Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta

When you don’t know what to make for dinner, pasta is always a good solution. But don’t you dare open that jar of pasta sauce with all of its corn syrup and artificial ingredients that tastes more like sugar than anything. In just a little more time, you can make a really tasty pasta sauce from scratch. This recipe makes enough for 2 plus leftovers. Make double and freeze some for next time, why don’t you?

Tomato Sauce

Serves: 2-4
Time to make: 20 minutes – 1 hour

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ medium onion, minced (optional)
  • 1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste (optional)
  • ¼ cup red wine (optional)
  • Salt, pepper, other seasonings to taste

Heat the oil over medium-low. Saute the garlic and and onion until golden. You can add other aromatics at this point, like mushrooms, carrots, celery, peppers or chiles, if you like.

Add the tomatoes. I strongly recommend organic canned tomatoes — they taste tons better because there is less salt and other additives, and the tomatoes they started from were better to begin with. One product I’ve grown really fond of lately is crushed organic tomatoes in a tall glass jar (I don’t remember the brand). It doesn’t have the canned taste, and you can use as much as you need and refrigerate the rest — handy!

If you want a thicker sauce, stir in tomato paste. What do you do with that leftover tomato paste? Spoon it out on wax paper by the tablespoon and freeze. Once it’s frozen, store it in freezer bags, and you’ll have pre-measured tomato paste whenever you need it. I’m also seeing tomato paste in a glass jar now, which lets you store leftovers in the refrigerator.

If you’re feeling a little ooh-la-la, add the wine and drink the rest of the bottle with dinner — otherwise, skip it. Season — an Italian dried herb mix comes in handy right about now.

Raise the heat to medium and simmer until it starts to look “saucy,” about 10 minutes (long enough to cook the pasta) or up to 45 minutes, if you so choose. Taste the sauce frequently while it’s cooking. If it tastes too acidic, stir in a little sugar. Leave it chunky or puree if you want and serve over pasta.

Of course, tomato sauce has a lot more uses than just for pasta. Now that you’ve got the basic formula down, you can whip up some tomato sauce whenever you might need it, such as when you’re making lasagne or meatball sandwiches.

Update: If you have a lot of fresh tomatoes on hand, you can also make this sauce with fresh tomatoes for immediate eating or freezing, in order to preserve your tomatoes after the growing season. About 16 roma tomatoes will make about 1 cup of sauce. The tomatoes should be peeled and chopped before cooking. I usually eliminate the onion, tomato paste and wine, especially if I’m freezing the sauce, as I can add more flavors during reheating — but the garlic is essential. Fresh tomatoes usually require only 10 minutes of cooking to break down into a thick sauce.

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60 thoughts on “Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta

  1. How to Make Lasagna « Simply Cooking 28 February 2007 at 6:38 pm

    […] lasagne can be made with either a tomato sauce or a bechamel (white) sauce (recipe follows at the end of this post). You will need about 3 cups of […]

  2. How to Make Frittata « Simply Cooking 3 April 2007 at 6:41 pm

    […] the ingredients on hand, and I know that the result will be both tasty and satisfying. Recipes like Pasta with Quick Tomato Sauce, Potato-Broccoli Soup and of course, […]

  3. […] showcased raw. Still, if you get more tomatoes than you can possibly eat, it’s time to make tomato sauce. I make as much sauce as I can and then freeze it in 1-cup portions, so I can recapture that flavor […]

  4. MelMazz 15 September 2007 at 6:09 pm

    Made this tonight and it was delicious. Always looking for a different twist in sauce. I used a bit of brown sugar, and also browned organic ground beef, and mixed it in at the end. Served with the Barilla Plus thin spaghetti. Good stuff! Thanks!

  5. Shannon 18 September 2007 at 7:24 am

    Thanks! I made this the other night, but I sauteed some carrot and celery first, and then browned some ground turkey for a quick bolognese. This recipe is one of my favorites because it’s so adaptable and you can vary it so many ways.

  6. Retooling “Simply Cooking” « Simply Cooking 26 September 2007 at 11:03 am

    […] back at my blog, I see that the most popular posts are the ones where I share what I learn, such as how to make a great quick tomato sauce for pasta or how to put together a simple green […]

  7. kirsty 28 August 2008 at 9:44 am

    thanks for this was really easy and simple to make the kids enjoyed it too (which doesnt come around very often) a delicious meal for all the family can easily be adapted too.

  8. […] make much more interesting sandwich spreads. Try pesto, aioli, homemade salad dressings, salsa or tomato sauce. Even a flavored oil and some vinegar will enliven a dull […]

  9. […] are five basic pasta sauces. They are garlic and oil, butter, white sauce, vegetable sauce and tomato sauce. But for each of these sauces, there are endless variations. Once you know how to make these five […]

  10. […] Try it alongside any Italian-style dish. I enjoyed it with mushroom-stuffed ravioli in a simple tomato sauce. To be really authentic, you could substitute pancetta for the bacon, of course, but sometimes we […]

  11. tiffy 12 July 2009 at 10:55 am

    i liked the recipe.. i added up a little of different herbs and seasoning..

  12. […] 1 cup or more tomato sauce, preferably made with fresh roma tomatoes (recipe) […]

  13. […] my cooking blog, Simply Cooking, check out how to make lasagna, sorbet, roasted chicken breasts, quick and easy tomato sauce for pasta and pan-fried chicken and […]

  14. […] are at the top. People still want to know how to make lasagna, roasted chicken breasts, sorbet and quick tomato sauce for pasta. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)A Few Good BlogsGo read […]

  15. Essence of Wellbeing 31 March 2010 at 11:56 pm

    Thanks for this was really easy and simple – my child loved it abd thats saying something!.

  16. carbonara 8 April 2010 at 2:38 pm

    How true! Tomato pasta sauce is just so easy to make from scratch!
    Other great optionals are dried origano or fresh or frozen sweet basil.

    For a more sicilian touch, throw in a few capers.

    Simple and good! Thanks for spreading the word.

  17. Shannon 8 April 2010 at 5:23 pm

    And thanks for the great suggestions!

  18. Sara 20 June 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I used this recipe as part of a dip I was interested in making, and it turned out fantastic. I’ll be blogging about it soon. Thanks!

  19. Shannon 20 June 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Cool! I’d be interested to see that recipe.

  20. […] turn out so pretty, as you can see. The recipe for tomato sauce that I followed came from Simply Cooking, a nice little blog full of recipes and foodie insights. (I use strike through for steps I […]

  21. San Diego VA Loan 14 July 2010 at 4:59 pm

    Going into the kitchen right now to try this recipe. I wll let you know.

  22. The Master Recipes « Simply Cooking 16 July 2010 at 2:26 pm

    […] Tomato Sauce […]

  23. […] husband made the tomato sauce from roma tomatoes, but you can use this recipe to make your own sauce. Cook the tomatoes down until they are very thick and smooth. You […]

  24. […] fresh roma tomatoes from my garden. Like all quick tomato sauces, this one is just a variant of my super simple tomato sauce recipe, but it was so good that I wanted to give it its own […]

  25. […] to my blog have been all over the place too, looking for everything from lasagna to a simple tomato sauce for pasta, from roasted chicken breasts and vegetables to stir-fry, from sour cream dip to sorbet. I hope […]

  26. […] to my blog have been looking for heartier recipes too, such as lasagna (always popular), tomato sauce for pasta and roasted chicken breasts. Check out this new technique I found for pan-roasting boneless chicken […]

  27. […] nights call for lasagna, a hearty pasta sauce or roasted chicken and […]

  28. […] Recent Comments What’s Cooking in October « Simply Cooking on Pasta with Pesto-Cream SauceWhat’s Cooking in October « Simply Cooking on How to Make PestoWhat’s Cooking in October « Simply Cooking on Tomato & Bread SaladWhat’s Cooking in October « Simply Cooking on How to Make CornbreadWhat’s Cooking in October « Simply Cooking on Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta […]

  29. Chicken Parmesan « Simply Cooking 16 September 2010 at 10:07 am

    […] that we could not stop devouring it. The main tweak I made to the recipe was to substitute my own tomato sauce for the quick sauce in the recipe. I made the sauce that afternoon, let it simmer for a while to […]

  30. carveyourname 9 February 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Bookmarking this!

  31. sdfa 21 February 2011 at 3:41 am


  32. Lauren 25 February 2011 at 10:02 am

    just made some, and it’s great! i dashed in some oregano, and it was complete!

    so happy to have found a recipe i could make for lunch that didn’t require leaving the house. 🙂

  33. Todd Panter 15 March 2011 at 5:19 pm

    Great site Shannon have bookmarked it. Always looking for ways to create new sauce recipes!

    Todd Make a Sauce

  34. easy tomato sauce recipes 15 May 2011 at 9:44 pm

    […] Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta | Simply Cooking Oct 16, 2006 … Tomato pasta sauce is just so easy to make from scratch! Other great optionals are dried origano or … […]

  35. recipe pasta sauce tomato 20 May 2011 at 3:08 pm

    […] Quick and Easy Tomato Sauce for Pasta | Simply Cooking Oct 16, 2006… tasty pasta sauce from scratch. This recipe makes enough for 2 plus leftovers. …. Tomato pasta sauce is just so easy to make from scratch! Other great optionals are dried … […]

  36. Clint Anderson 26 June 2011 at 11:41 am

    This is a perfect simple sauce that can be adjusted however you like..i love it!The sauce i make for most of our pasta dishes is basically this plus a few things..parmesan cheese,ground meat,possibly minced veggies of all sorts..endless possibilities

  37. Carl D'Agostino 1 July 2011 at 8:57 am

    I usually go with garlic only no onion. Two strong flavors in combat overwhelming taste tomatoes

  38. Zeina 12 August 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Made this tonight!
    Shannon.. i stumbled across your site.. and its excellent!
    I’m a complete novice in the kitchen and your recipes are the only ones that dont scare me off!
    Keep it up, you’re teaching me how to cook!

  39. Shannon 12 August 2011 at 4:38 pm

    Zeina- Thanks for the great comment. I’m glad I can help.

  40. Tara 26 October 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Love this recipe! Thanks!

  41. Catherine 18 November 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Just finished making this…thanks for a great quick recipe!

  42. oikia 24 November 2011 at 11:25 am

    awesome im making chicken wrapped in parma ham and mozarella for my food tech at school and im serving with this tomato sauce 🙂

  43. lulugs make-up 20 December 2011 at 5:02 pm

    Just polished off the tomato pasta sauce, it was beautiful!! Will definitely be trying some more of your recipes 🙂 Thank you!

  44. Melissa 1 January 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Delicious!! I have recently began cooking healthy home made meals for my fiancee and i, and looovvee that i can make a tomato sauce sop great with pantry staples! My fiance couldnt believe how tasty this is! Thank you!

  45. Nicole Prince 7 February 2012 at 6:41 pm

    I stumbled across this recipe when I was looking for a recipe to create pasta sauce with diced tomatoes that we have in our pantry. Looking forward to testing this out.

  46. […] lasagne can be made with either a tomato sauce or a bechamel (white) sauce (recipe follows at the end of this post). You will need about 3 cups of […]

  47. April 26 March 2012 at 9:52 pm

    Excellent recipe!!! Thank you so much for saving dinner tonight!

  48. Hedgy 12 April 2012 at 12:18 am

    Thank you so much for posting this, it is a godsend! I am not a very experienced cook, but I am so proud to tell people that I make my tomato sauce from scratch! I think the simplicity of it is what makes it so superb, and you’re right, the organic tomatoes really make a difference!!!!

  49. manish butola 24 July 2012 at 12:36 pm

    i like it ur recipes……………….

  50. allthenobels 28 July 2012 at 5:29 pm

    My roommate’s friend from Florence taught me a very similar recipe. For him, the onion and wine are a necessity, as well as a few little balls of fresh mozzarella. He told me that he makes this sauce with canned tuna (whole, washed in a colander) as dinner basically every day. I’ve been making it at least twice a month for the last three years, and it has never led me wrong. I usually add some Tony’s creole seasoning, a bay leaf, a few shakes of cumin and coriander, thyme, whatever other herbs are kicking around. Curry powder didn’t work so well, but other than that, I haven’t found a spice for it that I don’t like. I also prefer dicing half a green bell pepper and throwing in some chopped mushrooms. Andouille sausage also tastes good as a meat. If you’re going meatless, add more peppers and mushrooms, or maybe a diced eggplant.

  51. Shannon 28 July 2012 at 5:52 pm

    I love that this recipe is so adaptable and so open to experimentation.

  52. […] of the best pasta sauces he’d ever tasted. It is superbly simple to make, even easier than my go-to tomato sauce. This sauce has a light, subtle flavor that tastes best on hearty but bland filled pastas, like […]

  53. dominic 31 October 2012 at 3:36 pm

    i have made this twice and my tomato sauce always dry out even though i follow your instructions. i have a few questions
    – would it not be better to use 2 tins of tomatoes?
    – one clove of garlic for 2-4 people seems very meagre?
    – how do i stop the sauce drying out?

  54. Shannon 31 October 2012 at 4:12 pm

    To stop the sauce from drying out, I would try reducing the heat somewhat. You should cook it at a low simmer, not a rapid one. I would encourage you to experiment and add more garlic, tomatoes, etc. It’s all to your taste, and I probably make this sauce slightly differently every time.

  55. dominic 1 November 2012 at 1:13 pm

    thanks Shannon – perhaps my frying pan is not good enough either!

  56. Jim 11 November 2012 at 8:23 am

    This is my first time pay a visit at here and i am actually happy to read all at one place.

  57. alifiya 19 November 2012 at 4:08 am


  58. Harriet 8 January 2013 at 10:22 am

    This so the answer to my ‘Whats for Dinner’ dilemma this evening. I added grated carrot and sweet potato to it as well as fresh chopped thyme and rosemary, simmered it for an hour and then puree’d over meatballs and spagetti

  59. Denise Twum 18 January 2013 at 1:23 am

    I made this recipe tonight and it’s the best pasta sauce I’ve ever tasted. Didn’t do much different from the recipe. After cooking the diced tomatoes a bit, I blended it and then poured it back into the saucepan with a bit more water added. For seasoning I used Adobo salt, black pepper, herbes de provence and hot red pepper powder (i like a bit of a kick). Then I sliced some Aidell’s caramelized onion chicken meatballs in there, and served with fusilli pasta. Soooooo good! Thank you so much for sharing. I’ve bookmarked this recipe!

  60. […] convinced me that this was doable so we went about making something similar to this Tomato Sauce recipe.  (Remember the other day when I mentioned that the Mister regards a recipe as a […]

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