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Here’s the ideal quick tomato sauce recipe for pasta: Tomato Basil Sauce! It’s got a rustic texture and a tangy, developed flavor.

Tomato basil sauce
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Need a great homemade tomato sauce for pasta? Try this Tomato Basil Sauce, a rustic sauce that’s bold on tomato flavor: in 20 minutes! Some tomato sauce recipes bubble for an hour or more, but this one’s quick to whip up. It works with 8 ounces pasta, so it’s great for a fast weeknight dinner with a few easy sides: or double for a crowd!

Ingredients in tomato basil sauce

This tomato basil sauce comes out with a rustic texture and a tangy, tomato forward flavor. Fresh basil adds just the right peppery nuance! There’s just a handful of ingredients in this one. Like many Italian-style recipes, it’s simplify at its finest. Just a few ingredients make massive flavor. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Basil
Tomato Sauce Recipe

Whole tomatoes are key (San Marzano preferred)

Whole canned tomatoes are what make the body of this sauce so tasty. It’s a little unusual, since most canned tomato sauce recipes are made with crushed or diced tomatoes. Here’s what to know about this specific type of tomato:

  • San Marzano tomatoes are an Italian variety of tomato (not a brand). They have a sweeter, Italian-style flavor straight out of the can.
  • Where to find them? They’re becoming widely available in many American grocery stores, so you should be able to find them in the canned tomato section. They’re worth seeking out here.

Serve tomato basil sauce chunky, or blend

This tomato basil sauce recipe comes out with a chunky texture that’s a little more rustic than most sauces. You can stay with it chunky, or simply give it a little whiz with the blender or immersion blender before serving. Here are some notes:

  • You’ll mash the whole tomatoes into a chunky sauce with a potato masherThe flavor of whole tomatoes is a step above crushed tomatoes. See the photo for the approximate texture.
  • This results in a chunky texture. The rustic texture gives beautiful bursts of tomato basil flavor. The sliced garlic (instead of minced) also contributes to the chunky texture.
  • Whiz it up if you like! You can immersion blend the sauce to make it smoother, more like what you’d expect from a jarred marinara sauce.
Burrata Pasta

How to serve tomato basil sauce

This tomato basil sauce we developed especially for our stunning Burrata Pasta: one of our top favorite pasta recipes. The way the chunky sauce coats the noodles makes for little bursts of tomato, garlic and basil flavor. Of course, you can serve it in a myriad of different ways. Here are some ideas:

  • Swirl into 8 ounces spaghetti, bucatini, or other long noodles (aka Homemade Pasta Marinara)
  • Stir in 2 to 4 ounces goat cheese for a creamy pasta
  • Add burrata cheese on top for Burrata Pasta
  • Use in baked pasta like Baked Rigatoni (scaled to 1.5 times the recipe)

More pasta sauce recipes

These homemade pasta sauce recipes are great for easy, throw-together meals! Here are some favorites:

This tomato basil sauce recipe is…

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

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Tomato Basil Sauce

Quick Tomato Basil Sauce

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


Here’s the ideal quick tomato sauce recipe for pasta: Tomato Basil Sauce! It’s got a rustic texture and a tangy, developed flavor.


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 28 ounce whole San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup roughly chopped basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 8 ounces spaghetti or bucatini pasta


  1. Add the olive oil to a saucepan over medium heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook for about 30 to 45 seconds until lightly browned and fragrant.
  2. Add the whole tomatoes with the can liquid, taking care as it will spit when the tomatoes hit the hot oil. Use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes into small pieces (see the sauce photo above). Add the kosher salt and chopped basil leaves and bring to a heavy simmer.
  3. Cover the saucepan with a lid slightly ajar and simmer, bubbling rapidly, for 10 to 12 minutes until thickened. It will have a chunky, rustic texture (see the photos). If you prefer it smoother, carefully pulse it in a standard blender or with an immersion blender until it comes to the desired texture. Serve with 8 ounces spaghetti.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Vegan

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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  1. Shannon Criswell says:

    I made this recipe tonight. I added too much oil, but other than that it was awesome! My husband said it was better than mine. My youngest son, who took culinary in high school, recommended that I use the tomatoes in my sauce (which is tomato puree with onion, garlic, oregano or Italian seasoning, salt/pepper, sometimes with diced tomatoes). I think I’ll try your recipe pureed although I loved it chunky. It went well with the meat and spaghetti. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  2. Melanie says:

    If using fresh tomatoes, what should I shift in the recipe?


    If I were to make a big batch and jar some, how long would it keep in the fridge?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      About a week! You could freeze though.

  4. Zachary Graber says:

    I am not a cook. This was painless, easy, and delicious. Many thanks! This over some angel hair was a more than welcome break from the frozen pizzas and top ramen.

  5. Kara D. says:

    I’m excited to try this sauce with basil from my indoor herb garden! Is the 1/2 cup of basil packed or unpacked?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Not packed.

  6. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!