Sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce | Family Cuisine

A tomoato sauce is a tomato-based sauce that is often used for pasta dishes. It can be made from canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, and it can include herbs such as basil or oregano.
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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

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.

Tomatoes on the vine

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.

Tomato sauce recipe ingredients

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…

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

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

Bowl of grated fresh tomatoes

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!

Fresh tomato sauce in Dutch oven with wooden spoon

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

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