Basic Tomato Sauce

Step 1: Preparing Your Mise en Place

Preparing Your Mise en Place

To prepare your mise en place, finely dice the onions and émincé the garlic. Deseed the tomatoes by pushing them through a food mill or passatutto. Measure out the tomato paste and olive oil and set aside.

To make the sauce even thicker, drain the liquid from the whole tomatoes and pass only the whole tomatoes through the food mill or passatutto. Use the drained liquid in another dish.

  • 1/2 medium onion (1 cup)
  • 4 large cloves of garlic
  • 4 - 28 oz (796 ml) cans whole tomatoes
  • 1 - 5.5 oz (162 ml) can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Step 2: Making the Sauce

Making the Sauce

To start the sauce, heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Then add the oil, followed by the onions. Next, add a pinch of salt and let the onions gently cook until they soften and just begin to turn a slight golden color.

Once they’re ready, add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute or so, just until softened. Stir in the tomato paste and let it gently cook for a few minutes until it becomes a shade darker. Then add the deseeded tomatoes and a good pinch of salt. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook uncovered for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching.

  • pinch of kosher or sea salt

Step 3: Finishing the Sauce

Finishing the Sauce

Once the sauce has finished cooking, turn off the heat and taste for seasoning. To give the sauce an Italian flair, torn, fresh basil can be added, along with a splash of olive oil to finish.

  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste (optional)
  • 8 basil leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil


Tomato sauce is one of the five mother sauces. This base can be varied with other herbs and spices.

Once the sauce has cooled, it will keep in the refrigerator for a few days or it can be frozen for several months. However, it may be a bit watery once it thaws, so it will need to be cooked down slightly when reheated.

Judi G

I will have to wait

I was SO intrigued when I read about the tomato sauce. I searched out the San Marzano tomatoes and found them at a great price and even found a passoatto (sp), so am set to go!! If this is half as good as described, and makes 3.5 liters it is well worth any expense. I will be making a batch to share with family and will let you know how it turns out, but based on previous Rouxbe experiences, it should be a winner. Another culinary adventure moves out of the starting gate. Thanks for the inspiration. Great writing.

Naouar E


Is it possible to freeze this sauce, since the recipe makes more than 3 litres?

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Freezing is okay

No problem, it does freeze well. When thawed and cooked, however, you'll notice it will be a bit more watery. Simply cook it down a bit.

Leslie H

Great sauce

I LOVE this sauce. Very, very good!

Faye L

tomato sauce ala Tony M

I used it for everything, from breakfast, stews to curries. One of my all time favourite breakfast is poached 2 eggs on the tomato sauce and top it with Gruyere or Emmenthal cheese. Once the eggs are done to your liking, lay on the cheese, turn off the fire, cover until the cheese melts. Goes well with any savoury bread from Terra Breads. Yummm!

Karen C

Canning Suggestions?

I have made this recipe using canned tomatoes with very good results. Now I have a ton of fresh tomatoes and was planning on canning the sauce. Does the recipe need modified for canning? Any recommendations would be appreciated!

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Canning with Fresh

Important to first blanch the tomatoes in boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute so the skins easily come off before deseeding. If the skins are left on, the sauce will be chunky and feel slimy (that's due to the skins in the sauce). In other words, you need to do what the growers do before they put the tomatoes in the can, which is exactly what is blanch and skin.

Here is a Drill-down showing you just how to

Peel Tomatoes

Megan W


This was the first recipe I tried from the cooking school. I decided to make it into a tomato soup and it was amazing.

Sam O


I HAVE ALWAYS USED some wine in my tomato sauce to enhance the sweetness of the sauce. The wine brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Adding Wine to Tomato Sauce - Not Too Much

Careful when adding wine, as a bad wine, and too much of it, can actually make the sauce more bitter. But if adding a good wine, do it in the beginning, after the paste, before the actual tomato puree...and evaporate as much of the alcohol as possible..this enhances sweetness in the wine. Personally, I prefer to keep my sauce neutral and add wine to the pan when making the specific sauce for my dish, such as deglazing the sauteed mushrooms, or sausage and onions.

Coco H

Tomato Sauce

I like the idea of the sundried tomato paste instead. Thanks Rouxbe you make my tomato sauce even taste better now.

Sophia K

you guys are great!

I have no question today, but i just have to say you guys are really great. I am a good cook and you have helped me improve so much I just love it. Thank you so much!!.


Mimi joan F

Thanks for the Hint!

I made some spaghetti sauce keeping in mind these instructions. I have been making this for years, always pretty much the same way and got pretty good results. This time, wow! It was exceptional. I didn't know if it was the extra ingredients I decided to use (wine, fennel root) or your method. But I could detect a slight caramelized tomato flavor in the sauce, which is what I have always liked about good Italian sauce. It must have come from adding the tomato paste the way you showed. Thanks for helping me to make changes in the way I always do things and for the tomato paste hint!

Richard yassel D

seriously the best

Thanks rouxbe WoooooW. I added this sauce to make chicken parmegiana.

Marcus F

Food mill recommendation?

I am looking for a good quality food mill. Can any of you recommend one and where to buy in the Victoria or Vancouver area?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Food Mill

Not sure of the best one but I do know that I had a cuispro one that I was not super happy with. Cuispro generally make excellent products, but I was never happy with my food mill.

Try your local Italian store, sometimes they sell cheaper ones that are actually quite good.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Food Mill

I bought mine for something like $30.00 from Renzullo Food Market - here it is on google maps - located on Nanaimo Street. It says Macina-Legumi on the handle (not sure if that is the brand or just the fact that it is a "vegetable mill"). It comes with 3 different-sized discs and I love it for making tomato sauce. Most Italian markets sell them and you don't have to spend a lot for a good one. Just as long as there is good contact between the press and the disc, you're good to go.

Marcus F

Re: Food Mill

Thanks for your feedback!

I picked up a food mill by Rosle. The brand had great reviews online, and I was able to source one locally. It's works very well, and is well-made. I definitely recommend it.

Bobby K


So I made this last night and it came out really well, simple but delicious. The biggest difference between my sauce and the video seems to be the consistency (mine was thinner). Going on Cook's Illustrated's taste test for whole tomatoes, I chose a variety packed in juice as opposed ot puree. (Side note: Their blind taste test of many brands of whole tomatoes had very different results; brands with citric acid universallly did better, and actually ranked best to worst from lowest pH to highest pH; held up when compared against much more expensive DOP-certified San Marzanos)

When I pressed the tomatoes through the food mill, I included all of the juice, which I think thinned out the sauce a bit too much.

Here are some thoughts I had on how to thicken the sauce, that I wanted to pass through you guys:

- I could drain the tomatoes before pressing them, and then add some of the packing juice back to the seedless mixture until I achieve the right consistency.


- I could keep cooking beyond the 45 min point to further reduce and thicken the sauce.


Tony M
Rouxbe Staff


Firstly, be weary of taste tests - citric acid fools the palate in thinking the tomatoes are better. The best tomatoes are the ones picked at their prime, and San Marzano tomatoes are intended to be tasted only after they have been cooked, not raw (in fact, they are not ideal tomatoes eaten raw).

Bobby, you've solved your consistency issue with your first solution - the one with the most common sense. If you were cooking the sauce for a long period of time, say with browned meats in it, your second solution would then work perfectly.

Keep up your problem solving skills. Remember, the best cookbook you'll ever own is the one you write yourself from trial and error in your OWN test kitchen.

Marcus F

Re: Consistency

I used the sauce in the chicken parmigiana recipe ( and it was amazing. After being in the oven and cooking down it was perfect -- a nice thick and delicious sauce.

I believe that in this case reducing the sauce itself, before using it in the chicken parm recipe, may have resulted in a sauce that was too thick or even pasty.

Just my $0.02.

Bobby K

Re: Consistency

Thanks so much for the response guys (It's my first post!) I've got a couple more batches of sauce in the freezer but will try the "drain first" method for the next batch and see how that goes.

The comment about citric acid and "fooling the palate" is interesting -- on one hand isn't that the measure of success: if it tastes good (chemical additives used within reason, e.g. not high fructose corn syrup)? I suppose I cant fully answer that until I make a batch with cheap $2/can progresso tomatoes and another with $6/can san marzanos and really do a personal taste test. Its great to know that San Marzano's don't come into their own until they are cooked, though.

Thanks for the feedback - much appreciated. Time to go review the pizza dough recipes as thats my next big venture :)

Robert S


Hi everybody. First of all, let me just thanks for offering this website. Like most people, quitting my current job to pursue culinary school full time isn't an option, and this is the best alternative I've found. And I'm loving it. So here is my question:

I want to make this sauce tonight, but I'm not sure I want to make 3L worth. Does the recipe work out just the same - specifically, the cooking time - if I use only have the ingredients?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Measurements

Hi Robert,

You can cut this recipe in 1/2, no problem. Cooking time will likely be reduced slightly, but the main thing is to cook the sauce to the proper consistency, so don't worry about times so much.

Great to hear you are enjoying the school. Happy cooking!

Robert S

RE: Measurements


Thanks for the prompt response. And sorry for the typos (I was writing to you while making sure my students weren't cheating on their final). I have another question about onions. Does it make a difference whether we use white or yellow onions in the first step?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Measurements

Yellow onions are the most common and become sweet when cooked. Since such a small amount is used, it won't make a big difference in flavor whether you use yellow or white.

I am pretty confident that you will make this sauce more than once :-), so experiment to see if you can tell the difference and prefer one over the other. Have fun!

Debra G

Can I substitute

OK, I'm so ready to make this for dinner, but I'm out of Olive Oil! And, the kids can not be convinced to get in the car. The only thing I have in my pantry is White Truffle Oil- can I substitute?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Can I Substitute?

No no no...please don't substitute the olive oil with white truffle oil. You likely won't be able to eat it as the truffle oil would totally overpower the entire sauce. Truffle oil is meant to be used more as a finishing oil and/or in very small amounts.

In a pinch, you could use another neutral oil such as grapeseed oil; however, this sauce is best with olive oil. Hope this helps!

David R

Maybe a crazy question

I made the tomato sauce, and there is no doubt that it is good tomato sauce. The San Marzano tomatoes, the double concentrate tomato paste, and all of your other techniques/ingredients give it a very distinct and rich "tomato sauce" flavor.

However, I think I was expecting something more/else. I was expecting a rich sauce I could put right on top of spaghetti. I was disappointed when I tasted the sauce over spaghetti. It tasted like tomato sauce put over spaghetti. Albeit a good tomato sauce, but still tomato sauce.

Is there a recipe, or any ideas, on how I can take the basic tomato sauce and turn it into a rich sauce to put over spaghetti, etc. Maybe I just don't get it, and that is the way it is supposed to be. I have been making "spaghetti sauce" for decades and I was hoping that this sauce would make it even better. As I said, maybe I just don't get it. Will you help/enlighten me?



Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Simple Crazy

Some people, especially Italians who love things simple, love tomato sauce simply to taste of tomatoes, and not much else. However, we often expect more. So, add more. Use the sauce as your base and elaborate it with ingredients you like: spicy sausages, peppers, more garlic, chilies, olives, capers, tuna, etc. Remember, cooking starts with a fundamental base, then you can build on that as you please. Some need more building blocks, some need less, depending on taste.

Julie S

Love, love this tomato sauce

This tomato sauce is my favorite out of all the mother sauces. I think of it as a base to my cooking canvas. Sometimes I just add a little extra seasoning (salt, pepper, fresh basil leaves and a drizzle of good quality olive oil) voila...amazing! In the past, (before I learned how to make this sauce on Rouxbe) I used to add everything but the kitchen sink to my tomato sauce thinking that was what you needed to do to make a successful sauce and indeed many recipes involve a lot of ingredients. I like the simplicity of this because it brings out the true essence of the flavor of tomatoes and I can build from there. Also, when I make this sauce I like to make a big batch and freeze it for later use.

Maria A

A question about the garlic

What is the advantage to preparing the garlic as an emince as opposed to crushing it through your garlic press?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Garlic

The finer garlic is chopped/crushed, the more intense the flavor. We often emince the garlic in many recipes to give a subtle flavor. One clove that is cut emince will be a lot less intense than the equivalent that is crushed. Crushed garlic can easily overpower a dish, so be careful. Ultimately, it's up to you and your personal preference.

David N

Fresh or canned tomatoes

I was sharing this recipe with my siste-in-law and she said "What, no fresh tomatoes?" So the question is, fresh vs. canned tomatoes. Is the peeling and dicing worth it? Do the Italian canned tomatoes have something 'extra' that domestic tomatoes cannot match? BTW, Love this web site. Signed up for the lifetime membership and I am hoping you have a long life.

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Fresh or Canned Tomatoes

You can definitely used fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes if you have access to them. There are quite a few high-quality, canned tomatoes on the market, so you can make tomato sauce all year round. For more information on this we do cover this in depth in the Cooking School Lesson on How to Make Tomato Sauce. Cheers!

Rob W

No Food Mill

I do not currently own a food mill, and I am not aware of any local stores that carry this item. Is there any way to seed the tomatoes without a food mill, or is that option out of the question? Thanks for your help!

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: No Food Mill

For more information on what to do if you don't have a food mill watch the cooking school lesson on Tomato Sauce, in particular topic 6. The video provides a few different options. Cheers!

Marshann C

Tomato Paste Concentrated

I bought a tube of Concentrated Tomato Paste. However, it is only 2.8 oz. Since it is concentrated (although not double concentrated) would it be equivalent to the 5.5 oz tomato paste listed in the recipe?

I also noticed that I got "Sun-Dried" Tomato Paste. I won't be going to the store anytime soon. At this point, should I just go with the can of Hunts Tomato Paste I already have, although I realize it may not turn out as well?

BTW, I found a food mill like one shown in the video at Bed Bath and Beyond and the San Marzano tomatoes at Whole Foods Market (Southern California).

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Tomato Pasta Concentrate

I would go for the amount listed in the recipe. If you cannot always find concentrated, don't worry, it will still taste great. The sun-dried tomato paste will also taste good, it may just have a slightly richer tomato flavor than regular, which is okay. If you do not have enough you could always use both the concentrated and the regular tomato paste. Cheers!

Marshann C

Tomato Paste Concentrate

Great! So don't let the word "concentrated" on the tomato paste tube fool me. It is the same concentration as regular tomato paste. I assume "double concentrated" is also the same. My friends say my biggest problem in learning to cook is that I analyze things too much.

I will go with your suggestion of using both the concentrated and the regular tomato paste. It sounds like it will tone down the sun-dried richer tomato flavor. I was able to find plenty of the concentrated, I just should have noted the amount listed in the recipe before shopping. :) Thanks!

Judi G

Pretty good in spite..

I just made a half batch of the sauce and used grapeseed oil instead of the olive (same containers, not paying attention) and it's still good, but I will have to try it again. And BTW those special canned tomatoes are becoming hard to find. I heard there was a problem with last year's crop and there will be a shortage - Bosa's had NONE, so if you see them, grab some.

Andrea A


I just made a batch of sauce using pastene brand san marzano tomatos. I used a great EVO and followed the recipe exactly. I find that my sauce tastes a bit bitter- not sweet and juicy. What do you think went wrong? How can I fix it?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Bitterness

It does not sound like you did anything wrong. Sometimes, if the tomatoes contain citric acid, it's because they weren't picked at their peak and don't contain enough natural sugar to be canned and preserved without any salt or chemical. It's not a really big deal, but depending on the season, it's sometimes harder to find optimal tomatoes in a can. Often the best tomatoes stay at home in Italy or in Europe. If you want to add a bit of sweetness, you can adjust with a pinch of sugar. Even better than adding sugar is to cook the onions further. Next time, taste the tomatoes before you start. If they seem a bit bitter, cook the onions a bit longer to bring out their natural sweetness, rather than relying on adding sugar. Hope this helps!

Dan S

28 oz of tomato

Excellent recipe. I tried out a couple of variations and do have a question.
I started with one 28oz (800g) can. I realizied that the sauce is very thick then.

Was the recipe intended to actually include 4 cans (28 x 4 oz)

The resulting sauce was very potent and nice, but a little strong for blending it with other dishes.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: 28 oz of Tomato

The recipe does call "4 cans (28 oz) whole tomatoes" (in step 1). Cheers!

Mike M

OMG! Wow - an amazing basic Tomato Sauce

Hello everyone,
This is my FIRST recipe completed from Rouxbe, and I wasn't sure what to expect.. What I got was some good lessons, and some new ideas.

1. The canned tomatoes, San Marzano, without the additives were incredible!
2. I wasn't able to remove the seeds, it was way too much work, so in they went. Maybe with the proper tool this would work, but I couldn't tell the difference.
3. I did not believe that slicing the garlic instead of mincing it would make a difference, so I tested this. Although I did NOT like biting into slices of garlic in the finished dish, the sauce was obviously less bitter and much more naturally "tomatoey". (this was a very good thing!)
4. The recipe calls for a modest amount of salt. In comparing this tomato sauce with previous ones I had made with regular canned tomatoes, I needed to add more salt to this dish to bring it to my liking.
5. I did one thing different, that I believe makes the sauce much better. I skinned, seeded, and halved 6 very ripe Roma tomatoes, gave them a dash of good olive oil, some salt and pepper and dried basil, and roasted them for 35 minutes at 400F. I rough chopped them when done, and added this to the sauce, and I loved the results.

The addition of the roasted tomatoes gives me the freshness I love, and the sweetness of roasting!


Thanks Rouxbe for my brand new best loved basic tomato sauce! It is created! I am a happy camper!

Lynn W


I make my sauce with puree/whole tomato's and tomato sauce maybe i will try it this way i am thinking this is a thin watery sauce since u have no puree in it *shrug*

Amy P

Fresh Tomato's

How many or what weight is apropriate when using fresh tomato's from my own garden?

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Using Fresh Tomatoes

I would say roughly the same amount as in one can - 28 to 30 ounces; so, if you're making the whole batch, use about 120 ounces or 7.5-8 pounds. It doesn't have to be exact. Cheers!

Andrea A

For Lasagna

I made a simple lasagna with my sauce and it was the BEST lasagna I've ever tasted! My sauce just gave the lasagna the perfect flavor. This sauce is definately going to be a staple in my house.

Jude O

I'm not really a tomato sauce kinda girl, but...

Frankly, I hate tomato sauce almost as much as the thought of drinking drano.

But as far as this tomato sauce goes, this stuff is pretty darn good. I never thought I'd hear myself say that, like ever.

My first thought after tasting it was, "Man, this would make a good tomato soup!...huh?" Was that me I just heard saying that inside my head?

I did try this sauce before and it was ok. I still can't find the perfect D.O.P San Marzanos, but this time I found some San Marzanos, but still they added salt to them and no D.O.P to be found anywhere on the can.

This time, I sweated the onions three times longer than probably necessary, cause I heard somewhere onions can sweeten up the sauce and get rid of that acid taste. Seemed to work.

Once long ago, I remember having a sun dried tomato and thought it tasted delightful. I had a bag of those and thought why not?

So I tasted one first, (I'm learning to taste everything as I go lately), and thought it was kind of pleasant so I chopped them up into tiny pieces and threw them in the pot.

What I've ended up with is a rich, thick, pretty, semi-sweat, very low acidic, and rather perfect tomato sauce, As far as tomato sauces goes, I don't think it gets much better than this.

Hum, is this why Italians like tomato sauce so much?

Tomorrow, my first Lasagna with this sauce. Wish me luck.

Thanks Rouxbe!

Patrick O

A classic example

of a recipe with only a few, high quality ingredients yeilding outstanding results... Cheers!

Gordon F

Basic Tomato Sauce

Question from Dan and answered by Dawn, and I'm still confused.
Are we to use four 28 oz cans of tomatoes which would equal 112 oz total for the basic tomato sauce? Sorry for the dumbness but as a never have cooked before newbie, and as this my first try, I would like to get it right. Thanks a heap.
Gordie F

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Basic Tomato Sauce

The text recipe says "four 28-ounce cans whole tomatoes", so that means you should be using 4 cans (each 28 ounces) which equals 112 ounces total. Cheers!

Lynn B

basic tomato sauce

I made some tomato sauce this weekend using San Marzano Tomatoes, Wow flavor rich. It comes in whole and chopped, also seen in paste.

Azleena W


If using passata instead of canned tomatos, how much for this recipe?


Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Passata

You can use the same amount. 112 ounces total. Cheers!

Patricia S

Basic Tomato Sauce

Can this recipe be cut down to one-fourth to use one 28 oz can of tomtatoes?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Basic Tomato Sauce

I suppose it could be cut down but I don't think that I would cut it down that far as it would be so little to cook when it comes to the other ingredients. Besides, if you are going to go to all that effort why not make a bit more - any leftovers can also be frozen. That being said, you can try it if you like just be sure to use an appropriate size pot for the amount you are making. Cheers!

Pierre L

The Rouxbe tomato sauce recipe is a hit with the Nashwaak Valley 4-H

Hi Guys,
Our local 4-H club has a Foods project of which I'm the leader. We have 10 kids who love to learn about food, cooking, baking and everything edible so has part of the curriculum I decided to teach them about pasta and how to make a simple tomato sauce using your recipe. However, I was a little dubious to the benefit of using the San Marzano tomato vs.other paste tomatoes (roma) so we had a taste test. I made half the recipe using San Marzano and the other half using an organic roma tomato; the winner, hands down was the sauce with the San Marzanos. Students, parents and leader are all sold.
Thanks for your great program; it's amazing.

Lisa R

Puree tomatoes versus whole?


I am new to Rouxbe and will be making the tomato sauce tomorrow (looking forward to it!) I did find the San Marzano tomatoes, much to my delight. However, my grocer carries both the whole and the puree. According to the can, the puree is simply crushed whole less the seeds. So it seemed apparent to me that I could buy the puree and sidestep the entire food mill/seeding process. Would you concur?

Thank you, I'm really loving this online cooking school!!! I've learned so much in such a short time.

Happy Cooking,

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Crushed or Pureed Tomatoes vs. Whole Canned Tomatoes

While it would seem logical that you could simply just buy crushed or pureed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes and get the same results, this is usually not the case. Different brands of crushed or pureed tomatoes vary considerably in consistently and taste - some are thick and/or chunky while others can be watery and thin. If you find a brand that has good flavor and texture then by all means you could try using it. I seem to recall that the organic Glen Muir was pretty good. Here is a link for more information on buying canned tomatoes.

To know for sure if there is a difference I would recommend that you do a comparison using different tomatoes. Hope this helps. Cheers!

Lisa R

Whole or Puree?

Thanks for your reply, Dawn. I don't think I made it very clear that I found both the whole and puree in the San Marzano brand, so that is why I was thinking I could save the extra step and purchase the puree since this is a trusted and high quality canned tomato product.

Since the puree is San Marzano, I went ahead and took a chance and purchased them. Here's hoping I get a good result!


Margaret D

Pomi tomatoes

I have a lot of trouble finding canned San Marzano tomatoes that do not contain citric acid so I use Pomi tomatoes. The ingredient list simply read "tomatoes". I find they have a great flavor without that sharp edge that canned tomatoes often have.


Clark E

Better after frozen or stored?

I have made this recipe and others like it (like shredding carrots to sweeten). I have noticed that while the sauce right after preparation tastes good it is also a kind of bland compared to my favorite restaurants. However, the same sauce after being frozen for some time will taste magnitudes more sweet and all around better (this happened with this recipe and some manicotti I used it on, comparing some we had immediately and a dish we stored for about a month in the freezer).

Am I crazy here?! What might explain this and, if so, is there any way make my sauce better right after preparation.

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Why Tomato Sauce Tastes Better Later

A tomato sauce will taste more balanced and full-bodied the next day, so that is a good observation. The same goes with soups, stews, or just about anything cooked with a few ingredients in a somewhat wet preparation.

Glenn M

First time improvision

I thought I had been making the perfect tomato sauce for years until I made this one. Always wondered why my sauce looked so pale and now I know it was the seeds which i lidquidized along with the tomatoes doh.....

Got to get a food mill though as cruching up tomatos by hand is a bit messy plus I don't think I got all the juice.

I had to simmer for an hour to get the right consistancy but am thinking this might be because I could only squeeze the tomatos by hand which may not have gotten all the fibre from the tomatos?

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: First Time Improvisation

Good work Glenn, you are learning that most things are not exact in cooking. There is almost always room to improvise. as ingredients are not always the same, temperature may vary etc etc etc. For that same reason the time it takes to cook this sauce to achieve the right consistency will vary. There are times when I have simmered it for well over an hour. The more you cook and practice the more you will understand that cooking is less about times and more about what is happening in the pot. Hope this helps. Cheers!

Darren S

San mazarno

I managed to find some San mazarno toms recently (ex citric acid) so decided to try 2 batches of sauce- one with good quality italian tin toms that were less than half the price of SM toms. I must say the SM batch was definitely nicer. However, with my unsophisticated pallet The cheaper version was almost as good so will prob not use SM again- unless Gordon Ramsey pops over at some point!!!

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: San Marzano

Yes, if you can find cheaper tomatoes and can't tell a big difference, by all means, use what you like. It is hard to find true San Marzano tomatoes in many parts of the world. It's just good to be armed with the knowledge. Cheers!

Darren S

yellow toms

Also, the other day I picked up some tinned Pomodorino D'oro tomatoes (Sweet Yellow). Not sure what they will be like but was curious to how they'd taste. Have you ever used them?

Gordon F


How many times do you put the tomatoes through the food mill? It seems like there is a lot of pulp left.

Also wanted to know if you can use fresh home grown tomatoes.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Food Mill and Fresh Tomatoes

The tomatoes are usually put through the food mill only once or twice.

And as for whether or not you can use fresh tomatoes, the answer is yes you can. See earlier in this thread for a few other discussions and more information on this. Cheers!

Bridgette G


I bough a food mill with 3 blades: coarse, medium, and fine. I used the finest one, but many seeds still came thru!! I can't buy another mill right now, but worried my sauce will be bitter because of the seeds. Plus it doesn't look so pretty in such a thin sauce...

Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Seeds

Don't worry if a few seeds have fallen through; however, if you aren't happy with the food mill, consider returning it for a different one. Depending on the type of tomatoes used, the texture can vary. Just go ahead and still make the sauce. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. Cheers!

Jude O


Definitely return it. I've got one of those cheap ones that if you grind too long you get black shavings in the sauce. But I've never had a problem with seeds. To me it's unacceptable to sell a product that doesn't do what it should. I'd definitely get my money back if you are using the disk with the smallest holes and still have seeds coming through.

Best wishes

Bridgette G

RE: Seeds

Thanks Kimberly! I went ahead and made the sauce anyway and you're right, it was still great! I did however forget to add the tomato paste to the mir poix (sp?)! I was so mad! Trying to save the situation, I took some onions and garlic I had chopped (as I was making the meatballs at the same time) and sauteed them in a pan, then added the paste and let it cook until it got a shade darker then added it to the pot and stirred until well combined. I'm sure I will never forget that step again!! LOL!

Since then, I've made the pizzas with the sauce....delish! And tonight I'm using the leftover sausage and cornmeal from pizza to make the sausage ragu with soft polenta! I never would have known that cornmeal can easily turn rancid and needs to be stored in an airtight container in the fridge! I wanted to keep it in the pantry as I would flour and sugar!

Tomorrow will most likely be Chicken Parmagiana! ;-)

Thanks a million to Rouxbe for this wonderful online cooking school! I've been cooking ok for awhile, but I'm learning so much everyday! I am looking forward to an expanded curriculum that will hopefully included advanced cooking techniques as well as baking and pastry!

Kim R

Tangy Sauce

I just made this sauce and it is so tangy or maybe bitter is the word. Is there any way to save it?

Franklin G

Another great Rouxbe recipe!

I made the basic tomato sauce recipe about a month ago and froze it for later use. The taste of even the basic sauce was fantastic despite only being able to get the San Marzano's with citric acid and salt. I will keep searching for the kind mentioned in the video and I'm sure the results will be even better.

I used the sauce for the first time with the Rouxbe Spaghetti and Meatballs alla Nonna recipe this past weekend and it was phenomenal. I've always thought spaghetti and meatballs was kind of a boring dish, but this had great depth of flavor. The only thing I added to the sauce besides the meatballs was 1/4 cup of EVOO infused with basil, garlic, and red chile flakes (from a Scott Conant article) and some chiffonade of basil. Family gave rave reviews and my 13 year old even ate the leftovers for breakfast the next morning (much to my frustration!).

Best tomato sauce ever.

Franklin G

Tomato question

I made this a couple months ago with San Marzano's that had citric acid and salt and the result was very good. I'm planning on a double batch for freezing here shortly and I've continued to look for San Marzano's that did not have the citric acid. I was only able to find jarred ones at the local italian gourmet shop at $13 a jar -- just a bit out of my price range as a base for sauce. The same shop did have imported canned Roma's that did not have the citric acid though.

So here is the question: Which is likely to produce better results -- the San Marzano's with citric acid, or the Roma's without? Thanks in advance for your help.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Tomato Question - Which is Better?

I can't say for sure Franklin as I would have to taste them to truly know. To be honest, I have made some pretty darn good tomato sauce (using this recipe) with $2 cans of tomatoes (I often buy the brand San Remo). To know for sure which can of tomatoes would be better, you would have to do a taste test (all of us here have done this test for ourselves). There are some that can tell the difference and then there are those that cannot. Cheers!

Rebecca B

Mail order source for San Marzano's

I have tried every store in my area looking for imported San Marzanos w/o citric acid (DOP label) with no luck. I purchased some domestically produced San Marzanos from Whole Foods & and the Pomi brand crushed tomatoes (with no sugar or salt). The Pomi brand, though it tastes naturally sweet, required a sieve to remove the seeds. I also thought the tomatoes were a bit too dark in color. I prefer a bright color & more rustic texture to my sauce, so using the Pomi brand ( which I think tastes better) than the domestically produced San Marzano's, requires some hefty compromises. I decided to go 1/2 & 1/2 with the sauce. With a little addition of sugar, it turned out nicely.

Any mail order suggestions for the real McCoy?

Lisa A

Homemade tomato paste?

We have a TON of whole canned tomatoes from last year's harvest. They are great san marzanos and plums. instead of buying tomato paste, i'd prefer to make this possible? any suggestions on how? and i haven't yet tried this yet but it seems simple - in the past i've always dressed up my sauce with lots of spices and my husband will say 'close but not quite perfect'. i'm excited to try the simple approach to see if we can achieve perfection.

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Homemade Tomato Paste

We have not made our own tomato paste; however, here is another thread (including a recipe link) on this same subject that you may find helpful. Cheers!

Kevin O

Guide on can sizes for uk members?

Hey Guys,

You're always so helpful and I know you're busy so no pressure.

You always reference typical oz can sizes with ingredients like canned tomatoes. In the UK typical can sizes are in weights of 400g.

I guess I'm not sure if the .oz on the cans you mention are volume or weight and how your typical can sizes compare to us.


Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Guide on Can Sizes

The size of cans we are referring to, in this particular recipe, are 28 fl oz cans (fluid ounces) or 796 ml. I have updated the recipe to reflect this. Smaller cans are also available here in North America. In that case, you would just need more of them. Hope that helps. Cheers!

Franklin G

Italbrand San Marzano's

After 18 months of unsuccessfully looking for San Marzano's (without citric acid, salt, etc.) with no luck, I stumbled upon Italbrand DOP San Marzano canned tomatoes in a small local produce market. Ingredients list was just San Marzano tomatoes, tomato puree, basil leaf. And while I had been pretty happy with the tomato sauce I'd made with other canned tomatoes, this (double sized) batch was substantially better.

I would just encourage people to keep looking as you never know where you will find someone who stocks these. My local gourmet markets didn't; Whole Foods didn't; even the local "italian" food boutique didn't (though they did have jarred San Marzano's at $12.99/jar!). I had basically given up when I found these, but the difference is noticeable. Well worth the wait!

Kit B

Fresh vs tinned

I don't have a good local source of tinned San Marzano tomatoes here in the UK, but have managed to lay my hands on some of the fresh article (imported obviously). I've also ordered my first ever food mill and am waiting for it to arrive....

Here's my question - if I'm using the food mill, is it really necessary to blanch and skin the tomatoes (see Tony's comments above) ? Will the mill not do a good enough job of removing undesirable elements (ie skin) ? This may well be an incredibly stupid question, its just that I've never used a food mill before, and I don't want to waste the expensive San Marzanos!

Peter C

Peter Cartledge

Personally I dont blanch and skin my tomatoes, indeed use chopped tinned tomatoes the same way.
Depending on quantity, I microwave them for a short while until soft, put them in a food processor and blitz them for a few seconds then sieve them. If the tomatoes are a little under ripe I might add a little sugar before microwaving.

Joe G
Rouxbe Staff

Blanching the tomatoes

Kit B - If you're using canned tomatoes, the skin will likely be removed. But yes, the food mill will 'mill out' the skins, but it will be a bit tougher and take longer to pass through the mill.

Peter c - good idea. Sugar is not necessary if you use the right tomatoes (ripe), but if you can't find ripe, then sweetening is sometimes needed. I would however make sure to remove the seeds (through mill) if possible, as the seeds can add a undesirable bitterness (requiring more sugar).

Cheers, Joe.

Martine B

Using fresh tomato

I tried this recipe using fresh tomatoes but even after a couple of hours was still really liquid like watery

What can I change?


Kimberley S
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Using Fresh Tomatoes

If the type of tomatoes you used contain a lot of liquid and not much pulp, it will be difficult to get the sauce to a thick consistency. Next time, if using fresh tomatoes, you may want to peel, seed and remove the liquid and only use the pulp to make the sauce. But it might be best to experiment with a different type of tomato.

Reducing the sauce by simmering it will help to thicken it, but by cooking the sauce for several hours, this will likely diminish the tomato flavor. You can try adding a bit of tomato paste, but again, this will diminish the "fresh" flavor. If all else fails, you could always use this batch as a braising liquid or turn it into a soup or ragu.

This practice recipe is part of the lesson on How to Make Tomato Sauce. Under the discussion tab, there are other comments on using fresh vs. canned tomatoes. Hope this helps! Cheers!

Martine B


What kind/type of fresh tomato will be the best?

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Fresh tomato

It is best if it is garden fresh vine ripe. San Marzano are typically the ideal, but even beefsteak tomatoes make a good sauce. I only make tomato sauce from "fresh" tomatoes when they are in season where I live, which is for about less than one month of the year. I wouldn't use expensive heritage tomatoes for a sauce, but generally speaking the long plum tomatoes work well. But...but the key is that they were picked ripe from the vine, which is what you get from quality canned tomatoes throughout the year.

If the fresh tomato tastes sweet and delicious, you can make sauce with it. If it's bland...

Matthew C

Further canning info

Can this recipe be safely canned using a boiling water canner method, or would a pressure canner be required?


Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Canning Tomato Sauce

Boiling water method works, but make sure to sterilize jars and lids first.

Geoff R

the canning question: tomatoes or sauce

I don't mean to hijack the sauce thread but I was curious about where opinions lay for the following. Being not an expert in canning or making sauce as I am. We have an abundance of tomatoes mostly roma. At first I was going to make this sauce then can it rather than freezing it. Now I am thinking of just canning the whole tomatoes and making sauce when I require it.

Most caning recipes I come across have me adding lemon juice or citric acid to preserve (ie. Botulism). But it can depend on the acidity of the tomatoes used. Is a roma tomato acidic enough that one does not require the addition of an acid?

In the case of canning the tomato sauce I am also confronted with the addition of an acid as well and then adding sugars after the fact to balance out any of the flavour.

Can one safely omit the addition of lemon juice/citric acid when canning the whole tomatoes or the sauce?

Sorry for all the questions. I hope I didnt go overboard.

Myles S

Re-Roma Tomatoes & Acidity.

Roma are the tomatoes of choice for cannning because they do have the sufficient amount of acidity to prevent contamination. Bottom line: it's your option/decision. I've added a link which you may find helpful.
Good luck!

Geoff R

RE-RE-Roma Tomatoes & Acidity

Thanks for the link Myles. Now I just need to convince the others to can them whole.

Tony M
Rouxbe Staff

Plum shaped tomatoes

Plum shaped tomatoes, whether Romas or San Marzano, are great for canning. The key is to can RIPE tomatoes. Taste them. If they are sweet-tasting, no acid will be necessary (none in my family ever added acid to their canned tomatoes, and we're talking about a hell of a lot of tomatoes, and a hell of a lot of Italian aunts). However, less than ripe tomatoes will benefit from a touch of acid (balsamic vinegar also works well as it offers a touch of sweetness).

Geoff R


Sauce was made. Two batches. 12x500mL jars and canned. About 16 lbs of fresh tomatoes were used. It tastes fantastic. My Mom said she probably wont be able to buy jars of it from the grocery store anymore.


Good quality tomatoes

Hi I am from India and the place i live in doesn't have good brands of canned tomatoes or even the tomato paste. Can I use fresh tomatoes instead of the canned ones? And what do I use for the paste then?

Thanks in advance.

Geoff R

re: Good quality tomatoes

Hi Nisha,

If i remember correctly, all my mom and I used was fresh tomatoes (about 16 pounds worth) we didnt use any tomato paste either. Just fresh ripe tomatoes. We used a food mill to ensure that the tomato seeds were separated and didnt make it into the sauce. we peeled the tomatoes but quickly dunking them in boiling water then into really cold water. Good luck with your sauce!

Lynn R


Wow! Love the sauce... I actually thought I had tomato paste and lo and behold I was all out! But I followed it to a T otherwise and the sauce is amazing. Cannot wait to try it with a sundried tomato paste and take it to a entire new level!!

Thanks Rouxbe!


re: Good quality tomatoes

Thanks Geoff R, gonna try it tomorrow finally.

Luiz paulo S


I'm a little confused. The proportion is four 800ml tomato cans to 160ml of tomato paste, is that right? It would be a total of 3200ml tomato purée to 160ml of paste.
I just did it wrong, I guess. I used only one 800ml to 160ml and the tomato paste flavor is incredibly strong. I'll try again soon

Dawn T
Rouxbe Staff

RE: Confused About Amount of Tomato Paste

I think you may have just read the recipe wrong. The amount of tomato paste is 1 - 5.5 oz (162 ml) can tomato paste. I think you may have mistaken the amounts needed with the tomato sauce, which is 4 - 28 oz (796 ml) cans whole tomatoes — but again, that's for the tomatoes, and not for the tomato paste. Hope that helps. Cheers!

Tony M


We buy our San Marzano tomatoes in whole tomato form (canned) and passato form (bottled) at Costco (Ottawa).

Diogo B

Cooking time in small amounts

The recipe says for cooking the sauce for about 45 minutes. If one is making only a small portion of the recipe, 1/4 of it for example, will the cooking time be the same?
I made this sauce last weekend using only one 28 oz tomato can and a small pan. I noticed the sauce was thick enough after about only 20 minutes, then I stopped the cooking process. Is the purpose of cooking the sauce only for reducing it or there is other reason to do so?

Ken R
Rouxbe Staff

Re: Cooking time in small amounts

Hi Diogo- Simmering reduces the amount of sauce (and thickens it) as well as adding a depth of flavor. Overall time is less important than the outcome or result that you get. ~Ken

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