Homemade Pasta Sauce

Italian Pasta Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes recipe Homemade Pasta Sauce

I married in to an Italian family, and as such, several things are a given:

  1. Family gatherings will be loud
  2. There will always be a faint aroma of basil and garlic in the house
  3. Learning to make a good tomato sauce is high on the to-do list for a new wife

When I married in to the family, I became privy to Nonna’s (my husband’s grandmother) pasta sauce recipe that uses pre-canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes (that she probably canned herself). One year I attempted to mimic the recipe using fresh tomatoes since we had an abundance from our garden and came up with my own pasta sauce recipe.

While “Nonna’s Recipe” is still the gold standard of pasta sauce in our family, I’m not sure I’m allowed to share the secret recipe so I’m sharing my very similar recipe from fresh tomatoes instead. I know that I can share one part of the her secret, which is to throw a piece of a carrot in to the sauce while it is cooking to absorb the acidity of the tomatoes and create a sweeter sauce.

This recipe is great for tomato season, and I often can any extra to use in the winter. I use this sauce in:

 

5.0 from 1 reviews

Homemade Tomato Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Authentic tomato marinara sauce from fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic.
Author:
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 5 pounds of fresh tomatoes, peeled and seeded (to peel, cut a small “x” on the top and drop in to boiling water for 10 seconds and drop in to an ice bath. Skin will easily peel off)
  • ¼ cup olive oil (or tallow)
  • 3 medium onions, diced
  • 8 cloves of fresh garlic (or more to taste), finely minced
  • ⅓ cup fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 sprig of fresh thyme leaves (or ½ tsp dried)
  • 1 sprig of fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • 2 bay leaves (remove when done)
  • 2 sprigs of parsley (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 carrot (1/2 should be grated and added to sauce, the other half should be added at the end of cooking and then removed)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Instructions
  1. Pour the olive oil into a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add diced onions, garlic and grated carrots.
  3. Saute for 6-8 minutes or until onions are translucent and tender.
  4. Add tomatoes, chopped basil leaves, oregano, thyme bay leaves, parsley and sea salt.
  5. Simmer on low heat for 2-3 hours or until cooked down and starting to darken.
  6. Add carrot piece for the last 30 minutes to absorb acidity.
  7. Remove sprigs of herbs and piece of carrot.
  8. Optional: Use an immersion blender to puree sauce until smooth (for a thicker sauce, skip this step.
  9. Use fresh or store in the fridge up to 1 week, or can it according to your canner’s instructions for tomato products.

 

Reader Comments

  1. Guest says

    Would this recipe freeze well? I’d like to make a big batch but I’m not quite adept at canning yet :)

  2. kristin farnsworth says

    Thanks for the recipe!! I have been working on a good pasta sauce for a while now. Each time it seems I throw something different in and haven’t found the “right” mix yet. Can’t wait to try this. I have 15 tomato plants in my backyard and hope to be doing a lot of canning this summer!

  3. LET says

    My grandmother was straight off the boat, but her tomato sauce was surprisingly bland for my taste. She used a ton of garlic, basil, salt & pepper and not a whole lot else.
    We really like to add a bit of rosemary, some red pepper flakes and a splash of red wine to our sauce to up the flavor (in addition to most of the ingredients you mention). I’d never heard of the carrot trick, but I don’t really like my sauce sweet.

  4. Jessica Harris says

    If I plan to blend it at the end, is it OK to include whole tomatoes…skins, seeds and all? :)

  5. Barb says

    Thanks Katie for posting your homemade tomato sauce recipe. I can’t wait to try it and use it in all my recipes calling for tomato/pasta sauce. No more store bought pasta sauce for me!! Thanks again!!!

  6. Ellen McCarthy says

    I used yellow, roma and house tomatoes that were given to me (just a tad over 10 lbs and so I doubled the recipe. I had all of the herbs in my garden. I used lemon thyme and it worked out just great. Since I had more yellow then reds the sauce is more orange, but its still awesome. I actually grated the two carrots and pureed them at the end.. You had honey on the list, but didn’t say when to add it. So, I added it after I put all of the other ingredients in. I was also given these really tiny green peppers and I tossed them in when I did the onions. I used vidalia onions which are my favorite. I also freeze my homemade sauces. There is a special way you have to can pasta sauce. It lasts in the freezer for about 6 months.

    Here’s a couple pics — The beginning of the sauce and what it looked like when it was done. I cooked it for just over 3 hrs because of the amt of tomatoes I had.

    • Tara says

      Hi Ellen,
      Would you be kind enough to share the special way to can and then freeze the sauce? I really want to do this with the batch I made. It was fantastic! I also used vidalias.

      • Ellen McCarthy says

        Hi Tara,

        I just made 7 more quarts (4 cups = 32 oz or 1 quart). I used 50 lbs of tomatoes and I did the recipe using 25 lbs each. After the sauce had cooled down I measured 4 cups of sauce in a plastic freezer container. I kept doing this until I filled 9 quarts of sauce (the 2nd box of 25 lbs I only got 8 quarts of sauce out of that batch. I used my hand blender to get the sauce all blended before putting them in the storage containers. Besides the ingredients above I did add some dry Italian seasoning to make up for not having enough basil for the recipe. I also use a small amt of rosemary and I used lemon thyme. I kept tasting it during the cooking process till I got the “wow” taste factor.

        By using the hand blender it does thin down the sauce (marinara is usually thiner). After I got the sauces in the containers (you need containers that will give you at least a 1/2 in clearance from the top — overfilling will cause it to expand during the freezing process. I just took out a container today and it was rather thin. So, I took a small can of tomato paste and added it to the sauce plus added some more seasonings from the garden. Then I let it simmer for an hour … It’s a huge success with my family — I noticed that mine came out looking orange (I think it was the carrots), but it doesn’t take away the flavor of the sauce.

      • Ellen McCarthy says

        Hi Tara,

        I just made 17 more quarts (4 cups = 32 oz or 1 quart). I used 50 lbs of tomatoes and I did the recipe using 25 lbs each. After the sauce had cooled down I measured 4 cups of sauce in a plastic freezer container. I kept doing this until I filled 9 quarts of sauce (the 2nd box of 25 lbs I only got 8 quarts of sauce out of that batch. I used my hand blender to get the sauce all blended before putting them in the storage containers. Besides the ingredients above I did add some dry Italian seasoning to make up for not having enough basil for the recipe. I also use a small amt of rosemary and I used lemon thyme. I kept tasting it during the cooking process till I got the “wow” taste factor.

        By using the hand blender it does thin down the sauce (marinara is usually thiner). After I got the sauces in the containers (you need containers that will give you at least a 1/2 in clearance from the top — overfilling will cause it to expand during the freezing process. I just took out a container today and it was rather thin. So, I took a small can of tomato paste and added it to the sauce plus added some more seasonings from the garden. Then I let it simmer for an hour … It’s a huge success with my family — I noticed that mine came out looking orange (I think it was the carrots), but it doesn’t take away the flavor of the sauce.

      • Mackenzie says

        To do water-bath canning of tomato sauce, you need to get the pH too low for botulism to grow. That’s below 4.5 (so aim for 4.4 or lower). Use pH test strips to check the acidity, and if the pH is too high, add citric acid (sold with the canning supplies at your local hardware store). A lot of people assume tomatoes are acidic enough that you don’t have to worry about it, but it varies heavily between different varieties of tomato and probably also growing conditions. Beyond that, leave the usual 1/2″ of headspace and process as usual (the Ball Blue Book says 35 minutes for pint jars and 40 minutes for quarts).

  7. Ellen McCarthy says

    Most tomato sauces like this require sugar to help w/ the acidity of the tomatoes. Well, adding the carrots is the sweetener which makes this recipe diabetic friendly. Usually the stuff you buy in the store spikes my sugar levels. The honey is done in small amounts.. When I ate my dinner (I also use whole grain pasta) my levels didn’t spike. So, this is a keeper for me… Plus the grandkids get some veggies to when they eat..

  8. Schelli Nimz says

    I am curious how many quarts this makes for canning too! Freezer is full from the rest of the harvest but this sounds fantastic!

  9. Jessica says

    This was my first time making homemade tomato sauce with fresh tomatoes, so I followed your recipe to a T,(although I halved the recipe) and after 1 hour and a half of simmering, I noticed that it became more of a paste than a sauce!!! My husband tells me it’s because I covered the pot, and should have left it uncovered, but I feel it’s something else! Please help!!! I don’t want to give up!

  10. Sean says

    I attempted making this but it was nowhere near as red as the picture above. Good flavor, clean eating taste…but rather pink and watery vs red and thick? Any ideas? First timer here

    • JOSEPH says

      how long did you boil the sauce for? I just made this recipe like 20 min ago and I boiled it for 1 hr and it ended up being deep red that was rich and thick :)

      YOU GOT TO GET YOUR HANDS ON A metal mesh splatter screen, this is you to boil the sauce without a lid. NO lid means water vapor can leave, so the only thing your left with is a rich non-watered-down-sauce.

      Ciao

  11. Kerry Sweetman says

    Thanks for the recipe, I made a big batch yesterday after scoring a box of tomatoes from the farmers market. I made a pasta for dinner tonight and it is amazing, I’m going to make another batch and store it in jars, no more store bought pasta sauce for me.

  12. JOSEPH says

    I JUST MADE THIS FOR ALL MY FRIENDS AND THEY LOVED IT! I didnt use tomatoes or boil for 2 hours (boiled for 1 hr cause I got to hungry :), i would have loved to use fresh tomatoes prepared like you mentioned but I am in medical school and didnt have the time. I used 2 jars of sauce: Ragu (usually gross on its on)and some other brand)… Even though i used those cheap sauces, i followed the recipe and the trick with the Carretand honey works!! I WILL BE FOLLOWING YOUR RECIPE FOR NOW ON! THANKS!

Join the Conversation...

Your email address will not be published. Please read the comment policy.

Rate this recipe: