Easy Pasta Sauce

This homemade pasta sauce is made with mostly pantry ingredients and is so quick and easy. It tastes like it simmered for hours but it only takes 20 minutes to make! Use it to make a quick pasta dinner or keep it in the refrigerator to use for any recipe that needs a tomato sauce.

tomato pasta sauce in a skillet

I have a thing for pasta sauces, specifically tomato pasta sauces and I have lost count of the recipes I’ve shared over the years. Slow cooker, oven, simple ones, ones that take longer, and Marcella Hazan’s famous sauce are just a few.

And, today, guess what?! Another sauce but this time a super simple and easy pasta sauce recipe that takes all of 20 minutes to make.

Quick & Easy Tomato Sauce Recipe

What I like about this one is that it’s super fast, but it tastes like it simmered much longer than it actually does. This is because of the beef stock and generous amount of tomato paste – they both add a rich, tastes-like-it-simmered-all-day-flavor.

The flavor reminds me a lot of the French-style tomato sauce that is slow-cooked in the oven. But this version is about 10 thousand times faster and easier.

There’s not much prep – just gather up some pantry ingredients and chop up an onion. There’s even a shortcut if you don’t feeling chopping anything – check the ingredients notes below for that idea.

ingredients for the recipe

Ingredients for the Sauce

  • Unsalted butter
  • Chopped yellow onion
  • Beef broth
  • Half and half 
  • Canned tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Lemon juice
  • Garlic powder
  • Dried thyme and dried oregano
  • Kosher salt
  • Basil leaves

Ingredient Tips and Variations

Don’t have dried thyme or oregano on hand? Do you have Italian seasoning? Use 1 1/2 teaspoons and don’t worry about the other two.

Like some heat? Add a few pinched of red pepper flakes when you simmer the sauce.

If you don’t feel like chopping an onion, use frozen diced onions instead. I’ve done it, and it takes the prep time from 5 minutes to zero. Yas.

Feel free to switch up the fresh herbs – basil is great but so is chopped parsley and thyme.

If you want to serve all of the sauce with pasta right away, you’ll need 16 ounces of cooked penne pasta plus some shredded Parmesan for garnish.

It’s Ready in 20 Minutes

Cook the onions with the butter in a large skillet until softened.

Add all of the other ingredients, stir, and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer it for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

photo collage showing all of the ingredients in the pan and then the sauce simmering in the pan

Storage Tips

This tomato sauce will keep well for up to a week in the refrigerator. Let it cool and then transfer it to an air-tight container.

Some Ideas for Using It

I know – it’s a pasta a sauce, so the obvious answer is to serve it with pasta. But here are a few other ideas you might like, too:

a bowl of penne pasta with pasta sauce

More Easy Sauce Recipes


Easy Pasta Sauce

a pan of sauce

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This pasta sauce is easy to make with mostly pantry ingredients. It tastes like it was simmered for hours but only takes 20 minutes to make – it’s great for pasta or any recipe that needs a tomato sauce.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1/2 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • ¼ cup half and half 
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 4 large basil leaves, torn into small pieces


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook and stir them until they soften about five minutes.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 62
  • Sugar: 3g
  • Sodium: 374.1mg
  • Fat: 4.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 2.7g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 1.5g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 5.4g
  • Fiber: 1.1g
  • Protein: 1.4g
  • Cholesterol: 11.7mg

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