The Homemade Pomodoro Sauce Every Cook Should Try

Everyone who loves Italian food should be able to make a great pomodoro sauce. 

Pomodoro sauce

Photos via CakeSpy

What is pomodoro sauce?

Simply put, pomodoro sauce is tomato sauce. “Pomodoro” means tomato, and that’s what’s at the heart of this simple sauce.

Tomatoes are gently seasoned with aromatics, olive oil and a little sugar, and are cooked until the sauce is reduced to a rich, red, flavorful mixture that makes pasta taste absolutely perfect. 

This recipe is easy to master, and it’s also easy to personalize to your liking. Go ahead and add different spices or flavorings, or toss some garlic in along with the onion. Consider this recipe a basic canvas for you to create the pomodoro sauce of your dreams.

Pomodoro ingredients

Easy pomodoro sauce recipe

Makes about 1 pint of sauce 

  • 2 pounds tomatoes 
  • ½ medium onion (about 3 ounces), finely diced 
  • ¼ cup olive oil 
  • 1 teaspoon sugar 
  • Basil leaves
  • Dried spices of your liking (optional)
  • Salt, to taste 

Step 1:

Score the tomato

Clean and dry the tomatoes. Slice out the “eye” on each one, and make a cross hatch on the bottom of each one.

Step 2:

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Once boiling, drop in the tomatoes a few at a time (don’t crowd the pan too much). Blanch for 10-20 seconds, or until the skins look like they are loosening.

Blanch the tomatoes

Remove from the tomatoes with a slotted spoon, transfer to a strainer, and continue until you’ve finished them all. Leave the tomatoes in the strainer to cool.

Step 3:

Peel the tomatoes

Remove the tomatoes from the strainer, and peel the skins off. After the blanching step, the skins should come off fairly effortlessly. Cut the tomatoes into quarters, and remove the seeds. Discard the seeds and skins.

Step 4:

Once the seeds are removed, dice the tomatoes. You can cut them into larger portions or smaller ones depending on how chunky you like your sauce. 

Step 5:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil on medium heat, until shimmering. Add the onions, and cook until they begin to color. This should take no more than 2-3 minutes.

Step 6:

Lower the heat and let the mixture chill for a minute or two (this helps reduce spatter). Add the diced tomatoes to the saucepan.

Pomodoro cooking

Cook, covered, for about 10 minutes, then uncover the pan, add the sugar, and continue to cook, uncovered, for about 30 more minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened and darkened to your desired level.

Step 7:

Near the end of the cooking process, add the basil, dried spices if desired, and salt to taste.


Serve over your favorite pasta, meatballs or other Italian cuisine.

Recipe notes


Because this recipe contains relatively few components, be sure to use high-quality ingredients. It will show in the finished flavor!

Fresh versus canned tomatoes

If you can’t find good tomatoes or they’re out of season, this recipe can absolutely be made with canned tomatoes. Once again, use the best quality canned tomatoes you can get your hands on for the best flavor.

Love this quick and easy pomodoro sauce? You’ll adore learning the techniques and recipes for many other classic Italian sauces in the Craftsy class Classic Italian Pasta Sauces: Meat and Tomato. Along with Italian cooking authority Giuliano Hazan, you’ll master sauces from basic tomato varieties to more involved flavors such as Bolognese sauce and Carbonara sauce.

What’s your favorite type of pasta sauce?

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