A Quick Tomato Sauce is a godsend for last-minute dinners. Spoon it over meatballs, pizza, or just a bowl of pasta. This recipe is simple and straightforward to whip up in only a few minutes, (no simmering for hours on end!) and it has lots of bright, punchy tomato flavor.
Oven-baked Eggplant Parmesan shines with this speedy sauce! Use the rest on leftover Turkey Meatballs or Cheese Tortellini. If you’re craving something heartier, here’s a Homemade Meat Sauce that no one can resist. Lots of other fast dinner ideas, all just a click away.
A 15-minute tomato sauce that rivals any store-bought jar? Yep, it’s true. This one pot wonder requires no chopping, peeling, or browning. All it needs is a quick sauté of whole garlic gloves before the other ingredients are added. It’s fresh, fresh, fresh, and about as Italian as it gets.
And if you need a recipe for tomato sauce to can for later, look no further. Just make sure the sauce simmers a little longer—about 30 minutes— before pouring into sterilized jars.
Canning project? Triple the recipe. Click and slide the number next to “servings” on the recipe card below to adjust the ingredients to match how many you’re feeding—the recipe does the math for you, it’s that easy.
What are the best tomatoes for turning into sauce?
Most Italian pasta sauces call for San Marzano tomatoes in the recipes, a specific variety of oblong tomato that thrives in Italy. San Marzano tomatoes have a higher flesh-to-seed ratio than other tomatoes, so they do make excellent pasta sauces.
However, there’s a lot of frenzied debate about whether or not Italian canned tomatoes are actually even grown in Italy, regardless of what the label says. In other words, that gorgeous (and pricey) can of San Marzanos at the store may not be the real deal at all. In fact, chances are that it's anything but a real Italian product.
Here’s the best advice: try to buy the best can of tomatoes that fits in your grocery budget, regardless of brand. Look for a label that is preservative-free, low in sodium, and tastes great. Domestic tomatoes are absolutely fine.
How to make Quick Tomato Sauce:
- First, heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat. Then add the whole garlic cloves and sauté them until browned but not scorched. Keep them moving in the pan.
- Next, take out the garlic—it has done its job—and discard it. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, sugar, herbs, and salt and pepper.
- Finally, reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce simmer for about 10 minutes. You can keep the sauce warm over low heat until you need it, or use it right away.
Make it ahead:
Quick Tomato Sauce can be made ahead, covered, and stored in the refrigerator up to 4 days before you need it.
Italian tomato sauce names:
Italian cuisine has more fabulous pasta sauces than you can imagine. Here are a few of the big names loved throughout the world:
- Marinara. A chunky, rustic tomato based sauce with fresh or canned tomatoes.
- Amatriciana. A hearty sauce made from pork jowl (guanciale), pecorino cheese, white wine, San Marzano tomatoes, pepper and chili.
- Puttanesca. A kitchen-sink tomato sauce with capers, anchovy, fresh tomatoes, olives, and herbs. Salty, funky, and wonderful.
- Alla Norma. A fabulous Sicilian sauce with fried eggplant, ricotta cheese, and basil.
- Arrabiata. A spicy concoction made with garlic, tomatoes, and red chili peppers. A relative of Fra Diavolo sauce, which is a sauce for seafood that may or may not contain tomatoes.
Other ways to change it up:
Versatile and delicious, consider this recipe a mere jumping-off point for your dinner. Open the fridge...what else can you add?
- Smooth. Use a handheld immersion blender or a food processor to blend the sauce to a smoother consistency.
- Creamy. Add a glug of heavy cream to the sauce to transform tomato sauce into something creamy and altogether delicious.
- Spicy. Use fire-roasted tomatoes and chili flakes to add a little kick.
- Tomato butter sauce. A pat or two of good butter makes tomato sauce super silky and luxurious. Perfect for noodles.
- Pizza sauce. Spoon it onto your crust and have a pizza party.
- With meatballs. Slow Cooker Meatloaf Meatballs or Turkey Meatballs make a memorable dinner, indeed!
Can you freeze tomato sauce?
Absolutely. Let the sauce cool, divide it into portions, and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Quick Tomato Sauce Recipe
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes undrained
- 1 teaspoon sugar optional
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, heat oil until shimmering. Add garlic cloves and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove garlic and discard.
- Stir in crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, sugar (if using), basil, oregano, and salt and pepper to taste (I like 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper). Reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes.
- Keep warm over low-heat until serving time, or cool completely and store covered in the refrigerator.