Last updated on November 25th, 2022 at 10:24 pm
Make your own rich tomato sauce at home with this simple recipe. Made with tomatoes, garlic, lemon and fresh basil, this simple sauce is perfect over pasta, on pizza or in a bolognese. You can even use it as a base for soup.
Why We Make Our Own Tomato Sauce
Admittedly, buying store bought sauce is easy and convenient. However, this homemade tomato sauce is pretty darn simple too. One cook and you'll have enough sauce for 2 family serves of pasta...at least. I usually serve it over a nice spaghetti, keep a little for pizza and make my eggplant involtini for a family of 3.
This sauce is:
- made from easy to find ingredients
- versatile - add chilli, oregano, olives. Make it your own!
- frugal - made from canned tomatoes, it doesn't cost a bunch + you get enough for at least two meals
- convenient - fill a few zip-top bags for the freezer.
- full of flavour
Ingredients & Substitutions
Tomatoes! Of course. I use canned cherry and diced tomatoes. Buy a good quality brand - I use Mutti here in Australia (not a sponsored post, I just like the brand). For a smokier flavour you could use canned fire roasted tomatoes.
Mirepoix. The combination of diced onion, celery and carrot is called "mirepoix" - it adds a strong base to any dish. Take your time cooking the vegetables to ensure you get big flavour.
Garlic. We love garlic around here! I use 3 to 4 good sized cloves but you do you. Use more or less to your taste.
Smoked paprika. I know, it's not very traditional but smoky paprika adds depth and warmth to this tomato sauce.
Salt. Always taste and season your food. Always.
Lemon zest. I love lemon with tomato and basil, it lifts the flavour and adds zest.
Basil. We are using fresh basil leaves here but you can use dried if that's what you have. You can also swap out basil for oregano.
How to Make Homemade Tomato Sauce
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Making your own tomato sauce is so simple and rewarding. In less than an hour you'll have a big pot of tomato-y goodness - enough for two family meals.
Step 1. Cook your mirepoix over low to medium heat for around 15-20 minutes to make sure it is soft and delicious.
Step 2. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for 30-45 seconds or until fragrant.
Step 3. Add the smoked paprika and give it a good stir before moving on to Step 4 - adding the tomatoes.
Step 5. Continue cooking the tomatoes, stirring every once in a while, for 20 -25 minutes.
Step 6. Add the fresh basil and lemon zest and remove the pot from the heat and allow the sauce to sit for 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.
Note - if you are using dried herbs, add them at the same time as the smoked paprika.
And you're done.
Tips & Cheats
- Awesome cheat! Chop up your mirepoix in a food processor rather than doing it by hand. So much easier.
- Make sure to allow your mirepoix to cook until all the vegetables are soft - you don't want crunch in your silky tomato sauce
- Neutralise acidity with baking soda or sugar. Not all canned tomatoes are made equal. Taste your sauce and if it is too acidic or bitter, add an eighth of a teaspoon of baking soda at a time tasting in between until the acidity is cut. Alternatively, try adding sugar a teaspoon at a time until you are happy with it.
- Always taste and season your sauce as needed.
- Make it your own by adding fresh finely chopped spinach, olives, chilli or capers.
Ways to use Your Tomato Sauce
This homemade sauce is so versatile. Use it
- as a base for your bolognese sauce
- over pasta or gnocchi
- on a pizza base for a fresh spin on your favourite pizza
- to make soup! Cook your sauce with vegetable stock and blend for a zingy tomato soup.
- warmed over garlic-rubbed toasted ciabatta bread.
Not all canned tomatoes are made equal. Taste your sauce and if it is too acidic or bitter, add an eighth of a teaspoon of baking soda at a time tasting in between until the acidity is cut. Alternatively, try adding sugar a teaspoon at a time until you are happy with it.
Cool the sauce completely and transfer it to a sealed container. Pop it in the fridge for up to 3 days or freeze it. See below.
Yes! Allow the sauce to cool and then transfer it to a sealed freezer proof container for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature for a few hours before re-heating to serve.
More sauces and seasonings to try -
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Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion peeled and finely diced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and finely diced
- 2 celery ribs finely diced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1200 g chopped or cherry tomatoes 3 x 400g cans
- 4 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 2 tablespoon fresh basil leaves finely sliced or 2 teaspoon dried basil
- zest of 1 lemon optional
- pepper to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery (mirepoix) and cook for around 15-20 minutes to make surety vegetables are soft and delicious. Turn the heat down if the vegetables start to brown.
- Add the minced garlic and continue cooking for 30-45 seconds or until fragrant.
- Add the smoked paprika and give it a good stir before adding the tomatoes.
- Continue cooking the tomatoes, stirring every once in a while, for 20 minutes.
- Add the fresh basil and lemon zest and remove the pot from the heat and allow the sauce to sit for 10 minutes for the flavours to infuse.