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This tomato cream sauce recipe is bursting with rich and tangy flavor! It’s easy to whip up in just 30 minutes.

Tomato cream sauce
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Looking for a great tomato sauce? Here’s your recipe: this Tomato Cream Sauce! Rich heavy cream is the ideal pairing with tangy, acidic tomatoes. The way the cream rounds out the flavor and texture is simply stunning. It’s similar to an Italian Vodka Sauce, but a lot less work. We’ve also got a genius vegan variation for you, too. Here’s how to do it!

Ingredients for tomato cream sauce

This tomato cream sauce is simple and requires only a handful of ingredients. In fact, we love whipping it up on a weeknight where we’re not sure what to make. It tastes loads better than a store-bought jar of marinara: there’s something about the realness of homemade sauce. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Fennel seeds
  • Crushed tomatoes (see notes below)
  • Tomato paste
  • Heavy cream (or cashew cream for vegan)
  • Onion
  • Dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
Tomato cream sauce recipe

Find the best quality canned tomatoes

This tomato cream sauce is most dependent on the quality of the tomatoes. Make sure you’re using best quality canned tomatoes in this recipe! Here are a few notes on what to look for:

  • Look for fire roasted tomatoes, if you can find them. They’re roasted over a flame before canning, and the flavor is sweet and developed right out of the can.
  • Or look for San Marzano tomatoes. They’re an Italian variety of tomato with a sweet flavor.
  • Can’t find either one? Just use the best quality canned crushed tomatoes you can find.

How to make tomato cream sauce: a few flavor secrets

This tomato cream sauce has a few flavor secrets that take it over the top! Here are a few things to note (besides the canned tomatoes, of course):

  • The secret ingredient? Fennel seeds. The fennel adds add hearty, meaty flavor that can’t be replicated. Don’t leave it out!
  • Add an entire half onion (no need to dice!). This is one of our favorite tricks for a tomato sauce. Throw in a peeled onion and let the flavor seep in: no cutting required.
  • Simmer until thickened. This should take about 20 to 30 minutes. If you have 30 minutes, use it! It tastes even better after simmering down a little more.

Vegan variation: use cashew cream

Want to make a vegan tomato cream sauce? We’ve got your back. Substitute equal parts cashew cream for the heavy cream! Cashew cream is a sauce made from soaked cashews that magically blends into a dairy substitute. We use it in many of our creamy vegan dishes and it works like a charm.

Cashew cream is what adds the richness in our Vegan RanchCreamy Vegan Pasta Marinara and our Wild Rice Soup.


Serve with 1 pound pasta (or tortellini)

Once you’ve got your tomato cream sauce, it works with 1 pound of pasta! You can use it on any type of noodles: long noodles like spaghetti and bucatini, or short noodles like rigatoni, shells, farfalle, and more. If you don’t want to use it all at once, refrigerate it for up to 1 week.

A favorite way to serve it over here? In this Easy Tortelloni recipe! (It’s a bigger, better version of tortellini.) Simply make this sauce, boil up 18 ounces refrigerated tortelloni, and combine. Delicious!

More pasta sauce recipes

Want more homemade pasta sauces? Here are our top sauce recipes:

This tomato cream sauce recipe is…

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

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Tomato cream sauce

Tomato Cream Sauce

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4.5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: About 3 ½ cups 1x


This tomato cream sauce recipe is bursting with rich and tangy flavor! It’s easy to whip up in just 30 minutes.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 28 ounce crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or best quality canned tomatoes)
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (double concentrated) tomato paste or 3 tablespoons normal tomato paste
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream (or cashew cream, for vegan)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • To serve: Parmesan cheese, fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 pound pasta, for serving


  1. Mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and fennel seeds and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant and the garlic is golden (do not allow to brown).
  2. Turn the heat to medium low. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, ¼ cup of the heavy cream, the half onion, the oregano, and the salt. Simmer 20 to 30 minutes until the sauce is thickened.
  3. When thickened, remove the half onion and stir in remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream. Taste; if you didn’t use fire roasted tomatoes and the flavor is acidic, add a few teaspoons sugar and taste again. Serve with 1 pound pasta. If desired, serve with Parmesan shavings and chopped fresh basil. Leftover sauce stores refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

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 and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Angelina says:

    You mentioned refrigerating for 5 days. Can I freeze this too? I’m only cooking for 2 people, so I will either need to freeze the sauce or cut the recipe in half- will it taste the same if i cut in half?

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      It should work fine!

  2. Jenna says:

    It’s a fine recipe as written, but I found it to be pretty acidic from all the canned tomatoes. I ended up adding a tablespoon or two of sugar and blended in a bit of the cooked onions that I had pulled out. Those two things made a huge difference!
    Also, I might be totally missing it, but I think the oregano may have been left out of the cooking instructions.

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Thanks for the comment! The acidity was likely due to the canned tomatoes brand: did you use fire roasted tomatoes? I added an instruction to the recipe that if you don’t use fire roasted tomatoes, taste and add a little sugar to balance it out. Fixed the oregano: thank you!

  3. Janice Wait says:

    Could you use this tomato cream sauce for vegie bake

    1. Sonja Overhiser says:

      Yes, that would be a great use for this!

  4. Sonja Overhiser says:

    Let us know if you have any questions!