Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

Fresh Tomato Pasta Sauce

The Spruce / Julia Estrada

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 90 mins
Total: 110 mins
Servings: 10 servings
Yield: 5 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
63 Calories
2g Fat
12g Carbs
2g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 10
Amount per serving
Calories 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 2g 2%
Saturated Fat 0g 1%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 150mg 7%
Total Carbohydrate 12g 4%
Dietary Fiber 3g 9%
Total Sugars 7g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 18mg 88%
Calcium 29mg 2%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 537mg 11%
*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.)

When you have an abundance of ripe, juicy tomatoes, making big batches of tomato sauce is a great way of using those sweet and delicious summer tomatoes. Our recipe for a simple and fresh tomato sauce is made with basic ingredients. With aromatics, tomatoes, herbs, and just a dash of sugar to counterbalance the acidity that exudes from cooking tomatoes, our sauce highlights the fruit and makes for a delicious sauce. By making tomato sauce at home, you are saving money but also keeping at bay unwanted ingredients like additives or antibiotics that store-bought sauces might include to extend the shelf life. Here you can control what goes in the sauce and adjust it to your taste—a little bit of chile flakes, more garlic, or perhaps different herbs.

Tomato sauce is a versatile ingredient to have at hand. Although most commonly used on pasta and ravioli, or to make lasagna, tomato sauce can be used as the base for cooking meatballs and goulash. Use it on top of chicken or veal for a Parmesan, or serve it as a side sauce to baked potatoes or roasted vegetables. The possibilities are endless, and a tasty tomato sauce can be your kitchen ally.

For our recipe, the tomatoes need to be peeled before being chopped. The finished sauce has a few tomato chunks, but if you prefer a smoother sauce, you can either begin with finely chopped tomatoes or, when done cooking, carefully puree the sauce in a blender or food processor or with the help of an immersion blender.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 3/4 cup onion, coarsely chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced

  • 4 cups tomatoes, about 5 to 6 peeled and quartered tomatoes

  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato paste

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • 1 medium bay leaf

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Fresh tomato pasta sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  2. In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes until tender.

    Chopped onion cooking in oil in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  3. Lower the heat to medium, add the garlic and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn't brown.

    Onions and garlic cooking in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  4. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, salt, sugar, and bay leaf, stir well, and bring to a simmer.

    Pasta sauce ingredients in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  5. Lower the heat to low and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. To avoid splatters, place the lid slightly askew.

    Tomato sauce cooking in a pot with lid slightly askew

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  6. Discard the bay leaf and use it right away, or chill at room temperature and place in the refrigerator. Use it within three to four days.

    Fresh tomato pasta sauce in a pan

    The Spruce / Julia Estrada

  7. Enjoy.

Can I Freeze Tomato Sauce?

Freezing fresh tomato sauce is a great way of having pasta sauce handy at any time. To freeze:

  • Bring the sauce to room temperature after it's done cooking and place it in resealable bags.
  • Freeze horizontally for 2 to 3 hours.
  • Once the liquid has solidified, place it vertically in your freezer to save space.

The sauce can be slowly heated up in a pot from frozen, or simply placed in the microwave, covered, for 2 to 4 minutes depending on the potency of your appliance. Tomato sauce is best when consumed within three months of freezing.

How to Peel Tomatoes

Removing the peel from tomatoes makes for a smoother sauce. To easily peel tomatoes:

  • Bring a pot of water to a rapid boil.
  • Prepare a bowl with cold water and plenty of ice—you'll place the blanched tomatoes here.
  • Thoroughly wash your tomatoes.
  • Remove the core from the top of the tomatoes and cut a shallow "X" at the bottom of each tomato with a very sharp knife.
  • Carefully blanch the tomatoes for 20 to 30 seconds in the boiling water and immediately remove and place in the prepared ice bath.
  • Once all of the tomatoes are cool enough to handle, transfer to a cutting board.
  • Peel away the skins using either your fingers or a paring knife.

Alternatively, add a generous drizzle of olive oil to halved tomatoes and roast them at 400 F for 35 to 40 minutes. The skins will come off very easily, and roasting will impart an earthy flavor into your sauce.