Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce
This roasted tomato sauce is made from scratch with fresh summer tomatoes! The tomatoes are roasted in the oven with basil and garlic before getting blended up into a super easy, flavorful sauce. Use it on pasta, pizza, meatballs, and more!
So let’s say your friend came over with an entire armload of fresh tomatoes and you’ve eaten all the bruschetta and Caprese you can positively muster for the year. You would take those tomatoes and roast them with basically every amazing ingredient in the world (onions, garlic, olive oil, basil) and then you would blend it all up into a thick, rich sauce. Then, you toss that sauce with some pasta, and a splash of starchy water of course, and it would be the cozy, simple dinner of your late-summer dreams.
If you are so lucky to have such a friend, or you have a green thumb yourself, then I sure do hope you make some tomato sauce about it. It will have you questioning why you ever bought a jar of store-bought sauce in the first place. Oven-roasted tomato sauce is simplicity at its best. You need it, I promise.
Details about this roasted tomato sauce
If I had known how easy homemade tomato sauce was going to be, I would have been making it this whole time. I truly thought the only way was to peel, blanch, and core tomatoes and then simmer them on the stove for hours on end. But nope, not the case! This sauce takes 5 minutes of prep, just a handful of ingredients, and it’s 10x better than anything you’d buy from the store.
Here’s how we’ll do it. Whole fresh tomatoes, a few handfuls of aromatics, a generous glug of high-quality olive oil. Roast until your kitchen smells like heaven. Blend it up, toss with pasta (or pizza or meatballs), eat endlessly. No skinning, de-seeding, or blanching in sight. Let’s make this sauce!
The ingredient list
We’re keeping things simple when it comes to this roasted tomato sauce. You honestly don’t need a ton of ingredients to make the everyday tomato into a caramelized, sweet, delicious sauce. I mean, yes, it’s basic but that’s why we love it. Here’s everything you’ll need!
- Tomatoes – you can stick to one variety but I recommend using a mix of different tomatoes for the best flavor.
- Garlic – and lots of it. The roasted garlic is one of the best parts of this recipe!
- Shallots – you can also use half a sweet onion if you prefer.
- Good quality olive oil – I know, I’m having an Ina moment. But honestly, good olive oil adds so much flavor!
- Spices – oregano, red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, fresh basil, Kosher salt, and freshly-ground black pepper. If you like spicy sauce, you can add more red pepper flakes. Or, leave it out!
- Unsalted butter – optional but also my secret ingredient. A little unsalted butter adds extra richness to the sauce.
- Sugar – only if necessary! If your tomatoes aren’t very sweet, this is the trick for faking it.
What are the best tomatoes to use in this sauce?
For the best flavors and textures, I like to use a variety of different tomatoes. You can stick to one variety if that’s all you have. But, if you have a handful of different kinds, throw them all in! These are just a few of my favorite tomatoes to use in this recipe:
- Roma – these are a classic. You can always find them in the grocery store and they don’t have many seeds, which makes them great for a smooth sauce.
- Beefsteak – another grocery store classic. Usually sold on the vine.
- Cherry – I like to add these for a pop of sweetness.
- Heirloom – the classic garden or the farmer’s market find. They have so many different flavors, textures, and colors which makes for a really fun, complex sauce.
- San Marzano – the crème de la crème of the tomato world. These make for the best sauce, especially in the winter when good tomatoes are hard to find. They’re usually imported from Italy year-round!
How to make this recipe (+ a video!)
Wait, have I mentioned that this recipe is like, really easy? In case you haven’t caught on yet, you basically just plop everything on a pan and go to town. But, in more elegant terms…
- Prep the tomatoes. Remove the stems, cut out the cores, and slice the big ones in half.
- Toss everything together. Place the tomatoes, garlic, and shallots on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the seasonings and thyme.
- Roast! Next, bake the tomatoes at 400°F for 40-45 minutes. Mix in the fresh basil and bake another 5 minutes. Then, melt the butter into the tomatoes.
- Blend it up. In a blender or food processor, blend everything together until you have a smooth sauce.
- Enjoy! Use the sauce on pasta, pizza, or whatever else you like.
What if I don’t have a blender?
If you don’t have a blender or food processor, don’t even worry about it. You can totally make this roasted tomato sauce by hand! (If you want a blender, I like this one).
- Dice the veggies and herbs. Since you’ll be crushing the sauce, you’ll want to dice the shallots and chop up the basil. Otherwise, you’ll have large chunks in your sauce.
- Pull the peels off of the large tomatoes. Once the tomatoes are baked, the skin should be coming off anyways. Just pull it off and discard. Don’t worry about removing the peels from the small tomatoes.
- Remove the seeds. You totally don’t have to but if you want a smooth sauce, you can just scoop out the seeds!
- Mash everything up. Use a potato masher to crush the sauce. It’ll be chunkier than if you use a blender, but it’ll still taste great!
How do I cut the acidity in the sauce?
Tomatoes can get pretty acidic. If your sauce is too acidic, you can just throw in some sugar! Start with 1/2 teaspoon of regular white sugar. Taste and add more 1/4 teaspoon at a time until the sauce tastes how you like it. You can also add just a small pinch of baking soda which will help balance the acid.
Uses for tomato sauce
I love having a jar of this sauce in the freezer for last-minute dinners. But, you can use it in a ton of different ways! Here are just a few ideas:
- Serve it with pasta like spaghetti, bucatini, penne, or any other shape you like.
- Use it as a basic red pizza sauce.
- Toss it with meatballs or top it on meatball subs.
- This sauce is great layered in a classic lasagna.
- Use it as a dipping sauce for fried ravioli, mozzarella sticks, and more!
- Add it to chicken Parmesan, eggplant Parmesan, or with other Italian main meals.
Storing & freezing
To store roasted tomato sauce, let it cool completely. Pour it into a jar, seal, and refrigerate for up to 1 week. If you need to store it for longer than 1 week, I recommend freezing the sauce.
To freeze the sauce, place it in an airtight container or a freezer-safe jar. Leave some space at the top because the sauce will expand as it freezes. Seal the container and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw the sauce completely in the fridge for about 24 hours before using it in your favorite recipes!
Lastly, this sauce would make an excellent candidate for canning! Although I have never tried it before, it would be a great option to store in the pantry for winter and last-minute dinners.
Recipe tips & tricks
- For easy clean up, line your sheet pan with parchment paper. This recipe doesn’t make a huge mess but it still helps!
- Let the tomatoes char just a bit for extra flavor. It adds a lovely caramelized note to the sauce.
- For a smoother sauce, remove the skins from the tomatoes. They should just pinch off. You can also scoop out the seeds, but I usually don’t!
- If you’re serving this sauce with pasta, add a splash of starchy pasta water to help get a glossy sauce.
- To reheat the roasted tomato sauce, bring it to a boil in a saucepan, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and allow the sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is slightly thickened.
- This recipe will serve between 6-8 people with pasta. You can easily double or triple the sauce.
More Italian-inspired recipes to try
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Simple Roasted Tomato Sauce
- 3 lbs tomatoes (a mix of small & large)
- 6 large garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 small shallots, peeled and quartered
- 2 Tbs good-quality olive oil
- 2 tsp oregano
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, more or less, to taste*
- 8 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1/4 c fresh basil, roughly torn
- 1 Tbs unsalted butter
- Kosher salt & freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
- Sugar, to taste (if needed)
- Rimmed sheet pan
- Blender or food processor (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Remove the stems from all of the tomatoes. Remove the cores of the large tomatoes and cut them in half.
- Place the tomatoes, garlic cloves, and shallots on a sheet pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with the oregano, red pepper flakes, and a few generous pinches of salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Arrange the tomatoes skin-side up. Sprinkle the thyme sprigs over the top.
- Bake for about 40-45 minutes until the large tomatoes are soft and the small tomatoes have burst. Stir the basil into the tomatoes and roast another 5 minutes until the tomatoes are fragrant and have a few charred spots.
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and add the butter. Toss until it’s melted and glossy. Remove the thyme sprigs from the sauce and discard.
- **To blend the sauce: Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender. Blend until you reach your desired texture (I prefer a smoother sauce, but you can just pulse the blender a few times if you prefer a chunkier sauce).***
- ****To make the sauce by hand: Carefully pinch the skins off of the large roasted tomatoes (they should already be loose). You can leave the skins on the small tomatoes. Scoop out the seeds, if you prefer a smoother sauce. Transfer the tomato mixture to a large bowl and use a potato masher to smash the sauce. Be gentle, it may spray a bit!
- Pour the sauce in a 24 ounce jar or container. Seal and refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.*****
xo Sara Lynn
*Song of the day: K by Mac DeMarco