Fresh Tomato Sauce

Fresh tomato sauce with just six ingredients is a great way to use ripe summer tomatoes from your garden or the farmer’s market. Serve it with your favorite pasta like penne, spaghetti, or fettuccine for an easy dinner full of fresh flavors.

Fresh and easy homemade tomato sauce with six ingredients and easy prep – no peeling, blanching, or complicated sauce-making steps. Just chop, simmer, and serve.

Because that’s the way it should be during the summer, right? So, if you have some delicious homegrown tomatoes in your backyard or ones that you can pick up at your local farmer’s market, this is an easy and fresh tomato sauce to use them all up.

Recipe Highlights

  • This is a quick cook time sauce – you don’t need to simmer it for hours. It’s ready to serve in less than an hour.
  • The flavors are simple and so fresh – I mean, how can you go wrong with garden-fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, and garlic?
  • Serve it in all kinds of ways – tossed with pasta, meatballs, grilled chicken, roasted veggies, or just scoop it up with some toasted garlic bread. I like it as a spaghetti sauce with just some grated Parm on top.

So, put that jarred marinara sauce on hold until after the summer and use all of those amazing to make this sauce instead. It’s easy enough for a weeknight!

ingredients for the sauce in a pan.


  • Olive oil
  • Chopped Roma tomatoes
  • Diced yellow onion
  • Chopped garlic cloves
  • Salt
  • Torn fresh basil leaves

How to Make It

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook them for 30  minutes or until the tomatoes are broken down and the liquid has thickened.

Add the garlic and salt and cook the sauce for five minutes longer. Add the basil, stir, and the sauce is ready to enjoy with pasta – I like to garnish it with grated Parmesan cheese.

Recipe FAQs

Do you have to peel the tomatoes?

You don’t although some people prefer to do that. I have a tomato sauce recipe with peeled tomatoes that is fun to make if you want to make a big batch of sauce to freeze.

Can you make a smooth pasta sauce?

If you want it smoother, use an immersion blender or stand blender to puree the sauce.

What else can you add to it?

Add other fresh herbs like chopped parsley or add some dried seasonings like oregano or Italian seasoning. For some heat, you can add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes. For a tangier flavor, add a splash of red wine while it simmers. For a creamy tomato sauce, add some cream right at the end before serving it.

What tomatoes are good for tomato sauce?

The best ones to use are ripe tomatoes that are in season. As far as type, plum tomatoes or Roma tomatoes are great, but I’ve also made this recipe with cherry tomatoes and grape tomatoes. But, feel free to use garden summer tomatoes or heirloom tomatoes if you find different varieties at a farmer’s market or if you grow them yourself. If tomatoes are out of season, you can make this recipe with high-quality canned tomatoes. I like canned San Marzano tomatoes.

So, get your boiling water going for the pasta and grab some of your best tomatoes to make this fresh tomato sauce to go with it!

Happy sauce-making!

the finished sauce in the pan.

More Summer Pasta Recipes


Fresh Tomato Sauce

the finished sauce in the pan.

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5 from 1 review

When tomatoes are in season this simple tomato sauce will put them to good use. It’s cooked just long enough to develop a richness without losing that summer-fresh flavor of the tomatoes.

  • Author: April Anderson
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 lbs of roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup torn basil leaves


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add the tomatoes and onions and cook them for 30  minutes or until the tomatoes are broken down and the liquid has thickened.
  2. Add the garlic and salt and cook the sauce for five minutes longer. Add the basil, stir, and the sauce is ready to use.
  3. If you are not using it right away it will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days.


  • Serving Size: 1/2 cup
  • Calories: 94
  • Sugar: 4.4g
  • Sodium: 202.1mg
  • Fat: 7.3g
  • Saturated Fat: 1g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 5.9g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 7.4g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Do you love this recipe? Don’t forget to leave a comment and your recipe star rating!

Post, recipe, and photos updated from the archives. First published in September 2009.


  1. I will have to try this! I’m not big on tomatoes…as far as eating them when they actually taste like tomatoes 😉

    But I do like them in sauces (spaghetti, marinara, pizza) and ketchup, salsas. Well basically as long as they don’t taste like a TOMATO. funny, huh?

    Does the roasting help to sweeten them up a bit? I guess I lean more toward sweet sauce rather than acidic. I usually buy the Bertolli Tomato and Basil spaghetti sauce when on sale because I’m not brave enough to try my own. I have a lot to learn about tomatoes. Any tips?

    I make my pizza sauce from scratch, but that is made with tomato sauce not actual tomatoes so it is less scary for me.

  2. Denise– you are right-roasting tomatoes brings out their natural sweetness. More important than that is making sure you use fresh tomatoes when they are in season, which will make a big difference in the quality of the sauce. When tomatoes are not in season I have made this recipe using good quality canned tomatoes– just drain them before roasting them in the oven. This recipe is so easy– you should definitely try it and let me know what you think! Thanks for your questions 🙂

  3. i am so jealous of your tomato plants! We live in the city and don’t have outdoor space. The only time I can get fresh tomatoes is at my grandma’s and she did not have a good crop this year!

  4. Hello, April 🙂

    I love tomatoes but I have never tried making it your way – roasting first, I think your way is better, I make my own tomato sauce and next time I make a batch, I will take a cue from you, I’ll roast my tomatoes first and maybe this will cut my cooking time coz mine usually takes 2-3 hours even longer when I use fresh tomatoes. Thanks for sharing this really great tip 😉

  5. you cannot go wrong with simple homemade tomato sauce. The tomatoes in the first photo looks luscious and very vibrant, I love it

  6. Simple and delicious, and I love the fact you don’t need to simmer it for a long period of time. Thanks for another outstanding recipe.

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