Whether you call it pasta sauce or gravy doesn't matter, the flavor is all that counts. This is the best homemade pasta sauce you'll ever make! It's simple, rich, satisfying, and while not your grandma's, it would still do her proud! If you want a basic recipe to add to your menu, this is the one for you! It makes just enough for any pasta dish and is ideal for batch cooking.
Homemade Pasta Sauce
There is nothing wrong with opening a jar of pasta sauce and pouring it onto your pasta. These days, there are jars of sauce that rival Italian restaurants in quality and flavor. But sometimes, you just want to feel like you have conquered a special dish from scratch. This is that recipe. Depending upon the method used below, this could be ready in minutes or could slow cook for hours. Both ways make a delicious flavor that is sure to be a hit.
If you like making this, next time you should try your hand at making these delicious homemade egg noodles. They are rich, soft, and super easy to make so sure to be a favorite on your menu.
What Tomatoes are Best for Pasta Sauce?
Ideally, you would be able to start with fresh vine-ripened tomatoes and crush them yourself, but realistically, that's rarely an option. So, canned crushed tomatoes are the base of this recipe. There is much debate on the best brand, and I will weigh in to agree with most.
San Marzano tomatoes are the best. There are a number of brands, including the affordable CENTO brand or Muir Glen that both offer this type of tomato. I will say that I try to reach for the higher quality and better taste of Bianco DiNapoli when possible. It is much pricier, but the result is incredible.
Do I Have to Use the Special Tomatoes?
No. You can use any store brand of crushed tomatoes and this sauce will still be amazing. The difference is noticeable, but it doesn't mean that it is any less delicious, it just has a bit more tomato richness when using the pricier brand of tomatoes. When able, splurge, but your weeknight pasta with kids is fine with any brand of crushed tomatoes you normally buy.
Can I Use Fresh Herbs Instead of Dried?
Sure! If you have fresh basil on hand, use three times the amount fresh as you would dry. So, instead of 1 teaspoon fresh, use 1 tablespoon fresh basil in place of the dried in this recipe.
If you want to add fresh oregano, thyme, marjoram, or basil into this sauce, feel free to add additional herbs you would normally add to a pasta sauce. I prefer the basic flavor of garlic and basil, but you can definitely add to this or use a dried Italian herb blend if preferred.
What Does the Butter Do in Pasta Sauce?
The richness of the butter cuts through the acid of the tomatoes. It results in a richer and somewhat creamier sauce. A good way to think of this is that the flavor is smoother and less biting from what could be a very acidic dish.
Can I Omit Sugar From My Homemade Pasta Sauce?
While you can omit the sugar, I find it does add a nice balance to the tart tomato flavor. The better quality tomatoes will make this less important. It may also be less of a need if you cook the sauce for longer letting the tomatoes break down more and take on the flavors of the garlic, basil, and even the creamy butter.
Can I Add More Vegetables to My Pasta Sauce?
We love adding in more vegetables when we can. That includes pasta sauce. There are a lot of ways to customize this sauce by adding sausage, ground meat, or added vegetables when tossing with pasta.
If you want to just add to the sauce, I would recommend using only celery and carrots. Shredded or diced finely is the best way to add these and always cook down with onions and garlic. Remember that celery has a lot of liquid so you may want to cook it a bit longer and limit adding water at the end.
Can I Freeze or Can This for Long-Term Storage?
If you want to make larger batches of this sauce and freeze or pressure can for later use, you can definitely do so. As I am not well-versed in canning, I would defer to the experts at the National Center for Home Food Preservation for directions.
When freezing the sauce, allow it to cool completely then refrigerate until chill. Spoon into storage containers or freezer storage bags. When using containers, leave at least 1" of space at the top for expansion when freezing. I also recommend storing in 1 cup portions so it is easier to thaw for smaller dishes as needed.
Just make sure you label and date all stored tomato sauce so you know how long it has been in the freezer or storage. In the freezer, this would be good for up to six months, and when pressure canned it is usually good for 12 to 18 months.
What Goes into Homemade Pasta Sauce?
- Olive oil
- Red pepper flakes
- Crushed tomatoes
Handy Kitchen Tools
How do You Make Homemade Pasta Sauce?
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. To the oil, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, and butter, then stir to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes.
Add the crushed tomatoes and water, stir well, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes.
Serve over your favorite pasta or allow the sauce to cool and store until later.
More Delicious Recipes
Want more deliciousness in your meal plan? Check out some of our favorite pasta dishes that may inspire you to use this pasta or simply whip up something totally new. Below are our favorites for you to bookmark, pin, or print to use later!
- Delicious Fluffy Cauliflower Gnocchi Recipe
- Rich Vegetarian Mushroom Stroganoff Recipe
- 5-Ingredient Spicy Garlic Pasta
- Quick and Easy Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Garlic Pasta
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (30 ml)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 white onion, finely diced
- 2 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tbsp unsalted butter
- 28 oz. crushed tomatoes (800 gm)
- ¼ cup water
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. To the oil, add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic, basil, red pepper flakes, salt, sugar, and butter, then stir to combine. Simmer for 2 minutes.
- Add the crushed tomatoes and water, stir well, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes.
- Serve over your favorite pasta or allow the sauce to cool and store until later.
Depending upon the liquid in the tomatoes, you may need to cook for longer to reach the thickness you want in this sauce.
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