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This quick and easy 5-ingredient pomodoro sauce is a simple, flavorful combination of sweet, ripe tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onion, and olive oil. Toss the fresh tomato sauce with pasta, and serve the light, healthy dish alongside a salad and garlic bread for your next family dinner. Homemade pasta pomodoro is like an Italian vacation — in the comfort of your own kitchen!

Overhead image of a pasta bowl full of spaghetti with fresh homemade Italian pomodoro sauce

Pasta Pomodoro

Did you know that you can take your taste buds on an Italian vacation — without leaving the comfort of your own home? With the freshest, ripest, juiciest tomatoes and authentic Italian-made olive oil, this fresh pomodoro sauce will convince your mind, body, and soul that you’re relaxing in a small Venetian café, sipping on a glass of wine, and enjoying a beautiful summer sunset. Doesn’t that sound dreamy?!

Okay, so while you might not have a European vacation etched into your weekly planner, you can prepare an incredible Italian meal at home — in about 45 minutes!

Side shot of a bowl of pasta pomdoro sauce on a dinner table

What is Pomodoro Sauce?

“Pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian, and that’s exactly what this is — a fresh tomato sauce. I can’t think of a better way to take advantage of summer’s best produce! Pasta al pomodoro is a vegetarian Italian dish typically prepared with pasta, olive oil, fresh tomatoes, basil, and other fresh ingredients. It’s intended to be a quick, light dish, rather than a heavy, rich sauce.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Marinara

The main difference between marinara sauce and pomodoro sauce is in the texture. Marinara is a tomato-based sauce that thinner, runnier, and chunkier, while pomodoro is thicker and includes smoother, pureed tomatoes.

Pureeing tomatoes in a food processor

Ingredients

This is a quick overview of the 5 simple ingredients that you’ll need for a batch of the best pomodoro sauce. As always, specific measurements and complete step-by-step cooking instructions are included in the printable recipe box at the bottom of the post.

  • Fresh tomatoes: I used plum tomatoes here, but just about any variety will work. The key is to find the juiciest, sweetest, ripest, in-season tomatoes available, since the flavor of the tomatoes will drastically impact the flavor of your sauce. If you can’t find good, in-season fresh tomatoes, then canned San Marzano tomatoes would be a nice alternative.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: using a high-quality extra-virgin olive oil from Italy contributes the most fruity, robust, and authentic flavor to the sauce.
  • Onion: I love the combination of a sweet onion with the tomatoes in the sauce, but you can use a white onion or yellow onion if you prefer. Dice it into very fine pieces so that it doesn’t make your sauce too chunky.
  • Garlic: for aromatic flavor.
  • Fresh herbs: such as fresh basil leaves, oregano, and parsley.
Process shot showing how to make pomodoro sauce in a Dutch oven

How to Make Pomodoro Sauce

This authentic pasta pomodoro sauce comes together quickly and easily for a light and fresh summer meal that takes advantage of the season’s best tomatoes and herbs. Kids and adults can all agree on this dinner!

  1. Quarter the tomatoes, and then use your fingers to scoop out the seeds.
  2. Purée the tomatoes in a food processor until they’re fairly smooth, leaving some chunks if you like more texture in your sauce.
  3. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander to strain off the excess liquid.
  4. Sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a large pan, saucepan, Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat.
  5. Add the tomatoes and herbs, and then bring the mixture to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer the sauce uncovered for about 30 minutes.
  7. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper. You might also like to season with a little bit of sugar, depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes. Sugar balances the acidity in the tomatoes.
  8. Serve the sauce over cooked pasta, and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese and additional fresh herbs.
Close overhead image of a bowl of pasta pomodoro

How to Serve Pasta Pomodoro Sauce

Serve the fresh tomato sauce over your favorite pasta (such as spaghetti!), and garnish with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and additional chopped fresh herbs.  If you prefer something other than pasta, try pairing the pomodoro sauce with sautéed zucchini noodles, cooked potato gnocchi, or cauliflower gnocchi. It’s a perfectly satisfying vegetarian entrée, but it’s also delicious served as a side dish with a piece of grilled fish or chicken.

Sides That Go Well With Pomodoro Pasta

Square overhead image of a table with pomodoro sauce and spaghetti, salad, and bread.

Storage

Store leftover pomodoro sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

To Freeze

Keep the leftover sauce in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Tip: a Ziploc freezer bag can be frozen flat and then stacked to maximize freezer storage space!

How to Reheat

Thaw frozen sauce in the refrigerator overnight. Reheat the sauce in a saucepan on the stovetop over low heat, just until warmed through. If it’s too thick, you can thin the sauce with a splash of warm water.

Spaghetti with pomodoro sauce in a white pasta bowl

More Uses for Pomodoro Sauce

While it’s delicious when served over a big bowl of pasta, you can also use the sauce in a variety of other ways. Here are some ideas:

Recipe Variations

  • Add ground Italian sausage, ground beef, ground pork, or ground turkey to make it a heartier meat sauce.
  • This recipe yields a fairly small batch of sauce (about 2 cups total) — enough for one large jar or about 3-4 servings. If you’re like me and you’d rather have more to keep on hand, or if you just have a larger family to feed, double the ingredients and proceed with the same cooking instructions.
  • Use a variety of fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Whatever your family loves will work!
  • If fresh herbs aren’t available, substitute with about 1 tablespoon of dried herbs (such as dried basil or dried Italian seasoning blend).
  • This kid-friendly sauce is made without wine. If you like a richer, bolder flavor, add ½ cup of red wine or white wine to the sauce. You may need to simmer the sauce a bit longer to get it to reduce and thicken.
  • For a briny addition, stir in some capers or olives (it will be like a puttanesca sauce)!
Side shot of homemade pomodoro sauce on a bowl of spaghetti with basil and parmesan on top

Tips for the Best Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

  • Use high-quality Italian extra virgin olive oil and flavorful, ripe summer tomatoes, since the olive oil and tomatoes form the base of the sauce.
  • Since you’re simmering for a shorter amount of time, leave the lid off of the pot to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavors to concentrate.
  • Depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes, you may need to season the sauce with a little bit of sugar. The sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes, giving the sauce a greater depth of flavor.
  • Once the sauce is finished, adjust seasonings and spices to suit your tastes. Add salt, pepper, or additional herbs. If you like a spicy pomodoro, add crushed red pepper flakes.
Overhead shot of hands holding a bowl of pasta pomdoro sauce

More Pasta Sauce Recipes to Try

Overhead image of a pasta bowl full of spaghetti with fresh homemade Italian pomodoro sauce

Pomodoro Sauce {Just 5 Ingredients!}

4.34 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 3 – 4 servings
Calories 272.1 kcal
This quick and easy 5-ingredient pasta pomodoro sauce is the perfect combination of sweet, ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic, onion, and rich extra virgin olive oil!

Ingredients
  

  • 1 ½ lbs. fresh tomatoes (I use about 6-8 plum tomatoes)
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (such as a combination of basil, oregano, and parsley)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • For serving: cooked pasta; grated Parmesan cheese; additional fresh herbs

Instructions

  • Quarter the tomatoes and use your fingers to quickly scoop out most of the seeds. It helps to run the tomato under cold water to get any extra seeds out, and don’t worry – you don’t have to be meticulous about it. This should only take a few minutes!
  • Puree tomatoes in a food processor until smooth, or until they reach desired consistency. Leave some chunks if you like more texture in your sauce. Transfer to a colander and set aside to strain excess liquid (you do not need to squeeze the tomatoes totally dry).
  • Heat olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Be sure to stir the garlic and onion constantly so that the garlic doesn’t burn.
  • Add the strained tomatoes and the fresh herbs; bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low; simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes, you may need to add a dash of sugar too, to taste.
  • Serve over pasta and garnish with cheese and additional fresh herbs.

Notes

  • This recipe yields a fairly small batch of sauce (about 2 cups total) — enough for one large jar or about 3-4 servings. If you’re like me and you’d rather have more to keep on hand, or if you just have a larger family to feed, double the ingredients and proceed with the same cooking instructions.
  • Use high-quality Italian extra virgin olive oil and flavorful, ripe summer tomatoes, since the olive oil and tomatoes form the base of the sauce.
  • Since you’re simmering for a shorter amount of time, leave the lid off of the pot to allow the sauce to thicken and the flavors to concentrate.
  • Depending on the sweetness of your tomatoes, you may need to season the sauce with a little bit of sugar. The sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes, giving the sauce a greater depth of flavor.
  • Once the sauce is finished, adjust seasonings to suit your tastes. Add salt, pepper, or additional herbs. If you like a spicy pomodoro, add crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Use a variety of fresh herbs, such as basil, thyme, oregano, and parsley. Whatever your family loves will work!
  • If fresh herbs aren’t available, substitute with about 1 tablespoon of dried herbs (such as dried basil or dried Italian seasoning blend).
  • This kid-friendly sauce is made without wine. If you like a richer, bolder flavor, add ½ cup of red wine or white wine to the sauce. You may need to simmer the sauce a bit longer to get it to reduce and thicken.
  • For a briny addition, stir in some capers or olives (it will be like a puttanesca sauce)!
  • Add ground Italian sausage, ground beef, ground pork, or ground turkey to make it a heartier meat sauce.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cupCalories: 272.1kcalCarbohydrates: 7.1gProtein: 1.3gFat: 28.4gSaturated Fat: 4.1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 4.2gMonounsaturated Fat: 20.1gSodium: 11.7mgPotassium: 297mgFiber: 1.6gSugar: 0.4g
Keyword: pasta pomodoro, pomodoro pasta, pomodoro sauce
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Blair Lonergan

This recipe was originally published in July, 2018. The photos were updated in May, 2022.

blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

Read More

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Comments

  1. 5-Star rating for sure!!

    Blair – I tried your recipe yesterday. A friend on Facebook had posted it and I am so glad she did!! It is a wonderful dish. Very easy, tasty and healthy!! Thanks so much.

      1. Hi, Rolando! Yes, it probably would work well, but I haven’t tried it myself. I would look into specific canning instructions for a tomato sauce recipe to check out the safety requirements for doing so.

  2. 5 stars
    You may want to consider Spanish Virgin Olive Oil. It is much superior and more flavoursome to most commercial Italian brands and also a lot cheaper.

      1. Hi, Nikki! That’s a great question. I’ve never thought to turn it into a dip, but it’s a lot like bruschetta, so I think it would work well. I wouldn’t change anything — just serve it in a bowl with crusty baguette or crackers for dipping!

  3. 5 stars
    Made this tonight and used Mediterranean Olive oil from Aldi. It was really good, but I do think I’ll be looking into a more flavorful oil next time. My favorite is from Strappagio. Expensive, but it’s delicious!

        1. Hi, Janice! I get it at a big local grocery store (Martin’s around here), but you can also order it online. 🙂

  4. Hi, Sheila! Thanks for catching that typo! You can add the 3 T of herbs when you add the strained tomatoes in step 4. I’ll fix that mistake. Thanks again!

  5. The first time I had this sauce was at Olive Gardens. Now of course they don’t make it anymore. But Oh my gosh I love this sauce. I could stuff my face with this spaghetti and sauce till I can’t breath.

    1. Well I’m glad that you can now make it at home! 🙂 I agree — you can never go wrong with a bowl of pasta!

  6. I serve it over spaghetti squash and a a little crushed red pepper to kick it up a notch but it is excellent without the red pepper too

  7. Should I strain as much water from the tomatoes as possible? I’m seeing that my tomatoes and olive don’t mix all that much visually but the flavors sure do! Is it typical to have oil and water floating at top when the sauce is done? Either way, this my new favorite recipe!

    1. Hi, Mary! Yes — in Step 2 it says to strain off liquid from the tomatoes. I would definitely do that next time. Glad you liked it anyway, though! 🙂

  8. Hi, Linda! Sorry for that confusion. Puree might not be the right term — you can process the tomatoes to any texture that you prefer. I don’t typically puree them until they’re totally smooth. Instead, we like it more chunky, so I process them until they reach a finely-chopped texture. It’s really up to you, though — anything will work!

  9. Looks delicious. I would probably need to go with the canned Marzano tomatoes. How much of them do you think I would need? Also I’m lazy and generally just leave seeds and what not in the food but don’t want to mess up my sauce. Is it important to remove the seeds or a matter of preference?

    1. I would try 1 (28-ounce) can of San Marzano tomatoes. The seeds are just a matter of preference. If you don’t mind them in there, then go ahead and leave them! 🙂

  10. 3 stars
    Blair, I followed your instructions and pureed the tomatoes! I now have soup! You need to adjust your instructions to say if you want it chunky, blend the tomatoes to desired consistency. I wanted a chunky sauce like your pictured showed. Still cooking the sauce, so I do not know how it taste. I did not read all the comments before I made the recipe. Same on me!

    1. Hi, Donna! I updated the recipe with that specific note; however, I hope that after straining the tomatoes and cooking the sauce, you found that you still had some texture in the dish. That’s been my experience, but maybe you just pureed even smoother than I ever have? Hope it was still good!