How to Make Basic Tomato Sauce

Follow these simple steps to make a delicious tomato sauce, then watch our how-to video.

How-To: Make Basic Tomato Sauce

Marinara, or any simple pasta sauce, is something all cooks should learn how to make.

Step 1: Add Olive Oil and Onions

Cook the sauce in a wide skillet or a wide-bottomed pot. Start with plenty of olive oil and add diced onion. Saute until translucent and very soft.

Step 2: Season

Season the onions with salt so they release their liquids. This will help to bring out the natural sweetness of the onions. Take your time with this. It’s the first step in layering good flavor.

Step 3: Add Garlic

Add in garlic and saute until fragrant.

Step 4: Crush Tomatoes

Crush a can of whole, peeled tomatoes with clean hands. The pros like to use San Marzano tomatoes for the best flavor. You can also use canned, chopped tomatoes if you're in a hurry. Most come packed with a basil leaf for flavor.

Step 5: Add Tomatoes and Simmer

Add to the garlic and onions. Taste and season. Simmer for about 20 minutes until the flavors come together. Tip: If your sauce gets too thick just add a bit of water.

Step 6: Add Flavor and Spice

We're making a basic tomato sauce here. If you want to mix it up, try adding chili flakes, capers or olives while it simmers. Finish with a little fresh herb, like basil at the end. Tip: You can also finish with butter or a drizzle of olive oil.

Step 7: Enjoy!

If you like a smoother sauce, just puree in a blender. And those are the basics for homemade tomato sauce. Use it with pasta or as an ingredient in stews, like Cacciatore.