Here's how to make pasta sauce from fresh tomatoes in a simple way that yields a deliciously, flavorful sauce.
Fresh summer tomatoes are the best, but their juiciness can be difficult to turn into a thick, rich sauce. I'll show you step-by-step how to create a fresh pasta sauce.
If possible, use freshly picked tomatoes from the farmer's market or heirloom tomatoes from your local grocery store. The stronger the flavors of the tomato, the better this sauce will be!
Depending on the time of year, you may find one variety of tomatoes is better than others, but the peak of tomato season is usually from June to August.
Why You'll Love This Homemade Marinara Sauce
This homemade spaghetti sauce is classic comfort food. Because it's made with fresh, juicy tomatoes it has a bright, summery flavor that's reminiscent of your favorite fancy Italian restaurant.
Serve it with some delicious fresh spaghetti noodles or bucatini for a simple, restaurant-quality marinara sauce recipe.
If you grow tomatoes or just love tomato season, this is a fantastic tomato recipe to have on hand! You'll use 3 pounds of tomatoes for it, but you can easily double or triple this recipe and freeze the leftovers.
Here are the simple ingredients need to make a fresh tomato pasta sauce recipe.
- Tomatoes - If you have fresh garden tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes from the farmer's market, feel free to use them! If you are getting tomatoes from a grocery store, I recommend a mix of San Marzanos, Roma tomatoes (also called plum tomatoes), and Campari tomatoes (also called tomatoes on the vine).
- Olive Oil - You'll use a little olive oil to saute the onions and garlic.
- Yellow Onion - You'll grate a yellow onion for the base of this sauce. You can substitute it for a white or red onion as well, if necessary.
- Garlic - You'll use a couple of fresh garlic cloves for the base of the sauce.
- Tomato Paste - You'll need a small amount of tomato paste - this concentrated tomato flavor helps build a richer sauce.
- Basil - Fresh basil leaves add a lovely herbaceous flavor to the sauce. Feel free to add other fresh herbs if you have some on hand, a little thyme, oregano, or chives are also nice.
- Butter - You'll use butter to add some richness to the sauce right after it comes off the heat.
- Kosher Salt - You don't need much salt for this, but it helps finish the sauce and makes the tomato flavor more robust.
See the recipe card for quantities.
Shred the onion on a cutting board using a box grater.
Cut the tomatoes in half and shred them using a box grater into a large bowl. Discard the skins.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Saute onion for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often.
Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to combine and bring to a low simmer.
Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir in the basil and butter.
Serve with 1 pound of cooked pasta. Top with optional parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
Refrigerate sauce for 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
More Great Tomato Recipes
Looking for more fresh tomato recipes? Try some of these favorites.
- Heirloom Tomato Salad Recipe - a beautiful salad with plenty of tomato flavor.
- Roasted Tomato Soup - a comforting soup with roasted tomatoes.
- Summer Squash Tomato Gratin - a layered gratin with panko, parm, and summer veggies.
- Cherry Tomato Pasta - a burst cherry tomato pasta that's easy to make.
Variations for Preparation
If you would prefer not to grate your onion or the tomatoes, you can prepare the sauce with this method.
- Blanch the Tomatoes - Cut an X through the skin on the top of each of the tomatoes. Heat a large pot of water over high heat. Once the water is boiling, drop the tomatoes into the boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove the tomatoes with a slotted spoon and add them to a dish of ice water. Carefully peel the skin off the tomatoes. Roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Dice the Onion - Dice your onion into small pieces. Saute it in olive oil and follow the recipe card for the next steps.
- Blend the Sauce - Once you've add the chopped tomatoes to the pot simmer them as outlined in the recipe card. Once the sauce has simmered, blend it using an immersion blender or food processor till it's smooth.
Want to add a bit more flavor? Try some of these add-ons.
- Red Pepper Flakes - if you like a little heat, add 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes to the sauce (add it in with the garlic while you are at the saute step)
- Parmesan Rinds- add a parmesan rind or two to the sauce while you are simmering it. Remove before serving.
- Fresh Herbs - feel free to add more herbs to this sauce! Fresh oregano, thyme, and chives are great additions.
This recipe will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator when stored in an airtight container.
You can also freeze this sauce in a zip-top freezer bag or another freezer-safe container for up to 6 months.
Tips for Making this Recipe
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Cooking Tips - If your sauce isn't thickening up after 15 to 20 minutes of simmering, increase the heat for a few minutes.
Recommended Tools - You need a large pot to make this sauce. I used a 3.5-quart dutch oven and it was just large enough.
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- 1 yellow onion
- 3 pounds of tomatoes (a mix of San Marzano, Roma, heirloom, or Campari)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Shred the onion on a cutting board using a box grater.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and shred them using a box grater. Discard the skins.
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
- Add the grated onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds, stirring often.
- Add the tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir to combine and bring to a low simmer. Allow the sauce to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove the sauce from the heat. Stir in the basil and butter.
- Serve with 1 pound of cooked pasta.
- Top with optional parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
- Refrigerate sauce for 4 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 106Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 10mgSodium: 254mgCarbohydrates: 11gFiber: 3gSugar: 7gProtein: 2g