Classic Tomato Sauce for Pasta

Pasta and tomato sauce

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  • 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
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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 that bottle of sauce.

There are as many recipes for tomato sauce as there are cooks who make it. This is the one I use quite often, though you should feel free to vary the theme. It’s got a lot of flavor, so you can cut back on the amount of garlic and herbs if you are looking for a lighter sauce to use as a backdrop in a recipe, rather than a full-bodied sauce to star in your pasta dish. 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 frozen or refrigerated, like Mama Mancini's, which can be found in the refrigerated section of your supermarket, and come in multiple varieties including some crowd-pleasing cheese-stuffed versions.


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

Steps to Make It

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes.

  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, and red pepper flakes, if using. Add salt and pepper and bring sauce to a simmer.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce thickens slightly—about 20 minutes.