Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

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5 from 86 votes
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Dress up your pasta, chicken parmesan, lasagna, and more with this easy and classic Italian pomodoro sauce recipe! It’s one of my favorite homemade pasta sauces ever.

Love homemade sauce recipes? Try sugo, bulgogi sauce, hot honey sauce, and peanut sauce.

pomodoro sauce.

A fabulous sauce can transform even the blandest food into something quite magical. Italian tomato sauce isn’t much easier than my mom’s famous homemade pomodoro sauce.

What is pomodoro sauce?

Pomodoro (meaning “tomato” in Italian) sauce is a classic Italian tomato sauce made with minimal ingredients, like tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. It has a much smoother consistency than other tomato-based sauces and well-balanced flavors, making it a great choice to serve with all kinds of Italian recipes.

Here are some reasons why I LOVE my mom’s authentic pomodoro sauce:

  • It’s the easiest pasta sauce! Unlike bolognese or arrabbiata, this pomodoro recipe is made with basic ingredients and doesn’t need to simmer for hours.
  • A 7-ingredient recipe. If you have a can of tomatoes, dried herbs, and aromatics, then you can make pomodoro sauce from scratch.
  • It is very versatile. You can keep the sauce in the fridge and pull it out anytime you need a flavorful topping on your favorite pasta dishes.
  • It has the best texture. Nothing is worse than thin or watery sauces, but this one is thick and rich. 
penne pomodoro recipe.

Ingredients needed

  • Extra virgin olive oil. To saute the onion and garlic.
  • Onion. Sauteed onion gives the sauce a savory baseline of flavor.
  • Garlic. Use freshly minced cloves for the best flavor.
  • Canned tomatoes. Or you can puree fresh tomatoes yourself. During the summer months when flavorful tomatoes are in season, we actually prefer to use the fresh kind. If choosing the canned variety, always go for San Marzano tomatoes which have a natural sweetness to them.
  • Sugar. Sugar is very important for balancing the acidity of the tomatoes, as well as the savory aromatics. Try not to skip it!
  • Salt and pepper. To help round out all of the flavors.
  • Italian seasoning. Feel free to make your own Italian seasoning blend or keep this recipe simple with a store-bought mix.
  • Penne pasta. For serving. If you don’t have penne, use any long or short-cut pasta you already have at home.

How to make pomodoro sauce

I’ve included step-by-step photos below to make this recipe easy to follow at home. For the full printable recipe instructions and ingredient quantities, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of this post.

Step 1 – Saute the aromatics. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant.

sauteed aromatics.

Step 2 – Simmer the sauce. Pour the canned tomatoes into the skillet and bring the mixture up to a boil. Once it’s boiling, lower the heat to a simmer.

how to make pomodoro sauce.

Step 3 – Add the seasonings, then puree. Stir the seasonings and sugar in with the sauce after 30 minutes. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, then puree the sauce with an immersion or regular blender until smooth.

pomodoro sauce ingredients.

Step 4 – Serve with pasta (pasta pomodoro!). Cook the pasta while making the sauce and reserve some of the pasta water. Add the cooked pasta into the skillet with the sauce and thin out the consistency using the pasta water. Simmer for a few minutes, then serve with fresh basil leaves. 

penne pomodoro.

Pomodoro sauce VS Marinara sauce

The main differences between the two are found in the consistency and ingredients. Both are tomato-based sauces that can be served with lasagna, meatball subs, and pasta bakes, but the marinara sauce is chunkier than the ultra-smooth pomodoro.

Arman’s recipe tips

  • Use good quality olive oil: The quality of your olive oil can make a big difference in the taste of your Italian tomato sauce. Choose a high-quality, extra-virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes: A touch of spice will add a touch of heat to your pomodoro sauce without overwhelming the other flavors (It’s my mom’s not-so-secret ingredient).
  • Use fresh herbs: Fresh basil is a classic herb in Italian sauce, but you can also experiment with other fresh herbs like oregano, thyme, or parsley.
  • Finish with a pat of butter: Adding a small pat of butter at the end of cooking will give your pomodoro sauce a rich, silky texture and a luxurious finish.

Storage instructions

To store: The leftover cooked sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To freeze: It also freezes well for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing the sauce in ice cube trays or silicone molds for easy-to-thaw individual portions.

To reheat: Either thaw the frozen sauce ahead of time or reheat it from frozen in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

Italian tomato sauce.

Serving suggestions

For a simple dish, serve the pomodoro sauce with any kind of pasta noodles topped with herbs and parmesan cheese (even protein pasta or low calorie pasta). Otherwise, you can use it in any pasta bake recipe, in eggplant rollatini, on vegan pizza (a substitute for pizza sauce), or in air fryer chicken parmesan. In other words, whenever an Italian recipe calls for a tomato-based sauce, you can turn to pomodoro!

Oh, and because this sauce is super flavorful and rich, toss it through some air fryer meatballs or keto meatballs.

pomodoro sauce recipe.

Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

5 from 86 votes
Dress up your pasta, chicken parmesan, lasagna, and more with this easy and classic Italian pomodoro sauce recipe! It's one of my favorite homemade pasta sauces ever. Watch the video below to see how I make it in my kitchen.
Servings: 8 servings
Prep: 1 minute
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 46 minutes

Video

Ingredients  

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion grated
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 56 ounces canned tomatoes in natural juices
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 16 ounces penne pasta optional

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the canned tomatoes and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Add the salt, pepper, sugar, and Italian seasoning and stir for a further minute or two. Using a hand or stick mixer, blend the sauce until completely smooth. 
  • Cook the pasta as per the package instructions. Drain and reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water. 
  • Add the pasta to the sauce, along with the pasta water, and simmer for 5 minutes. 

Notes

TO STORE: The leftover cooked sauce can be stored in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to 1 week.
TO FREEZE: It also freezes well for up to 3 months. I recommend freezing the sauce in ice cube trays or silicone molds for easy-to-thaw individual portions.
TO REHEAT: Either thaw the frozen sauce ahead of time or reheat it from frozen in a saucepan over medium-low heat.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 119kcalCarbohydrates: 17gProtein: 4gFat: 6gSodium: 408mgPotassium: 610mgFiber: 4gVitamin A: 438IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 83mgIron: 3mgNET CARBS: 13g
Course: Appetizer
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Originally published April 2023, updated and republished March 2024

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Thank you for all your wonderful, healthy, recipes! Do the nutritional facts reflect solely the sauce or is it the sauce plus the pasta?

  2. Love your site. We’ve been off and on keto for 30 years, though are trying to make keto our every day lifestyle.

    I’ve noticed several of your recipes don’t say what the single serving size is. In this case for the sauce, how much sauce is one serving?