This classic Italian pomodoro sauce is simple but delicious. Easy to make but full of flavor, this is our go-to tomato sauce and reminds me of being in Italy! Made with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, a little garlic, and olive oil, it’s perfect on any pasta.
What Makes This Pomodoro Sauce So Good
- This is my family’s favorite tomato sauce, hands down. It’s full of rich, classic flavors that instantly take me right back to our trips to Italy. Pasta pomodoro is a giant bowl of comfort in my house.
- It’s so easy to make! You’ll never want the store-bought, jarred sauce again.
- Pomodoro sauce is intended to be just enough to cover the noodles, but not so much that you’re having a few noodles with your sauce. That makes it a great option if you (or your kids) aren’t big on sauces.
- It’s good on literally any type of pasta, even gnocchi or ravioli. You can also use it on top of chicken, a la chicken parmesan, or with hearty meatballs.
Is Pomodoro Sauce the Same as Marinara Sauce?
No, but they are similar!
Marinara is a thinner red sauce that’s simmered for a long time over low heat. It’s usually a little chunky, too. Pomodoro is smoother and thicker.
Fun fact: While both sauces are made from tomatoes, only one is named for them. “Pomodoro” means “tomato” in Italian. “Marinara” comes from “marinaro”, which translates to “seafaring”. It’s thought to have been the sauce-of-choice for Italian sailors.
Key Ingredients for Pomodoro Sauce
San Marzano Tomatoes – These are SO great for homemade sauces! They’re beautiful red plum tomatoes that are the perfect blend of sweet, acidic, and tomato-ey.
Olive Oil – You can use regular olive oil or extra virgin olive oil in your sauce. EVOO is less processed than regular olive oil, so it generally retains more of its nutrients and has a nicer olive flavor. Don’t underestimate the impact of a really nice olive oil!
Basil – I love fresh basil in a pomodoro sauce! It’s fresh and strong, without overpowering the dish. Save a little extra to sprinkle on top of your pasta pomodoro just before serving!
- An immersion blender is the easiest way to purée the tomatoes. Just move the saucepan off the heat and blend them in it. No need to transfer them to another container.
- If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can use a regular blender instead. Be sure to reference the notes of the recipe card for tips on blending hot mixtures. If you’re not careful, the pressure from the steam inside the blender can build up to a dangerous (and messy) level.
- Store any leftover pomodoro sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’ll keep up to 1 week!
Other Delicious Italian-Inspired Recipes You’ll Love
- Chicken Carbonara
- Healthy Chicken Alfredo with Spaghetti Squash (Whole30, Paleo, Dairy Free)
- Eggplant Lasagna
- Baked Feta Pasta
- One-Pot Chicken Pesto Pasta
- Antipasto Salad with Easy Italian Vinaigrette
- Keto Spaghetti
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Classic Pomodoro Sauce
- Large saucepan (6- or 8-quart)
- Large spoon or silicone spatula
- Immersion blender (or blender)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion finely chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic minced, approximately 2 tablespoons
- 2 28-ounce cans whole San Marzano tomatoes in purée, 56 ounces total
- ¼ cup fresh basil
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Heat saucepan over medium-high heat. When hot, add olive oil, then onions. Sauté until onions are very soft, approximately 8-10 minutes.
- Reduce heat and add garlic. Sauté just until fragrant, 30-60 seconds, stirring constantly.
- Add tomatoes. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, then lower heat to simmer. Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes, then stir in basil and cook an additional 5 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Insert immersion blender and purée until mostly smooth and thick. See notes if using blender.
- Stir into or dollop on top of pasta of choice and serve warm.
- Fill the blender no more than halfway. You may have to blend your ingredients in a few batches.
- After pouring the mixture into the blender, let it sit a few minutes to cool slightly before blending.
- Before blending, remove the center cap from the blender lid and cover the hole with a dish towel instead. This will keep pressure from building up inside the blender. Keep your hand on the lid to hold it down while blending.
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Cheryl Malik is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind the healthy, flavorful, family friendly recipes at 40 Aprons. She’s been a blogger for 10+ years and is known for her delicious recipes and detailed recipe instructions. Cheryl is a mom of three who lives in Memphis, TN.