This homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce is one of those simple, unassuming sauces that knocks you over with how delicious it is, adding a crazy amount of flavor to everything it touches. This sauce is the perfect thing to make with ripe, fresh summer tomatoes!
This homemade tomato sauce and these marinated heirloom tomatoes are my favorite things to make with all those fabulous fresh summer tomatoes.
And in fact, I might go as far as saying that roasted tomato sauce is my FAVORITE thing to make in the summer. Bold statement, when I consider the infinite possibilities of summer produce. And one I might go back on when I'm making a pot of summer corn chowder or pico de gallo or peach preserves.
But, right now, this tomato sauce is all I want in the world. Lucky for me, I have some in my refrigerator at this very moment, just waiting to be spread over toast for Sausage and Provolone Sandwiches or stirred into Spaghetti Puttanesca.
By the way, THIS fresh tomato sauce is best with ripe summer tomatoes but tomato sauce is a year-round thing, yes? 🙌 For most of the year, when tomatoes aren't in season, this is my go-to homemade marinara sauce.
Ingredients Needed to Prepare This Recipe
- Tomatoes! Obvi. As ripe, fresh, and flavorful as you can find.
- Fresh garlic. This recipe calls for a whopping 26 cloves of garlic which might seem excessive, but the cloves are roasted along with the tomatoes which mellows and softens the flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil. I highly recommend not substituting any other kind of oil for extra virgin olive oil in this tomato sauce. The flavor of olive oil is a perfect match to ripe, fresh tomatoes.
- Dried thyme leaves.
- Crushed red pepper flakes.
- Granulated sugar. Just 1 teaspoon of sugar in this tomato sauce brightens the flavor of the tomatoes.
- Salt and pepper.
Ripe Tomatoes are the Key Ingredient in this Sauce
My husband and I are full-time travelers, but we are originally from Colorado where there is a relatively short tomato season. Most fruits and vegetables are best when they're in season and grown locally. That's just how it is. The best pineapple I've ever had in my life was in Costa Rica. You know, where they grow it.
Even still, I am supremely grateful for our ability to fly in produce from all over the world in the dead of winter when pretty much nothing is "in season" in cold weather places. But tomatoes are really only good when they are fresh and in season.
Come February, it doesn't seem to matter how bright red and inviting they look. Succumb to their charms and you will be sorely disappointed when you cut into one and discover that it has almost no flavor.
But, wow, when tomatoes are picked fresh in peak season, there's nothing better. In the summer, a plate of sliced tomatoes with a bit of salt and pepper is all I need in the world.
That's not true. I also want this sauce. Gallons and gallons of it.
Lucky for me, roasted tomato sauce is super easy to make. Sometimes I even get ambitious enough to make extra, freezing or canning it for those loooooong winter months when fresh tomatoes are not an option.
Equipment Needed to Make Roasted Tomato Sauce
The entire process for making Roasted Tomato Sauce is pretty straightforward, but it does help to have a couple of tools. The first thing you absolutely need is a sheet pan with rimmed edges.
Depending on the size of your oven, here are the sheet pans I recommend:
The important thing for roasting tomatoes is that the sheet pan has rimmed edges. If you use a flat-edge pan, tomato juice will run out all over your oven while the tomatoes roast. This is not a great situation and should be avoided. 😁
The second tool that's super useful to have is a food mill. It's not 100% necessary to have a food mill (see the note at the bottom of the recipe for making roasted tomato sauce without a food mill), it just makes the process easier.
Also - bonus! - if you can make delicious no-peel apple butter with your food mill when tomatoes are no longer in season, but apples are.
Step-by-Step Photos and Instructions
Wash the tomatoes, remove the stems and cut them in half. Lay the tomatoes cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet and scatter garlic cloves over and around the tomatoes. There's no need to peel the cloves.
Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle the thyme leaves, crushed red pepper, and sugar over the tomatoes and garlic, then sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Roast the tomatoes and garlic the oven for 60-90 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to caramelize on top.
They will look shriveled and have spots of golden brown. Let the tomatoes rest on the pan until they are cool enough to handle.
Working in batches, scoop the tomatoes into a food mill that's been fitted with the large hole strainer plate and set over a large bowl or saucepan.
Strain the tomatoes through the food mill, allowing the sauce to accumulate in the bowl and the tomato skins and core to collect in the food mill. Discard the skins and core.
Squeeze the garlic cloves into the sauce. The garlic will squeeze right out of the skins! Use the back of a spoon to mash the garlic on the sides of the bowl and stir it into the sauce.
That's it! The sauce is now ready to use.
How to make Roasted Tomato Sauce without a food mill:
The food mill removes the skins of the tomatoes but there are two other ways to remove tomato skins, neither of which require a food mill
- To remove the skins before roasting: use a sharp knife to slice a shallow "x" in the bottom of the tomatoes and plunge them into boiling water for 15 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the water, let them cool slightly, then peel off the skin. The skin should come away easily. Follow the instructions to roast the tomatoes and garlic.
- To remove the skins after roasting, let the tomatoes rest until cool enough to handle then use your fingers to peel the skins from the tomatoes and discard.
Scoop the peeled tomatoes into a bowl, and use a potato masher (or your hands) to mash the tomatoes. Push the mixture through a colander with large holes (not a fine mesh strainer) into a bowl.
What's the Best Variety of Tomatoes to Use in This Sauce?
As long as you're starting with fresh, flavorful, ripe tomatoes, you're golden. I've made roasted tomato sauce with all different kind of tomatoes, even grape tomatoes and heirloom tomatoes from a friend's garden.
This sauce is one of those things you can't really mess up as long as you start with great ingredients. Good, ripe tomatoes of any variety will make delicious roasted tomato sauce. End of story.
Ways to Use Roasted Tomato Sauce
My all time favorite thing to do with Roasted Tomato Sauce is also the simplest: Toast a thick slice of crusty bread and spread it while it's still warm with a generous amount of sauce. Sprinkle with a few flakes of sea salt.
That's it. Takes about 5 minutes and is SO DELICIOUS.
You can take this a step further by melting some mozzarella cheese on top. Or add some diced or smashed avocado. Or build a whole sandwich, topping the roasted-tomato-sauce-covered toast with any and every ingredient that sounds good to you.
More ideas: Toss Roasted Tomato Sauce with pasta or gnocchi or drizzle over roasted or grilled veggies. For those of you with more summer tomatoes than you know what to do with, spoon this sauce over roasted or grilled chicken and serve it over rice with some super easy air fryer tomatoes.
You can also whip up a quick tomato vinaigrette, which will take your salad game to a whole different level.
By the way, THIS sauce is best with ripe, fresh summer tomatoes but tomato sauce is a year-round thing. For most of the year, when tomatoes aren't in season, this is my go-to homemade marinara sauce.
Recipes that use Roasted Tomato Sauce:
- 8 pounds ripe tomatoes
- 26 cloves of garlic - do NOT peel
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F (176 degrees C).
- Wash tomatoes and remove their stems. Cut each tomato in half and lay them cut side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Scatter the garlic cloves over and around the tomatoes (do NOT peel the garlic).
- Drizzle the olive oil over the tomatoes and garlic. Sprinkle the thyme leaves, crushed red pepper, and sugar over the tomatoes and garlic, then sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and pepper.
- Roast in the oven for 60-90 minutes, until the tomatoes are beginning to caramelize on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely in the pan.
- Working in batches, scoop the tomatoes into a food mill that's been fitted with the large hole strainer plate and set over a large bowl. Strain the tomatoes through the food mill, allowing the sauce to accumulate in the bowl and the tomato skins and core to collect in the food mill. Discard the skins and core.
- Squeeze the garlic cloves into the sauce - the garlic will squeeze right out of the skins. Discard garlic skins. Use the back of a spoon to mash the garlic on the sides of the bowl and stir it into the sauce.
- Store tomato sauce in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. The sauce can be frozen for up to 6 months.
- To make Roasted Tomato Sauce without a food mill: After roasting, peel the skins from the tomatoes and discard. Scoop the peeled tomatoes into a bowl, and use a potato masher (or your hands) to mash the tomatoes. Push the mixture through a colander with large holes (not a fine mesh strainer) into a bowl.
Serving Size:½ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 100Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 5gSugar: 8gProtein: 3g