Fresh Tomato Sauce

Learn how to make tomato sauce at home! Made with fresh tomatoes, this simple, flavorful recipe is perfect for serving on pasta, pizza, and more.

Homemade tomato sauce

For me, making this homemade tomato sauce recipe is one of the highlights of late summer. Like bruschetta or a good Caprese salad, it’s something I only make at this time of year, when fresh tomatoes are sweet, juicy, and abundant.

This tomato sauce has a slightly looser, chunkier texture than my traditional marinara sauce, and its flavor is sweeter and fresher. If you have a garden full of tomatoes, it’s a great way to use them up, but even if you don’t, I hope you’ll try it. You can toss it with pasta or zucchini noodles, spread it on homemade pizza, or spoon it over crispy breaded eggplant. No matter how you serve it, it’s a fantastic way to savor tomatoes while they’re at their best.

Tomatoes on the vine

Fresh Tomato Sauce Recipe Ingredients

Let’s talk tomatoes! To make this homemade tomato sauce recipe, you’ll need 3 pounds of medium tomatoes on-the-vine. Because we use so many fresh tomatoes in this recipe, I recommend making it in summer or early fall, when tomatoes are in season.

If you want to make homemade tomato sauce at another time of year, check out this marinara sauce recipe. It calls for canned crushed tomatoes instead of fresh ones.

Tomato sauce recipe ingredients

Got your tomatoes? Here’s what else you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil – It adds richness and depth of flavor.
  • Shallot and garlic – They create the sauce’s savory base.
  • Tomato paste – It helps thicken the sauce and gives it an umami kick.
  • Balsamic vinegar – It adds a nice acidity.
  • Cane sugar – It offsets the acid of the tomatoes and vinegar, creating a delicious, well-balanced sauce.
  • Dried oregano and fresh basil – For fresh, aromatic flavor.
  • Red pepper flakes – They add a little heat.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.

Hand grating halved tomato on a box grater over a large bowl

How to Make Tomato Sauce

In my method for how to make tomato sauce, I start by removing the tomato skins and seeds. This step takes a little time, but it’s not at all hard. Just slice the tomatoes in half, and use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds.

Then, grate the cut side of each tomato half on the wide holes of a box grater. The tomato flesh will fall through the grater (make sure to set it over a bowl to catch all that tomatoey goodness!), and the skins will stay behind. You’ll discard the skins…

Bowl of grated fresh tomatoes

…and end up with a big bowl of crushed tomato flesh.

Fresh tomato sauce in Dutch oven with wooden spoon

Then, cook the sauce. Start by sautéing the shallot and garlic. Next, add the grated tomatoes, balsamic, tomato paste, sugar, oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil sprig and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened. Remove and discard the basil sprig, and enjoy!

Small bowl of homemade tomato sauce next to plate of pasta with fork

Homemade Tomato Sauce Serving Suggestions

Most often, I serve this fresh tomato sauce over pasta. Toss it with your favorite pasta shape for a flavorful, satisfying summer dinner. Tip: a few fresh basil leaves and some grated Parmesan (or vegan Parmesan) really take this meal over the top.

Not in the mood for pasta? Not a problem! Here are a few more ways to use this sauce:

Let me know what ideas you try!

Tomato sauce recipe

More Seasonal Cooking Basics

If you love this fresh tomato sauce recipe, try making one of these homemade basics next:

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Fresh Tomato Sauce

rate this recipe:
4.94 from 31 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 33 minutes
Serves 4
This homemade tomato sauce recipe is so fresh and delicious! Use it as a pasta sauce, or serve it on pizza, polenta, and more. Find additional serving suggestions in the post above.



  • Slice the tomatoes in half and scoop out the seeds. Set a box grater over a large bowl and press the cut side of the tomato flesh against the large holes of the grater. Grate the tomato flesh into the bowl, leaving the skins behind.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium pot over low heat. Add the shallot, garlic, salt, and a few grinds of black pepper and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, balsamic vinegar, cane sugar, oregano, red pepper flakes, and basil sprig. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove and discard the basil sprig and season to taste.


Makes 2 cups


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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Candy

    Hi! I made this delicious sauce my daughter and I loved it. My sauce was a little watery, is there something I can do to eliminate some of the liquid?

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Candy, I’m glad you enjoyed it! If you simmer it a little longer, it’ll reduce some more. Or for a quicker idea, you could stir in some grated pecorino or parmesan cheese. Hope that helps!

  2. Kimberley King

    5 stars
    Oh my!! This is THEE THE BESTEST Sauce ever!! as My tomatoes ripen, Ive been making this sauce and freezing it.. I lost the recipe, and searched for days… then it hit me,, search for tomato sauce with sugar and vinegar lol and Voila,, there it was.. I was elated.. I Now have it printed and placed in my Favourites Cookbook.. Just wanted TO say thank you so very much for this recipe <3

  3. Tom

    5 stars
    This came out great. Now when I make t sauce I put the whole tomato. Seeds,skin cut in have. After about 2 hours of simmering I put the cooked down ingredients in a blender. I then smuuther-ize it for about 3 minutes still hot. Then put it back on the heat and reduce for another 30-60 minutes. Does not taste bitter. And you gat all that fiber.

  4. Kay Shaffer

    Hi there! Excited to try this but my box grater is out of commission. My grandma from Venice used to drop the tomatoes in boiling water until the skins “popped”, transferred to ice water, and then peeled/de seeded them. I’m most comfortable with this method, will it adversely affect the flavor? Thank you, love your recipes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Kay, you can do it that way, for sure, it’ll be great.

  5. Erin

    5 stars
    Amazing recipe – I’ve made it twice now and it’s an absolute favorite in our house.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so happy to hear that!

  6. Patricia Kraemer

    Do you have the tomato pulp measurement in cups?

  7. Dani

    Do you have storing tips? I was hoping to double the recipe and freeze some. Thoughts/suggestions?

  8. Andrea H

    5 stars
    This is such a good way to use summer tomatoes and the taste is amazing!!! I had so many cherry tomatoes, so I did the shallots etc., and then halved the tomatoes and cooked them down and put in all in a food mill to get the seeds and peels out. My whole family loves this, especially as pizza sauce.

    It’s also really easy to double or triple etc. if you have too many tomatoes. Just freeze it for later! The only thing I changed was to add half a chopped onion to the sauté – just a personal preference.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Oh yum, I’m so glad your whole family enjoyed it!

  9. Perri

    5 stars
    Delicious sauce, my husband was thrilled. Making more tomorrow.
    Cheers & thank you!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you both loved it!

  10. Elora

    5 stars
    I loved this sauce! Only thing I did differently was roast the tomatoes at 400 degrees for 25 min to make the skins fall off that way. Then I popped everything into the pot!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

    • Deb

      After you roasted the tomatoes, did you use everything but the skins (including seeds), put it all into the pot, added all the ingredients in the recipe and cooked it all for 30 minutes? Using the grater sounded messy so roasting the tomatoes sounds much easier. Thanks for your response. Deb

      • SE

        5 stars
        I just put the tomatoes in a blender as is and cook the “smoothie”. I do my best to avoid any food waste, so want to use all bits of the tomatoes! I cooked the resulting sauce for about 1h 30 min on low, part of the time without the lid so it evaporated a bit (the “smoothie” volume will otherwise yield a lot more than 2 cups). This is a really nice recipe – currently making it for the second time. 🙂

        • Jeanine Donofrio

          I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

      • Sally Barry

        5 stars
        tomato seeds left in can be bitter, that’s why they’re usually removed.

  11. Seaside Grown

    Hi! If you want the freshest products in the market, which have been literally been coined “field to glass”, please visit our website.

  12. Rosie

    5 stars
    Easy and delicious. The fresh ingredients were incredibly flavorful. Making again tonight. Thanks!

  13. ray

    5 stars
    fantastic! $1 bags of ripe jersey tomatoes put to good use.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m glad you loved it!

  14. Sara

    4 stars
    The method was a bit messy but it worked out. Do you have a recipe to be able to make this in bulk?

  15. Sylvia

    5 stars
    This turned out really well, thanks so much for sharing it.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  16. Sally Y

    Is this a sauce that can be frozen?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      yep, it can!

  17. Emily

    4 stars
    Already made the similar sauce from your cookbook earlier today to go with eggplant mushroom meatless balls. Looking forward to it🍆🍄🍝

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.