Our crockpot tomato sauce recipe requires no peeling, seeding, or coring and tastes better than anything you can buy at the store. Just load all the ingredients into the crockpot to cook it, then can it, and store it in the fridge or freeze it. This is a great way of putting to good use big amounts of tomatoes from your garden or to make enough homemade sauce to have all year round when tomatoes are in season and lower in price.
If it's been a rainy summer, tomatoes will yield a lot more moisture when cooking, so it might take longer for the sauce to thicken. Paste tomatoes such as Roma or San Marzano usually cook down the fastest because they have less water content, and are great for sauces as their sweet flavor pairs wonderfully with the vegetables and herbs.
- For the Sauce:
- 4 pounds tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 large onion (finely chopped)
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon basil
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- For Canning:
- 4 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
Make the Sauce
Gather the ingredients.
Place all the ingredients into the crockpot. If you don't have time to chop the tomatoes, simply remove the dark spot on top and the leaves, if any. Don't use bruised or blackened tomatoes and remove all the less-than-ideal parts.
Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. Once the tomatoes have broken down some, uncover and continue cooking for an additional 4 hours until you reach the desired consistency. Stir occasionally and scrape down the sides of the crockpot. The final cooking time will depend on how much water is in the tomatoes. Check out the cooking tip below to choose the consistency you want for your sauce.
If canning, pour your finished tomato sauce into sterilized jars, taking care not to fill past the headspace line. If freezing or storing in the fridge, place in airtight containers and label with the preparation date.
Can the Jars
Add one tablespoon of bottled lemon juice directly to each pint jar (two tablespoons to each quart). Modern tomatoes are not as acidic as they used to be, so this step is essential for safe canning, as it changes the pH level in the sauce and makes it hard for mold or harmful bacteria to grow.
Water bathe pints for 35 minutes or quarts for 40 minutes.
Remove from the water bath and let cool at room temperature.
Label your jars with the date of canning. Once you open a jar, keep in the fridge and use it within 3 days. If canned, keep in dark cool pantry for up to 6 months.
Cooking Tips and Recommendations
Here are a few tips for a great sauce, and for how to make the best out of your tomatoes:
- For the best flavor, caramelize the onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil on the stove before adding them to the crockpot.
- If your tomato plant seems to yield one tomato at a time, just freeze them until you have enough to make the sauce. They can go in the freezer whole and don't even have to be thawed before they go in the crockpot. If you're short on time, freeze your tomatoes until you have time to devote to sauce-making.
- If you have lots of tomatoes on your hands, make homemade tomato paste, tomato juice, or salsa.
Chunky or Smooth
Choose a consistency for your sauce by following these suggestions:
- For chunky tomato sauce, pick the tomato skins and cores out of the sauce as it cooks.
- For smooth tomato sauce, run the finished sauce through a food mill. If you don't have a food mill, scoop the tomato cores out and then give the sauce a quick spin in a blender or food processor.