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 | runningtothekitchen.com

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 | runningtothekitchen.com

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 | runningtothekitchen.com

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

20 Minute Tomato Sauce

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 22 minutes

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 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


  1. 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.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.
  3. Add the shallot and garlic and saute for 2 minutes to soften, careful not to burn the garlic.
  4. Add the tomatoes from the food processor to the skillet and stir.
  5. Add the sugar, salt & pepper, red pepper flakes and basil and stir again.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce simmer for 15-20 minutes until reduced and thickened.
  7. Remove from the heat and pour into a glass jar to reserve if not using immediately.


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  1. Nancy A.

    I am so sorry to hear the news of your grandmother. They are very special and pass along all their knowledge so we can carry on traditions. Know how special she is to you and her recipe for the tomato sauce looks delicious. Tell her we all appreciate it and are going to make it and think of her!

  2. dixya| food, pleasure, and health

    I am so sorry about your nana – cancer is so brutal and I hate it. I have lost some close family members to it last year :( hope the prognosis and treatment is good. On a side note, I had been wanting to make easy tomato sauce – this fits the bill perfectly.

  3. Britney Johnson

    Wow! I love homemade tomato sauce. My mom usually makes this on the weekend when she cooks recipes with lots of tomato sauce. Anyway, I would love to try this 20 minute tomato sauce recipe. Thanks a lot! :-D

  4. She Rocks Fitness

    I’m so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Cancer sucks and there are way too many people who are dealing with it these days. So sad…Thank you for sharing this sauce! I love the simplicity of it. Perfect for me as a single person to whip it up after a long day at work.

  5. Susan

    I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. Cancer is difficult for everyone in the family, not just the patient. My sister’s best friend is dealing with it for the 3rd time, and not a great prognosis. I hope your grandmother’s prognosis is better and that the surgeon can take care of it so you all can have many more happy years with her.

    Thank you for a delicious-sounding tomato sauce. I’d much rather make this when I need some rather than buy the jar my recipes call for.

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  7. VickieG

    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.

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      1. Running to the Kitchen Post author

        sugar just helps bring out the flavor and balance the acidity, but you can totally leave it out.

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