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a mason jar filled with homemade tomato sauce, made from fresh tomatoes

From Scratch Homemade Tomato Sauce

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When it comes to upping your cooking skills at home there are a few basic skills that everyone should have. In French Cuisine and in pretty well every culinary school in North America, cooks are taught the basic leading sauces, also known as the five mother sauces. The five basic sauces are: Velouté, Espagnole (or Brown Sauce), Tomato, Béchamel, and Hollandaise. In the next few weeks/posts, I’ll be covering these five sauces which form the basis of many modern day dishes and sauces. Today I’ll teach you how to make a basic homemade tomato sauce.

A good homemade tomato sauce recipe is key to making great spaghetti and lasagna!

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Why You Should Make Your Own Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is one of my all time favorites. With a good homemade tomato sauce recipe, many basic dishes can be created like spaghetti, lasagna, and pizza. The benefit of making your own sauce at home is that you avoid many of the preservatives that are found in commercial products, and in many cases, homemade tomato sauce is more nutrient dense and richer in vitamins and minerals. Sean from Diversivore does a great job explaining some of the differences between using homemade and store bought sauces in his Sausage and Eggplant Bucatini recipe.

If you grow your own herbs and tomatoes at home, you have the benefit of making large batches of fresh tomato sauce with varying flavours such as basil and tomato or a garlicky marinara style sauce. These homemade sauces can be frozen or canned and stored for future use. I tend to make a big batch of sauce around the end of the summer. This is great for the winter months when the price of tomatoes usually goes up.  If you have never grown your own tomatoes you can always start saving tomato seeds and growing them yourself. It’s a surprisingly easy and fun project to take up.

A Simple Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe Using Fresh Tomatos

The key to a good quality and versatile tomato sauce is to keep the recipe fairly simple.

You will need:

  • 3 cups chopped onions
  • 3 cups chopped celery
  • 4 cups fresh diced tomatoes or 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 4 Tbsp tomato paste
  • Fresh herbs such as basil and thyme
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter or oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bayleaf

Vegetables for my homemade tomato sauce recipe.
Start by sauteeing the onion, celery, and garlic cloves in the oil. Cook the vegetables over a medium heat until the onions start to turn translucent. Avoid browning the vegetables at this point if you can. This is called sweating the vegetables and releases some moisture before adding the tomatoes.

Cook the tomato sauce over medium low heat to let it simmer without scorching.

Add the diced or canned tomatoes, herbs, spices and chicken stock. Bring the pot to boil and then reduce to a low simmer. Cover the pot and let the tomato sauce cook for an hour. Periodically check the sauce and stir it to prevent any tomato pulp sticking to the bottom of the pot and scorching. Once the tomato sauce has simmered for about an hour, all the vegetables should be nice and soft. Use an immersion blender (affiliate link) or something like a Vitamix or Nutribullet to purée the sauce. If you have a food mill, you can also use that.

Pureed tomato sauce bubbling in a pot as it simmers on low

If the tomato sauce is very runny, and watery after puréeing, keep simmering the sauce to reduce it and cook off some water. As it cooks it will naturally thicken. The kind of tomatoes used, the freshness, and the quality all play a role in how watery the tomato sauce may turn out. You can always adjust the thickness of the sauce by adding some tomato paste, or some more diced fresh or canned tomatoes. If you do add more tomato to the sauce, you will have to cook it longer, and then purée it again.

Related:  How To Make Veloute Sauce (In Three Easy Steps)

This simple homemade tomato sauce recipe can be modified to suit your own tastes. By adding more vegetables to it you create a Primavera style pasta sauce,  basil and garlic can be added, and even chillis for a spicy version. As the cook in the kitchen, you have the ultimate say in what flavor profile you wish to create.

Note that homemade tomato sauce is usually more orange-y in color than store bought sauce, and that is normal. You can increase the red factor by adding more tomato paste or other tomato concentrate.homemade tomato sauce in a glass jar


Stay tuned next week for the next recipe in this collection of Basic (or Leading) Sauces! In case you missed the first recipe of this series make sure to read up on Hollandaise!

Have you ever made your own tomato sauce?? Comment & let me know what you thought of this recipe below, then take a picture and tag me on Facebook & Instagram: @earthfoodandfire . For more from scratch recipes follow me on Instagram & Pinterest

homemade tomato sauce in a glass jar
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Tomato Sauce From Scratch

A good homemade tomato sauce recipe is a must in any cooks repertoire. One of the five mother sauces, tomato sauce provides a great way to preserve fresh produce and eat healthier.
Course Sauce
Cuisine French
Keyword how long do you cook fresh tomato sauce?, what are the ingredients pf tomato sauce?
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 45 minutes
Servings 2 liters
Calories 1049.7kcal
Author Chef Markus Mueller


  • 3 cups onions chopped
  • 3 cups celery chopped
  • 4 cups fresh tomatoes diced or 2 cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups chicken stock or water
  • 4 Tbsp Tomato paste
  • Fresh herbs such as basil and thyme
  • 2 tbsp clarified butter or oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Bayleaf


  • Chop all the vegetables, and gather the rest of the ingredients.
  • Saute the onions, celery and garlic, until the onions turn translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes, spices, herbs and stock. Simmer the tomato sauce for atleast an hour on medium low.
  • Puree the sauce completely using an immersion blender or other mixer. If the sauce is to thin at this point, keep simmering until the tomato sauce thickens.
  • Season the tomato sauce with salt pepper and a dash of sugar if needed to cut the acid.


Homemade Tomato Sauce is generally more orange in color then store bought sauce. Add more tomato paste or use canned diced tomatoes instead of fresh for a redder color.

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  1. This is an excellent post, thanks so much for sharing this recipe, everyone should know how to make a tomato sauce!

  2. Ok, I’m trying to make heads or tails of this. So this would be considered a traditional french tomato sauce, not necessarily an Italian tomato sauce to be used for pasta? I can’t imagine celery and chicken stock in my tomato sauce, but I’m an Italian purest when it comes to tomato sauce. What would you use this tomato sauce for? Maybe as a sauce for veggies?

    • This recipe is considered a basic or leading tomato sauce in French Cuisime. Various regions in the world have their own variations on tomato sauce depending on ingredients avaliable culture etc. These 5 mother sauces I am covering stem from French Cuisine and are ment to be used as a base for other dishes. You could very easily use this sauce as a base for other pasta sauces (though I can see how an Italan may disagree!) from which you can create other flavour combos. I’ve used this sauce in Spanish recipes, and even German dishes that call for tomato sauce. It is not bu any means an Italian sauce though. Hope this helps!

  3. I need an immersion blender so I can make this tomato sauce!

    • Haha, while in immersion blender works great, any kind of blender will do. I have even used a nutri-bullet and pureed the sauce in batches! You only need to watch out, pureeing hot liquids causes them to expand. Don’t want the blender to explode!

  4. I love making recipes from scratch using ingredients grown in my own garden! It’s such a wonderful feeling. This tomato sauce looks delicious!

  5. I’m always looking for a great sauce recipe. And tomatoes are actually something I can grow!

  6. I just left you a super lengthy comment on your FB post about this, but I felt like dropping a comment here too! Great post. I truly can’t wait to move to a house with a yard one day (we live in a condo unit right now and have a yard, technically, but not much space). Breaking the ground and growing a vegetable garden is my dream, and to be able to use the fruit of your labor in your food must be the greatest feeling. No matter what though, I always have to add a bit of baking soda to reduce the acidity. I love a smooth sauce, and it’s funny because I used to always ask Italians I knew how they reduced acidity, and they’d suggest adding sugar, or cooking a carrot in the sauce. None of those things *ever* worked for me. Finally, I added baking soda one day (because SCIENCE!) and it worked like a charm. The bonus: you get to watch your sauce fizz and foam for a few moments while the acidity is pulled out. Haha.

    Anyway, super excited about this series. Can’t wait to see more!

    • Baking Soda eh?! That’s genius! As a cook, I was always taught to add sugar to the sauce (like you mentioned), but you’re right it doesn’t actually neutralize the acid, just masks it. I would have never thought of it, I’ll be giving it a shot for sure, since my wife has issues with the acid in tomatos. I’ll let you know how it goes, thanks for the tip!

      • Definitely let me know! I hope it works out. I usually add a tsp, let it do it’s fizzy thing, and taste it about 20 mins later. If it still needs a bit of tonight down, I add another tsp. Don’t bother tasting it right after adding the baking soda though — it tastes weird. It needs to settle 🙂 Keep me posted!

  7. Nice recipe, Markus. Do you add the tomato paste to thicken it up? And BTW, I can’t live without my immersion blender!

    • I generally add the tomato paste at the start of the cooking process to add some tomato flavour. Towards the end of cooking you could add some tomato paste to help thicken it though you would probably need quite abit. Yoy may be better of reducing the sauce by simmering go thicken it. Alternativly you could thicken the sauce with a roux. I’ll be covering roux in next weeka recipe!

  8. I love homemade tomato sauce, especially the versatile kind. Thanks for sharing!

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