garlic. In a 10- to 12-in. frying pan over low heat, cook garlic in olive oil until it is soft and fragrant, about 5 minutes.

Add tomatoes and 1 tsp. salt and increase heat to medium-high. Cook until tomatoes give off their liquid and start to bubble. Reduce heat to medium-low or low, so the sauce gently simmers. Cook, uncovered and undisturbed, until oil separates from the sauce and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop basil. When sauce is done, stir in basil and add salt to taste.

Butter it up: Use unsalted butter in place of the olive oil and a chopped medium onion in place of the garlic.

Explore the herb patch: Try 1/2 to 1 tsp. minced fresh oregano, marjoram, rosemary, or thyme instead of the basil.

Add some heat: Toss in 2 or 3 dried whole arbol chiles with the garlic for a slightly spicy version. Remove chiles before serving.

Pick more produce: At the beginning of step 3, add one skinned and chopped medium eggplant and cook until soft, about 10 minutes, before adding the tomatoes.

Tips for making fresh tomato sauce.

My favorite part about this fresh tomato sauce recipe is its simplicity. The ingredients are all fresh, except for a small amount of tomato paste. There’s no blanching, peeling or grating. It’s as straightforward as chopping some fresh tomatoes and herbs, simmering and blending.

In just fifteen minutes of cooking this sauce will taste like it’s been simmering all day. A worthy note – the fresh herbs are key to the success of this recipe because they contribute major flavor. You can use this sauce in any recipe that calls for marinara sauce or tomato sauce. I use it in this stewed zucchini recipe and it would also be so delicious tossed with this almond flour pasta.

The recipe yields about four cups of sauce. Towards the end of the summer my freezer is lined with mason jars of fresh tomato sauce so I have it to enjoy all fall and winter long. This tomato sauce soothes my soul, and I hope it helps yours too. Another way I like to preserve summer tomatoes is by slow roasting them in olive oil.

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1 kg (2 1/4 lb) tomatoes, skinned, seeded and chopped
  • 150 ml (5 fl oz) red wine or vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil or 1 tsp dried basil
  • pinch of sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • To serve (optional)
  • 8–10 sprigs of fresh basil, shredded
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion and garlic, and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until softened but not browned.
  2. Add the tomatoes, wine or stock and basil. Cook over a moderate heat for 20–30 minutes or until the sauce is thick.
  3. Pure the sauce in a blender or food processor until smooth, then rub it through a fine sieve if a particularly smooth result is required.
  4. Add the sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes. Stir in salt and pepper to taste and reheat the sauce.
  5. Use the sauce as required. Or pour it over freshly cooked pasta, toss well and top with shredded basil and freshly grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.

Some more ideas

At the beginning of the tomato season, you can boost the flavour of the sauce by adding 1 tbsp tomato pure or sun-dried tomato paste. * Use 2 cans chopped tomatoes, about 400 g each, with the juice, instead of fresh tomatoes.

Homemade Tomato Sauce

You should know that I’m not your typical “grow all the things and put them up for winter” gal.

I’m a huge advocate of cooking from scratch. I’m also super practical. I have no problem buying canned tomatoes in the winter, or a low-sugar jelly from the store when we’ve emptied the last of my own no-cook strawberry freezer jam.

For me to intentionally take the time to make homemade tomato sauce – from fresh tomatoes – is a huge deal.

Why I make Fresh Tomato Sauce

  • It’s SO easy. Really truly. It takes time, but zero kitchen skill is required.
  • It’s WAY better than anything store-bought. I’m not exaggerating here. Just wait and see!
  • You can 100% control the ingredients. Apart from the tomatoes, this recipe has only three veggies and zero sweeteners.
  • A basic tomato sauce can become virtually anything later. It can be tomato basil soup or pizza sauce or even spaghetti sauce.
  • It’s hands-off. Get the sauce going – on the stove or in a slow cooker – and set the kitchen timer and get busy doing something else!
  • This recipe makes a lot! I use 10 pounds of tomatoes, but the recipe can be easily halved if you prefer.
  • No need to peel the tomatoes! One less step makes this SUPER easy!

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes

With just a few basic ingredients you can create an amazing and delicious spaghetti sauce:

  1. Olive oil. Just enough olive oil to caramelize the onions.
  2. Onion. Though any onion will do, I used sweet yellow onion.
  3. Garlic. Because I want this to be a BASIC tomato sauce that can become other things later, I went easy on the garlic in this recipe. You can always add more garlic later if you want to.
  4. Tomatoes. We’re using FRESH tomatoes (a lot of them). So clear out the garden, hit up your farmers market, or watch for those sales!
  5. Salt & Pepper. The usual suspects.
  6. Dried Basil. Since basil is naturally sweet, it complements the tomatoes well.
  7. Carrots are optional, but they’re naturally sweet and go well with tomatoes.
  8. Bell Peppers are also optional, but they balance out all the flavors. Plus it’s an easy way to sneak in more veggies!

How to Make Homemade Pasta Sauce

This recipe is so easy, I can explain it in 5 simple steps.

  1. Caramelize the onions in a really big pot (bigger than you think you need).
  2. Add everything else and gently squish about half of the tomatoes.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  4. Puree the tomatoes using an immersion blender (this is the one I have) and if it seems watery, simmer a little bit longer until it’s the thickness you prefer.
  5. Season with basil, salt, and pepper!

Can you make crockpot spaghetti sauce?

Absolutely! I tested this in my slow cooker and it works just the same.

You’ll skip the first step of caramelizing the onions and simply dump everything in the pot. Simply crack the lid and cook it over low for 4-6 hours, or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Follow steps 4 and 5 above and that’s it!

How long will homemade tomato sauce last in the fridge?

Homemade pasta sauce lasts 5-7 days in the fridge.

Can homemade tomato sauce be frozen?

Yes! I recommend freezing in one quart freezer-safe bags. Since most jars of spaghetti sauce are 28-32 ounces, one bag is about the same.

How to can homemade tomato sauce

Tomatoes can be canned using the water bath method. You can follow the tutorial that I used for making canned diced tomatoes or for canning applesauce.

Other Favorite Recipes for Fresh Tomatoes

At one point, my garden was producing 10 pounds of tomatoes every two days. That’s a lot of tomatoes and can make a lot of fresh tomato pasta sauce!

If you don’t want to make sauce, here are some other recipe you can use your tomatoes in:

Ingredients Used In This Sauce

As for this Easy Fresh Tomato Sauce, it is so ridiculously simple to make that will definitely be your go-to tomato sauce. It’s very basic, with no spices or flavorings, so you can dress it any way you like. And also it is made using just 3 ingredients. Olive oil, onion, and tomatoes.

When using very few ingredients though, go for top-notch quality. For example use a quality extra virgin olive oil, like this one. It adds that Mediterranean flavor to dishes like this (don’t forget to enjoy it in luscious Greek salad as well) plus it helps to give a slight glazy-thickness to a sauce.

As for onions, I prefer red onions because they have a softer texture than white onions, therefore caramelize better. Which gives 50% of the flavor in this sauce and I will explain it in a bit.

And as for the tomatoes, you guessed it, they should be juicy, they should be ripe and ideally deep red in color to make the best fresh tomato sauce ever!

Tips for Canning Tomato Sauce

Follow a Safe Canning Recipe: If you are canning tomato sauce, is important to use recipes that are formulated and tested for safe home canning. When I make tomato sauce for canning, I follow the tomato sauce recipe in the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving for “Seasoned Tomato Sauce.” This is the closest to the homemade tomato sauce I grew up with.

The only differences between the recipe below and the Ball Seasoned Tomato Sauce is this recipe is cut in half. The ratio of ingredients is the same. I just find working with 22.5 pounds of tomatoes is much easier to manage since I only have two large pots to cook down the sauce.

I also reduce the sauce by slow cooking it over low heat for a longer period to preserve flavor rather than cooling over medium-high heat as indicated in the Ball recipe. Sometimes this takes all day, but the flavor is worth the effort.

Prevent Botulinum: When canning tomatoes, an acid must be added to your jars before filling to prevent the growth of C. Botulinum bacteria, which causes botulism. I’ve used bottled lemon juice in the past, but now find it easier to use Citric acid. Citric acid also doesn’t change the flavor like lemon juice can.

Select meaty, plum type tomatoes for a thick and flavorful sauce. My favorites are Amish Paste, Juliet, Roma, and San Marzano. Paste tomatoes are meaty with thick walls and have very little water content. You can still use other types of tomatoes, but it will take longer for the extra water to cook out.

Initially cooking your tomatoes with the skins and seeds aids in extracting the natural pectin that will help thicken the sauce. After the tomatoes have softened, I run them though a through a food strainer or food mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. Then return the pots to the stove, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer on low heat until the sauce is reduced by half.

The way I do the initial cooking depends on the temperature. If it is hot outside, I fill my largest pots with sliced tomatoes and cook them on the stovetop until they soften and reduce their juices. If the weather is cooler, I turn on my oven I fill my roasting pans with sliced tomatoes and roast them in the 325°F/ 177°C oven for about an hour or until they are soft. Roasting helps to reduce the extra moisture and adds a lovely, deep tomato flavor to the finished sauce.

Prepare your tomatoes by washing in plain water. Cut them in half or quarters and add to your sauce pots.

Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, then add to the saucepans.

Remove skins and seeds. As the tomatoes simmer, they will release their juices. After the tomatoes and the vegetables are soft, turn off the heat and allow the sauce to cool. Run the cooled tomato sauce through a food strainer or food mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. Return the sauce to the stove, add the remaining ingredients, and simmer until the sauce is thickened.

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