How to Make a Red Sauce Using Tomato Paste

by Mallory Ferland

Items you will need

  • 1 6-oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 yellow onions
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 1/2 lbs. fresh tomatoes or 2 14.5-oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry basil
  • 1 tsp. dry oregano

Classic red sauce is a staple of Italian cooking and is the base for many pasta dishes, lasagna and pizza. Once you perfect a basic red sauce recipe, you can adapt it to any flavor and style you prefer, adding extra ingredients and using it in alternative ways. Tomato paste gives red sauce a thicker texture and a more concentrated tomato flavor. But for best results, only use it alongside fresh or canned whole tomatoes.

Step 1

Chop 2 yellow onions and 1 clove garlic. If you are using fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes, chop 2 1/2 lbs. with the skin and seeds removed. Set aside.

Step 2

Heat 3 tbsp. of olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onions and garlic and simmer until the garlic starts to brown. Add 1 tbsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. dried oregano, 1 tsp. dried basil and one can of tomato paste. Stir until combined and add either the chopped fresh tomatoes or 2 large cans of crushed tomatoes.

Step 3

Reduce the heat to a low simmer and allow the red sauce to cook for about 30 minutes. Stir the sauce every 5 to 10 minutes to make sure it is not sticking to the bottom.

Step 4

Use the sauce right away on pasta or as a pizza sauce. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight jar or plastic locking container for up to a week or store in the freezer for up to six months.


  • Add other spices or ingredients to the sauce if you desire: thyme, red pepper, olives, celery, ground meat or anything else you enjoy in a red sauce.

Photo Credits

  • Eising/Photodisc/Getty Images

About the Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.