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This quick and easy 5-ingredient pomodoro sauce is a simple, flavorful combination of sweet ripe tomatoes, herbs, garlic, onions, 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 homemade pomodoro sauce tossed with pasta.
Table of Contents
  1. Why You’ll Love this Recipe
  2. Frequently Asked Questions
  3. Ingredients
  4. The Directions
  5. Serving Suggestions
  6. More Uses for Pomodoro Sauce
  7. Preparation and Storage Tips
  8. Recipe Variations
  9. Expert Tips
  10. Pomodoro Sauce Recipe

If you love pasta recipes as much as we do, be sure to try this dump-and-bake meatball casserole, an easy and creamy sausage pesto pasta, the best stuffed pasta shells, a pan of homemade lasagna, and this pasta with sausage and spinach, too!

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 olive oil, this fresh pomodoro sauce will convince your mind, body, and soul that you’re relaxing in a small café on the Amalfi coast, 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!

Why You’ll Love this Recipe

  • Easy. The homemade sauce only requires about 10 minutes of prep time, and is ready from start to finish in less than one hour. It’s simple, it can be made in advance and stashed in the fridge, and it appeals to even the pickiest little pasta eaters!
  • Affordable. Especially when fresh tomatoes are in season and abundant in your garden or at your farmer’s market, this budget-friendly sauce creates a flavorful, satisfying meal with minimal ingredients.
  • Healthy. Not only is the sauce loaded with fresh vegetables and herbs, but you can control the amount of salt and sugar in the finished dish. It doesn’t get much fresher, lighter, or more nourishing than this pomodoro sauce recipe!

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.

– POUndcakelady3
Side shot of a bowl of pasta with pomodoro sauce on a dinner table with salad and bread in the background.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is pomodoro sauce? Pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian, and that’s exactly what this is — a fresh tomato sauce. 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.
  • What’s the difference between pomodoro sauce and marinara? The main difference between marinara sauce and pomodoro sauce is in the texture. While they utilize similar ingredients, marinara is a tomato-based sauce that’s thinner, runnier, and chunkier, while pomodoro is thicker and includes smoother, pureed tomatoes.
  • Is pomodoro sauce spicy? No, this sauce is typically not spicy. If you prefer a spicy pomodoro sauce, feel free to add crushed red pepper flakes to taste.
  • Is it vegetarian or vegan? Yes, the fresh, simple pomodoro sauce ingredients are all naturally vegetarian and vegan. Traditionally the pasta sauce does not contain meat or dairy products, although you can certainly add sausage, ground beef, or heavy cream if you like.
  • Will this work with canned tomatoes? Yes! You can prepare this sauce with a 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes for a smooth texture, or with a 28-ounce can of whole San Marzano tomatoes (just break the tomatoes up with your hands or with a knife to reach the desired chunky texture).
Chopping fresh tomatoes in a food processor for pomodoro sauce.

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. For the best flavor, find the juiciest, sweetest, ripest, in-season tomatoes available, since the tomatoes will drastically impact the taste 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 good 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 cloves: aromatics that add great flavor.
  • Fresh herbs: such as fresh basil leaves, oregano, and parsley.
Process shot showing how to make a pot of authentic italian pomodoro sauce recipe.

The Directions

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

You’ll find detailed directions in the recipe card below, but here’s the quick version:

  1. Quarter the tomatoes and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Purée the tomatoes in a food processor until they’re a fairly smooth consistency, leaving some chunks if you like more texture in your sauce.
  3. Transfer the tomatoes to a colander to strain off the excess juice.
  4. Sauté the garlic and onion in the olive oil in a large pan, saucepan, Dutch oven, or other large pot.
  5. Add the tomatoes and herbs.
  6. 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.
Square overhead shot of a bowl of pasta pomodoro sauce.

Serving Suggestions

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, shrimp, or chicken.

Here are some sides that go well with pomodoro pasta:

Close overhead image of pomodoro sauce tossed with pasta and garnished with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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:

Square overhead image of pomodoro sauce on a bed of pasta in a bowl with a salad and bread on the side.

Preparation and Storage Tips

  • How to Store: Leftover sauce will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
  • How 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.
Side shot of pasta pomodoro sauce in a bowl on a dinner table.

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’ll likely 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)!
Hands serving homemade pomodoro sauce on a bowl of pasta.

Expert Tips

  • When available, 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.
Bowl of pasta with pomodoro sauce on a table with fresh tomatoes and side salad.

More Recipes with Fresh Tomatoes

Square overhead shot of a bowl of pasta pomodoro sauce.

Pomodoro Sauce

5 from 3 votes
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 55 minutes
Servings 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, onions, 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)
  • Kosher salt and ground black 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 mostly smooth, leaving some good chunks for 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).
    Chopping fresh tomatoes in a food processor for pomodoro sauce.
  • 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.
    Process shot showing how to make a pot of authentic italian pomodoro sauce recipe.
  • 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.
    Close overhead image of pomodoro sauce tossed with pasta and garnished with parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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.
  • When available, 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.
    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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. It was updated in April, 2024.

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. PoundCakeLady3 says:

    5 stars
    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. Blair says:

      Thank you! I’m so glad to know that you enjoyed it! 🙂

    2. Rolando says:

      How about canning this sauce. Is is possible to do?

      1. Blair says:

        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. William Wallace says:

    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. Blair says:

      Thanks for that tip, William!

    2. Nikki says:

      Hi Blair, would you recommend altering the recipe if trying to make a pomodoro style dip?

      1. Blair says:

        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. Chelsea C. says:

    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. Blair says:

      Perfect! Thanks, Chelsea! The more expensive oil is usually worth it! 🙂

      1. Janice Finkle says:

        Where do you buy your oil? I haven’t found anything great in the grocery store.

        1. Blair says:

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

  4. Rick Sullivan says:

    Do you take the skins from the fresh tomatoes?

    1. Blair says:

      Nope! The skins can stay on. 🙂

  5. Blair says:

    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!

  6. ching Crowell says:

    Yes indeed the best sauce I ever cook. Thank you so much to get this recipe posted for us to enjoy.

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you! 🙂

  7. jThompson says:

    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. Blair says:

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

  8. Edward Perkins says:

    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

    1. Blair says:

      Thank you! Great tip to serve it over spaghetti squash to lighten it up. 🙂

  9. Mary says:

    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. Blair says:

      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! 🙂

  10. Marion says:

    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. Blair Lonergan says:

      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! 🙂

      1. Missy B says:

        I use 1 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes, just break them up with my hands and pour them and their juice in the pot.
        Add a pinch or 2 of sugar.
        Delicious

        1. The Seasoned Mom says:

          Sounds great, Missy! Thank you for sharing.

  11. Blair Lonergan says:

    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!