Homemade Pasta Sauce

This flavorful pasta sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, herbs and a few other simple pantry ingredients. We use it for everything from zucchini parmesan to homemade pizza!

Being married to an Italian man, pasta sauce is serious business in our house. In fact, of all the many types of pasta sauce available on grocery store shelves, there is only ONE that he will eat. And I don’t mean one brand of pasta sauce, I mean one very specific variety of sauce from one very specific brand. In the early days of our marriage this used to drive me nuts, because if I didn’t use the right sauce, he wouldn’t eat dinner. He’d just take a bite, put his fork down, then politely go make himself a drink. 😂

Then I learned to make THIS pasta sauce. It’s a recipe his Italian grandmother gave me and that I have tweaked ever so slightly over the years. I think she took pity on me! She also restored marital harmony to the dinner table where pasta sauce is concerned.

Made with fresh tomatoes, plus a few other simple ingredients, this pasta sauce is deeply flavorful and perfect for all kinds of meals. Whenever the hubs hears I’m making something with this sauce, he licks his lips, rubs his hands together and gets excited for dinner. Then he eats every last bite. Every time.

Pasta sauce in a pan with a spoon

Can I Use Pasta Sauce for Pizza?

Yes you can! In fact I often use this sauce to make pizza. I recommend pairing this simple pizza dough or this sourdough pizza crust with your preferred amount of pasta sauce, plus your favorite kind of cheese. Lately we have been using this sauce to make twisted pizza!

Key Ingredients

Here’s a quick overview of the main ingredients in this recipe. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the full ingredients list and specific amounts.

  • Fresh tomatoes – I don’t recommend using canned tomatoes, the flavor won’t be the same. If you can use garden tomatoes or ones from your local farm that’s ideal. I swear you can taste the sunshine!
  • Sugar – You need to add sugar to pasta sauce in order to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and balance the flavors.
  • Oregano + Basil – I listed dry herbs in the recipe card below because those are easier for people to find, but you can also use fresh herbs. (This is what I do when the herb garden is going strong.) See my notes below for subbing fresh for dry herbs.

Do I Need to Remove the Tomato Skin & Seeds?

Since we are using an immersion blender to puree the sauce to your desired consistency there is no need to remove the tomato skins or seeds.

How to Sub Fresh Herbs for Dry Herbs

If you would like to use fresh instead of dry herbs, simply substitute 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs for every 1 teaspoon of dry herbs. Be sure to roughly chop up your fresh herbs before using them for maximum flavor.

So for example, in this recipe you would use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil and 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves.

Pasta sauce in a skillet with a spoon

How to Make Pasta Sauce

Ready to make the best pasta sauce ever? Here’s how to do it:

  • Cook the onion and garlic. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until translucent and it takes on a light golden color, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.
  • Add chopped tomato and both vinegars. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add remaining ingredients. Add the tomato paste, sugar, oregano, basil, and salt. Give everything a good stir, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.
  • Blend the sauce. With an immersion blender, blend up the sauce to get rid of any large chunks and create a smooth pasta sauce.
  • Taste and serve. Get a small amount of sauce on a spoon, blow on it to cool it and give it a taste. Adjust the salt as needed. You can use the sauce immediately.

Tips for Success

  • Use an immersion blender. This is a stick blender that you can use to blend the sauce directly in the pot. I don’t recommend using a regular blender for this because the hot pasta sauce will cause pressure to build up inside the blender. When that happens, the sauce will burst out of the blender and splatter everything. And yes, I did learn this lesson the hard way!
  • Taste and adjust seasonings. Make sure you taste the sauce and add salt as needed before serving it. This may seem obvious, but I’ve found that many people skip tasting as the last step in making their food!
Pasta sauce in jars, one with a spoon

How to Store and Reheat

Let the sauce cool to room temperature, then transfer it to airtight containers and place it in the fridge. It will keep for up to 4 days.

To reheat the sauce, ladle the amount you want to use into a saucepan and warm over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the desired temperature. You can also reheat sauce in the microwave, but I recommend covering your microwave-safe container with a plate to prevent splattering.

Can I Freeze Pasta Sauce?

I make big batches of this sauce every summer when the garden is bursting with sun ripened tomatoes. Then I store the sauce in the freezer so that I can pull some out even in the depths of winter!

To freeze your sauce, let it cool to room temperature, then ladle it into mason jars. Be sure to leave at least one-inch of space at the top of each jar so that the sauce has room to expand while it freezes. Seal the jars with BPA-free plastic lids, then store them in the freezer for up to 6 months.

When you’re ready to use your sauce, thaw it overnight in the fridge and then reheat as described above. The sauce will likely still be partially frozen so you’ll need to adjust the heating time accordingly.

FAQs

Can you drink pasta sauce?

I mean, technically you can drink it but you shouldn’t. Pasta sauce is meant to be served with foods like noodles and pizza. It is too thick to drink and is not the same as tomato juice.

How long does pasta sauce last in the fridge?

Homemade pasta sauce will last for up to 4 days in the fridge.

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Homemade Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce in a skillet with a spoon
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This flavorful pasta sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, herbs and a few other simple pantry ingredients. We use it for everything from zucchini parmesan to homemade pizza!

  • Author: Rustic Family Recipes
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian-American

Ingredients

  • 5 large ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Generous pinch kosher salt

Instructions

Cook the onion and garlic. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until translucent and it takes on a light golden color, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Add chopped tomato and both vinegars. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add remaining ingredients. Add the tomato paste, sugar, oregano, basil, and salt. Give everything a good stir, then simmer for 15 minutes, stirring often.

Blend the sauce. With an immersion blender, blend up the sauce to get rid of any large chunks and create a smooth pasta sauce.

Taste and serve. Get a small amount of sauce on a spoon, blow on it to cool it and give it a taste. Adjust the salt as needed. You can use the sauce immediately.

Notes

Storage: If you want to store it for later, let the sauce cool to room temperature then ladle into mason jars with lids. Store in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Make sure you leave 1 inch of head space for the sauce to expand in the freezer.

Using fresh herbs: If you want to use fresh herbs, use 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs for every 1 teaspoon of dry herbs. Be sure to chop up your fresh herbs before adding them to the sauce.

Keywords: homemade pasta sauce, easy pasta sauce, pizza sauce, how to make pasta sauce

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