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20 Minute Tomato Sauce

This is an easy and quick stove-top tomato sauce. Forget the store bought jars when you can make your own in 20 minutes!

A few days ago, we found out my grandmother has cancer. Not a “good” one either, if there is such a thing as a good cancer to have. I never really thought I’d be the type of person that writes about this stuff online to thousands of people I don’t know but ironically, I have this tomato sauce to talk about today.

A tomato sauce that was made well in advance of getting this news and yet, it’s the very food that reminds me of my grandma without question.

A food that evokes distinct and happy memories of Sunday dinners at my grandparents house, walking in from the garage to see my grandma at the stove with the sauce simmering in one of her button down aprons.

20 Minute Tomato Sauce |

Hours later I’d gorge myself on as much pasta + meatballs as was physically possible (oh, the days of white carb naivety) while my grandfather told some ridiculous story in his booming Italian-American Bronx voice and my mom, aunts and grandma would debate the outcome of the sauce that day.

Between dinner and dessert I’d likely be forced to dry dishes, something that would normally have been met with an eye roll and sigh in my own house, but at grandma’s just meant easy access to the pantry with the giant marshmallows she always kept on hand.

If only dish drying these days had that same perk…

20 Minute Tomato Sauce |

The night would eventually wind down and we’d make the 45 minute trek home before repeating the same thing the following Sunday.

This sauce? It’s nothing like my grandmother’s.

The intent is a quick and easy solution for those times when you don’t want to spend half a day simmering something on the stove but you want something better than what comes from a jar.

Perfect for when you make these Italian black bean meatballs and need a quick sauce to serve with them.

It’s delicious in it’s own way and it’s so quick and easy that it makes a weeknight dinner you were about to order out for a fleeting thought.

20 Minute Tomato Sauce |

We have to wait a week to find out what the next steps are for her after a consultation with a surgeon, but we’re hopeful.

And for now, I’m taking comfort in the memories that come flooding back to me every time I open my fridge and see a simple jar of sauce sitting there.

20 Minute Tomato Sauce

This is an easy and quick stove-top tomato sauce. Forget the store bought jars when you can make your own in 20 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 22 minutes
Servings 2 servings


  • 5 cups quartered ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove minced
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • dash of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped


  • Place quartered tomatoes in a food processor and pulse a few times until almost smooth, but a few pieces/chunks remain. If you want a smoother sauce, just pulse a few extra time.
  • In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the shallot and garlic and saute for 2 minutes to soften, careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the tomatoes from the food processor to the skillet and stir.
  • Add the sugar, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes and basil and stir again.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened.
  • Remove from the heat and pour into a glass jar to reserve if not using immediately.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1SERVING | Calories: 192kcal | Carbohydrates: 29g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Sodium: 32mg | Potassium: 1459mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 5086IU | Vitamin C: 83mg | Calcium: 72mg | Iron: 2mg

This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.

Cuisine American
Course Sauces, Dressings & Spreads
Keyword 20 minute tomato sauce


Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

Recipe Rating

Jo Jo

Monday 18th of October 2021

So sorry to hear about your gran, hope it can be cured. Could you put up the recipe of your grandmother's very own sauce please? Many thanks.

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Saturday 11th of October 2014

[…] cup tomato sauce (this 20 minute sauce is a great […]

Sarah Westendorf

Wednesday 8th of October 2014

I used this recipe in a food roundup on my blog, DashandaPinch! Thanks so much for letting me link to your blog.

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Monday 16th of September 2013

[…] some olive oil and kosher salt and an uncountable amount of simple tomato/basil salads, I’ve made 20 minute tomato sauce, a zucchini ricotta bake and now […]


Sunday 10th of August 2014

I'm on a sugar free diet, do you suppose it would really change much without the sugar?


Monday 9th of September 2013

This is exactly how I've been making my sauce for over 10 years except I use a 28oz can of plum tomatoes and crush them with my hands or sometimes a can of crushed tomatoes. I also like to add more garlic and some dried oregano. This is the first year I will be trying it with fresh plum tomatoes from my garden.