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Choose Your Own Adventure Tomato Sauce

Choose Your Own Adventure Tomato Sauce


Jarred sauce is fine. I have some in my pantry for code red emergencies. But homemade sauce is better, especially if you have a delicious and stupid easy recipe to make it. 

Which I'm about to give you. Fancy that.

These three sauces are all built on one basic sauce; you're just adding an ingredient or two each time that transforms the final product. It's like adding heels to a t-shirt and jeans... which I've never done in my life, by the way.

(All of these amounts are about the equivalent of one 28ish oz. jar of tomato sauce.)

Sauce #1: Basic Tomato Sauce


  • 3 cups canned crushed tomatoes (or canned whole ones that you break down or puree)
  • 2 big garlic cloves (or 4 tiny ones), minced
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. salt


  1. Add your garlic and oil to a skillet. Mix them together a little.
  2. Turn the skillet on low heat, and let the garlic warm and just start to sizzle on the edges. Burnt garlic is NASTY. P.S. If you burn your garlic, start over. It's not worth it.
  3. Add your tomatoes and salt. Stir. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. 

That's it. No simmering all day. No chopping a million vegetables. It's simple and absolutely delicious. I make this sauce at least once a week for Pasta Mondays or some other meal (which you can hear about in this week's podcast episode - The Lazy Genius Makes Tomato Sauce - where I share 11 ways to use tomato sauce that don't involve pasta).

Sauce #2: Creamy Tomato Sauce


  • 2 tbsp. heavy cream
  • three grinds of black pepper or a generous pinch of red pepper flake

Add this in after the tomatoes have simmered for 3-5 minutes, and let it cook together for an additional 3-5 minutes. It's silky, luxurious, and delicious with a sprinkling of fresh herbs and parmesan on top. 

Sauce #3: Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Sauce


  • 1/2 cup pureed roasted red peppers (about one full pepper from the jar)
  • 1/8 tsp. dried oregano or basil

Add this in at the same time you add the cream and pepper. This gives the sauce a kick that still feels comforting and just different enough to not be bored. I love this with cheese tortellini. 

You can certainly add roasted red pepper puree to the basic tomato sauce and skip the cream, but I find the cream to be necessary in balancing out the heat. If you just have tomato and pepper, it's too much acidity and gets super aggressive. Cream makes everyone friends again. If you're worried about the fat content, just do one tablespoon and see how it goes.

That's it!

You only have to chop garlic, and as long as you keep the heat low while it's simmering, you don't even have to stir it. It's stupid easy, y'all. Please give it a try and watch your sauce game turn pro.

And don't forget to listen to the podcast episode for ideas on how to use the sauce in lots of fun ways.

Bracket of Guys: THE FINAL VOTE

Bracket of Guys: THE FINAL VOTE

Bracket of Guys: FINAL FOUR

Bracket of Guys: FINAL FOUR