> > > >

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce is a sauce based on tomatoes.

There are many types: what most have in common is that they are meant to be thick.

Tomato Sauce is usually a cooked sauce, but there are uncooked ones such as some fresh tomato Mexican salsas.

Tomato Sauce can be a condiment -- ketchup is a tomato sauce -- or it can be used as an ingredient in a dish, as in tomato sauce that goes on pasta, noodles or rice.

Tomato Sauces, for the most part, don't need added thickeners. Simmering tomatoes will evaporate enough water to make a thick sauce, because tomatoes have flesh which breaks down just by simmering. Some tomato varieties, such as Roma, have less water in them than others -- a "higher pulp-to-moisture ratio" -- so require less simmering than others. Some tomato varieties like beefsteak tomatoes are juicier, so would require more simmering.

In the French mind, "sauce tomate à la mode provencale", or "sauce tomate au naturel", or "coulis de tomate:, is an Italian-style tomato sauce, with no flour thickener in it. Otherwise, in classical French cooking "sauce tomate" is thickened with a roux (flour and butter.) [1]

Many Italian Tomato Sauces start with a soffrito of the Italian holy trinity of the kitchen: onion, carrots and celery, minced and sautéed.

Typical seasonings for Tomato Sauces are basil, black pepper, oregano, parsley, and salt. Sometimes chile flake, olive oil, or ground meat is added. The French and the Italians called a tomato sauce with meat in it (sauce tomate à la viande hachée) a "ragu."

Southern Italian and south of France tomato sauces will use olive oil; northern Italian and the rest of France are more likely to use butter in them.

In North America, Tomato Sauce can refer to a tin of concentrated, puréed tomato. It will be thicker that tomato juice, and far more liquid than tomato paste, and be variously flavoured with some very basic seasonings (there is no standard.) Tomato sauce further already prepared for pasta is referred to as pasta sauce or spaghetti sauce.

Many people insist that tomatoes should be peeled before making sauce from them; others insist on peeling and seeding; still others inside on peeling, seeding, and pressing through a strainer. Others, just wash the tomatoes and chuck them in a blender as is, then pour the purée into a pot and start simmering. The puréed tomato skins can act as a thickener. (You need to purée the tomatoes in a proper, stand up blender. A hand held immersible one won't do quite as good a job.)

It takes hours and hours to simmer a Tomato Sauce down; it should be reduced by half.

Some like to freeze Tomato Sauce; some like to bottle it.

Cooking Tips

Blender Method of dealing with Tomato Skins

When making tomato sauce at home in large quantities from fresh Tomatoes, peeling them can be out of the question. If it's just you, or maybe a friend as well helping you, you simply won't have the capacity in one day to peel 3 or 4 bushels of tomatoes, and get the sauce made and frozen all in one day. There won't be enough hours in the day.

Blending the tomatoes skin-on addresses several issues. It skips the peeling stage. The blended, pulverized skin will be undetectable in the sauce except for one fact: it will actually provide the benefit of acting as a natural thickener for the sauce. And, you've also got the undetectable bonus of retaining all the nutrients that are in the skin.

Try this procedure instead when processing bushels and bushels of tomatoes for sauce. Wash tomatoes. Get the top stem ends out. A tomato corer, if you have one, really is faster at this, and safer, than using a paring knife. But have a paring knife handy for any truly bad bits of tomato that need to be hacked off. Don't worry about cosmetically imperfect surface areas, but do hack away areas that are degrading from bruising, etc. A few tomatoes you'll want to toss entirely. Don't worry about the bottom tips of tomatoes, leave that. Really large tomatoes, cut in half so they'll process more easily in the blender. Leave skins on. Don't even think about seeding them.

While one person is preparing the tomatoes in this fashion, a second person (if you're lucky enough to have one) will man the blender. Starting off, just put one tomato in there, and blend it to make a slurry. Add and blend another one, then another one. After you have a few inches of slurry in there, you can then add 5 or 6 tomatoes at once. Having a few inches of slurry in there stops them from getting jammed up causing the blender blade to spin around uselessly. Blend thoroughly for about 10 to 20 seconds. Pour the blended tomatoes into a (very) large pot, but leave a few inches of slurry in the blender as your starter for the next round, so you can pop 5 or 6 tomatoes in right away. If you forget, just start a slurry from scratch again.

The blended tomatoes will come out pink because of the air in them, but will turn back to bright red as the air leaves them through cooking.


Instead of canned North American tomato sauce: 3/4 cup tomato paste + 1 cup water = 2 cups of tinned tomato sauce.

Language Notes

The differences in French:
  • tomates pelées entières - canned whole, peeled tomatoes
  • tomates pelées concassées - canned, peeled, crushed or diced tomatoes
  • concentré de tomates - tomato paste
  • purée de tomates - simple, unadorned tomato sauce
  • sauce tomate - a finished tomato sauce, seasoned, added ingredients, ready to use


[1] New Larousse Gastronomique. Paris: Librarie Larousse. English edition 1977. Page 808.

Bittman, Mark. An Easy Tomato Sauce Made Easier. New York Times. 1 October 2010.

Brennan, Georgeanne. From vine to freezer - tomato sauce for all year. San Francisco Chronicle. 26 July 2009.

See also:


Agrodolce; Applesauce; Au Jus; Barbeque Sauce; Black Mint Sauce; Chile con Queso; Chimichurri Salsa Recipe; Chippie Sauce; Cranberry Sauce; English Sauces; Fermented Black Beans; Finadene Sauce Recipe; Finadene Sauce (for fish) Recipe; Finadene Sauce; Fish Sauces; French Sauces; Fry Sauce; Gravy; Green Sauce; Harissa; Hoisin Sauce; Instant Flour; Japanese Sauces; Ketjap Manis; Liebig's Extract of Meat; Lizano Sauce; Maggi; Melba Sauce; Mojo Sauces; Mojo (Cuban); Mole; Murri; Parsley Sauce; Pasta Sauce; Pearà; Pesto Modenese; Pipián Paste; Pique Criollo; Pique Seasoning; Pizza Sauce; Raita; Reducing; Salmuera; Sambals; Sauces; Sriracha Sauce; Tabasco Green Pepper Sauce; Tabasco; Tapenade; Tomato Sauce; Truffle Butter; Vatapá; Walnut Sauce; White Sauce; XO Sauce

Please share this information with your friends. They may love it.


Oulton, Randal. "Tomato Sauce." CooksInfo.com. Published 15 October 2010; revised 18 February 2011. Web. Accessed 05/22/2018. <http://www.cooksinfo.com/tomato-sauce>.

© Copyright 2018. All rights reserved and enforced. You are welcome to cite CooksInfo.com as a reference, but no direct copying and republishing is allowed.