Basic Tomato Sauce

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A good tomato sauce is the basis for so many dishes—pizza, pasta, chicken, and fish. Here is a delicious basic tomato sauce recipe. Marinara sauce.

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

A good tomato sauce is the foundation for so many wonderful dishes—pizza, pasta, chicken, and fish.

Here is a recipe for a basic tomato sauce that starts with a soffritto of onions, carrots, and celery cooked in a little olive oil, to which garlic, tomatoes and seasonings are added.

Simple and delicious!

The sauce can be dressed up with mushrooms, sausage, olives, wine, and all manner of vegetables. What’s your favorite tomato sauce recipe?

Basic Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: Makes 2 1/2 cups of sauce


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 small carrot or 1/2 large carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 small stalk of celery, including the green tops, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil or 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • 1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, including the juice, or 1 3/4 pound of fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1 Gently cook the onion, carrot, celery, and parsley: Heat olive oil in a large wide skillet on medium heat. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery and parsley. Stir to coat.

Reduce the heat to low, cover the skillet and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are softened and cooked through.

2 Add garlic: Remove cover and add the minced garlic. Increase the heat to medium high. Cook for garlic for 30 seconds.

3 Add tomatoes, tomato paste, basil, salt, pepper, then simmer: Add the tomatoes, including the juice and shredding them with your fingers if you are using canned whole tomatoes. Add the tomato paste and the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a low simmer, reduce the heat to low and cook, uncovered until thickened, about 15 minutes.

Optional, purée for smooth sauce: If you want you can push the sauce through a food mill, or purée it in a blender or with an immersion blender, to give it a smooth consistency.

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Basic Tomato Sauce

Elise Bauer

Elise Bauer is the founder of Simply Recipes. Elise launched Simply Recipes in 2003 as a way to keep track of her family's recipes, and along the way grew it into one of the most popular cooking websites in the world. Elise is dedicated to helping home cooks be successful in the kitchen. Elise is a graduate of Stanford University, and lives in Sacramento, California.

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74 Comments / Reviews

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. Marti

    We gave this recipe the old college try but it did not taste as good as other pizza sauce recipe’s we’ve tried. We missed the italian spices, especially oregano and fennel, as well as the more puree’ed consistency. After eating two slices of our pizza, I thought I’d get away from the table and go read through the comments. It seems most people used theirs on pasta. I can see that, especially if it were spiced up. Honestly, other than consistency, it did taste more like the pizza sauce on the pizza we had near the Colosseum. We know we could have spiced it up, but we always make a recipe as written and then work on it the next time we make it. Thanks for putting this out there.


  2. Debbie

    You said not enough acid to can but another recipe says put some citric acid in the bottom if the jar and I did. Worked great

  3. Dana

    Made this this weekend. It was fantastic. Even my kid who doesn’t love red sauce loved this sauce. Only thing I would say is the volume is low , so I doubled it up to make enough for a lb. of pasta. I did puree it with an immersion blender. And I used fresh roma’s from the garden that I blanched and peeled and seeded.


  4. Charles Sherwood

    Simple and easy with a great taste!


  5. Sue

    Can this be canned? If so water bath or pressure canning??

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