Simple Vegan Tomato Sauce

Homemade vegan tomato sauce in a skillet with a wooden spoon

The Spruce Eats

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 5 servings
Yield: 2 1/2 cups
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
129 Calories
11g Fat
7g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5
Amount per serving
Calories 129
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 14%
Saturated Fat 2g 8%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 309mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 7g 3%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 21mg 107%
Calcium 63mg 5%
Iron 1mg 6%
Potassium 335mg 7%
*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.)

Homemade vegan or vegetarian cooking doesn't have to be complicated to be delicious—recipes such as this simple vegan spaghetti sauce are the proof. Plant-based cooking highlights the freshness and flavor of seasonal produce or reasonable substitutions like canned ingredients that yield beautiful results as well. Our easy sauce shows that with good quality ingredients, less is always more.

Made with fresh basil, canned tomatoes, and a bit of olive oil and sea salt, this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to make a flavorful homemade marinara sauce that you can use with pasta, vegetarian lasagna, pizza, or to mix with roasted vegetables to add an extra layer of flavor. Use this versatile sauce in any recipe that calls for tomato sauce, such as vegetarian baked pasta or a baked and breaded eggplant dish.

Use high-quality items for best results, like Italian canned plum tomatoes and the best olive oil you can afford. Our 20-minute classic sauce is also gluten free.


Click Play to See This Vegan and Gluten-Free Marinara Tomato Sauce Recipe Come Together


  • 1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes

  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or kosher salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch granulated sugar

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chiffonade

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Vegan tomato sauce ingredients gathered

    The Spruce Eats

  2. In a large skillet or saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the onion and the garlic for just a few minutes, until soft.

    Sautéing the onion and garlic in a skillet

    The Spruce Eats

  3. Add in the canned tomatoes, with juices, and season well with salt and pepper. Add a pinch of sugar. Allow the sauce to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

    Tomatoes added to the skillet with seasonings for vegan tomato sauce

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  4. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the basil just before serving. Serve with your choice of pasta or other dishes.

    Vegan tomato sauce served with wide and flat pasta

    The Spruce Eats

Hidden Veggies

For a kick of extra nutrition, add some finely chopped veggies that not even the pickiest of eaters is going to be able to find:

  • In a food processor, pulse 1 medium carrot, 1 cup of raw cauliflower, 1/2 of a large zucchini, 1 small red pepper, and 1 cup of mushrooms. Add the veggie mixture to the sauce while it's simmering. If too chunky for your taste, add 1/2 cup of water or low-sodium vegetable broth to thin it out. Taste for seasoning before serving.

Additional Veggies and Protein

When making a homemade marinara sauce, you have plenty of room to add a few more seasonings, vegetables, vegan protein, legumes, and for meat eaters, animal protein. Here are a few additions that are common when making spaghetti sauce.

  • Fresh parsley, 1 or 2 bay leaves, dried oregano, and a generous pinch of red pepper flakes will yield a spicy and robust herby sauce. All should be added while the tomatoes are simmering.
  • A drizzle of balsamic vinegar or splash of white or red wine will give the sauce another dimension and depth in flavor. Add while the tomatoes are simmering.

For meat-eaters, add:

  • Brown 1/2 pound of ground beef or lamb with the onions and garlic, and proceed to the recipe as indicated.

For vegans and vegetarians:

  • Add 1 cup of crumbled extra-firm tofu right before serving, or use cubed tempeh, seitan, or cooked edamame.

Why Add Sugar to Tomato Sauce?

Tomatoes can have a high level of acidity depending on the type of tomato, how ripe they are, their freshness, and if they're canned or not. Sometimes, adding sugar to tomato sauce will balance out the acidity but also will contribute to a more flavorful sauce. Taste your sauce before the final simmer and add a pinch of sugar if too acidic.