Mangiamo! Make the best rustic Homemade Tomato Sauce with just a few simple pantry ingredients. Makes a delicious spaghetti sauce on pasta night!

Homemade tomato sauce |

There’s just something magical about the enchanting aroma of onions and garlic in a pot on the stovetop.

In fact, as soon as I started making this rustic homemade tomato sauce recipe, my mind began to wander to all the wonderful and iconic recipes that call for a good tomato sauce. 

Of course there’s spaghetti sauce. But suddenly I was cycling through other favorites like eggplant parmesan, lasagna, pan fried zucchini cakes with parmesan and tomato sauce, chicken parmesan, pizza… The list of classic Italian recipes just went on and on.

Of course, I soon found myself unusually hungry – and totally craving Italian food!

I’m excited to share with you my all time favorite homemade tomato sauce recipe. It’s a red sauce so versatile, you can use it on everything from baked ziti to a meatball sub. And it freezes like a charm – so make a big batch, and you can always have homemade pasta sauce on hand in your kitchen!

tomato sauce ingredients in a pot

Ingredients for Homemade tomato sauce

  • Garlic + Onion: The smell of this dynamic duo cooking away on the stovetop represents the fragrant perfection that precedes a bubbling pot of red sauce. Aromatic!
  • Thyme: Tomatoes and dried thyme are regularly paired together. And that’s because the slight lemony and minty flavor of this Medeterranean spice works so well with tomato’s natural umami and acidic notes.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Get the good stuff! Extra virgin olive oil is the oil captured on the very first cold press. With it’s green color, and grassy, fruity aroma, a good olive oil makes all the difference in your simple pasta sauce.
  • Tomatoes: I use canned tomatoes – and they are absolutely lovely. San Marzano tomatoes are wonderful, but feel free to grab your favorite brand. Personally, I find that whole canned tomatoes produce a completed sauce that is more delicious than if I used tomato paste. 
  • Basil: Fresh from the garden or fresh from the grocery store, basil will introduce a little aromatic and peppery undertone.
  • Capers: These little green pickled flower buds will impart a salty and slightly briny essence to our tomato sauce. YUM!

Now, this is one of my favorite tomato recipes of all time. And looking at the short ingredients list, one could draw the conclusion that the sauce might taste a little… ahem, simple. But this is a prime example where the use of humble, quality ingredients produces something far superior than the sum of its parts.

In short, it’s a savory, slightly sweet and garden fresh homemade tomato sauce that just nails the deep essence of homey southern Italian simplicity.

All-purpose Homemade tomato sauce |

How to make tomato sauce 

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil, minced garlic, chopped onion and thyme. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally – until your onions are translucent but not caramelized.
  2. Add canned tomatoes and your basil sprig and stir while you bring the sauce to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to a bubbling simmer. Cover and simmer for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Transfer your tomato sauce to a blender (you can also use a hand blender and do this directly in the pot). Add your capers and blend until you reach your desired consistency. I like mine on the slightly chunky side – but a completely smooth tomato sauce is delicious as well!
  4. Finally, season with a bit of salt and pepper to taste and serve.

Did you think it would be that simple to make homemade spaghetti sauce from scratch? Sometimes it’s the easiest stuff that makes the best dinners!

How to thicken tomato sauce 

Now, the action of blending your tomato sauce should make it thicker naturally. And while I tend to leave mine on the chunkier side of smooth, a spin in the food processor thickens everything up quite nicely.

However, should you find yourself wanting an even thicker sauce, there are hacks for that. 

You can always reduce the liquid in a sauce by cooking it for a bit longer. And if you take the lid off your pot of bubbling sauce, the excess liquid will cook off even faster.

Or you can use a thickener like cornstarch or a roux to do the trick quickly.

However, I’ve made this sauce quite a few times now and, while I had a thickener standing by in case I needed it, a spin in the blender was all it took to perfectly thicken my tomato sauce.

Ladle with tomato sauce |

How to store tomato sauce 

If you don’t devour all of your homemade tomato sauce on pasta night, it’s no problem! This sauce is super easy to store. In fact, I’ve been known to intentionally make extra and pop it in the freezer so I have fresh home cooked tomato sauce in a pinch.

  • Refrigerate: This homemade tomato sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for about a week.
  • Freeze it: I like to cool my sauce to room temperature before placing it in freezer bags. If you store it in smaller batches, you can grab a serving or two at a time when the mood strikes for pasta with tomato sauce. As long as it’s properly sealed, you can freeze this sauce for 5-6 months! To thaw it, simply place the freezer bag in a large bowl of cold water until thawed – then heat up as usual.

What’s your favorite use for tomato sauce? I’d love to hear about your Italian meal triumphs in the comments section.

Happy cooking, friends!

Other simple and delicious homemade sauce recipes

Tomato sauce from scratch |

Did you like this Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe? Are there changes you made that you would like to share? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments section below!


Homemade All-Purpose Tomato Sauce

For pasta, pizza or eggplant parmesan, this homemade tomato sauce has the rustic flavors of southern Italy!

  • Author: Caroline Phelps
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 5-6 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stove top
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 basil sprig
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, add garlic, onion, thyme and olive oil. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes, until onions are translucent but not caramelized.
  2. Add tomatoes and basil sprig, stir and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down to a bubbling simmer, cover and cook for 35 minutes while stirring occasionally.
  3. Turn the heat off and transfer the sauce to a blender. You can also use an immersion blender and blend directly in the sauce pot. Add capers and blend until you achieve your desired consistency. I like to leave it a bit chunky – but a smooth sauce is also delicious!
  4. Season with salt and pepper and serve.


Serve with spaghetti, use as a base for pizza, the options are endless!

Store unused tomato sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. Or freeze for up to 6 months.

Keywords: recipe, spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free

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