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:

Fresh Tomato Sauce

rate this recipe:
4.84 from 12 votes
Prep Time: 20 mins
Cook Time: 33 mins
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.

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds medium on-the-vine tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • cup finely minced shallot
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon cane sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 sprig fresh basil

Instructions

  • 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.

Notes

Makes 2 cups

9 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it)




  1. Rosie
    09.16.2021

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

  2. ray
    09.12.2021

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      09.13.2021

      I’m glad you loved it!

  3. Sara
    08.28.2021

    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?

  4. Sylvia
    08.27.2021

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

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.28.2021

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  5. Sally Y
    08.22.2021

    Is this a sauce that can be frozen?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.23.2021

      yep, it can!

  6. Emily
    08.22.2021

    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.