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 from Scratch
4.29 from 7 votes

Tomato Sauce

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.

Course Condiment
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Yield 4 cups
Calories 143 kcal
Author Tina Ferris


  • 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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September 30, 2013 7:51 am

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

Mike Richardson
September 15, 2013 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!

September 15, 2013 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”

September 1, 2013 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!

tylone lee
tylone lee
September 1, 2013 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.

September 12, 2013 3:40 pm
Reply to  tylone lee

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.

August 31, 2013 8:17 pm

I used all Roma tomatoes to make this. My tomatoes had not reduced down hardly at all after approx. 35 minutes of cooking. I had to chop them up with my spatula and keep adding more and more of the liquid that I had originally drained off of them to the pan in order to help them start reducing down to the consistency of tomato sauce. It has been about 50 minutes now and it finally looks like something that will make an okay tomato sauce consistency.

August 20, 2013 9:27 pm

How do you bring 4-5 pounds of tomatoes “to a boil” in 2 tbsp. of oil (step 6)?

August 17, 2013 2:07 pm

i meant garlic, not onion sorry

August 17, 2013 2:07 pm

i am italian and this is not how you make tomato sauce, especially for pasta

number 1 to make a good tomato sauce you need fresh onions and basil leaves, number 2 no one in italy makes sauce from big tomatomes thats blasphemy, you make sauce with the little long tomatomes or sometimes with the pachino ones, (the lil cherry ones, then you dont take the skin off

August 9, 2013 7:53 pm

I don’t know what I did wrong, but it’s been almost 4 hours since I first boiled the tomatoes and I’m STILL waiting for them to simmer down into a sauce. It took me MUCH longer than 45 seconds to boil my tomatoes. I had to repeatedly put them back in the hot water until they started to peel in the ice water. And then the peeling took forever. Sorry to be a downer, but I clearly missed something. Some friends came by and saw my struggles and said next time just cut the tomatoes up and simmer them whole; forget the boiling, the peeling, etc.

August 19, 2013 3:49 pm
Reply to  Ed

Next time cut an x on the bottom of your tomatoes makes dor easier peeling mine started comin off while boiling.