Just 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients are needed to make this simple tomato pasta sauce recipe. Serve it on your choice of pasta, and enjoy!

Homemade tomato pasta sauce recipe

Since Alex and I love to cook in the Mediterranean style, we’ve been in search of the perfect homemade tomato pasta sauce recipe. I was fully willing to make some sacrifices for this endeavor – such as spending some effort in the kitchen to achieve the ideal taste. Since many pasta sauce recipes call for chopping and sautéing onions, carrots, and celery, and then simmering the sauce for an hour or more, I was prepared to put in some time. However, after thorough investigation I am pleased to report that only a maximum of 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients is needed to achieve the flavor I’ve been looking for. Enter: this homemade tomato pasta sauce recipe.

Also try: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with meat or veggie crumbles!

Making this tomato pasta sauce recipe

The preparation for this simple tomato pasta sauce recipe is minimal. Mince some garlic (the hardest part!) and barely sauté it in olive oil with some red pepper flakes. Then simmer with canned tomatoes for 5 to 10 minutes until you have the consistency and taste you are looking for.

You could also add fresh or dried herbs like basil, oregano, or parsley, but only if you’re feeling fancy. If you add in dried herbs, you may want to simmer this tomato pasta sauce recipe for a little longer to allow the herbs to impart as much flavor as possible into the dish. No matter if you add in extra herbs or not, the result is a delicious, simple pasta sauce you can serve with any number of dishes. And you’ll find jarred store-bought sauces may become a thing of the past…becoming an Italian grandmother is just that simple!

Homemade tomato pasta sauce recipe

Tips for making the best tomato sauce

Because this tomato pasta sauce recipe is so simple, it’s really important that you use the best quality ingredients possible. For the crushed tomatoes, we love Muir Glen and San Marzano tomatoes. Both brands have incredibly fresh tasting canned tomatoes that aren’t too acidic or bitter straight out of the can. We also recommend using freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor. And if you like your homemade tomato pasta sauce with a bit of a kick, feel free to add in more red pepper flakes!

How to freeze tomato sauce

This pasta sauce recipe is easy to freeze and enjoy later. The most important thing is that you let this sauce cool completely on your counter before transferring it to freezer-safe containers (glass mason jars work well for this). You could also pour the sauce into freezer bags; if you go this route, I’d recommend freezing the bags on a baking sheet first so that they lay flat in the freezer. Once the bags of sauce have frozen flat, take them off the baking sheet and stack them in the freezer.

No matter how you freeze this pasta sauce recipe, make sure to label the container you’re using with the name of the recipe and the date. It’s helpful for keeping track of when you made it (if you’re like us and have trouble remembering the origin of items in our freezer)!

Looking for some pasta sauce uses?

Looking for more easy Italian recipes?

Outside of this pasta sauce recipe, here are a few more of our favorite easy Italian recipes:

This pasta sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, plant-based, and gluten-free.

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Tomato Pasta Sauce Recipe

  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 1 quart 1x


Just 15 minutes and a handful of ingredients are needed to make this simple tomato pasta sauce recipe. Serve it on your choice of pasta, and enjoy!


  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons lemon juice


  1. Mince the garlic.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, and kosher salt. Over medium high heat, stir as the mixture heats up, and sauté for around 45 seconds until the garlic sizzles but before it starts to brown.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes. Heat at a gentle simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until the sauce starts to thicken.
  4. Remove from the heat. Stir in a few teaspoons of lemon juice to smooth out the flavors, and additional kosher salt (if necessary) to taste.


Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Keywords: pasta sauce recipe, simple tomato sauce, tomato sauce recipe, tomato sauce

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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  1. Hi!
    I use only tomatoes, oil, salt and basil and the result is great. To do this I use fresh tomatoes. You should try it.

    Hope you like this:

    The first historical recipe of tomato sauce was described by duke Ippolito Cavalcanti, in 1839, in the book “Cucina Casereccia in Dialetto Napoletano” written only in Neapolitan Dialect.
    It say: “Take the tomatoes and cook them until they are soft. Continue cooking until they loose all the water. Remove sauce from fire, let it cool and add olive oil, salt and fresh basil”.

    1. Wow, thanks for the authentic Italian recipe!! We will definitely give this a try once we have some tomatoes in the garden. Thanks for sharing!

  2. What a simple and perfect tomato sauce. The red pepper flakes give it that extra something, nice recipe! A healthy sauce that go wish so many dishes.

  3. This is awesome! I am currently living in South Korea where ingredients to make certain Western foods can be hard to find (if at all), but these ingredients are simple enough one can find them anywhere…thank you for posting.

    p.s. thank you also for posting the tortillas recipe because I have been buying ours at $6 for a bag of 8 here in order to sustain our love for Mexican food. Seeing the recipe, I recently bought some masa harina from iherb.com, and can’t wait to make my own! So excited I could find the flour to make fresh ones for half the price that I buy a bag of pre-made ones. ^^

    1. Oh, that is wonderful! I’m so glad you were able to find masa harina online! Let us know if the tortillas work out — they take a bit of practice, but become easier over time :)