How to Make a Quick Tomato Sauce

Quick Tomato Sauce

You guys. My Quick Tomato Sauce recipe turns homemade sauce into a weeknight reality! Seriously. This recipe takes you from a spin around a sauté pan to a bowl full of pasta in less than an hour. Chopping the onion and mincing the garlic are the most time-consuming tasks. Even better, you likely have all the ingredients you need to make this sauce in your pantry. Score! You can serve it as is with your pasta of choice or use it as a base for other sauces. (Check back later this week for my version with pan-fried eggplant. #yum)

Tomato Sauce 101

Tomato sauce is a Mother Sauce, one of the five sauces most other sauces are made of. Traditionally it’s made by simmering fresh tomatoes with vegetables and seasonings, then thickening the sauce with a roux. Modern versions skip the roux and rely on puréeing the tomatoes and veggies for thickness.

This recipe simmers up on the chunky side – depending on how finely you chop your onion. For a smoother version, ladle the sauce into your blender or food processor and process until it’s as smooth as you like.

Store your finished sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Quick Tomato Sauce

Choose a good quality canned tomato with no added sugars.

Be sure to remove the bay leaf once your sauce is done. No matter how long it simmers it will remain crunchy and inedible.

Be sure to keep your heat to a simmer. A high temperature will cause your sauce to evaporate away leaving you with a small amount of not well-flavored sauce.

Large saute pan or skillet

Wooden Spoon

Food Processor (optional)

Sweating Vegetables


Quick Tomato Sauce

Quick Tomato Sauce

Recipes, Techniques

Servings: Makes about 4 cups.

Quick Tomato Sauce


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomato
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and garlic and sweat until the onions begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes, stirring until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes. Fill can about halfway with water, give it a swirl to loosen any remaining tomatoes, and add water to sauce.
  3. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly, 20-25 minutes. You should see tiny bubbles on the surface. The sauce should not be spattering out of the pan. Adjust seasonings, if necessary.
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Quick Tomato Sauce















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