Homemade Tomato Sauce

Spaghetti and Tomato Sauce

This recipe for Homemade Tomato Sauce is a family classic that I’ve been preparing for over 10 years.  Growing up, I remember my mother cooking tomato sauce almost every Sunday afternoon.  The whole house would smell of sautéing onions and garlic.  Today, I make this sauce every few weeks.  I find the entire process very comforting.  The chopping, sautéing, stirring, simmering, tasting, etc.  I’ve made a few slight adjustments since my mom first taught me how to make the sauce, but nothing drastic.  Crushed tomatoes are slow-simmered with onions, garlic, oregano and basil.  Flat leaf Italian parsley is stirred in at the last moment before plating.  The finished sauce is hearty, bold and oh, so satisfying.  Continue reading for the recipe plus a video from my recently segment on San Diego Channel 6 – San Diego Living.

Yesterday, I prepared this sauce on San Diego Living with Kristen Mosteller.  We then made some delicious Mini Cannelloni.  I will be posting the recipe for Mini Cannelloni within the week!  Enjoy:

Homemade Tomato Sauce

4.8 from 5 reviews
Homemade Tomato Sauce
Recipe type: Sauce
Serves: 4 to 6
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flake, or to taste
  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomato (preferably organic or San Marzano)
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste (preferably organic)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Cooked pasta, for serving
  • Grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
  1. Warm olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Once you see the oil shimmering, add the chopped onion and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add the minced garlic and pinch of red pepper flake then continue to sauté until onions are soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add crushed tomato, tomato paste, oregano, basil, sugar, a few pinches of kosher salt and several turns of freshly ground black pepper, stirring to combine. I also like to fill the empty can of tomato paste with water then add that to the sauce (6 oz.). Bring sauce to a boil, reduce heat to low then simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour (1.5 to 2 hours is best if you have the time).
  3. To finish the sauce, stir in a handful of chopped parsley. Season to taste with additional kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  4. Serve this sauce with your favorite pasta. I like to add two or three sizable spoonfuls of sauce to freshly drained spaghetti, tossing to coat. This will ensure that the spaghetti absorbs the flavor of the sauce. Place a mound of spaghetti on a plate then top with extra sauce (I like it saucy :)), chopped parsley, grated Parmesan cheese and freshly ground black pepper.



    • Brandon Matzek says

      Yes! It’s very easy and freezes well. So you can make a big batch and enjoy for weeks (or months)! Thanks :)

  1. Erin says

    I just discovered your site yesterday while looking for a tomato sauce. I made this recipe last night and, wow, it was delicious!

    I’m so happy to have found this site; I’ll be trying some of your cocktails this weekend!

  2. Mary Cavello says

    I’m so disappointed you are using tomatoes from a can and canned tomato paste. When some one is searching for a home made tomato sauce, it should be made with real tomatoes and not junk in a can. Can you modify the recipe and give amounts for real tomatoes, which are healthy and tasty.

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Hi Mary, not all canned tomatoes are junk (or unhealthy). You simply need to find a high quality product. Also, depending on the time of year, canned tomatos can be better than fresh (when tomatoes are not in season).

      If you are looking to make this with fresh tomatoes, you’ll need to blanch and peel 4 pounds of ripe tomatoes (roma, plum, vine, beefsteak). Start by cutting a small, shallow X in the bottom of each tomato. Working in batches, drop tomatoes in boiling water and cook for 30 seconds. Scoop out tomatoes and transfer to a large bowl filled with ice and water. Let the tomatoes cool for about 1 minute then transfer to a cutting board. Repeat with all tomatoes. This shocking process makes it easy to remove skins. Slip off all skins on the tomatoes and discard. Cut tomatoes in half (or quarters if they are large). Using your hands, remove seeds over a strainer set over a large bowl. You want to remove most seeds, but reserve the liquid that falls through the strainer. Once you are done removing seeds, add tomatoes to reserved liquids. Using your hands (or a masher), break tomatoes into smaller pieces. The tomatoes are now prepped for the sauce.

      As you can see, this process is very involved, so I choose to use a high quality canned product to save myself a lot of work.

      Enjoy! Either way, I hope you like the sauce :)

      • Anna Doran says

        Great recipe. However I would just be cautious with the use of canned tomatoes in that they have been found to have high levels of potentially toxic chemicals, especially BPA, because the acidity of the tomatoes causes the chemicals to leach from the cans into the tomatoes.

    • TheRealist says

      Boy if you don’t get the fu ck. The VAST majority of canned tomatos sh it on fresh tomatos.

      They’re canned at the PEAK of their prime. Really, the only way to get good fresh tomatos is to grow your own or go to a specialized farmers market.

      Having compared fresh tomatos to canned, fresh tomatos are horrible.

      The man knows what he’s doing.

  3. Jene Knobloch says

    I made this a few weeks ago and it was delicious! Now today I am making a huge batch and freezing it… so easy and so much better than the stuff from a jar!!

  4. Lindsay says

    Does the tomato paste make a difference flavor wise? Some people say tomato paste is overpowering in marinara sauce. I’m scared to use it.

  5. Brandon Matzek says

    Hi Lindsay, tomato paste adds a richness and depth of tomato flavor. I would definitely give it a try. Or do a taste test! Split this recipe into two pots and make one with tomato paste and one without, then see which one you like best. Enjoy!

  6. Kate says

    I am so excited to try this! I have never made tomato sauce homemade and I have been searching for one to try. I will be making it with fresh tomatoes because my garden is full of tomatoes, but when they are gone I will definitely be using canned. Thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Amanda Z says

    Are we related? Also an Italian-Eastern European from Jersey. My family makes sauce the exact same way, just minus the onions. This looks absolutely delicious. Next time I’m trying it with onions!

  8. Laura Young says

    I made this sauce and my family loved it! My 11-year-old couldn’t get enough of it and she normally prefers her pasta without a tomato based sauce, and just butter and parmesan cheese. This is a definite winner in my house and I will be making it often. Thank you so much for the recipe!

  9. Steve says

    This is exactly how I make my homemade sauce, using 2 cans San Marzano (sp?) crushed tomatoes, and 1 can tomato paste, except I have only been using basil. I am going to add oregano to my next batch. I like the texture of this sauce, it is not watery and sits on the pasta very well, it is also very good over steamed zucchini cut into small long strips, as an alternative to pasta. This confirms I will continue to make my sauce this way. I could eat this several times per week. Love this tomato sauce. Thanks!

    • Brandon Matzek says

      Thanks for sharing Steve! I’m glad you always enjoy tomato sauce as much as I do. In the summer, I like to mix pappardelle with zucchini ribbons, then top with this sauce and plenty of Parm. So tasty!


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