49. Homemade Tomato Sauce

No freezer should be without at least one container of homemade tomato sauce ready to use. And no jarred or canned sauce will ever rival homemade. This version uses San Marzano tomatoes for the best flavor and quality in the sauce.

Make Ahead Homemade Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt (or Kosher salt)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp fresh oregano
2 dried bay leaves
5 leaves fresh basil, chiffonade or torn
2 (32-ounce) cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Additional salt & pepper to taste
1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)

Make Ahead Preparations:

In large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until the onion and celery are slightly translucent. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and saute with the veggies another 3 to 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the veggies are tender, being careful not to brown the garlic.

Add in the tomatoes, bay leaves, basil, oregano and crushed red pepper. Simmer, uncovered, over a low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 to 2 hours, checking the seasonings occasionally.
When the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Remove the bay leaves. Working in batches, puree the sauce in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Pour into airtight containers and freeze for up to one month or refrigerate for up to one week.

Last Minute Preparation:

Allow the sauce to defrost overnight in the refrigerator. Put sauce in a large pot or Dutch Oven over medium heat. Add in the parmesan cheese and use the red wine to thin the sauce out to the desired consistency. Heat through and serve.

Alternate Cooking Method:

Follow the directions above, except after sauteeing the vegetables, transfer everything to a crockpot. Cook on low for up to 8 hours, occasionally stirring and checking the seasonings.

Serving Suggestions:
  • Toss some Make Ahead Italian Meatballs in the sauce halfway through the cooking time. Serve over pasta with a side salad and some Freeze Ahead Garlic Bread. In true Italian tradition, you can also brown some pork chops, Italian sausage and/or chicken and toss that into the sauce to cook as well. It's now Sunday gravy!
  • Omit the cheese and wine. During the last 15 minutes of cooking, add in some additional crushed red pepper, some fresh shrimp and frozen peas. Cook until shrimp is pink and peas are heated through. This is also good with an addition of some hot Italian sausage! Serve over spaghetti.
  • Omit the cheese and wine. During the last ten minutes of cooking, add chopped, cooked bacon (as much as you want!) and 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream, or until the sauce turns a desired pink color. Stir over low heat and do not allow the sauce to boil. Serve over pasta.
Goes well with:


  1. I made my own tomato sauce for the first time recently and know that I will NEVER buy the jarred kind again. It was so easy to make my own and probably so much healthier for you!

  2. You don't ever mention when to add the wine and grated parm.