Pomodoro sauce is a classic Italian tomato-based pasta sauce that makes any noodle shine! This homemade recipe is simple and flavorful.

Pomodoro sauce

Here’s an Italian staple recipe that every home cook should know: Pomodoro Sauce! This classic Italian sauce is pure in its simplicity: simmering tomatoes and a few aromatic vegetables make a straightforward yet nuanced flavor. It takes a little time to simmer, but it’s well worth it for the ease of this recipe: and the bold flavor! We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful the flavor is here: sophisticated in a way jarred sauce is not. Here are all our tricks to a killer pomodoro sauce!

What is pomodoro sauce?

Pomodoro sauce is a classic Italian tomato sauce made with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and other aromatic vegetables or herbs. It can be made with fresh tomatoes or canned tomatoes. Pomodoro sauce is similar to marinara sauce, but typically pomodoro sauce is simmered longer and has a thicker, smoother consistency than marinara sauce. It’s also similar to bolognese sauce, but it doesn’t contain meat.

Pomodoro sauce

Ingredients in pomodoro sauce

This pomodoro sauce recipe is simple, straightforward and classic: simmer a handful ingredients in a pot and then blend: no sauteing required! The method is inspired by Audrey Hepburn’s classic recipe for pomodoro sauce: the famous actress lived in Rome for 20 years and raised her children there. According to her daughter, spaghetti al pomodoro was her favorite.

We’ve taken Audrey’s classic Italian recipe and adapted it a bit, but the heart of the recipe remains. It’s simple ingredients, simmered for 45 minutes until the flavors blossom. Here’s what you’ll need for this pomodoro sauce recipe:

  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Celery
  • Carrot
  • Canned whole tomatoes
  • Fresh basil
  • Olive oil
  • Sugar
  • Salt and pepper

Tips for making pomodoro sauce

The method for this pomodoro sauce is a bit different than the classic tomato sauce: because there’s no sautéing involved! The 45-minute simmer time is absolutely worth it for the ease and flavor in this recipe. Here’s what to know:

  • Dump everything in a saucepan and simmer 45 minutes. That’s right: no need to sauté the aromatic veggies like in a normal marinara sauce. The longer simmer time gets them nice and soft.
  • Blend. Carefully transfer the hot sauce to a blender and blend until you reach the desired consistency. You can pulse if you like it chunkier.
  • Adjust the flavors as desired. To balance the acidity of the tomatoes, this sauce needs just a bit of sugar and a good amount of salt (it makes a large batch). Add what’s specified in the recipe, then adjust to taste.
  • Add cheese if you like. Like a pasta sauce with a little cheese for boldness? Add some grated Parmesan cheese to the blender too! You can also use grated Pecorino Romano (in that case, use less salt).
Penne pomodoro
Penne Pomodoro is a tasty way to enjoy this sauce

How to serve it

This pomodoro sauce recipe makes a big batch: so it’s perfect for making up on a weekend and storing for later! Here are a few tasty ways to serve it:

  • Use about 2 cups sauce per 8 ounces pasta (or 4 cups per pound). For 4 servings of pasta, we typically make about 8 ounces, but hungry eaters may prefer 12 ounces for 4 servings.
  • Serve with long or short noodles. Spaghetti or bucatini are our favorites for long noodles. Penne or rigatoni work well for short noodles, but of course you can use any shapes you like.
  • Add cheese! Make sure to add grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano cheese as a topping: it completes the flavors! If you’re eating a vegan meal, use purchased vegan Parmesan cheese or homemade vegan Parmesan.

Storing pomodoro sauce

This pomodoro sauce makes 7 cups, so it’s enough for several batches of pasta. The best storage option here? Freeze it! How long does homemade pomodoro sauce last?

  • Store it refrigerated for up to 5 days in a sealed container.
  • Or, store it frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost and then reheat on the stovetop prior to tossing with pasta.

And that’s it! Let us know what you think of this tasty pomodoro sauce recipe. We were pleasantly surprised at how tasty simmering just a few simple ingredients can be.

Pomodoro sauce

More pasta sauce recipes

Looking for more pasta sauces? Here are a few of our top pasta sauce recipes:

This pomodoro sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.

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Pomodoro sauce

Pomodoro Sauce

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 7 cups 1x


  • 1 small yellow onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery rib, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 2 28-ounce cans high quality peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 large handful basil
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • Fresh ground black pepper


  1. Place the minced onion, garlic, celery, carrots, whole canned tomatoes, basil, olive oil and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a large saucepan.
  2. Simmer for 45 minutes with a lid ajar, stirring occasionally.
  3. Remove from the heat and rest 5 minutes. Discard the basil leaves. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender. Add the sugar and several grinds black pepper. Blend until smooth (or pulse for a chunkier texture). Taste and add more salt as desired (we typically add another ½ teaspoon or more). 
  4. Serve with pasta: for 1 pound pasta, stir in 4 cups sauce, then add more to taste if desired. Top generously with grated Parmesan or grated Pecorino cheese before serving (or, stir it into the warm sauce). Store refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 6 months. 
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian inspired
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Keywords: Pomodoro sauce, pomodoro sauce recipe, what is pomodoro sauce

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Meet Sonja and Alex Overhiser: Husband and wife. Expert home cooks. Authors of recipes you'll want to make again and again.

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