How to Reduce a Tomato Sauce

by Damiana Chiavolini

Tomato sauce is the ideal accompaniment for pasta and other dishes. Its basic preparation can be enriched by the addition of meats, fish, vegetables and herbs according to taste and preference. For optimal taste, texture and consistency, it is important to cook and reduce the tomato sauce by following simple steps. Canned tomatoes normally used for the preparation of sauces are a healthy and low-fat food choice. There are between 17 and 42 calories in 100 g of canned tomatoes.

Chop an onion or crush garlic, depending on your preference.

Add to a medium saucepan and place on the stove at medium heat. Cook the onions or the garlic for about five minutes, or until soft and lightly browned.

Pour tomatoes and juices from the can into the saucepan. Add water to the can to rinse out any residual sauce and pour into the saucepan. Add salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil, cover and simmer.

Cook the sauce until it reaches a thick and rich consistency. This will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the type of tomatoes used.


  • You can use a variety of canned tomatoes for your sauce: whole, chopped, crushed or pureed. If you select tomato puree, the consistency will be very thick, so you may have to add more water before starting the cooking process to achieve optimal reduction.

    Peeled, fresh tomatoes are always an appetizing choice for a sauce. They should not be cooked as long so they can retain their tangy fresh taste. Consider 15 to 20 minutes. Fresh tomatoes naturally have more juice than canned types. To avoid preparing a sauce that is too runny and liquid in consistency, remove some of the juice from the uncooked tomatoes after peeling and cutting.

    Carrots, onions or celery can be added to the onion and garlic at the beginning of the sauce preparation.

    Fresh basil leaves are a tasty finish to the sauce.


  • "The Sauce Bible: Guide to the Saucier's Craft"; David Paul Larousse; 1993

Photo Credits

  • DENIO RIGACCI/iStock/Getty Images

About the Author

Damiana Chiavolini started writing in 2001. Her research and reviews have appeared in scientific journals, including "Infection and Immunity" and "Clinical Microbiology Reviews." Chiavolini holds a Ph.D. in biotechnology from the University of Siena, an M.S. in medical microbiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, as well as a B.S. in biological sciences from the University of Leicester.