How To Make Tomato Sauce From Scratch

Tina Ferris is a freelance writer, teacher, and creator of the recipe journal, More Please Recipes.  Her photographs and recipe selections are inspiring and reflect a deep love and respect for whole ingredients and slow cooking methods. Currently, Tina is developing content for a new blog centered on unprocessed foods and products due to go live at the beginning of the new year. You can reach her through her Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest pages.

Homemade Tomato Sauce from Scratch

From-scratch tomato sauce is an absolute necessity in my home.  It’s great to have tomato sauce on hand when making pasta dishes, soups, or chilis.  And the best thing about this recipe is that you know exactly where every ingredient came from.  Often times, grocery store tomato sauce offerings (even the organic ones) are filled with sodium and (for the non-organic ones) even sugar.  Other bizarre ingredients that can be found in tomato sauce include high fructose corn syrup, citric acid, and natural flavors.  One of the most important reasons to eat unprocessed is that it’s a simple demonstration that you are a well-informed consumer.  Simply put: why would anyone eat weird ingredients they’ve never heard of when they could eat unprocessed?

With an ingredient list like water, tomatoes, a pinch of salt, and optional olive oil, you can be certain this recipe is entirely in your hands.  To make sure it is even more unprocessed during your October challenge, select organic, pesticide-free tomatoes from your local farmers market.  They will taste better and be super fresh.  They may even be cheaper if you select “old uglies” as my favorite farmer describes them.  These are the types of tomatoes that maybe fell off the stem a bit earlier, are bruised, or are so ripe they are about to burst.  These are the tomatoes you want.  If your “old uglies” are abundant, opt specifically for roma tomatoes for your sauce.  Roma tomatoes contain a small amount of seeds and are very meaty.

As for equipment, you’ll need a stockpot of boiling water, tongs, large bowl for ice bath, and a large skillet.  The taste of this sauce is pure, a bit like sunshine, and something you can feel good about eating gobs of.

This recipe is really a tomato sauce base.  The amount shown here only yields a small batch of about four cups.  But, the more you make, you can jar it for the future and freeze it.  When you’re ready, reheat it on the stovetop with your favorite spices or just use it plain.

Homemade Tomato Sauce
Recipe Type: Sauce
  • 4-5 pounds very ripe tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt
  1. Bring a large stockpot of water to a boil.
  2. One by one, use tongs to place each tomato into the boiling water. Leave each tomato for about 30-45 seconds. Then, use tongs to remove each tomato and place immediately into an ice water bath in a large bowl.
  3. This is my favorite part. The skins of the tomatoes will crack and start to peel; all you have to do is simply peel the skins off completely. (You can save these skins to make your own hearty tomato paste!)
  4. Using a knife, quarter each of the tomatoes and cut away ant of the hard pieces.
  5. Now, it's time to squeeze out the seeds and excess water. Place an empty bowl on your work surface and squeeze out the seeds and liquid. Place the drained tomatoes in a strainer and allow them to strain longer. Don’t worry if you don’t get every seed out. The point is not perfection; the point is rustic, homemade goodness.
  6. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Place the tomatoes in the skillet and bring to a boil.
  7. Bring the heat down to a simmer. There is no need to break apart the tomatoes. Over time, they will simmer down and break apart. Simmer for at least 45 minutes. You may simmer longer depending on your desired thickness. Less time results in a chunkier sauce whereas more time will result in a thinner one. At the end, finish it off with a pinch of organic sea salt and stir it in. Enjoy!

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50 Responses to How To Make Tomato Sauce From Scratch

  1. T.W. Jerb May 21, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    Used this process to make a fully from scratch pizza.

    If you are going to do that, my advice would be to start your tomato sauce just after you add the yeast to the dough, as the dough takes about an hour and some change to activate.

    For a pizza, I recommend adding a tablespoon of unsalted butter to this tomato sauce right after you finish reducing, some freshly crushed garlic, fresh-crushed onions, fresh cilantro, parsley, thyme, basil, rosemary and oregano (take it easy with the fresh leaves, as they go a long way). Don’t chop your greenery with a knife, tear it up really fine and crush it with your fingers. Also, a teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of sugar helps to balance the flavor if you aren’t on a health kick. (forget the salt if you used salted butter).

    I also strongly recommend a goat/sheep Romano balanced against a Parmesan mixed into the sauce while it simmers, and 3 to 1 ratio of mozerella/Romano for the topper.

  2. Tomato Luvr December 26, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    Necessity in my home, too. I have my own recipe, but I want to try some of your tricks. Have you ever used cinnamon? Adds an interesting twist…

  3. MDillenbeck December 17, 2013 at 3:58 am #

    I make two kinds of sauces.

    The first is a heartier chunky sauce – almost salsa like – with just onion and green pepper. You can pre-peel both, but I usually leave the skins on. If you buy cans of stewed sliced or whole tomatoes then it works fine for the chunky recipe. Very nice with some pasta.

    The second is a smoother cooked sauce. However, I’m lazy – I just core them or buy a can of tomatoes for cheap (bulk cans at my grocers can come in dented and go on sale, but dented cans have to be processed right away) and simmer them for a while. Then I prep the onion, green pepper, maybe celery, and some herbs in another pan. Third step is to boil some carrots. Put the boiled carrots – water and all – into the tomatoes and blend with an immersion blender. Final step is to use a fine mesh strainer (not a colander or one with the big holes but the wire mesh stuff) and mix the two parts. You can save the stuff in the sieve for making a home made tomato paste – add a little water, continue cooking, then blend again into a paste, and finally cook down to the right consistency.

    For the second sauce I’ve done some taste testing, and the skin and other parts left behind are the parts with the bitter and strong tomato taste. As a paste, good for making BBQ sauces and the like. The carrots serve as a replacement to sugar that so many add to cut the bitterness of pasta sauces.

  4. Jessica October 7, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    I made this today and I saved the skins, but I’m not sure how to make a paste from them. Can you share with me how to make the paste? Thanks!

  5. Greg September 30, 2013 at 7:51 am #

    How long would you cook the tomatoes using a pressure cooker?

  6. Mike Richardson September 15, 2013 at 3:39 pm #

    I tried this recipe today and didn’t have enough tomatoes for a large serving so I added a can of tomato sauce and added some more olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh oregano, fresh chives, salt, onion powder, garlic powder and slow cooked it for about 30 min on low. It has to be the best tomato spaghetti sauce I’ve had yet! I’m amazed!

  7. Sarah September 15, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    This is a good basic, what you need to add is how to take it from this to pasta or soup. For me I start my base sauce by pan roasting with a little char the tomatoes and peppers and then puree them. That way I’m not wasting the skin and still getting and excellent flavor. From there I can add Balsamic vinegar, oregano and basil to make a pasta sauce or strain it for a soup base. It can even be used to make stuffed peppers and “Pigs in a Blanket”

  8. Kathi September 1, 2013 at 2:46 pm #

    I made this today and absolutely loved the sauce. The process worked just like you said it would and the taste is excellent. I added basil and garlic only at the end after the sauce was fully cooked. Thanks for sharing this!

  9. tylone lee September 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    This tomato sauce is too short a lot more ingredients should be in there too short so people not going to get the right taste out of it.

    • Barney September 12, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

      This is for a tomato sauce, which by definition is just the sauce itself. You can add spices etc. to make a pasta sauce to your own taste.


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