How to Cook Tomato Sauce From Scratch

by Kelsey Eliason

Enjoy delicious, healthy tomato sauce made with fresh ingredients. This is a great way to use quickly-ripening tomatoes from the garden. Kid-friendly w/ supervision. Adapted from the Smitten Kitchen.


  • 4 Pounds Ripe tomatoes, romas and paste tomatoes work best
  • ¼ Cups Olive oil
  • 1 Onion, small, chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ Carrot, medium (optional) chopped
  • ½ Celery stalk (optional) chopped
  • ½ Teaspoons Sea salt plus extra
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Instructions

    Step 1

    Turn on some tunes. This is gonna be a long ride.

    Step 2

    Put your phone or tablet in a ziplock Baggie, squeeze the air out and take a deep breath. Things are about to get messy. And freaking delicious.

    Step 3

    Grabbing ingredients here. As usual, I recommend doing any chopping ahead of time. I omitted carrots and celery this time because we don't have any.

    Step 4

    I roughly weigh my tomatoes to about four pounds (64 oz). This heirloom tomato is an unknown varietal but meaty Italian Heirlooms, Amish Pastes and Romas make great sauce 'maters.

    Step 5

    Cut an X on the bottom of each tomato to prepare for blanching and peeling.

    Step 6

    Throw your tomatoes about four at a time in a pot of boiling water. Count to 10 and check to see if they're peeling. If not, throw back in and count to 10 again.

    Step 7

    Immediately remove the tomatoes and run under cold water or put in an ice bath to stop them from cooking.

    Step 8

    Peel those suckers until they're totally naked. This is a great job for young kitchen helpers to assist with—but it does get messy. You've been warned.

    Step 9

    Nude tomatoes.

    Step 10

    Slice them in half or quarters depending on size.

    Step 11

    Squeeze the seeds out over a strainer into a bowl. Seeds can cause sauces to taste bitter so you want to rid as many of them as possible. This is a great job for the kiddos—it's okay to be messy!

    Step 12

    Save the leftover juices. You might need them later.

    Step 13

    Put your seedless tomato parts in a bowl or pot.

    Step 14

    Chop them with a knife on a cutting board or use a potato masher to smash them. I'm using a pastry cutter here. It works too.

    Step 15

    Chop them onions if you haven't yet. Mince your garlic OR skip to the next step.

    Step 16

    If you want your sauce very smooth, run your onions and garlic (and carrots and celery if using) in a food processor until smooth. It should smell potently divine.

    Step 17

    Garlic onion smoothie. Omnomnom.

    Step 18

    Heat up your oil in a large pot over medium heat.

    Step 19

    Add the onions, garlic and carrots and celery if using. Cook about ten minutes, less if you made a paste out of 'em.

    Step 20

    Pour in your smashed tomatoes.

    Step 21

    Stir together to combine onion-garlic with tomatoes and turn down the heat to medium-low.

    Step 22

    Set your sauce to a simmer, a timer to 30 minutes and let it cook, stirring occasionally. And rock out to the melodious sounds of Dustin Hatzenbuhler.

    Step 23

    When your timer goes off, decide if your sauce is too thick or just right. If too thick, add a little of the leftover juices from your tomatoes, or throw in a splash of red wine. Continue cooking.

    Step 24

    After about 45 minutes, add salt.

    Step 25

    Turn whole basil into chopped basil via some quick knife action.

    Step 26

    Add basil, stir and eat. Add browned, ground beef or turkey, Morning Star veggie crumbles, or Italian sausage for a traditional meaty sauce.

    Step 27

    Enjoy over pasta. Store in refrigerator or freezer. Note: this recipe does not involving water bath canning so you should not store the sauce at room temperature.