Secrets to Perfect Homemade Tomato Sauce (with No Added Sugar)
Many store-bought tomato sauces have heaps of added sugar to tame the natural acidity of tomatoes. Plus, they're usually loaded with sodium. But if you can turn on an oven, you can make a healthy sauce from scratch. And it tastes really good, too.
Any type of tomatoes will work. Romas are our favorite. Their mild-sweet flavor is consistent from season to season. Beefsteak tomatoes have more water, so you'll have to cook the sauce longer. And, depending on the variety, heirloom tomatoes can affect a sauce's color.
Related: New Ways to Eat Tomatoes This Summer
What You'll Need
- 15×10-inch baking pan
- Aluminum foil
- Basting brush
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- Large saucepan
- Wooden spoon
- Measuring spoons
- Immersion blender
- Small ladle
- Canning jar
- 4 lb. tomatoes
- 1 red sweet pepper, halved and seeded
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh basil, Italian parsley, and/or oregano
Step 1: Stem the tomatoes.
After washing and drying tomatoes, remove stems. To do this, hold the tomato firmly and with a small paring knife, remove stem by slicing and rotating the knife in a circular motion. You don't have to cut very deep to remove it. Discard stems.
Step 2: Seed the tomatoes.
Cut each tomato in half along its equator. Squeeze halves over a bowl. The seeds and excess juice will pop right out; discard seeds and juice.
Step 3: Broil the tomatoes and sweet pepper.
Preheat broiler. Lightly brush tomatoes and sweet pepper with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Arrange half of the tomatoes and the pepper, cut sides down, in a 15x10-inch baking pan. Broil 5 to 6 inches from heat 8 to 10 minutes or until charred. Once the vegetables are charred, wrap them in foil and let stand 20 minutes. This will loosen the skins. Then use tongs or your fingers to peel. For the best sauce texture, you must remove the skins. Chop tomatoes and pepper.
Step 4: Cook the aromatics.
In a large saucepan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium. Add onion and garlic; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally. Add the peeled tomatoes and sweet pepper, the vinegar, salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 20 to 30 minutes.
Step 5: Blend it up.
Let the sauce cool slightly, then blend with an immersion blender until smooth. (Alternativley, transfer small, slightly cooled batches of sauce to a blender or food processor. Then return to pot.) Stir in fresh herbs such as basil, Italian parsley, and oregano.
Step 6: Pick your protein.
Pictured Recipe: Zoodles with Tomato Sauce and Sausage
If you prefer meat sauce, stir in one of these: grilled smoked sausage, sliced; 9 oz. cooked lean chicken sausage links, sliced; 12 oz. cooked lean ground pork, turkey, or beef; or 3 cups shredded cooked chicken breast. Serve over pasta or vegetable noodles.
Freezing Tomato Sauce
Store frozen sauce up to 3 months in a freezer-safe container, such as a resealable plastic bag or glass container with a lid, leaving an inch of room up top. To serve, thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in a saucepan over medium-low.