The best homemade tomato sauce is easy to make and uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. Simmered together, the ingredients make a flavorful sauce that is super simple to make and tastes better than store-bought.
Thick and hearty, it’s easy to make homemade tomato sauce right in your own kitchen. Serve it over your noodles, use it to make chicken parmesan, or put it in your favorite lasagna recipe.
This all-purpose tomato sauce uses just a handful of ingredients that you probably already have on hand. Fresh and tangy, slow simmering the sauce creates a thick sauce that is full of flavor and texture.
Homemade tomato sauce freezes well, so you could even double the recipe so you always have some on hand. Then use your own tomato sauce for an easy weeknight dinner the whole family will enjoy. Homemade dinner rolls make the perfect accompaniment to soak up all that delicious sauce.
Homemade Tomato Sauce Ingredients
- Tomatoes - canned crushed tomatoes or fresh tomatoes
- Garlic - fresh garlic cloves
- Basil - fresh basil or dried basil, use a ratio of 3:1 for fresh vs dried
- Pepper - black pepper
- Sugar - optional
- Olive oil - to roast the garlic
- Parmesan - grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
For the best consistency use crushed tomatoes, rather than diced tomatoes. You can also whole canned tomatoes that you crush or fresh tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes you will first need to remove the skins. A simple way to do this is by blanching the tomatoes.
To blanch tomatoes, you first submerge them into hot boiling water for about one minute until the skin shows cracks, and then plunge them into cold water to stop the cooking process. You’ll want to do this in batches. Once the tomatoes have cooled, the skins should peel easily. From there you can chop your tomatoes and blend them in a food processor. Keep in mind that you will need to use 1 pound of fresh tomatoes for every 14 ounce can.
Personalize your tomato sauce by switching up the herbs or adding other ingredients. Try adding ground oregano or rosemary. Make your sauce more of a bolognese-style tomato sauce by adding cooked ground beef or ground turkey. Add a bit of heat to your sauce by sprinkling in some red pepper flakes.
How to Make Homemade Tomato 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 pot uncovered; cover for the last half.
SIXTH STEP: Stir in cheese and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.
Can I use fresh tomatoes?
Yes, you can use fresh tomatoes rather than canned crushed tomatoes. If you use fresh tomatoes you will need to remove the skins by blanching the tomatoes. Once the skins are removed you can chop your tomatoes and blend them in a food processor. You will need to use 1 pound of fresh tomatoes for every 14 ounce can.
Can I add meat to the tomato sauce?
You can add cooked ground beef or ground turkey to the pot when you are simmering your sauce. You can also add in pureed vegetables and additional herbs and spices.
Can I freeze tomato sauce?
Homemade tomato sauce can be frozen for up to three months. Allow the sauce to cool completely before storing in freezer-safe jars or containers. You can also can your tomato sauce.
How to Store Homemade Tomato Sauce
IN THE FRIDGE: Store homemade tomato sauce in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
IN THE FREEZER: Sauce can be stored in airtight freezer bags or containers in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 3-4 cans crushed tomatoes 28 ounce sized cans OR 12-15 fresh tomatoes
- 4 cloves garlic
- 4-6 tablespoons fresh basil or 1-2 tablespoons dried basil ratio is 3:1 for fresh vs dried
- 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar optional
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ⅓ cup 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 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 first half of simmer time leave pot uncovered; cover for last half.
- Stir in cheese and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.