Easy Pasta Sauce. It’s so easy to make homemade tomato sauce, you’ll (probably) never buy the stuff in the jar again. Great with pasta, grilled sausages, polenta, and more.
I’m Italian-American. So I don’t even have to tell you that I grew up in a house where tomato sauce was regularly made from scratch. But I’ll tell you anyway: At home, I never ate store-bought sauce during my childhood. Ever.
During those Ragu commercials, where they declared “It’s in there!”, my mom would scoff as if she’d been personally offended by the commercial.
Her sauce was amazing. It cooked for hours and, let me tell you, was the best sauce most folks had ever tried. (Unless they too were Italian-American, then their mother’s or grandmother’s or father’s sauce was the best sauce they’d ever tried.)
The recipe I’m sharing today is not my mother’s sauce.
This tomato sauce cooks in less than an hour but, let me tell you, it’s good.
How good is it?
Glad you asked! It’s so good that my mom likes it.
If you’re in the habit of buying expensive sauce from a jar, this recipe might just help you break that spendy habit.
All you need is a few ingredients and a bit of time.
This recipe uses crushed tomatoes. This is key for this sauce. Diced tomatoes work but the consistency of the sauce won’t be the same. Crushed tomatoes tend to vary in thickness from brand to brand and sometimes from season to season. Start the sauce by adding 1/4 cup of water. If your sauce seems thick, add a little more water.
Cook’s Tip: The sauce thickens as it cooks. When you start the sauce, you want it thinner than you want the finished sauce.
Onions and Garlic
Onions and garlic bring a lot of flavor to the sauce. Use one medium onion and three to five cloves of garlic. Yes. You read that right. Three to five cloves. Why the range? If the cloves are small, use more.
This makes a somewhat chunky pasta sauce. The consistency comes mainly from the diced onions. I roughly chop them. If you want a silky smooth sauce, you’ve got three options:
- Dice the onions very finely.
- Dice the onions in a food processor until they’re almost a paste.
- Puree the sauce after it’s finished cooking.
I don’t know when I started adding a pat of butter to my sauce but I did and, woah, it makes a difference. A mere pat of butter adds a roundness to the sauce that you’ll love.
I know. I know. All the cool culinary snobs say that dried herbs don’t add any flavor. Do you know what I say? ‘Eff em. Seriously. Buy a good dried basil and you’ll be fine. Is dried the same as fresh? Nope! But it will add flavor.
An easy way to know if the dried basil you’re using is good is to smell it. Even without rubbing it between your fingers, you should be able to detect a summery-basil smell. If you can’t smell anything, it’s probably time to buy a new jar.
This sauce only requires 10 minutes of simmering. Seriously. For a deeper flavor, cook it longer, up to one hour. The longer you cook the sauce, the thicker it gets. Be sure to stir it occasionally and add additional water as needed.
Salt, Pepper, and Other Good Flavors
Think of these ingredients as a starting point. Sometimes you might want to add a pinch more salt or a sprinkle of additional red pepper flakes. Other times, you might want to stir in some additional herbs, like oregano, or add freshly grated parmesan at the end of cooking. You can do that with this sauce. It’s yours. Have fun with it!
Can I use this sauce for pizza?
Sure! I prefer a thick sauce for pizza; so I’d suggest you cook it until thick before using it on pizza.
How do I freeze tomato sauce?
Allow the sauce to cool completely. Place into a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight. Heat thoroughly before serving. Adjust consistency as needed.
Can I use fresh tomatoes?
I wouldn’t. Fresh tomatoes are amazing. But this recipe was developed for canned tomatoes.
Can I can this sauce?
Nope! It’s not an approved recipe for canning.
Can I omit the sugar?
Absolutely! The 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar enhances the natural sweetness of the tomatoes and, believe it or not, does make a difference. If you want to leave it out, go ahead.
Easy Pasta Sauce
Easy Pasta Sauce. Cooks in 10 minutes.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely diced
- 3-5 cloves garlic minced or put through a garlic press
- 2 teaspoons dried basil
- pinch red pepper flakes about 1/4 teaspoon
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1 pat butter, about 2 teaspoons
- 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/4 cup water
Heat the olive oil over high heat until it shimmers. Saute the onions, stirring frequently, until they soften and shine, about three minutes. The onions should sizzle and hiss as they cook. Add the garlic. Stir to combine. This prevents the garlic from burning. Cook an additional two minutes. Add the basil, red pepper flakes, salt, and sugar. Stir to combine. Add the butter. Stir, cook for about a minute.
Add 1/2 can of the crushed tomatoes. Scrape the bottom of the pan to remove any stuck on bits. Reduce heat to low. Add remaining tomatoes. Stir in 1/4 cup water. If the sauce seems too thick, add additional water.
Allow sauce to simmer for 10 minutes to up to one hour. If simmering for a longer, stir the sauce occasionally and add additional water as needed to keep the sauce at the correct consistency.
Beth A. says
I decided to try this because I need to cut down on sodium and a can of crushed tomatoes has a lot less sodium than any jar of prepared pasta sauce that I could find. Now that I know how easy and delicious it is, I’ll save money (and sodium) from now on by doing it this way! Thanks for a super simple, but delicious recipe!
You’re welcome. I’m so glad you liked it!
I LOVED THIS SAUCE!! Made it last week and added Italian sausage. Tonight i am making it again with meatballs!! So easy, so fast! love it, love it, love it!! Thank you!!
Why does it call for I can 28 ozof tomatoes but you only add half of the can ? Am I missing something?
Maria Barnes says
Further down the recipe says add the rest of the tomatoes
It states to add half the can stir then add the last half.
Sorry I misread😢
Ann Marie says
Very easy to make, I use a fresh chilli, tastes delicious.
Dang I just made this and forgot i had calabrian chili peppers i couldve added.
This was great! We improvised on the tomatoes— 1 can diced, 1 can Rotel. The added spice was yummy. (Unfortunately I scorched the garlic so that flavor overpowered the sauce 😕) Still better than a jar sauce! Will try again.
Needed to use up some low-quality canned tomatoes and figured cooking them with lots of delicious stuff, like in this recipe, would do the trick. It turned out great! I did add more sugar to combat the bitterness of the cheap tomatoes, but in the end it was as good as restaurant sauce. I added browned and seasoned ground beef to the sauce to make a meat sauce. I’ll be making this again!
Hooray! Glad you like it!
Brendon Manno says
I have tried to use quick Tomato sauce is so many times I can’t count and they were all crap. I wanna thank you personally, this is The best sauce ever in a short amount of time period got on as truth it tasted better than some homemade sources that take hours on the stove top. Not kidding. Thank you so much looking forward to more recipes.
Shawna Manno says
Sorry that’s my son’s name somehow came up lol.Im shawna. Thanks again
You’re welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!
I made this and it’s delicious! I used mixed herbs as I didn’t have any basil but it tasted so good, couldn’t believe I made it!
Delicious sauce I added ground turkey to mine. My new go to recipe no more jar sauces for me. Even though I cried doing the onions,
Shawna Manno says
The trick so you don’t cry when you cut it A onion is not to cut the root off. Cut The Onion in halves at the root. Then dice it from there.It Works
Jane Fenton says
I added 1lb well cooked bacon and crumbled it up in the sauce. Delicious.
Tracey Dowe says
I have just made it. Didn’t have Basil, so used Italian mixed herbs. it tastes really nice.
I had a box of crushed tomatoes I needed to make a decent sauce out of for our frozen
chicken cordon Bleu. This was excellent. I halved everything because my box was only 13.6 and it was just for two of us. Thank you for this so easy and yummy recipe.
We love this sauce!! It’s so easy , quick & delicious. After a few times of making it, I’ve started to add something of my own to it, like Worcestershire sauce & a bay leaf. Sometimes I’ll add hot Italian sausage. It just works with everything!!
Thank you so much for sharing it.
Patti Burke says
Hello, is it possible to double this recipe to make twice as much
Yes! This recipe can easily be doubled.
Katie Leszczynski says
What amount of ingredients would I use for 40 people? I’m going to cook for the homeless and we’ll be feeding them dinner. I really wanted to make something vs buying store bought jars.
Can you help me with the math here?
Happy to help. How would you be using the sauce? Putting it over pasta?
This was a quick and easy recipe and, most importantly, delicous. The only thing I didn’t add was the onions because my child is picky.
This sauce was so easy to make and super yummy. I made this first so that it could keep simmering while I cooked the rest of the food (I’m a slow cooker!). Each time I tasted it was good and, as you said, the longer it cooked the better it got! Love this!