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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
…and end up with a big bowl of crushed tomato flesh.
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!
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:
- As a dipping sauce. Scoop it up with baked zucchini chips or air fryer zucchini.
- On pizza. Make a classic Margherita, or add whatever toppings you like!
- Over polenta. Spoon it over creamy polenta for a hearty side dish, or add roasted broccoli or grilled zucchini to make it a meal.
- On zucchini noodles or spaghetti squash. We love these light, fresh pasta alternatives.
- In a meatball sub. Fill soft baguette with vegan meatballs and spoonfuls of the fresh tomato sauce!
Let me know what ideas you try!
More Seasonal Cooking Basics
If you love this fresh tomato sauce recipe, try making one of these homemade basics next:
- Roasted Tomatoes
- Homemade Salsa
- Dill Pickles
- Pickled Jalapeños
- Roasted Red Peppers
- Homemade Pizza Sauce
- Basil Pesto
Fresh Tomato Sauce
- 3 pounds medium on-the-vine tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- ⅓ 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
- 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.