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Full of flavor, homemade pasta sauce is a versatile sauce to have on hand for making a variety of homemade dishes. Delicious yet simple, homemade pasta sauce is easy to prep ahead of time and make extra sauce for later.
Homemade Pasta Sauce
A classic marinara sauce, this red sauce is the key to making many different Italian-inspired dinners. A few simple ingredients simmered together produce a fresh pasta sauce that will make you want to lick your plate clean.
Showcase your homemade pasta sauce by making classic spaghetti and meatballs. Of course, you don’t need to stop there, treat friends and family to baked ziti, chicken parmesan, and dozens of other dishes that you could make with your flavorful pasta sauce.
In addition to pasta dishes, you can also use your homemade sauce to make pizza, or as a dipping sauce for garlic bread or grilled cheese. With so many delicious opportunities, you will want to make extra and store it in the freezer.
Homemade Pasta Sauce Ingredients
- Tomatoes - cans of crushed tomatoes OR fresh tomatoes
- Garlic - garlic cloves
- Basil - fresh basil or dried basil
- Pepper - black pepper
- Sugar - optional
- Oil - olive oil
- Cheese - grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
Homemade pasta sauce can be made with cans of crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes it’s best to peel the tomatoes and remove the stems. Often the easiest way to peel tomatoes is by blanching them in boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes and then quickly move them to an ice bath.
The longer you cook your sauce the thicker it gets and the more flavorful it becomes. If you need to thicken your sauce you can also add tomato sauce or tomato paste.
Personalize your homemade pasta sauce with your own favorite herbs and spices. You could sprinkle in some oregano or red pepper flakes, or add some freshly grated parmesan cheese at the end of cooking.
How to Make Homemade Pasta Sauce
FIRST STEP: Heat olive oil in a 5+ quart pot over medium heat; add chopped or pressed garlic.
SECOND STEP: Heat for one to two minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
THIRD STEP: Add tomatoes, black pepper, basil, and sugar. Stirring often, bring to a low boil.
FOURTH STEP: Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring often.
FIFTH STEP: For the first half of simmer time leave the pot uncovered; cover for the last half.
SIXTH STEP: Stir in cheese and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.
How long should this pasta sauce cook?
Allow approximately three to three and a half hours to cook your homemade pasta sauce, including prep time.
How do you thicken pasta sauce?
If your pasta sauce is too watery you can add tomato sauce or pasta, thicken the sauce with added starch, or let the sauce simmer on low for more time.
What should I serve with my pasta sauce?
Use your homemade pasta sauce for any baked pasta recipe, as a sauce for pizza, or as a dipping sauce for garlic bread, mozzarella sticks, or grilled cheese.
How to Store Homemade Pasta Sauce
IN THE FREEZER: Allow sauce to cool completely and then pour it into freezer bags or airtight containers and then freeze. To use the frozen sauce reheat it in a saucepan on the stovetop.
CANNING: The other way to store homemade pasta sauce is canning. Fill clean jars with sauce, clean the top, and place the sealed jars in a hot water bath. Boil the filled jars for 40 minutes. When properly canned, pasta sauce can be kept for up to a year.
Homemade Pasta Sauce
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- 3-4 cans of crushed tomatoes (28-ounce sized cans OR 12-15 fresh tomatoes)
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 4-6 tablespoons fresh basil (or 1-2 tablespoons dried basil the ratio is 3:1 for fresh vs dried)
- 1½ teaspoons of black pepper
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- ⅓ cup of grated Parmesan (or Romano cheese)
- Heat olive oil in a 5+ quart pot over medium heat; add chopped or pressed garlic.
- Heat for one to two minutes, making sure not to burn the garlic.
- Add tomatoes, black pepper, basil, and sugar. Stirring often, bring to a low boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring often.
- For the first half of simmer time leave the pot uncovered; cover for the last half.
- Stir in cheese and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.