Once you try homemade tomato sauce, you’ll be inspired to make it again and again.
It’s so fresh tasting and definitely beats what you get out of a can. You’ll want to pour it on absolutely everything! You might even drink it as a soup.
Today, I’m going to show you how to maximize all that fresh tomato flavor with your very own batch of tomato sauce. Whether you like it thick, thin, chunky, or smooth, this basic recipe will have you turning out really good sauce in about 45 minutes.
You can even use it to replace canned tomato puree or diced canned tomatoes.
So grab that apron, and let’s turn a bowl of tomatoes into something warm, sweet, acidic and summery.
PS: This butter anchovy tomato sauce with Bucatini takes 30 minutes in the Dutch oven and uses canned, peeled Roma tomatoes.
How to Make Flavorful Tomato Sauce From Scratch
When it comes to tomato sauce, you want to look for plump, ripe and above-all, flavorful Roma or plum tomatoes. You can even use canned tomatoes, such as San Marzano, which are already peeled.
With this recipe, it’s ok to use blemished tomatoes, just use a pairing knife to remove any flaws.
To concentrate the natural sweet-umami tomato flavor, remove those seeds! Give them a glug of extra virgin olive oil and roast in the oven until you see the skin blister.
Since peak tomatoes need little more than fresh basil, olive oil, and sautéed onion, this recipe is all about purity in flavor. In other words, your sauce may be more light and clean tasting than you are used to in a tomato sauce.
Therefore, I’ll leave it up to you whether to add sautéed garlic, oregano, or Parmesan.
Pro Tip: Add a pinch of salt from the beginning to the end of the cooking process. That way, the salt has time to work its way into the food.
Thick, Thin, Chunky, or Smooth
Depending on how you purée (blend) the tomatoes and how much water you add, you will create your own desired consistency. For a really smooth, creamy texture, I recommend using a blender; this is perfect for soup!
Today, I used an immersion blender to keep things simple. You can see that my sauce has a bit of texture, but is mostly smooth, much like canned tomato puree. You can achieve this texture in a food processor, too.
For a chunkier texture, go ahead and roughly chop the tomatoes prior to roasting (or lightly pulse into large pieces).
Ingredient Tip: Whenever you use a fresh ingredient, like summer tomatoes, you will notice that each batch of tomato sauce tastes a bit different. You can always adjust the seasoning at the end to suit your taste.
- You can use this sauce as-is with homemade pizza dough for the ultimate garden to table pizza margherita. Addicting!
- It’s also a welcome dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks, garlic bread, or polenta fries.
- To turn this into a zippy tomato soup dinner, thin it out with water and try adding some garlic and red chile flakes. Top it all off with some croutons.
- For a fresh and fast meal or side, ladle it over sautéed zucchini, pasta, or roasted crispy potatoes.
Variations to Try
- truffle oil
- add these to the soft onions: curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander
- white wine (reduce with the softened onions)
More Sauce Recipes
- Essential Lemon Garlic Sauce
- Zhug (Yemenite Spiced Green Sauce)
- 5-Ingredient Peanut Sauce
- How to Make Chamoy
- Pumpkin Seed Pesto with Kale
- Roasted Red Pepper Coulis
With such a flexible recipe, you can hardly go wrong, and I’m sure you will have fun mixing and matching different herbs and spices. FYI, the basil gives it a slight Italian feel, but you could leave it out if your goal is to use it in, say, chili.
Roasted Roma Tomato Sauce
- 15 large ripe plum tomatoes seeded and halved or 1 (28-oz) can plum tomatoes, drained and juices reserved
- ¼ cup olive oil divided
- ½ medium white onion chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
- ½ cup water
- 2 ½ tsp sea salt divided
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Place the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Warm the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion with ½ teaspoon salt and saute until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the tomatoes and onion to a blender or food processor (or use an immersion blender) and pulse until smooth. Return the sauce to the saucepot and add the basil, water, 2 teaspoons salt, and pepper. Simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes to marry the flavors. Serve hot or transfer to the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which may pay me a small commission for my referral at no extra cost to you!
I will make it at home.
Is it possible to can this sauce afterwards?
Yes, absolutely! In fact, my dad used to jar his own garden tomatoes by making a sauce like this one, and we’d have homemade tomato sauce all year. You can also vacuum seal and freeze this sauce for up to 3 months.
After roasting you remove skin, right?
Hey Beth! Totally up to you. I did not peel the tomatoes (I guess I couldn’t be bothered, ha ha). After blending, I found the texture to be quite nice. What’s interesting is that I made this recipe twice this summer and the second time, had some really awful tomatoes–my sauce was super watery. Moral of the story, try to pick tomatoes that you would actually want to eat.
If I wanted to add red wine, when would I add it in the cooking process?
You can add the red wine right after you sweat the onions in step 3. Once you add the red wine (maybe about 1/2 cup), look for the liquid to reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Then proceed as written.
Some where I messed up. It’s watery how can I thicken it
It’s totally fixable. If your tomatoes gave off a lot juices, you can either roast them longer or simmer the sauce longer to reduce the amount of liquid. Another trick is to use a ladle to remove excess water from the pot. Water is ok, it just affects how you experience this recipe. It may taste more like canned stewed tomatoes than a sauce. Reducing is key to concentrating those flavors.
This was a bit salty for me even after decreasing to 1.5 t.
Ok. If you need to fix it, you can add a few extra tomatoes. I didn’t find it too salty when making it, but it can vary greatly by how much you reduce it and overall size/water content of tomatoes.
I loved the simplicity of this recipe with its minimal ingredients and the flavour was great. Thank you! This isn’t a criticism of the recipe – I want to share what I learned from trying it tonight for anyone who prefers a smooth sauce: I would recommend peeling the skin off before blending. I first used a hand-held immersion blender but switched to putting it in my Ninja blender after getting the tomato skins in my mouth from taste-testing it. Even after running it through the blender for a substantial amount of time, the skin didn’t break down enough for… Read more »
Mouthfeel is so important. Glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I use this as a base recipe. I roast garlic and 1 habanero with the tomatoes. After the blender I add my own blend of Italian seasoning. Before finding this recipe I’d been making pasta sauce for nearly 50 years using canned tomatoes. I’ll never use canned tomatoes again!
I made this! I was so delicious I was dipping pieces of French baguettes in it as soon as it was done simmering. A suggestion for those who had a watery sauce: I researched other recipes and found some roasted the tomatoes on a rack, which is what I did. It got a little smokey in my kitchen but my sauce turned out thick and super delicious due to that extra smokiness! P.S. I also added a couple of cloves of roasted garlic. Yum!
I forgot to add my rating! 5 stars, of course!
Can this sauce be frozen?
You can absolutely freeze this sauce, but I’d leave some headroom if freezing in a glass jar since the liquid will expand. Also, it will tend to look more watery when you defrost because the freezing will cause additional water to separate. How are you planning to use the sauce after frozen? Once I have some idea of the intended use, I can give you specific fixes for dealing with the water issue.
Saying the tomatoes need to be halved and seeded really needs to be in the instructions and not the ingredients. When you start a recipe by saying place the tomatoes in the oven, it implies that they’re whole tomatoes.
Most recipes that I write include food prep (chopping, mincing) in the ingredient section. For example, 2 garlic cloves, minced would not be found in the instructions. I generally recommend cross referencing the ingredients with the instructions so you don’t miss anything.
I love making my pasta sauces from scratch using canned San Marzano tomatoes, but had a lot of very ripe romas and did not want them to go to waste. I am SO glad that I found and used your recipe for my lasagna sauce base and could not believe that I was able to achieve such a wonderful flavor using fresh romas. The salt and pepper amounts were perfect! One change that I made was to add a handful of crushed garlic (when my onions had reached the translucent stage) and cooked for 30 seconds before adding the tomatoes… Read more »