Homemade Pasta Sauce

This homemade pasta sauce recipe will be the key to so many different Italian inspired dinners. A classic marinara sauce, it is the perfect red sauce for making literally anything.

Fresh pasta sauce is so versatile, it can be used in any number of recipes including our baked ziti or baked spaghetti.

mason jar filled with red pasta sauce

Homemade Pasta Sauce

My family love pasta of all sorts. Whether it’s a classic marinara, alfredo pasta sauce, creamy pesto, or a simple lemon sauce, they love it all!

Sometimes they even fight over which sauce is best. With this recipe, our tomato based pasta sauce often beats out our white sauce time after time. It’s no surprise, given how delicious yet simple this pasta sauce is to make.

Ingredients Needed to Make Pasta Sauce

  • 3-4 cans of crushed tomatoes (28-ounce sized cans) OR 12-15 fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh basil or 1-2 tablespoons dried basil (the ratio is 3:1 for fresh vs dried)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese

three mason jars filled with pasta sauce

How to Make Homemade Pasta Sauce

How do you make a perfect homemade pasta sauce? Heat up some olive oil in a 5+ quart pot over medium heat.

Chop your garlic, or press it, and add it into the pot. Saute for about one to two minutes. Keep moving it around so you don’t burn it.

Add in the crushed or chopped tomatoes, black pepper, basil, and sugar. Bring to a low boil while stirring often. Let it simmer at low for 2 to 3 hours.

Make sure you keep an eye on it and keep stirring. Leave the pot uncovered for the first half of the simmer time, and remove the cover for the last half.

Add in some of your cheese and stir it up for about another 5 minutes. Now you’re ready to use this on anything and everything.

How Long to Cook

How long should this pasta sauce cook? Allow approximately three to three and a half hours, including prep time.

How to Thicken Pasta Sauce

Tomatoes are so juicy, they often release water while cooking, which can thin down your sauce. If your pasta sauce is just not sticking on to your noodles in the right way, it might be too watery.

To thicken your sauce without losing flavor, there are 3 main things you can do: add tomato sauce, reduce the liquid, or add more starch.

  1. Adding tomato sauce or tomato paste to thicken is self-explanatory. It’s already a more concentrated tomato flavor and consistency, so it’ll definitely thicken without losing any of the tastiness.
  2. Thicken the sauce with added starch. All of these options will ensure that the sauce thickens to how you want it.
  3. If all else fails, simply let the sauce simmer on low for a few minutes and let the water evaporate that way.

How to Store Pasta Sauce

It’s always smart to prep ahead and make extra sauce for later. So, how do you store your pasta sauce? The two best ways to keep your sauce in tip-top shape are freezing and canning.

The easiest way is freezing. Just let the sauce cool and fill up some containers or freezer bags with the sauce and freeze. When it’s ready for the sauce to shine again, just bring out the saucepan and reheat the frozen sauce over the stovetop. Once it’s hot again, it’s ready for more cooked pasta.

Canning is also pretty simple. Fill up some clean jars with your sauce, and clean the top. Have a hot water bath ready for these jars, place the jars in, and boil for 40 minutes.

Don’t be scared of the popping sounds! That’s a sign it’s working. They can keep for up to a year when properly canned, so you never have to worry about tomatoes being out of season.

What to Serve with Pasta Sauce

A classic dish for this sauce is spaghetti and meatball for sure. The zesty sauce over perfectly cooked spaghetti, some juicy meatballs, a healthy heap of parmesan cheese, and a sprinkle of red pepper is a dinner that is so hard to beat. Adding some ground meat to this recipe also gives them a hearty meat sauce that you can eat with any types of pasta. Take this sauce and bring it into any of your baked pasta recipes. Lasagna, baked ziti, chicken parmesan, and even shakshuka…one sauce, infinite possibilities!

I use this as the sauce for pizza nights with my family — with some homemade pizza dough, this delicious sauce, and our favorite pizza toppings.

It’s also great in pizza muffins. – or make little pizza bites by filling pockets of pizza dough with this sauce and sprinkling shredded cheese over before baking.

Use this pasta sauce for dipping your garlic bread or grilled cheese. You can also pair the sauce with fried ravioli or mozzarella sticks for your guilty pleasure snacks. I’m sure those meatball subs also need some tasty sauce to make them extra delicious.

jars of homemade pasta sauce

jars of homemade pasta sauce

More Recipes that Use this Delicious Tomato Sauce

Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe

Homemade Pasta Sauce

A classic marinara sauce, it is the perfect red sauce for making literally anything.

Prep Time5 mins

Cook Time3 hrs

Total Time3 hrs 5 mins

Course: Main Course, Sauce

Cuisine: Italian

Keyword: Easy Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe, Homemade Pasta Sauce, Pasta Sauce Recipe

Servings: 4

Calories: 50kcal

  • 3-4 cans of crushed tomatoes 28-ounce sized cans OR 12-15 fresh tomatoes
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh basil or 1-2 tablespoons dried basil the ratio is 3:1 for fresh vs dried
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar optional
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
  • Heat olive oil in a 5+ quart pot over medium heat; add chopped or pressed garlic.

  • Heat for one to two minutes, making sure not to burn garlic.

  • Add tomatoes, black pepper, basil and sugar. Stirring often, bring to a low boil.

  • Reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours, stirring often.

  • For first half of simmer time leave pot uncovered; cover for last half.

  • Stir in cheese and simmer for an additional 5 minutes or so.