D.I.Y. Friday: The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe

D.I.Y. Friday: The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe

D.I.Y. Fridays: The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe

Welcome back to D.I.Y. Fridays, an occasional blog series in which we D.I.Y. a basic (sometimes naturally gluten free) recipe (like this, the best tomato sauce recipe) or other ingredient that you might be inclined to buy. There are so many jarred tomato sauces that are naturally (and reliably) gluten free that you might think it’s kind of ridiculous to D.I.Y.—unless of course you grew up on homemade tomato sauce and buying a jar of the stuff is just horrifying (and then today’s recipe probably isn’t for you!). But since I make so.much.tomato.sauce in my house, and use it multiple times a week on everything from gluten free pizza to a simple dinner of pasta and meat sauce (my kids’ favorite), it’s time I showed you the few tricks I use to make quick work of truly the best, easiest tomato sauce.

D.I.Y. Fridays: The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe ingredients

Straight off, you can see that there’s something different about those onions and garlic: they’re grated. I know I know it’s not like this is an earth-shattering method or anything, but it’s something I find pays off in more ways than one. It is way faster than dicing and mincing, uses almost all of the onion, and (best of all) it means that the onion and garlic cook at the same rate—in about half the time it would normally take. And yes, that’s diced bacon. My favorite tomato sauce is made by sautéing the onions and garlic in rendered bacon fat. But you can easily leave that out and just use a bit more olive oil in its place.

D.I.Y. Fridays: The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe Ingredients

Here’s my other “trick”: and mix of tomato puree and tomato paste. I used to buy cans upon cans of whole peeled tomatoes and then puree them with their juices before using them in sauce. And of course you can still do that. But if you can find it, canned tomato puree is a beautiful thing. No blending! If I could buy it by the case, I would. Instead, every other week I practically empty my grocery store’s shelves of the stuff. Adding a small can of tomato paste to the puree means that you have the perfect consistency for your sauce without having to simmer it down.

D.I.Y. Fridays: The Best Tomato Sauce Recipe

I store the sauce in two pint-and-a-half mason jars in the refrigerator (it keeps about a week), and I bet you could can it but honestly I know nothing nothing nothing about canning and it’s not something I’m proud of but there it is. Happy D.I.Y. Friday!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 7 cups sauce


1/4 pound bacon, diced (optional)

1 to 2 tablespoons (14 to 28 g) extra-virgin olive oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and grated on a medium-size grater

4 cloves garlic, peeled and grated on a medium-size grater

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1 tablespoon dried basil

2 tablespoons (24 g) granulated sugar

1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 6-ounce can tomato paste

2 28-ounce cans tomato puree (or 2 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes, pureed with their juices until smooth)


  • If using bacon, place the diced bacon in a heavy-bottom 4-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is crisp-tender (about 4 minutes). Remove the bacon from the pan and set it aside, leaving the rendered bacon fat behind. Add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil (2 tablespoons if you did not use bacon), and heat over medium until rippling.

  • Add the grated onions and garlic, and sauté, stirring frequently, until fragrant and beginning to melt (about 4 minutes). Add the salt, pepper, basil and sugar, and stir to combine. Add the oregano, pressing it between your finger and palm to release the oils, and stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and tomato puree, and whisk to combine well. Cook until heated through and just beginning to bubble. Add the (optional) bacon, and stir to combine. Add more salt and/or pepper to taste. Serve hot.



P.S. If you like the blog recipes, you’ll just love the Gluten Free on a Shoestring Cookbooks! Your support keeps the blog going and the books coming!

Comments are closed.

  • Donna@Gardens Eye View
    November 10, 2014 at 9:02 AM

    This recipe is similar to my Italian relatives recipe. Always add pork and use paste and canned tomatoes…of course you chose the best canned tomatoes too!

  • Karlie
    November 7, 2014 at 9:59 PM

    It sounds delicious! The only way this could be canned to be shelf-stable though is with a pressure canner – you can’t get a hot water bath canner high enough in temperature to render low-acid/low-sugar foods safe! But who cares, I bet it wouldn’t last long enough anyway :)

    • Barbara
      November 8, 2014 at 6:18 AM

      Thought tomato was acidic. Been canning tomato for years. Maybe I was just lucky.

    • Evan
      November 13, 2014 at 10:15 PM

      Tomatos have a just barely over 4.6 ph or lower, making them a high acid food. As someone with severe Acid Reflux, they’re a food I’ve always had to be careful with because they can set it off.

  • Brenda
    November 7, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Nicole, thank you thank you, this is just what I needed! I found no-salt-added tomato puree at a local specialty store just last week and bought it even though I had no idea what I was going to use it for. My mom (on the salt restriction) has been craving pizza something fierce and I haven’t been able to find low-sodium pizza sauce. What else do you add to use it as pizza sauce?

    • Sarah B
      November 7, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      Brenda, I’ve used canned tomato sauce for pizza sauce many times – I just add garlic salt and dried herbs to taste and you’re all set to go. :)

  • Jennifer S.
    November 7, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I’m betting we could freeze this up too. I have a friend who puts sauce in gallon bags and freezes ’em flat so you can get more in the freezer….. I like this recipe – nice and simple (but honestly I buy GF sauce and pizza sauce from classico).

    • Lynne
      November 7, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Our favorite pizza sauce is the classico! It is delicious on the against the grain pizza crust copycat recipe!

  • Mare Masterson
    November 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

    I am one of the ones that doesn’t need this recipe, but I appreciate you posting it anyway. After all, there may just come a time that I want pasta but do not have gravy. Yes, in my house we make “gravy.” It consists of pork bones, Italian sausage, meatballs, the garlic, onions, tomato puree, crushed tomatoes, tomato paste and spices. Sometimes I put in beef and pork braccioli. I brown the onions and garlic in what is left after browning the sausage. When I make gravy, I make a huge batch of it. We eat it, freeze some, and make things for the freezer such as eggplant parmigiana.

  • Lucy
    November 7, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    Adding tomato paste…genius! Thanks Nicole, love these DIY’s :)

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