This light, easy Pomodoro Sauce recipe is a classic Italian tomato sauce, kept intentionally simple with very few ingredients. That’s part of the beauty of this dish! You can really taste each of its 6 ingredients, as their flavor is not overshadowed or overpowered by unnecessary additions.
We like to make this with canned San Marzano tomatoes, but we’ve included instructions for using fresh tomatoes or passata if you prefer.
While the sauce is quickly simmering on a stovetop, cook your favorite pasta to al dente. Once the pomodoro sauce is finished, give it a quick blend so that it’s got a smooth texture (this is a signature feature of a pomodoro, compared to it’s chunkier cousin, Marinara Sauce!) On busy weeknights, there’s truly nothing better or easier.
Try it with our Penne Pomodoro tonight!
Pomodoro Sauce vs Marinara Sauce
Pomodoro literally translates from Italian to tomato, so no surprise to learn that this is a sauce focused on tomatoes.
What’s the difference between pomodoro and marinara sauce? Their texture. Both are tomato sauces, however, pomodoro sauce is thick and smooth, while marinara sauce is both looser texture and chunkier. While you can keep pomodoro a bit more rustic, it generally gets blended until smooth, then tossed with pasta.
From an ingredient list, they’re very similar. Traditional pomodoro sauce does not have onions or spices, whereas marinara sauce does (or at it can) in addition to other ingredients like tomato paste, red pepper flakes, and more.
What’s In Pomodoro Sauce?
With just 6 ingredients in this recipe, you’ll want to make sure to use high quality ingredients. We’re mostly talking about the canned tomatoes here.
We recommend San Marzano tomatoes, which have a rich, sweet flavor. San Marzano tomatoes also tend to have less water and fewer seeds than other varieties. I’m not sure how else to say this, but canned San Marzano tomatoes actually taste like true tomatoes. Their flavor is just more robust than other canned varieties, and I make no apologies for how much I love them.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Used to sauté the garlic.
- Fresh garlic: Finely chop 2 garlic cloves to adda a rich, almost nutty flavor to the pomodoro sauce.
- Canned tomatoes: Again, we recommend 1 (28-ounce) can of whole peeled San Marzano plum tomatoes.
- Fresh basil leaves: To infuse into the sauce. It’s gotta be fresh herbs here, dried just doesn’t have the same flavor.
- Kosher salt: To season the sauce.
- Granulated sugar: This adds just a little sweetness, which we love!
Even with so few ingredients, this pasta sauce is bursting with rich tomato flavor! And no, there is no onion or other spices added to this sauce.
They’re both tomato sauces, however marinara has a chunkier, albeit looser texture. Pomodoro sauce typically gets blended until smooth. Marinara sauce can be made with onions and spices, whereas pomodoro sauce has fewer overall ingredients. They’re both delicious, but depending on what you’re looking for you might choose one over the other.
Absolutely! Use 1 lb of fresh, ripe tomatoes. Look for what’s freshest and in season. Consider using San Marzano plum tomatoes, Campari tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or other small, sweet tomatoes. Note: You’ll want to blanch and peel the fresh tomatoes before using.
Yes! Allow sauce to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in a fridge or reheat in a saucepan over medium heat.
Honestly, you could serve this with a variety of pastas. We love penne or rigatoni, but it makes a great spaghetti sauce as well.
No! If you want to give it a little kick, you could add a pinch of red pepper flakes while the garlic is sautéing, but this is not traditional.
How To Serve
If you’re not enjoying this pomodoro sauce recipe with pasta (like our Penne Pomodoro topped with fresh grated Parmesan cheese), consider using it in one of the following ways:
- With homemade chicken parmesan or eggplant parmesan!
- Pizza sauce! This is fantastic as the base on a homemade pizza.
- Tossed with zucchini noodles! We love zoodles and make them often as an alternative to pasta.
- With your favorite potato gnocchi! If you aren’t making homemade, we think DeLallo has a fantastic pantry gnocchi that is great on busy weeknights.
Other Italian Recipes You Might LikeImpossibly Rich Rigatoni Bolognese (With a Secret Ingredient) Creamy Penne Alla Vodka With Shrimp 25-Minute Baked Ground Beef Meatballs Spaghetti alle Vongole (Pasta with Clam Sauce) 15-Minute Pan Seared Salmon Piccata Hearty Italian Sausage Ragu (For Pasta & Polenta)
This is truly one of the most uncomplicated Italian sauces you can make. It’s got a rich tomato flavor, but takes almost no time to prep and cook. A total weeknight game changer when it comes to quick, flavorful dinner recipes!
If you try this Pomodoro Sauce recipe, please let us know by leaving a review and rating below!
30-Minute Pomodoro Sauce Recipe For Pasta
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 1 (28 oz) can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 large basil sprig about 6 leaves
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- ½ tsp granulated sugar optional
- Sauté the garlic. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, then cook until fragrant and light golden brown, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes. Add 1 (28 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes, then stir well. Add 1 sprig of basil, then season with 1 tsp Kosher salt and ½ tsp sugar. Stir, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat.
- Blend until smooth. Discard the basil spring. If using an immersion blender, you can purée the sauce right in the saucepan. If using a standard blender, carefully pour the tomato sauce into a blender, then process until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more Kosher salt as needed.
- This recipe yields about 1 quart of sauce.
- Make ahead: Pomodoro sauce can be made 1 day in advance before serving. Leftovers will keep in a fridge in an airtight container for 5-7 days.
- How to freeze: Allow the sauce to cool completely, then transfer to a freezer-safe airtight container. Sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in a fridge or reheat in a saucepan over medium heat.
- Tomatoes: You could substitute the San Marzano tomatoes with 2 (14oz) jars of passata. To use fresh tomatoes: substitute with 1 lb of fresh, ripe tomatoes. Look for what’s freshest and in season. Consider using San Marzano plum tomatoes, Campari tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, or other small, sweet tomatoes.
Photography by: Megan McKeehan