You'll want to eat this amazing roasted tomato sauce with a spoon, it's that good! It's also the easiest way to make tomato sauce you'll come across - AND you can use the tomatoes that aren't good for canning and any extra vegetables you have laying around, making it a great way to use up produce. Freeze it to use in recipes all year long because it's better than anything you can get at the store!
Want to save this?
Enter your email below and you'll get it straight to your inbox. Plus you'll get easy new recipes, gardening tips & more every week!
How about an incredible, out-of-this-world, lick-the-spoon flavor roasted tomato sauce that's as easy as it is good?
Next to Addictive Tomato Chutney it's probably everyone's favorite recipe and always trending here on the site.
Having this sauce in our freezer is like having a stash of organic, healthy, so good-it'll-make-your-eyes-roll convenience food ready whenever you need it.
When I've got tomatoes in buckets and bowls all over my kitchen, visitors will always ask when they see them, "what are you going to do with all those tomatoes?"
Um, let me count the ways:
- Addictive Tomato Chutney
- Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil
- Thick, Canned Salsa
- Pizza Sauce
- Tomato & Feta Salad
- Zucchini, Corn & Tomato Saute...well, the list could go on and on.
However, the number one way I use our tomatoes is to make this incredible roasted tomato sauce that I freeze to use all year long.
Its also helps that it's super easy to make, takes care of a lot of tomatoes at once, and even uses other vegetables that I have if I want to add them.
It's a recipe that fits into almost any schedule - you can get going while you're making dinner, then puree it and freeze it after.
Did I mention easy?
Since this is a fresh or freezer sauce only (NOT safe for canning - more on that below), the produce ingredients are truly flexible. This makes it a star for using up slightly old garden tomatoes, the zucchini that's starting to shrivel, or the last bits and pieces in your veg bin or CSA box. You'll want to keep the garlic, balsamic, herbs, and seasonings the same (adjusted to your taste if needed).
For each large roasting pan you will need:
- olive oil
- 6 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut in half (pounds are approximate - fill your roasting pan in one layer with tomatoes) - plum or paste tomatoes are great, but you can use any type.
- chopped onion
- Any other vegetables on hand, roughly chopped: zucchini peppers, carrots, celery (optional).
- garlic cloves, sliced or chopped
- balsamic vinegar - a KEY ingredient, no substitutions if at all possible.
- About 1 teaspoon each dried herbs of choice: thyme oregano, basil OR 1+ tablespoon fresh chopped herbs.
- teaspoons each salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional - I now add this all the time for that bit of spice we enjoy.
How to Make Roasted Tomato Sauce
Detailed quantities and instructions are included in the full recipe box below, but here are a few extra tips to help with each step:
Step 1: Gather Your Pans: Start with the number of baking pans that will fit in your oven (if you've got a lot of tomatoes - you can always do one pan at a time for smaller batches). For me, that is one large 15x10 roaster and one to two 13x9 pans.
Step 2: Pour a couple tablespoons of olive oil into each pan you are using and add the dried and fresh herbs. I usually have basil growing and will use that fresh, then add dried thyme and oregano. This used be a step after the tomatoes, but I found adding the seasonings to the bottom of the pan meant less was wasted on the skins we pull after roasting.
Step 3: Add seasonings & red pepper flakes. Again, adding the salt and pepper at this stage helps more stay in the sauce. Adding the red pepper flakes is optional, of course, depending on your spice level, but it's a must for us and one of the additions I've made to this sauce over the years that we enjoy.
Step 4: Prep and add tomatoes. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the cores (when using tomatoes with more juice, like heirlooms, give a little squeeze to the tomato after cutting it in half and discard the seeds and juice). Place each tomato cut side down into some of the oil and slide it to the edge of the pan. Repeat with all the tomatoes until the pans are full with a single layer of tomatoes and the oil has been distributed evenly.
Step 5: Add vegetables & balsamic. Scatter chopped onions and the garlic over the tomatoes, tucking them into the crevices. Now, this is the part just between you and me - you can add other vegetables to the sauce and your spouse & kids won't know they're eating zucchini, peppers, carrots, or what ever. Actually, nobody does - and what they don't know won't hurt them, right? (The truth is - I wasn't trying to be healthy when I started this, I was just trying to use up extra zucchini, ha!)
The ingredient I feel is the signature of this recipe? Balsamic vinegar. Adding 2-4 tablespoons to each pan really enhances the vegetables, and resulting sauce, when roasted.
TIP: Plum/paste tomatoes will yield a thick and meaty sauce, but this roasted sauce is usually thick anyway and I like the flavor of all my different tomatoes, especially heirlooms, so I use any ripe tomatoes I have. If I've got paste tomatoes ripe, I'll try to do 1/2 paste and 1/2 slicing in each pan. If most of your tomatoes are slicing and you feel the sauce is too thin, you can add a small can of tomato paste and whir it in before freezing (or add it when heating and using).
Step 6: Roast. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 45-60 minutes, switching the pans halfway through (if you're using more than one) from top rack to bottom. Most of the skins should be browned and wrinkled making it easy to pull them off with tongs. I don't bother with the ones that won't come off easy, just the ones that pull off like the one pictured - usually thicker-skinned paste tomatoes.
Step 7: Transfer vegetables. You have two choices here - you can transfer the roasted veggies to a large stock pot like shown above to be blended with a hand-held immersion blender OR Let the roasted vegetables cool for a few minutes and then use a large spoon to transfer the vegetables (and liquid) into a blender or food processor. Choose whatever way suits you (and your equipment) best.
Do you have to remove the skins? The skins can be left on before pureeing and if they bother you, you can push the sauce through a sieve to remove them. Or you can just eat them. I'm all about easy and I find a sieve takes out some things I want like herbs, so plucking most of the skins is the easiest way to go for me.
Step 8: Blend sauce until smooth. After trying all the ways to blend the sauce, I find a stick blender to be the easiest and fastest. Plus, you don't have to deal with hot splatters of juice and sauce as you transfer the vegetables.
However, if you need to use a blender or processor, try to get even amounts of vegetables and liquid in each blender batch, otherwise you'll end up with containers of really thick sauce and one container of super liquidy sauce.
Each 13x9 pan is usually enough for one blender, but since I typically make three pans at a time, I add the contents of the two smaller pans to the largest, mix it evenly and then remove 1/3 at a time to blend.
Step 9. Use immediately or pour into freezer containers. Leave an inch or two for expansion when freezing. Date and label each container so you will know what you've got when you're looking for dinner in February.
The pans I use (a 15x10 and two 13x9s) usually yields about 3 to 4 quarts.
TIP: I use quart glass canning jars to freeze all our tomato sauce. I can add hot sauce to them without worry and then thaw them in the microwave or a pot of hot water more easily. What about breakage? Make sure to leave 2-inches for expansion (as shown above) - I haven't had a problem with breaking while in the freezer, though I've lost a jar while defrosting.
Oh, and any sauce that doesn't fit in the quart jars? That's my bonus which I usually eat right away like soup!
How to Use Freezer Roasted Tomato Sauce
Some of my favorite recipes to use this sauce include:
- Simple Baked Pasta with Cheese
- Easy Chicken Spinach Calzone - Ready in an Hour (sauce over the top)
- One Pot Italian Pasta with Sausage & Spinach
- Savory Tomato Seafood Stew
- As a soup on it's own! Add a bit of chicken broth or tomato juice (or even cream if you like that) and you've got soup in about 10 minutes of heating up time.
If you're like our family, you are going to be SO happy to have taken the time to make this roasted tomato sauce when you're eating it long after the harvest has passed - and one that's convenient, tasty, and healthy.
I haven't made this with frozen tomatoes, but you probably could! I'd let the tomatoes thaw about halfway to have some juice to pour off - but you do want some of it. Then I'd roast the other veggies first until tender and add the frozen tomatoes (with or without skins) for another 10-20 minutes or so. Whir it all up -I think it would be great!
No, this is not safe for canning (neither water-bath or pressure) with all the onions, garlic, and other low acid vegetables - most of which are not measured, just thrown in. The little bit of balsamic does not make it safe, nor would citric acid - there's just too many other ingredients. And the joy of this recipe is that you can just throw things in. If you want a SAFE roasted tomato sauce, use this one that's been tested and approved for roasting.
I know many people who use freezer baggies instead to maximize room in the freezer. I find it easier to use glass because I don't have to wait for the sauce to cool down first and it's easier to defrost. Do what works for you.
To thaw, you can leave containers in the fridge overnight, use a microwave if you used glass jars or place jars or baggies in a bowl of warm water until it's thawed enough to get out of the bag.
That's before coring and seeding.
You can pour it immediately into glass jars after blending and let the jars sit uncovered for 20-30 minutes, to cool a bit more before freezing. If you are using anything plastic to freeze the sauce, I would let the sauce cool to room temperature BEFORE adding it to the plastic, both for the integrity of the plastic and the fact that hot temps cause particle to leach from the plastic into food.
What Others Are Saying
More Easy Recipes Like This
- Balsamic Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce (Freezer Friendly)
- Water-Bath Safe Canned Roasted Tomato Sauce
- Canning Diced Tomatoes - Easy Fire Roasted Water Bath Method
The BEST Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe - Fresh or Freeze
- large roasting pan (with sides)
- Sharp knife and cutting board
- 6-qt. stock pot
- hand-held immersion blender OR blender or food processor
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 pounds tomatoes, cored and cut in half* (pounds are approximate - fill your roasting pan in one layer with tomatoes)
- 1 teaspoon each dried herbs of choice: thyme oregano, basil OR 1+ tablespoon fresh chopped herbs chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
- 1 onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped
- Any other vegetables on hand: zucchini peppers, carrots, celery (optional)
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Heat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spread olive oil over bottom of roasting pan. Sprinkle any dried and/or fresh herbs over the bottom of the pan, then add the salt and pepper, and finish with the red pepper flakes, if using.
- Place tomatoes cut side down in a single layer in pan on top of the seasonings until pan is full. Then add onions, garlic, and any other vegetables, nestling them around the tomatoes, keeping the single layer. Drizzle with the balsamic vinegar.
- Roast for 45-60 minutes or until vegetables are soft and tomato skins are puffed and most are browning/blackening. TIP: if roasting more than one pan, switch all the pans around at the halfway mark.
- Remove from oven and pluck the tomato skins off with tongs (if desired) - most should remove easily.
- If using a hand-held/immersion blender: Tip the pans, one at a time, into a large, 6-quart stock pot, scraping all the vegetables and juices into the pot. Use the stick blender to whir the vegetables into a smooth sauce.
- If using a blender or food processor: Let vegetables cool about 30 minutes and then evenly spoon vegetables and liquid into a blender or food processor. Process briefly for a chunky sauce, or more for a smooth sauce. Repeat until all your vegetables are blended.
- Use right away, or freeze for later by pouring into quart-size jars, freezer containers or baggies (when cooler), label and freeze for up to a year.
Note: This recipe was originally published in 2009 and has been updated in 2017 and 2023.