Tomato Sauce Recipe

Tomato Sauce

Easy, basic Tomato Sauce recipe

This made-from-scratch Tomato Sauce recipe uses store cupboard ingredients, can be made in under half an hour, can be kept in the fridge or frozen, and is the basis for many, many meals. It is a reduced puree of tomatoes, flavoured with onions and garlic, which can be used with pasta or in other dishes. It is the one recipe that I have made sure all my children know how to cook before they leave home as, if you have mastered it, you will always be half an hour away from a tasty and nutritious meal.

What you need to know about my Tomato Sauce recipe

This is a very easy recipe. If you have never cooked anything before, you should be able to cook this. The key ingredient in this sauce is time. Yes, time not thyme! You need to cook the onions slowly for 15 minutes to make sure that they are sweet and caramelised. Don’t skip this step. If you cook them low and slow they will have a fantastic savoury sweetness which will make your sauce particularly delicious. You need to keep an eye on them to make sure that they don’t burn as this will make your sauce taste bitter. You also need to allow the full 15 minutes for the sauce to simmer uncovered to allow some of the liquid to evaporate. This will mean that the sauce thickens and the flavour intensifies. The end result should be naturally sweet but, if you wish, you could add a little sugar at the end if you feel it needs it.

This Tomato Sauce recipe uses store-cupboard ingredients which means you should always have the makings to hand and that you can make it all the year around. In late summer, when fresh tomatoes are in season, I will often use these to make sauce. It is fresh and delicious when made with good quality tomatoes. However, for the rest of the year, I used tinned tomatoes which have a great intensity of flavour. I was once told by an Italian friend that it was better to use whole tinned tomatoes rather than the chopped-up variety because the latter was where the poorer quality fruit were used. Personally, I have not found a huge difference in taste between whole and chopped tinned tomatoes.

This sauce is a very simple vegan recipe. It consists of oil, onion and tomatoes flavoured with garlic and bay leaf. However, there are lots of variations, as set out below.

Tomato Sauce variations
  • You can use butter, instead of oil, if you would like your tomato sauce to be richer. You can also add a tablespoon of double cream if you want it even richer still.
  • If you are in a hurry, you can leave out the onions, start the recipe by frying the garlic for a few minutes and follow the recipe from step 4.
  • You can add chopped celery sticks together with the onion at step 3. Celery is a brilliant ingredient for adding a depth of flavour to recipes and will add another level of taste to your sauce.
  • You can add a chopped fennel bulb together with the onion at step 3. This gives the sauce a mild aniseed flavour which is excellent if you are serving it with fish.
  • Another good variation if you are serving the sauce with fish is to add a generous pinch of saffron and a curl of orange peel (without the pith) to the sauce at step 5.
  • You can add a few anchovy fillets together with the onion at step 3. The anchovies will melt into the sauce and give an extra savoury depth of flavour to the sauce.
  • If you want a bit of heat to your sauce, you could add a teaspoon of dried chilli flakes at step 5.
  • You can add other herbs to the sauce. If you are using dried herbs, add at step 5 together with the tomatoes and bay leaf. If you are using fresh herbs, add right at the end of cooking. Basil and oregano are good options.
  • You can add a dash of wine, either red or white, at the end of cooking. This will add acidity and richness to the sauce. Two or three tablespoons is sufficient.
Uses for basic Tomato Sauce

This recipe makes approximately 1 litre (35 fl oz) of sauce. It will keep for two or three days in the fridge and can be frozen. You can use it as a simple sauce for pasta as it is and it also makes a great basis for a whole range of other pasta sauces. It is also good as an accompaniment to vegetables, fish or meat.

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe
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Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Author: Tastebotanical
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 6
  • Category: Sauce
  • Cuisine: English


This quick and easy Tomato Sauce recipe, made from store-cupboard ingredients, is fantastic with pasta and is at the basis for a wide range of other sauces.  


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • A little sugar (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or deep frying pan.
  2. Peel and finely chop the onions and add to the pan.
  3. Fry the onions over a very low heat until soft and caramelised.  This will take about 15  minutes.
  4. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and add them to the pan.
  5. Add the tomatoes and the bay leaf.
  6. Simmer uncovered until the sauce is rich and thick.  This will take about 15 minutes.
  7. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper.  You can add a little sugar (half a teaspoon) if you feel the sauce needs to be sweetened.

Keywords: tomato, sauce, easy

This recipe has been shared on #CookBlogShare with A Strong Coffee and #Fiesta Friday with Fiesta Friday,  Diann @ Of Goats and Greens and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas & Spoons

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10 thoughts on “Tomato Sauce Recipe”

    1. Thank you – this is the sauce I make whenever I need to make supper in a hurry!

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