Wondering how to make spaghetti sauce? This easy spaghetti sauce recipe breaks it down for you step by step, including a freezer-friendly storage solution!
This is the year of the lazy garden. The year I only half-way planted, half-way weeded, and hardly ever watered. While a number of things didn’t grow (as was to be expected!), there were a number of delightful surprises.
I easily filled two big pans’ worth of tomatoes after just 10-15 minutes of picking from my two bushes. This year, I grew one Roma and one beefsteak variety. Now, what to do with them?
In the past, I have canned garden tomatoes, but truth be told, it was just too easy for me to forget about/not use them. I’ve also simply frozen tomato puree. But there again, I didn’t really end up using that either. This year I decided to consider, “What do we actually eat with tomatoes?” Waste not, want not, right?
And what I came up with: spaghetti sauce. After all, I buy and use it regularly. So I decided to turn my 15 pounds of garden tomatoes into sauce. I’d like to share with you the steps I took to make my sauce in case you’re looking to do something similar. I modified this spaghetti sauce recipe I found at Food.com. Of course, you can modify the flavors to suit your tastes, or the amount of tomatoes you happen to have as I did!
Don’t have a garden? You can often find great deals on boxes of tomatoes at the farm stands or farmer’s market this time of year, so don’t count yourself out.
Easy Spaghetti Sauce Recipe
Here’s what you’ll need:
- 10-15 pounds of fresh tomatoes, peeled and chopped (see below)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 medium onions, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 cup thinly sliced basil
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- salt and pepper, to taste
Start by prepping your tomatoes! This is arguably the most tedious (and messy!) part of the recipe.
The best way to peel your tomatoes is to briefly submerge them in boiling water until you see the skins start to peel (usually takes about 10 seconds tops, if you’ve got a nice rolling boil). From there, drop them immediately into a bowl of cold water. The skins will peel right off! (For more on this method, see my post on How to Freeze Tomatoes.)
I wasn’t worried about chopping my tomatoes up too small or two pretty. As they cook, they quickly cook down and break apart anyway. Some of the smaller tomatoes I didn’t even bother chopping up at all.
With your tomatoes set aside, saute your onions in a heavy skillet in the olive oil. I like to get mine nice and golden in color, without browning or burning them. This took me about 5-6 minutes. At this point, season with the salt, pepper, and throw in your garlic and cook for a minute or so longer. (Incidentally, I find garlic burns rather quickly. This is why I always cook down the onions first and then throw in the garlic for just the last bit. Cooks perfect every time this way.)
In a heavy stockpot (this one is around $30 on Amazon with great reviews), add the chopped tomatoes, the cooked onions and garlic, the sugar and your chopped herbs. It’s going to seem very watery at first, but don’t worry. It will cook down! Bring to a nice boil, and them simmer. The original recipe I had suggested cooking for about a couple hours, but that original recipe was also only for 4 lbs of tomatoes. I just kept simmering, and simmering, and simmering…probably for 4 or 5 hours, until the liquid had gone down considerably and I was left with a thicker sauce.
So heads up if you are hoping to make this recipe: while it’s easy to assemble, make it on a day you’ll be around the house for awhile! It takes some time.
Here’s my finished sauce. Can you see how much liquid was reduced by all that simmering? As I’m freezing my sauce, I ended up throwing the whole pot in the fridge overnight to thoroughly cool it. This does three things: 1) it makes it easier to handle, 2) it won’t burn and compromise my freezer bags and 3) it will freeze faster. Faster freeze = better food quality!
Here’s my tip for pouring sauce into bags: use a blender/smoothie type bottle and line it with the bag, as pictured above. It will make your life SO much easier. Trust me!
I put roughly 2.5 – 3 cups per sauce in each bag. I also opted to use gallon size as that’s the quantity I’m most likely to use in any given recipe. (PS – Need freezer bags? Amazon has a wide selection of gallon freezer bags at good prices with Subscribe & Save, like these Glad Freezer Bags for about 10¢ each. Otherwise your local warehouse club no doubt has a solid price on freezer bags bought in bulk.)
My 15 pounds of tomatoes yielded me roughly 20 cups of sauce, which I am freezing in (7) 1-gallon freezer bags! I’m very pleased with that result.
The picture above illustrates how I prefer to freeze my sauce. Right now, I have them stacked just two deep since they are still completely liquid. Once they are frozen solid, I’ll be easily to stack them higher.
Here are a few ideas I came up with for how to use my homemade spaghetti sauce:
- With spaghetti and meatballs, of course!
- Over spaghetti and served with breaded chicken Parmesan
- Combine with alfredo sauce for a creamy tomato sauce
- Combine with chicken broth and cream for a tomato bisque
- Use in casseroles or fall meals like chili and lasagna
I love making food ahead of time and freezing it – it makes dinnertime go SO much more quickly! My favorite freezer cookbook is Fix, Freeze, Feast (pictured above). This recently updated version contains 150 recipes and is usually priced under $10 on Amazon. It’s definitely worth a look!
If you’re dealing with lots of tomatoes, you might also want to see…
How to Freeze Tomatoes. Perfect if you have a bounty and less time/energy to deal with them!
How to Can Tomatoes from Your Garden. Got the time, the energy and the motivation to can? Here’s my post on how I did it.
20 thoughts on “How to Make Spaghetti Sauce from Fresh Tomatoes (Freezer Friendly Recipe)”
Have you considered leaving the skin on your tomatoes so you don’t lose the nutritional value? I have made sauce without removing the skin and it turns out just fine. After everything simmers, before I freeze, I put the sauce in a blender for a few seconds to break the skin down. This will save you a ton of time and mess. Granted, this won’t be as good if you prefer a chunky sauce.
I skipped the step of peeling as well and the sauce came out wonderful, still. I did the same and blended after cooking. Maybe sometime I will try peeling but just throwing it all in the pot to cook saved my oodles of time and I couldn’t tell the difference. I
Do you still boil them, if you are not going to peel?
Thanks for the tip, I was not looking forward to peeling tomatoes.
Your freezer bags say, “Garden Tomato Sauce 8/27/15” and ironically I am using your recipe to make this sauce with tomatoes from my garden on 8/27/16!!! I did leave the skins on for a chunkier (easier!) sauce. It’s simmering now and smells delicious! Great article with pictures to help – thank you!
I make sauce like this all the time!!! sometimes I peel and sometimes I don’t, I may just zap with the immersion blender if all the skins havent broken all the way down.
Another tip I learned~~ Crockpot, everytime I try to simmer sauce I end up burning it. I toss all of the ingredients in my crockpot on high without the lid and let it go until it reduces to my liking. Usually around 24 hours. I just stir every now and again when I remember. It also gives me the freedom to leave the house as needed and of course sleep!!! Good luck
Did you sauté the onions first before adding to crockpot? Thanks
Do you cook in the crockpot on high or low?
Love this, I recently did something similar for dinner with my bounty of cherry tomatoes. I happened to have some Trader Joes Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato soup that I mixed in at it was delicious!
Can you can this recipe?
Hi there! It’s *possible* but canning is a specific science and I did not develop this particular recipe for canning. Given that, I’d feel uncomfortable providing instructions on how to make this recipe friendly for canning. However, Ball Recipes and other canning sites do have spaghetti sauce recipes for canning.
Made this for dinner tonight- it came out great.
Hi! Have you ever tried this recipe in the slow cooker? Great recipe by the way! I
Put unpeeled tomatoes along with other ingredients in uncovered roasting pan . Roast at 350 degrees for 2 hours. Cool. Process with a food mill. The food mill removes the skin and most of the seeds. No need to blanch or peel. Simmer in pan on stove, adjust seasonings. Freeze.
Have done the freezer spaghetti sauce three times and I am very happy with the way it has turned out. Had some sauce tonite with spaghetti and meatballs and my husband loved the sauce.
Can you use bought tomatoes from the store and if so, will it taste good
can i skip the sugar?
Terri – You certainly can!
I recreated (and videoed) this recipe and shared to my Instagram (tagging your page). I hope I gave the credit for the recipe correctly. Feel free to check it out and let me know if it’s not. Such a GREAT sauce. Thank you for sharing.
Thesoutherndaisyllc on Instagram
Thank you so much for sharing this!
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