Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

I've re-written on of my most popular posts to make my recipe a little clearer.  It's all about how to make the very best, without a doubt, the absolute best tomato sauce ever.  It may be the easiest too.  The key is to first roast the tomatoes--roasting intensifies the flavor.  This recipe requires several large roasting pans, olive oil and a specialty cone shaped kitchen item called a chinois strainer.  I highly recommend investing in this tool if you plan on making tomato sauce every year.  My method eliminates the tedious task of removing the tomato skins by water bath.  Take it from the granddaughter of a commercial tomato grower, tomato sauce made from fresh, roasted tomatoes is a summer treat!  

Place whole tomatoes in roasters with onion and fresh herbs.  Add salt and pepper, red pepper flakes and olive oil.

Cover loosely with foil and roast in a hot oven (450F) for 2 hours.  Let cool slightly.

Toss it batch by batch into a food processor and whirl away.

Whirl for a minute or so.

Spoon by cupful into the chinois strainer and strain out the seeds and skin.  This is my grandmother's strainer.

Each batch you'll have some dry skins and seeds.  Toss.

Stir your sauce together and ladle into clean jars.  I like to use recycled jars so if I give any away I don't need the jar back.  These are recycled mayonnaise jars.  Label them and put in the freezer where they will last for up to one year.

Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce
Yields approximately 8 quarts
Wash one lug vine-ripened tomatoes, approximately 40 pounds.  Remove stems and core the ones that have a big ingrown stem if necessary, but mostly I didn't bother.  Halve or quarter large tomatoes.  Jumble the tomatoes, all sizes,  into 2-4 large roasters.  In between the tomatoes, squeeze in some fresh herbs (I use what I had growing, oregano, marjoram, rosemary and lots of basil) plus 2 heads of garlic, sliced in half, unpeeled.  Optional:  add 1 quartered onion, 1 red bell pepper--sometimes I'll add what I have in the garden, maybe a carrot or two or a summer squash.  Pour olive oil over, I used about 1/4-1/2 cup per pan.  Salt and pepper and sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes to each pan.  Cover loosely with foil and roast in a hot oven, 450 degrees F for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours taking the foil off for the last half hour.  It will be bubbling like crazy. The skins may be black, don't worry.  Cool slightly, and if desired, pick off and discard the black skins you can easily slip off.  Most slip off easily, but honestly, I don't bother.  For a thicker sauce, drain off most of the water, which you can strain and save for future stock making.  Whirl the tomato mixture with skins, seeds and all in batches in a food processor until smooth.  Next you'll have to strain out the seeds and skins.

If you are serious about making tomato sauce, invest in a perforated chinois strainer. This type of strainer makes the next step really easy and it's useful in the kitchen for other tasks.  I wouldn't want to live without mine (inherited from my grandmother).  There are dozens of expensive, fancy and complicated tomato strainers for you to spend your money on, but I wouldn't bother with them.  This old fashioned strainer with a stand and wooden pestle is best and you'll find it easier to use.  Pour the processed sauce by batches into the strainer and use the wooden pestle to smash the sauce around.  The seeds and skins stay in the strainer (discard) and your beautiful sauce comes out the little holes.  There is no need to cook again.  Ladle into clean jars and freeze.  If you have drained off some of the tomato water you can freeze that too; it makes a delicious base for stocks and is also good for cooking rice.

Click here for the printable recipe.

You will be glad you made this, it may be time-consuming, but not difficult and it really doesn't even mess the kitchen much, I promise. Store it in the freezer and use it for marinara sauce, tomato soup (see below), spaghetti bolognese sauce, etc.  Enjoy!

For tomato soup, just before serving, add hot milk and/or half and half to hot sauce (heat separately).  The ratio is generally 1 part milk to 3 parts sauce.  Thin with chicken stock if necessary and season to taste.  Add cooked rice, I use wild rice.  Serve immediately.  Top each soup plate with a dollop of pesto.


  1. I can't believe all of those tomatoes! I've made roasted tomato sauce and it is worth it. The oven, however, was a mess.


  2. Hi Kristen , I have a similar recipe but I'll try yours , thanks

  3. Hi Kristen: I have enjoyed Kristin Hannah's other books but had to stop The Four Winds -- it was was too depressing! A lot like Grapes of Wrath, but the combination of the Depression, the environmental damage that led to the Dust Bowl, and our current climate-related ravages was too much for me. I did just finish My Dear I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young. It is historical fiction set in the years preceding and then during WWI -- so it is dark (a dark period in our global history!), but I found it hopeful, and it is a period I enjoy learning more about. Here in my part of Indiana it has been so wet some of my tomatoes are developing root rot and the humidity is ravaging the heirlooms with fungal disease, so not a great tomato year for me or my gardening friends -- which makes your tomato success sweeter: it is good to know somebody is getting a good harvest! Thanks for sharing!