Classic Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Tomato sauce recipe

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

  • Total: 30 mins
  • Prep: 5 mins
  • Cook: 25 mins
  • Yield: about 7 cups (14 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
54 Calories
3g Fat
6g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: about 7 cups (14 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 54
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 3g 4%
Saturated Fat 0g 2%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 91mg 4%
Total Carbohydrate 6g 2%
Dietary Fiber 2g 6%
Protein 1g
Calcium 19mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Making your own pasta sauce is so easy. Once you try it, you’ll wonder why you felt so dependent on jarred pasta sauces.

There are as many recipes for tomato sauce as there are cooks who make it, and customizing this sauce to your tastes is a snap. This recipe makes a stunning, full-bodied sauce to star in your pasta dish, but if you are looking for a lighter sauce to use as a backdrop in another recipe, you can cut back on the amount of garlic and herbs. The tomato paste thickens up the sauce and adds some richness, but you can leave it out if you prefer a thinner sauce.

You can add some meatballs to the dish if you want a more robust meal. If you don't have time to make them yourself, you can buy them frozen or refrigerated. They also come in multiple varieties.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans crushed tomatoes (in purée)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Optional: 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (kosher or coarse)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for tomato sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes.

    Heat oil
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  3. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and, if using, red pepper flakes. Add salt and pepper and bring sauce to a simmer.

    Add tomatoes and tomato paste
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until sauce thickens slightly—about 20 minutes.

    Reduce heat to medium low
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga
  5. Enjoy!

    Pasta and tomato sauce
    The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Recipe Variations

  • For a lighter sauce to use as a backdrop in another recipe, cut back on the amount of garlic and herbs. 
  • For a thinner sauce, leave out the tomato paste.