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This pasta pomodoro recipe makes dinnertime magic with simple ingredients! Pair the Italian sauce with spaghetti for a tasty meal.

Pasta Pomodoro

Here’s a tasty recipe that makes any dinnertime special: Pasta Pomodoro! This classic Italian recipe is all about simplicity. The luxurious, slow-cooked tomato sauce is based on a handful of quality ingredients with big flavor. Pour the tangy sauce over long or short noodles, add a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese, and it tastes like pure gold. It works as a weeknight meal, a dinner party to impress, or a date night in. We couldn’t stop shoveling in forkfuls!

Ingredients for pasta pomodoro

Pasta pomodoro (or pasta al pomodoro) is a dish that features Italian pomodoro sauce, a sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and other aromatic vegetables. Pomodoro sauce is similar to a marinara sauce, but the former can be made with fresh or canned tomatoes, is simmered longer, and has a thicker, smoother consistency. It works with many types of noodles, as spaghetti pomodoro, penne pomodoro, and more.

This recipe for pomodoro sauce is inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s classic recipe for pomodoro sauce: the famous actress lived in Rome for 20 years and raised her children there. This was her favorite dish, according to her daughter. Here’s what you’ll need for this pasta pomodoro recipe:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Canned whole tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt and pepper
  • Pasta like spaghetti or bucatini noodles
Pasta Pomodoro recipe

Tips for making pasta pomodoro

Pasta pomodoro is a simple recipe to put together. But like any good Italian tomato sauce recipe, it requires a bit of simmering time to develop the flavors. This sauce is great for making ahead if you have the time and forethought. Here are a few tips for making the recipe:

  • Consider making the pomodoro sauce ahead. The sauce recipe makes 7 cups, enough for 3 times the recipe below. It lasts for 5 days in the refrigerator or 3 months frozen. And while it takes about 1 hour to make, it’s almost totally hands off!
  • Adjust the flavors as desired. To balance the acidity of the tomatoes, the pomodoro sauce needs just a bit of sugar and a good amount of salt (it makes a large batch).
  • Add cheese to the sauce if you like. Add some grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese to the blender for an even more flavor-packed sauce.

How to serve it

Pasta pomodoro makes a big batch of sauce, so it’s perfect for making in advance and storing for later! We like it best as spaghetti pomodoro, but you can use any type of noodle. Here are a few tips on how to serve it:

  • Two cups sauce is enough for 8 ounces pasta (or 4 cups per pound). For 4 servings of pasta, we typically make about 8 ounces. However, hungry eaters may prefer 12 ounces pasta for 4 servings.
  • Serve with long or short noodles. Spaghetti or bucatini are our picks for long noodles. Or use any short noodles you like: penne, rigatoni, and more.
  • Add cheese! Grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese are the perfect topping and complete the flavor profile. For vegan, use Vegan Parmesan Cheese or purchased non-dairy Parmesan.
Pasta al pomodoro

Sides to go with pasta pomodoro

Pasta pomodoro is perfect for a weeknight, a date night or even an elegant dinner party! It works for occasions like Valentine’s Day or just an everyday cozy meal in. How to make it into a meal? Pair it with a salad or quick side vegetable. Here are some ideas:

Spaghetti pomodoro

More pasta dinner ideas

This pasta pomodoro recipe is a fun way to put pasta at the center of your plate! Here are a few more easy pasta dinner ideas:

This spaghetti pomodoro recipe is…


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Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta Pomodoro

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 3 to 4 1x


This pasta pomodoro recipe makes dinnertime magic with simple ingredients! Pair the slow-cooked Italian sauce with spaghetti for a tasty meal.



For the pomodoro sauce*

  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 28-ounce cans high quality peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 large handful basil, plus more for garnish
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • Fresh ground black pepper

For the pasta (makes 3 to 4 servings)

  • 8 ounces pasta (long or short noodles)
  • Fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese, for garnish


  1. Place the minced onion, garlic, celery, carrots, whole canned tomatoes, basil, olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large saucepan. Simmer for 45 minutes with a lid ajar, stirring occasionally.
  2. Remove from the heat and rest 5 minutes. Discard the basil leaves. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the sugar and several grinds black pepper. Blend until smooth (or pulse for a chunkier texture). Taste and add more salt as desired (we typically add another ½ teaspoon or more).
  3. Meanwhile, start a large pot of generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and boil until al dente (check a few minutes before the package instructions indicate). Drain and return to the pot.
  4. Stir in 2 cups pomodoro sauce, then add more to taste if desired. Top generously with grated Parmesan or grated Pecorino cheese before serving (or, stir it into the warm sauce). If desired top with finely chopped parsley. Enjoy immediately. The extra sauce stores refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to 6 months.


*The sauce recipe makes 7 cups; make it in advance if desired.

  • Category: Pasta
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pasta pomodoro, pomodoro pasta, pasta al pomodoro, spaghetti pomodoro

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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