How to make tomato sauce

Learn how to make my “foolproof” Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce in less than 45 minutes from start to finish.This is an easy-to-make, vegan, and versatile tomato basil sauce that you can use either just by itself or in different recipes ranging from simple pasta and pizza dishes to other recipes like eggplant involtini and chicken parmesan.

A woman is holding a jar of homemade tomato basil sauce photographed from the front view.

I know that some of you might find store-bought tomato sauce to be convenient. I’ll admit; I have purchased tomato sauce from a supermarket before. I agree that it is hard to beat the fact that it is such a time-saving shortcut when you need to put dinner on the table on a Tuesday night. However, I think it is also hard to beat the quality of homemade tomato sauce over the supermarket one.

The recipe that I share here is one that I make all the time and keep it in my fridge. In addition to the recipes I mentioned above, I also use it as my go-to Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce when I am in need of a quick, easy, and delicious dinner on a Tuesday night.

It freezes well so if you want to make a big batch of it and have some of it stocked up in your fridge, feel free to do so.

Spaghetti Sauce with garden tomatoes

Anyone else have tomatoes growing in their garden right now? Fresh garden tomatoes make THE BEST spaghetti sauce EVER. I am so excited to share this recipe with you! I promise, you will never go back to store-bought sauce again (at least not when tomatoes are in season).

Tomato plants in a beautiful garden


Substituting canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes

Ok, so it is true that fresh tomatoes are THE way to go with homemade spaghetti sauce, but what if you don’t have fresh tomatoes on hand? What if tomatoes are out of season? Don’t worry, I have got you covered. You can use 2 (28oz) cans of crushed tomatoes. If you can find San Marzano canned tomatoes, those work GREAT.

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Red garden tomato on the vine

How to thicken homemade spaghetti sauce

The slow and steady way to get it to thicken up more is to let it simmer longer. Last time I made this I had it simmering for 8 hours (uncovered, stirring occasionally). Trust me, the longer you can let it simmer, the better! If you are finding that the water isn’t evaporating as quickly as you would like or it isn’t thickening up how you want it to there is an easy fix. Just add some tomato paste, about a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the consistency you are looking for.

Spaghetti sauce simmering in a skillet

Homemade Canned Spaghetti Sauce Homegrown TomatoesCan you freeze homemade spaghetti sauce?

Yes! You can freeze it in a freezer safe Tupperware-type container, a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag, or even a glass just. Just be sure that if you are using a glass jar, that you leave an inch or two of space at the top of the jar so the sauce doesn’t expand and break. When freezing, make sure to cool the sauce completely in the fridge before freezing.

Tips for Making Crockpot Tomato Sauce

Select meaty, plumb or paste tomatoes for a thick and flavorful sauce. My favorites are Roma, San Marzano, Amish Paste, and Juliet. Paste tomatoes have very little water content. You can still use other types of tomatoes, but it will take longer for the sauce to thicken.

Cooking the tomatoes with the skins and seeds helps to thicken the sauce with the fruit’s natural pectin.

Run the cooked sauce through a food strainer to remove seeds and skins. After the sauce has simmered for a while and the ingredients have softened, run though a through a food strainer or food mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. If you don’t mind the seeds and skins, you can use an immersion hand blender to smooth out your sauce.

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Using fresh herbs: I like using fresh herbs because they are readily available from the garden during the summer, but dried herbs are better for slow cooking because the flavor doesn’t diminish from cooking. If you are using fresh herbs, add extra at the end of the cooking time.

This homemade crockpot tomato sauce pairs perfectly with Ricotta Gnocchi, Homemade Egg Noodles, Zucchini Lasagna, spiralized veggies, spaghetti squash, and as a pizza topping. Since you are not canning this tomato sauce, feel free to add other ingredients such as precooked mushrooms, green peppers, sausage, or meatballs.

This easy, crockpot tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes is rich and flavorful. It takes little effort to fill the slow cooker up with all the ingredients and let it simmer all day. Servings: 8 1/2 cup servings

  1. Prepare your tomatoes by washing in plain water. Cut them in half or quarters and add to the crockpot. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, and herbs. Drizzle the wine and olive oil. Cover and turn crockpot to low and cook for 2-4 hours stirring occasionally.
  2. After the sauce has simmered for a while and tomatoes have released their juices and the vegetables are soft, turn off crockpot and allow the sauce to cool.
  3. Run the cooled tomato sauce through a Food Strainer or Food Mill to remove skins, seeds, and to smooth out the sauce. If you are crunched for time, you can pop the cooled sauce into the refrigerator and begin again the following day.
  4. Return the strained tomato sauce to the crockpot to cook down further to thicken the sauce. Turn the crockpot to low and vent the cover so excess moisture evaporates. Cook until your desired thickness, 4-6 hours or longer, stirring occasionally.
  5. Once the tomato sauce is nice and thick, taste it. Add salt and pepper and stir to mix in. Taste again. Adjust seasoning if needed. If the flavor is sharp and acidic, add a little honey and taste again.
  6. If you are including additional ingredients such as mushrooms, green peppers, sausage, or meatballs, precook these and add to the crockpot and cook on low for an additional 1-2 hours.
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Depending on the water content of your tomatoes and how long you cook down the tomato sauce, this will yield around 4 cups. Store extra in the fridge for leftovers for 2-3 days or freeze for a later meal.

This is not a safe canning recipe: If you have a lot of tomatoes and want to can them for food storage, check out this safe canning recipe: Seasoned Tomato Sauce Recipe for Home Canning

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