Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

4.95 from 242 votes
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This Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is rich and hearty, packed with fresh tomatoes and savory spices. One bite and you’ll be hooked!

A bowl of spaghetti topped with spaghetti sauce made from scratch
Featured with this recipe
  1. Ingredients in Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
  2. What Tomatoes are Best for Spaghetti Sauce?
  3. Additions to this Sauce
  4. Soy Sauce in Spaghetti Sauce?
  5. More Garden Fresh Ingredients
  6. Roasting Fresh Tomatoes
  7. No Fresh Tomatoes? No Problem!
  8. Low and Slow for Thick Sauce
  9. Freeze for Later
  10. Frequently Asked Questions about Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
  11. More Homemade Pasta Sauce Recipes
  12. How to Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce
  13. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes Recipe

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce is savory, fresh and beats the canned stuff from the pantry any day! I’ve been making my own spaghetti sauce for years now and I love it. It’s so easy to make, and the flavor is so much better than the store-bought kind. I love making this sauce with diced tomatoes from my garden, fresh herbs like fresh basil and fresh parsley. You can’t beat the flavor of homegrown produce in a dish like this one!

Ingredients in Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

This homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is a staple at our house, and will be at yours too! Top your spaghetti noodles with this fragrant, fresh pasta sauce and your family will love it! Here’s what you need:

  • Tomatoes  – fresh, garden tomatoes work best. I start with about a dozen or so, depending on how large they are. If you can’t find good, fresh tomatoes, you can use a couple of cans of crushed tomatoes.
  • Olive oil – two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or whatever you have on hand.
  • Onion – One large onion, diced or chopped with a food processor.
  • Mushrooms – I love using fresh, chopped mushrooms for this marinara sauce. Homegrown vegetables give a nice bulk to this sauce.
  • Soy sauce – I know it sounds weird, but soy sauce gives the mushrooms a wonderful meaty flavor that can’t be beat!
  • Garlic – six large cloves
  • Fresh basil leaves – Garden grown, or you can find fresh basil leaves in the produce section of your grocery store. Dried basil works in a pinch, just use half the amount.
  • Oregano – dried or fresh, finely chopped
  • Brown sugar – just a couple of tablespoons adds much needed sweetness to the acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

What Tomatoes are Best for Spaghetti Sauce?

When making spaghetti sauce with fresh tomatoes, choose tomatoes that have a rich flavor and are less watery. Roma tomatoes, also known as plum tomatoes, are a popular choice because of their meaty texture and fewer seeds. San Marzano tomatoes, often considered the gold standard for sauces, have a sweet, low-acid flesh that adds depth to your sauce. Heirloom tomatoes can also be a great choice, offering unique and complex flavors. If you have an abundance of cherry or grape tomatoes, they can contribute a sweet twist to your sauce. Keep in mind that the type of tomato you choose will impact the sauce’s flavor, so consider the balance of sweetness and acidity that you desire and taste as you go!

A bowl of spaghetti with marinara sauce with the pasta twirled around a fork.


Additions to this Sauce

Once you have a sauce simmering on the stove, you can add all kinds of meat to create a luscious meat sauce. Here are some ideas:

  • Meatballs
  • Beef Short Ribs
  • Chicken
  • Ground turkey
  • Ground beef
  • Italian sausage

Soy Sauce in Spaghetti Sauce?

You may notice that soy sauce is a key ingredient in this recipe. Trust me on this. Adding soy sauce to chopped mushrooms is an old trick that a chef in Utah taught me. When you add soy sauce to mushrooms while they are cooking, it gives them a rich, meaty flavor that is unparalleled. I ALWAYS add a splash of soy sauce when I sauté mushrooms. And I promise, it doesn’t make it taste weird or soy sauce-y at all. It just brings out the flavor SO much more. You have GOT to try this trick. It takes the flavor to the next level!

More Garden Fresh Ingredients

If you like a “chunky” homemade garden spaghetti sauce, just chop up any veggies you like and stir them in while sautéing the onions.

  • Red bell pepper
  • Green bell pepper
  • Carrots, shredded or finely chopped.
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Zucchini
Fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and mushrooms next to a cutting board with an onion and a knife

Roasting Fresh Tomatoes

Another suggestion for Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes comes from one of our readers, Diana. She says, “I have a suggestion for those who don’t mind the extra time it might take. I started roasting my fresh tomatoes last year for canning and wow! what a difference that made! The natural sugars come out and it also concentrates the tomato flavor.” Here are her suggestions:

  • Cut tomatoes in half, remove as much of the seeds/gel as possible into a strainer with a bowl to catch the juices and then place the halves cut side down on a large cookie pan covered with parchment paper.
  • Even though you remove a lot of the seeds/tomato get before roasting, you will get a lot of liquid from roasting. Save it all and strain it.
  • Roast the tomatoes at 350-400 degrees until the skins start turning color. When the skins are browned, remove the tray from the oven and drain the liquid into the strainer with the seeds/gel. Let the tomatoes cool somewhat and remove the skin.
  • You can then add the tomatoes and the strained liquid/gel to the pot and process them the way you would for sauce or canning. The roasting concentrates the tomato flavor remarkably.
  • Roasted Sun Golds are like candy after halving and roasting. Cut them in half, add chopped onion and garlic, red bell pepper, and some olive oil. Roast at about 325 since they are small and the skins are thin. No need to remove seeds or skins…just blend in the food processor.

No Fresh Tomatoes? No Problem!

Home-grown tomatoes are delicious in this recipe but fresh, garden tomatoes can be hard to come by year-round. Whenever we can’t use fresh tomatoes, we always use DOP San Marzano Tomatoes. They are THE best alternative to homegrown tomatoes. We even use San Marzano tomatoes before resorting to store-bought tomatoes. For this recipe we use two 28oz. cans of tomatoes. We prefer using whole tomatoes as opposed to crushed tomatoes (most DOP tomato brands only come with whole tomatoes) and simply mash them with a potato masher as the sauce cooks down.

Low and Slow for Thick Sauce

To thicken your sauce, slow and steady is your ticket. Last time I made this, I had it simmering for eight hours (uncovered, stirring occasionally). Trust me, the longer you can let it simmer, the better! If you are finding that the water isn’t evaporating as quickly as you would like or it isn’t thickening up how you want it to, there is an easy fix. Just add some tomato paste, about a tablespoon at a time, until you reach the consistency you are looking for. You can also blend chunks of tomatoes in an immersion blender and add to the sauce for extra thickness.

A close up of homemade spaghetti sauce in a skillet with a serving spoon

Freeze for Later

Make a double batch of this glorious sauce and freeze it in a freezer safe Tupperware-type container, a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag, or a glass jar. If you do go the glass jar route, make sure to leave an inch or two of space at the top of the jar so the sauce doesn’t expand and break the jar. When freezing, make sure to cool the sauce completely in the fridge before freezing. The sauce will stay nice and fresh in the freezer for up to six months. Low on freezer space or prefer to can your sauce? Try our homemade canned spaghetti sauce!

Frequently Asked Questions about Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

How long will homemade spaghetti sauce stay fresh?

Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes will stay good in the refrigerator for about three to four days. Any longer than that, you may just want to freeze it for later.

Is it cheaper to make spaghetti sauce from scratch?

Yes, you can make much more sauce for what you can buy bottled sauce for. A 24-ounce jar of name brand marinara sauce costs $3.69 or 15 cents per ounce.

How do you make homemade spaghetti sauce taste better?

Add garlic and onions, simmer in olive oil, then add the rest of the ingredients. And of course, let it simmer as long as you can, so the ingredients blend together beautifully.

READ MORE: Easy Ground Beef Recipes

More Homemade Pasta Sauce Recipes

Looking for more delicious pasta sauces you can pair with your spaghetti? Try one of our other homemade savory pasta sauce recipes! If you are looking for more of an authentic Italian tomato sauce, try our Pomodoro sauce recipe (Sugo di Pomodoro). This recipe comes directly from Italy and pairs perfectly with spaghetti. If you have lots of tomatoes and are looking for more long-term storage for your spaghetti sauce, try our homemade canned spaghetti sauce. Then you can enjoy your sauce all-year round! For Ravioli, try our Homemade Ravioli Sauce.

How to Make Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

A close up of a bowl of spaghetti showing the texture of the sauce

Homemade Spaghetti Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

4.95 from 242 votes
Homemade spaghetti sauce is my favorite thing to make with fresh garden tomatoes. This rich, hearty sauce is an instant favorite with anyone who tries it!
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 servings

Video

Ingredients

  • 12-14 tomatoes (fresh, garden tomatoes work best- appx. 6-8 lbs. You can also use two 28oz. cans of San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 8 ounces mushrooms fresh, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce (see notes above)
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 10-12 basil leaves chopped
  • 1 tablespoon oregano finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (or to taste)

Instructions

  • Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Place tomatoes a few at a time in the water and remove after 10-15 seconds. 
  • Immediately place tomatoes in an ice-water bath and remove skins and stems. Cut tomatoes into fourths and place in a food processor or blender. 
  • Process tomatoes a few times, you want them to be the consistency of crushed tomatoes (don’t over process). Set aside. 
  • Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté until they become soft and transparent. 
  • Add mushrooms and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Add soy sauce and garlic and continue to cook until mushrooms become soft. 
  • Add tomatoes, basil, oregano, brown sugar, salt and pepper. 
  • Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally for at least one hour. The longer the better! Ideally 2+ hours. 
  • Serve over cooked pasta.

Notes

  • Make a double batch of this glorious sauce and freeze it in a freezer safe Tupperware-type container, a large freezer-safe Ziploc bag, or a glass jar. If you do go the glass jar route, make sure to leave an inch or two of space at the top of the jar so the sauce doesn’t expand and break the jar. When freezing, make sure to cool the sauce completely in the fridge before freezing. The sauce will stay nice and fresh in the freezer for up to six months.
  • You may notice that soy sauce is a key ingredient in this recipe. Trust me on this. Adding soy sauce to chopped mushrooms is an old trick that a chef in Utah taught me. When you add soy sauce to mushrooms while they are cooking, it gives them a rich, meaty flavor that is unparalleled. I ALWAYS add a splash of soy sauce when I sauté mushrooms. And I promise, it doesn’t make it taste weird or soy sauce-y at all. It just brings out the flavor SO much more. You have GOT to try this trick. It takes the flavor to the next level!
  • If you like a “chunky” homemade garden spaghetti sauce, just chop up any veggies you like and stir them in while sautéing the onions.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 128kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 4gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1292mgPotassium: 762mgFiber: 4gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 2100IUVitamin C: 37.3mgCalcium: 52mgIron: 1.4mg

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About the author

Erica Walker

Erica lives in Boise, Idaho with her husband, Jared, an attorney, and her three beautiful girls. Beyond the world of recipes, she loves adventuring with everything from kayaking, to cruising, to snowboarding and taking the family along for the thrill ride.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this sauce. It was so simple and very tasty.
    I did add about 1 TBsp. of Fennel seed while it was cooking down, and 1 TBsp. of homemade brown sugar.
    I will be using this one for all my to go favorites.

  2. Hello, I’m very excited to try this recipe. I’m planning on making it tomorrow with 4 28oz cans of DOP Marzano tomatoes. Do you think 1lb of ground Italian sausage and 2lbs of ground beef would be a good amount of meat for the sauce? My man doesn’t like sweet, so I’m planning to substitute some red wine for the sugar. Fingers crossed. I also have a little tomato paste left over from a previous recipe. Sometimes I get a lot of ideas in my head but don’t want to do too much and ruin the recipe. Do you think it would be good to add some? Or omit? Thanks!

    1. Yes, you can totally use 1 lb go Italian sausage and 2 lbs of ground beef. It will be very meaty but delicious! Also red wine is a great substitute for sugar. Add it when you are cooking the beef and before you add the tomatoes. Tomato paste I would just add a little at a time for thickening. Hope this all helps!

  3. My auntie was Italian (Reggio Calabria) and she never put sugar in her sauce. My mum lived in Ostuni for quite a while, and no one there put sugar in their sauces, either, brown or any other kind. Around 1/2 a cup of wine did the job: Sangiovese, Chianti or Merlot in the cooler months; Verdicchio or Sauvignon blanc for warmer times.

    As it heats, the acidity in wine will break down to let the sugars of the alcohol take over, and in turn soften the acidity of the tomatoes, while adding tons of umami. You get the same effect with Coq au Vin or Boeuf Burgundie.

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