Homemade Tomato Sauce

Homemade Tomato Sauce

The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 3 hrs 25 mins
Total: 3 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 6 servings
Yield: 1 quart
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
171 Calories
10g Fat
20g Carbs
4g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 6
Amount per serving
Calories 171
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 10g 13%
Saturated Fat 1g 7%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 217mg 9%
Total Carbohydrate 20g 7%
Dietary Fiber 6g 21%
Total Sugars 13g
Protein 4g
Vitamin C 63mg 316%
Calcium 57mg 4%
Iron 1mg 8%
Potassium 1115mg 24%
*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.)

Having good-quality tomato sauce at hand is a great way to top off a home-cooked dinner. Many pasta dishes, casseroles, and other recipes require tomato sauce or fresh tomatoes. Using homemade tomato sauce for such dishes reduces the prep and cooking time without sacrificing the flavor. Whether you can or freeze the sauce, it's an easy way to preserve the season's tomato harvest for use throughout the year.

Choose any tomato to make this recipe. Paste tomatoes are preferred because they contain less water and fewer seeds. Roma, San Marzano, Amish, Opalka, and Polish Linguisa tomatoes are amazing for tomato sauce. Larger tomatoes like Jersey tomatoes (Jersey Giant and Jersey Devil) are good as well. No matter the tomato variety you choose, be sure they're ripe, firm, unblemished, and vibrant in color.

The recipe yields 1 quart, but you can double or triple it to make bigger batches.

The recipes that this sauce can be used in are endless—spaghetti, lasagna, chicken Parmesan, or whatever your favorite dishes may be. Some crusty homemade bread and a tossed salad would complete the meal.


  • 5 to 6 pounds ripe tomatoes, washed

  • 1/4 cup olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 to 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell peppers, optional

  • 1/4 cup grated peeled carrots, optional

  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or baking soda, optional

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

  • Dried rosemary, to taste, optional

  • Dried tarragon, to taste, optional

  • Salt, to taste

  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or 1/2 teaspoon citric acid), for canning, optional

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Homemade Tomato Sauce ingredients

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Prepare a large bowl of cold water with ice.

    Bowl with ice water

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  3. Using a paring knife, make an X-shaped superficial cut at the bottom of each tomato.

    Make an X-shaped superficial cut at the bottom of each tomato

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  4. Plunge tomatoes into boiling water for 2 minutes to loosen skin. Place tomatoes into cold water bath to stop cooking process.

    Tomatoes in a bowl of ice water

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  5. Place blanched tomatoes in a colander to drain. Let cool off at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes.

    Tomatoes in a colander

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  6. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, remove skins by pulling skin from X mark at bottom. Use a knife to help the process.

    Peel tomatoes on a plate

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  7. Core tomatoes and remove any undesired pieces. Slice each tomato in half. Scoop out seeds to the best of your ability. A few pieces of skin or seeds won't affect the result.

    Peeled and cut tomatoes on a platter

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  8. In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes. If using optional red bell peppers and carrots, add when onion is translucent; cook everything for an extra 5 minutes.

    Onions, garlic, bell peppers, and carrots in a pot

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  9. Once vegetable mixture is soft, add tomatoes, sugar (or baking soda) if using, basil, oregano, rosemary (optional), tarragon (optional), salt, and pepper to the pot. Bring everything to a boil.

    Tomatoes added to the pot

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

  10. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, stirring frequently, and scraping sides until sauce reaches desired consistency, about 2 to 3 hours. If your raw tomatoes are juicy, the process can take longer.

    Homemade Tomato Sauce in a pot

    The Spruce / Sonia Bozzo

How to Freeze or Can the Sauce

Freeze the Sauce

  • Let the sauce cool completely, then pour into freezer containers, bags, or jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace to allow for expansion. To make using it easier, divide the sauce into the average serving size you'll need for recipes, such as 1 or 2 cups per container. Date and label the containers and place them in the freezer.

Can the Sauce

If you're canning the sauce, mix in the lemon juice (or citric acid) before transferring it to the jars. By changing the pH of the sauce, you are preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

  • Turn on the canning kettle and sterilize the jars.
  • While it's still hot, pour the sauce into the jars using a clean spatula or a plastic funnel, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace at the top of the jar.
  • Screw on the lids and place the jars in a canning rack. Add enough water to cover the jars by 1 inch. Process the jars in boiling water for 35 to 40 minutes, keeping an eye on the water level and adding more if needed.
  • Remove the jars from the canning kettle and let cool at room temperature. Label them with the date and store in a dark and cool place.


  • Use freezer jars if you want to freeze your sauce or canning jars if you'd like to can your sauce for shelf-stable storage.
  • Canned or frozen tomato sauce will keep for up to a year.
  • Once opened, refrigerate the jar, and use the sauce within five days.