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Published April 7, 2023. This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.
This quick and easy classic Pomodoro sauce is loaded with rich tomato flavor and comes together in under 45 minutes. You won’t believe how simple this is to prepare and just how delicious and versatile this sauce is.
We love Italian food and eat pasta at least once a week. If you enjoy hearty pasta dishes as well, you must try my Spaghetti Pasta Carbonara or my Pasta alla Gricia.
Pomodoro sauce is a very simple classic Italian tomato-based sauce recipe consisting of a few ingredients. Pomodoro translates from Italian to English as “tomato.” This is as basic a sauce as possible, and it comes together in about 45 minutes.
While this sauce is fantastic served with pasta, this is also the base sauce for things like Braciole or Chicken Parmesan. The reason pomodoro sauce is so good is that it only has a couple of ingredients. Just like any simple recipe, if the ingredients are in season and delicious, then your recipe will be outstanding.
In addition, when many of these classical recipes were created, the world was not wealthy. People used what they had, always in season, and tried to make the best food possible.
What’s the Difference Between Pomodoro Sauce and Marinara?
The most significant difference between Pomodoro sauce and marinara is the thickness. While marinara is chunkier, it is also a little runnier. Pomodoro sauce is completely smooth but thicker in nature because it cooks down over time.
In addition to those, the ingredients can vary as well. Marinara has a few more things, such as oregano and occasionally red pepper flakes.
- Tomatoes – These can be canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. When using canned tomatoes, I prefer San Marzano.
- Oil – Use a good extra virgin olive oil in this pomodoro sauce.
- Garlic – Several finely minced cloves of garlic will help elevate this sauce.
- Onions – These are optional but will significantly enhance the taste. You can use a yellow, white, or sweet onion.
- Basil – You will need some fresh basil leaves to add to the sauce at the end.
- Salt and Pepper – Using these simple ingredients will significantly increase the flavor. Be sure to season once and taste twice.
How to Make Pomodoro Sauce
Add the peeled or canned tomatoes to a blender or food mill and blend until pureed. Set aside.
Finely mince or grate some yellow onion and garlic cloves. Set aside.
Add some oil to a large pot over low heat.
Add the onions and garlic to the pot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes or until translucent.
Pour the pureed tomatoes and stew over low to medium heat for 30 minutes or until thick.
Finish the sauce with whole fresh basil leaves, salt, and pepper.
Serve with pasta which is known as pasta al pomodoro.
Is the Sauce Spicy?
Pomodoro sauce is not traditionally spicy. However, I have seen recipes where people finish with red pepper flakes. I believe you should customize your food to your liking, so if you would like a little spice in there, please feel free to add it in there.
It’s incredibly easy to make and delicious, making it a perfect weeknight sauce to cover your pasta.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Make-Ahead: You can make this recipe up to 2 days ahead. Follow the reheating instructions below when serving.
How to Store: Store the Pomodoro sauce chilled and covered in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. It freezes well and will hold in the freezer for up to 3 months. It will take a full day to thaw, so set aside enough time to use it.
How to Reheat: Simply add it to a medium-sized pot and cook over low heat until hot. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper.
chef notes + tips
- Like any good sauce, it gets better with time, so if you’ve got the time, let this simmer for a few hours to help concentrate those rich tomato flavors.
- While there are some differences between the two, they are subtle, so I want to encourage you to try both and see which one you like!
- You can use fresh peeled tomatoes, which you can learn how to prepare in my steak pizzaiola recipe, or canned San Marzano tomatoes.
- When it comes to olive oil, I use whatever is expeller pressed, organic, and on sale.
More Pasta Recipes
- Puttanesca Sauce with Pappardelle Pasta
- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
- Lasagna Bolognese
- Fettucine Alfredo
- Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Simple Pomodoro Sauce Recipe
- 5 pounds peeled fresh tomatoes or 3 28-ounce cans of San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ peeled and finely minced/grated yellow onion
- 4 finely minced/grated garlic cloves
- 12-15 fresh basil leaves
- sea salt and pepper to taste
- cooked pasta
- Add the tomatoes to a blender or a food mill and blend until smooth. Set aside.
- Add the olive oil to a large pot over low heat and add in the onions and garlic and cook until translucent, about 10 minutes.
- Pour the pureed tomatoes and stew over low to medium heat for 30 minutes. SEE NOTE.
- Finish by stirring in basil, salt, and pepper.
- Toss with pasta and parmesan cheese, or serve with any other dish.
I’ve made this several times. I let it simmer for 2-3 hours, which is long enough for every room in the house to smell wonderful.
Made this quick sauce to go with the gnocchi recipe. So yummy! I made extra for meatball subs tomorrow.
I have never made this dish before, but it looks delicious and easy to make. I use the same kind of canned tomatoes that you do Chef, I love the flavor of them, and they are the closes to home grown as you can get. Great products make great recipes…
Just made this last night for spaghetti! Threw my meatballs in there to finish cooking after I browned them. Delish!
My kids love this sauce! It’s so simple and quick to make, we will not be buying marinara from the store anymore.
It’s a good one!
Simple and delicious!
This recipe was so good, and will make again
This recipe was a lot harder for me than Chef makes it look, but that’s just my normal. It turned out delicious and perfect even with me cooking. I used every utensil and tool I own, it seems, and made a big ol’ mess of the kitchen, but oh, my, that sauce! Where has it been all my life? It makes a wonderful big batch and we’ve been enjoying for three days! I will be making this often! Love this basic pasta sauce! Thanks, Chef! ❤️
This was the absolute best sauce. We try a new recipe every Thursday and vote to keep it. I came across your stuffed shells recipe. Every blue moon we ALL like a recipe, especially with my picky husband & youngest daughter and the moon was definitely blue that night. ALL of us loved it, no leftovers uneaten, scraped the plate. It’s definitely a keeper. Thank you for not keeping something this good to yourself.
Chef… I’ve been adding fresh basil at the beginning of the sauce and different brands of fresh basil from different markets has been altering the taste. I found living basil to be the sweetest which I prefer. I am using Strianese San Mariano canned whole tomatoes. Should I be adding the fresh basil leaves at the end of the cooking time? Thanks.
You can do either tbh.
I have to utter Yes
I’ve essentially been making this for a couple years. I buy a bunch of the ‘ugly’ heirloom tomatoes at the farmers market. The peeling technique is great. The recipe really let’s the tomatoes shine
I love this recipe! I add in one minced carrot and one stalk minced celery with the minced onion to lighten it up a bit, but I’ve made this as written and is perfect that way, too! I used this for my homemade ravioli and for homemade pizza (using Trader Joes pizza dough!)…best pizza I ever had–because of this sauce!
Its winter, my basil plats all gone. What is the best substitute? Thank you very much! I ❤️ your show!
Fresh basil is really the only option here.
Can I simmer your homemade meatballs in there? Or is it best to keep separated like in your spaghetti & meatball recipe?
You definitely could.
I love it and very easy! I’m going to make it tomorrow for classic chicken parmigiana recipe! I enjoy when I’m cooking your recipes, I cook with love!!Thank you because you are drawing the smile on our faces!❤
One of my favorite sauces. So good.
I am no longer intimidated by this sauce! It was much easier than I thought and the flavor was perfect! Thanks!
This was really good! My whole family loved it!
Delicious! Love the simplicity!
So easy and so yummy, especially served with extra fresh basil!