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Preserve Your Harvest

Simple & Delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce Recipe (Freeze or Can)

Last Updated on September 21, 2023

Tomatoes. Olive oil. Salt. Pepper. No measurements. It really can’t get much more simple than that, can it? Despite the short ingredient list, this roasted tomato sauce is far from falling short in flavor! The process of oven-roasting tomatoes brings out their rich, sweet flavor, introduces a savory punch, and also helps to thicken the sauce. When we are looking to preserve a large amount of homegrown tomatoes from the garden, this is our go-to recipe!

Aside from being dang tasty, this tomato sauce is also incredibly easy to make – and preserve! Every summer, we spend an afternoon or two making a large batch of roasted tomato sauce to stock the freezer. Few things are more gratifying than pulling a jar of summery homegrown tomato sauce from the freezer in the middle of winter.

Even if you don’t grow your own tomatoes, I highly suggest making this sauce with fresh local tomatoes while they’re in season to enjoy later. Go hit up the farmer’s market. Your winter recipes will be so much brighter than using commercially-canned tomatoes!  

A note about herbs and other additions

Unlike a traditional pizza or pasta sauce, we do not add other herbs or spices to our tomato sauce – yet. Instead, this recipe will create a thick, delicious tomato sauce that can be used in a wide variety of ways, not just in Italian dishes! For example, we love to add this sauce to Indian-style recipes, like our madras curry lentils. Or, added to various soups, stews, or vegetarian chili. When desired, it is very easy to doctor up this base sauce with additional seasonings to match the meal you’re making!

Most often, we roast tomatoes and only tomatoes for this recipe. It truly doesn’t need much else. But sometimes we do toss in a few gloves of garlic, chunks of onion, or sweet bell peppers from the garden to roast as well. Feel free to incorporate herbs, garlic, or onion if you wish.

Ready to get roasting?

A wood bowl and white ceramic bowl with copper lined rim are sitting atop a wooden backdrop. The wood bowl is full of round and oblong tomatoes of various shades or red to pink, the white ceramic bowl is full of orange Sun-gold tomatoes. Many tomatoes are scattered throughout the area surrounding the bowls, they are different shades of red. These are the main ingredient for roasted tomato sauce.


  • Tomatoes – any variety can be used!
  • Olive oil, for drizzling (but do NOT use any oil if you intend to hot-bath can this recipe)
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Baking or roasting pan
  • Large pot
  • Blender – we use an immersion blender (aka stick blender) for this recipe 
  • Optional: parchment paper 


Step 1: Prepare & Season Tomatoes

Preheat the oven to 425°F

Wash those ‘maters, and get to choppin’! The other beautiful thing about this recipe is that because everything is going to get cooked and blended, size and shape doesn’t matter much here – nor do we need to worry about removing the skins! We also leave the seeds and guts, which enhances the caramelization process.

Cut away the firm stem center (if there is one), and then portion your tomatoes into large chunks. We typically cut the smaller tomatoes in half, and larger ones into quarters or sixths. You can totally leave cherry tomatoes whole! 

On a baking sheet, lay out all the tomato pieces – skin-side down if possible. Lining the baking sheet with parchment paper makes for a much easier clean-up, since the tomato juices tend to stick and crust to the pan while roasting. It is okay to pack the tomatoes in there, but try to keep them in a single layer.

If you find you have more tomatoes than can fit on your pans for the oven, but want to process and preserve them all, check out optional Step 3! 

Now, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, and give them a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. Again, omit the olive oil if you wish to can your sauce.

A two way image collage, the first image shows the orange Sungold tomatoes in a large glass baking dish, there are quite a few tomatoes so they are two to three tomatoes deep in certain places.
The second image shows the various red tomatoes cut into wedges and halves laid out single layered on two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
A closeup image of the halved and quartered red tomatoes after they have been drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and black pepper. They are now ready to go into the oven.

Step 2: Roast the Tomatoes

Here is where the magic happens. 

When exposed to high and dry heat, foods take on a whole new complex flavor profile because of the chemical reactions that take place. Namely, caramelization.

According to the Science of Cooking, caramelization is an oxidative reaction that involves the removal of water (as steam) and the breakdown of the sugar. As the the browning process occurs, natural volatile chemicals are released that produce the characteristic caramel flavor.  Thus, roasting vegetables can transform their earthy, vegetal, sometimes slightly bitter taste into something sweet, nutty, and toasted instead!

Roast the tomatoes in the oven on 425°F for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, until they become soft and lightly browned – or even a tad blackened, like ours! If you’re working with multiple trays of tomatoes, it may take a little longer (up to an hour). Rotate the trays halfway through to promote even roasting. 

A two way image collage, the first image is a close up of the sungold tomatoes after they have been roasted. They are now slightly shriveled from their juicing exploding during the roasting. Many of the tomatoes have been caramelized and are light to dark brown and even black in some spots. The second image shows a close up of the red tomatoes after roasting. The tomatoes have retained more of their insides compared to the sungolds, yet they still show signs of caramelization and have diminished slightly in size.

Step 3: Stew Other Tomatoes (Optional)

For the batch of sauce we made in this example, we filled two cookie sheets and one large glass roasting pan with tomatoes. The oven was full, but we still had a lot left on the counter! Rather than roasting all the tomatoes in multiple batches (no time for that!) we opt to simply not roast some at all. Instead, we stew the left over tomatoes – and combined them with the roasted ones when they came out of the oven. The flavor is still phenomenal. If you’re in the same situation, try this option!

While the initial trays of tomatoes are roasting in the oven, process any leftovers. Prepare them in a similar fashion as the others: cut away any tough stem portion, and chop them into a few chunks each. Heat a large pot on the stovetop, and add a splash of olive oil followed by the extra tomatoes. Lightly simmer the tomatoes (uncovered) the entire time the others are in the oven – at least 30 minutes. Stir occasionally. They will become soft, wonderfully fragrant, and the liquid will reduce. 

A two way image collage, the first image shows fresh cut red tomatoes in the bottom of a stainless steel cooking pot. There is a slight steam rising from the tomatoes, revealing that they are starting to cook on the stove top. The second image shows the tomatoes which now include some orange sungold tomatoes have begun to cook, much of their juices have released from the heat and the tomatoes are starting to turn into a sauce.

Step 4: Reduce & Blend the Roasted Tomatoes

Once your tomatoes are finished roasting, you have a couple of options. If you are using a traditional blender and did not stew any additional tomatoes on the stove, you could transfer the roasted tomatoes directly to your blender. I would allow them to cool slightly first to avoid hot splatters! 

However, if you want to reduce the tomatoes even more to create an extra thick sauce (and/or if you have those other tomatoes already stewing in a pot) carefully transfer the roasted tomatoes into a pot on the stove. Heat and simmer to further reduce the chunky sauce to a thickness of your liking – but keep in mind it will become even thicker once it is blended! 

The tomatoes have continued to cook into a sauce and the roasted tomatoes have now been pulled from the oven and have been added into the stainless steel pot to cook along in the sauce.

Next, blend the tomatoes until the sauce is a smooth, creamy consistency. Using a stick blender makes this extremely easy, right in the pot! We love this immersion blender, and use it regularly for many recipes – like this creamy roasted carrot and sweet potato soup! Alternatively, blend your roasted tomato sauce in a classic blender in batches as needed. You could choose to leave it chunky and not blend it at all. But keep in mind the skins will be more noticeable and potentially tough if they aren’t blended. 

After blending, assess the thickness. If you want it thicker even still, continue to simmer on medium-low heat to reduce further. Or, if it is all good to go, continue to the next step!

A two way image collage, the first image shows the sauce has continued to reduce, and immersion blender is being held above the cooking tomatoes. The second image shows the immersion blender in the sauce and blending it into a thick tomato sauce.

Step 5: Cool, Pack & Store

Now, allow that delicious, hot roasted tomato sauce to cool down a bit. When you package it into your storage containers of choice, the temperature can still be warm – but shouldn’t be hot. To promote rapid cooling, we usually create an “ice bath”, setting the pot surrounded in ice water in a clean sink. Yeah, I used to be a health inspector.

Freezing Roasted Tomato Sauce 

To preserve and freeze roasted tomato sauce sauce, we typically use pint-sized mason jars. Yes, you can safely freeze food in glass jars! However, make sure you get the ones that are marked as freezer-safe. Those are usually only the wide-mouth pint, half-pint, and quarter-pint size. Glass jars with a “shoulder” are more prone to cracking in the freezer, such as quart jars or regular mouth pints.

You can also freeze the sauce in durable BPA-free plastic containers made for the freezer, like these “Reditainer extreme freeze” pint containers or their quart-size containers. We use them all the time for soup and broth too!

Once the sauce is decently cooled, transfer it into your containers of choice. We use a canning jar funnel to help reduce the mess if we’re using glass jars. Maintain one inch of head space to allow for expansion in the freezer.  Store the containers of roasted tomato sauce in the freezer, and use within one year for the best quality and flavor. 

A birds eye view image shows seven pint mason jars filled to their fill line with the roasted tomato sauce. They are arranged in a slight honeycomb pattern with two jars placed in the top row, three jars lined up in the middle row, and the final two jars lined up on the bottom row.

Canning Tomato Sauce

We prefer the ease and quickness of freezing tomatoes, but if canning is your thing, be my guest! I won’t get into detailed instructions on exactly how to can tomatoes, but here are some quick safety notes below. For more detailed canning instructions, check out this guide from Colorado State University. Similar to the freezer option, it is suggested to use canned tomatoes within one year. Only proceed with canning if you didn’t use olive oil in this recipe. Leave 1/2″ head space in jars when canning.

To ensure safe acidity in whole, crushed or juiced tomatoes, add bottled lemon juice or citric acid when processing in a boiling water bath. Thoroughly stir in 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 teaspoon of citric acid per quart of tomatoes. For pints, use 1 tablespoon bottled lemon juice or 1/4 teaspoon of citric acid.

Colorado State University

Processing Time (minutes) for Canning Tomato SaucePintsQuarts
Boiling Water Bath at Altitudes Of:
0-3,000 ft.40 45
3,001-6,000 ft4550
6,001-8,000 ft5055
8,001-10,000 ft5560
Pressure Canner*1515

Step 6: Enjoy!

Now you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor, and use this roasted tomato sauce however you see fit! As I mentioned, we often simply dump a jar into homemade soups, curries, beans, lentils, or other saucy meals. Basically, anything that calls for canned tomatoes or paste! We also plan to make a sourdough pizza this weekend and use this as the sauce. We won’t modify it at all, since the flavor is wonderful as-is. Our pizza crust recipe already includes herbs in the dough, and we can sprinkle more fresh herbs like thyme and oregano right on top of the sauce before baking! This sauce would also be the bomb drizzled over our parmesan zucchini fritters.

To transform this sauce into a more classic Italian pasta sauce: Start by sautéing some diced onions and garlic in a pan until they’re soft and translucent. Then add the roasted tomato sauce, salt and pepper, plus fresh or dried herbs like basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary and sage – to taste. In the place of fresh garlic and onion, you could even substitute with garlic powder or onion powder! Simmer to combine flavors. Delicioso!

A close up image of the cooking sauce in the stainless steel pot, a wooden spoon is being held above the sauce and the ladle portion is covered in the thick roasted tomato sauce. You can see specks of black and gold amongst a velvety light red sauce.

I told you we were going to keep it simple! I hope you love and use this recipe as much as we do. Please feel free to ask questions, and spread the tomato love by sharing this post!

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4.63 from 59 votes

Simple & Delicious Roasted Tomato Sauce, to freeze or can

Tomatoes. Olive oil. Salt. Pepper. No measurements. It really can't get much more simple than that! Despite the short ingredient list, this roasted tomato sauce is FAR from short in flavor! Enjoy this rich, thick, sweet sauce now, or easily preserve it by freezing or canning.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Final Processing (varies)30 minutes


  • Roasting pan or baking sheets
  • Large pot
  • Immersion blender, or classic blender
  • Jars for storage (wide-mouth for freezing)


  • Fresh tomatoes, of any kind
  • Sea salt, for sprinkling to taste
  • Black pepper, for sprinkling to taste
  • Olive oil, light drizzle (skip if canning)


  • Cut tomatoes into quarters, halves, or leave smaller tomatoes whole and lay out onto baking sheets skin side down. (Lining baking sheets with parchment paper helps reduce a messy clean-up later!)
  • Drizzle tomatoes with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper. OMIT the oil if intending to hot bath can the sauce.
  • Roast the tomatoes in an oven pre-heated to 425°F for 35 to 45 minutes – until they develop a brown tinge. If using multiple pans, it may take longer (up to an hour). Rotate trays halfway through to promote even roasting.
  • Optional: If you have more tomatoes than will fit in your oven, lightly simmer the remaining tomatoes in a pot for the entire time the roasted tomatoes are in the oven. Choose a pot that is large enough to accommodate the stewed and roasted tomatoes together, once they are added after roasting.
  • Once the tomatoes are finished roasting, carefully transfer them to a large pot on the stovetop (combine with the optional stewed tomatoes). Blend with immersion blender directly in the pot, or add mixture to a classic blender in batches, and blend until creamy and smooth.
  • If needed, simmer the sauce to further reduce until it reaches your desired thickness.
  • Remove from heat and let the sauce cool.
  • Pack the sauce in freezer safe containers (such as wide-mouth jars) for storage in the freezer, or use fresh within one week.
  • To hot-bath can the sauce, add and thoroughly stir in either 2 tablespoons of bottled lemon juice or 1/2 tsp of citric acid per quart of tomato cause. For pint jars, half that amount. Follow the canning times based on jar size and elevation in the chart provided in this article.

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  • Debby Gwyllt-smith

    I will definitely try this but was Just wondering why you can’t add oil if you do the hot water bath? Is it because it might burst?

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Debby, if you are pressure canning, oil is fine in small amounts but for water bath canning, the oil can interfere with the seal or make it more likely to go rancid. Check out this site for more information regarding oil in canning. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Nora

    5 stars
    I am so happy to have found your website. You actually explain fully and clearly without endless history that does not usually help. Though the videos are great, being able to print out information and see actual pictures sure beats having to run back and forth to the office to recheck the next step on the video.

    I am puzzled tho, just to make sure…you do not peel the tomatoes before processing? Does that include dehydrating also. I think you answered about the peels for the sauce (which by the way, I am really looking forward to fixing). I always have just washed my tomatoes and scalded the skins off, figuring they are sanitized that way for water bath canning but not sure how that works for dehydrating. Would you have any suggestions?
    Thank you so much.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Nora, we don’t remove the skins for tomato sauce (as we just freeze it) or for dehydrating tomatoes, the skins seem to easily blend well enough with our immersion blender and since we are only freezing the sauce here, we don’t need to remove the skins. And as far as dehydrating tomatoes goes, we don’t remove the skins either before placing them in our food dehydrator and we have had “sun-dried” tomatoes last for well over a year in storage this way. Hope that helps and good luck preserving your tomato harvest!

  • sharon hicks


    If I cant make it this week do you think I could put the tomatoes in fridge for a week then make it? Or would it be best to freeze them and make it next week?

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Sharon, it depends on how ripe your tomatoes are and if you are growing tomatoes where you will continue to have more? Our freshly harvested tomatoes that are firm and decent sized, usually last at least a week when left of the counter. As long as your tomatoes aren’t getting moldy, even softer tomatoes will still work great for soup, I would personally just leave them on the counter or in a cooler closet and make it when you have time. Refrigerating tomatoes isn’t a good idea and I wouldn’t freeze tomatoes until you have too much to use or preserve or are at the end of the season. Hope that helps and reach out if you have any other questions.

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Lisa, you can use frozen tomatoes although it is best to let them defrost first. Also, roasting them in a deep glass baking dish (instead of a flat baking pan) may be best to catch any extra juice that may come out of them that doesn’t end up evaporating. Good luck!

  • Kris Odom

    5 stars
    Can you use freezer bags in place of the canning jars? I could freeze more sauce if they were in flat freezer bags. Thank you for great directions and beautiful pictures!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Kris, absolutely you can use bags to store the sauce in the freezer to save on space. Glad you enjoyed the article and we hope you enjoy the sauce, good luck!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Pam, I always reference this site when looking for safe canning instructions, here you can find their recommendations on pressure canning times based on elevation for different tomato sauces. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Michelle

    I am excitiedly preparing to use your recipe. Is there a reason that I shouldn’t use olive oil in this recipe if I will be canning it? Can garlic cloves be added as well? Can fresh lemon juice be used instead of jarred? Thank you!

    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Michelle, it is recommended to avoid oil in your canned tomato sauce unless you are following a “tried and true” canning recipe as oil can go rancid if canned with traditional hot bath canning versus pressure canning. It is also preferable to use bottled lemon juice as the exact acidity is more reliable than what you may get from fresh lemons and the acidity is one of the means of preservation. If you want to can your tomato sauce, check out the National Center for Food Preservation and their recipe for tomato sauce. Hope that helps and good luck!

  • Cindy Verhelst

    5 stars
    I have a question, I dice my home grown Roma tomatoes and freeze them for soup. Can I make the soup and freeze it? Or would there be a problem with freezing the tomatoes twice?

  • Erika

    5 stars
    So simple, yet delicious! Perfect recipe to showcase amazing tomatoes fresh from my garden. If you have not yet discovered the magic of vegetables in the smoker, try it! I did half my tomatoes in the smoker and half in the oven. Different flavors, incredible results!!!

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