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Make easy tomato sauce in oven for freezing

August 10th, 2009 · 10 Comments · Food preparation, recipes

tomatoroast 009

Until last week, I’d recommended Joanne’s method of roasting tomatoes for tomato sauce, but I hadn’t made it myself (if you don’t count one attempt). Sister Lori endorsed the method heartily, so I passed it on to Lynn, who pronounced it genious… and then turned around and gave me 2 1/2 gallons (dry measure) of gorgeous organic plum tomatoes that she and her family had grown.

Hooray! It was time to try it for myself for real, and I couldn’t be happier with the approach. The photo above shows the results…and I didn’t cook all the tomatoes!

So here’s the method in recipe form. You’ll note it’s highly imprecise, but I think that’s because it can be. Do what works best for you.

Roasted tomato sauce

  • Large quantity plum or slicer tomatoes
  • 1/4 large onion per quart (dry measure) tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic per quart tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Olive oil
  1. Wash and trim tomatoes of anything you wouldn’t want to eat, such stem scars. Halve small tomatoes (such as plums) or cut large tomatoes into chunks. Let’s say 1-inch cubes, but larger is fine.
  2. Distribute tomatoes in large ovenproof pans with a lip to catch juices. Tomatoes don’t have to be in a single layer, but don’t mound appreciably above the height of the pan’s lip, as the tomatoes will give off juice.
  3. Peel and trim onion and garlic and distribute among tomatoes. Generously sprinkle tomatoes with salt and pepper, and drizzle oil over all. I stirred the mixture a little to distribute the oil and probably used about 1 cup oil for the 6 quarts or more tomatoes.
  4. Place pans on racks in 350-degree oven and roast about 2 hours, or until the tomatoes have cooked down considerably, and the onions and garlic are soft. Expect the tomatoes to be sitting in some liquid. The following photos show one of the pans fresh from the oven and a closeup of the tomatoes. tomatoroast 002
    tomatoroast 004
  5. Cool, then transfer tomato mixture in batches to the bowl of food processor and puree, skin and all. Marvelous! Transfer to freezer containers and freeze, or use as desired. Yield: A lot of tomato sauce.

Notes: It’s OK to use multiple oven racks, but try to leave room for air to circulate around the pans some. After 1 hour or so, you might want to stir tomatoes and rotate pans for more even roasting. Feel free to add herbs to the mixture as you roast for additional flavor.


The finished sauce had a consistency similar to commercial canned crushed tomatoes, but the flavor was much better. Yes, I could detect a touch of bitterness, no doubt due to the skin and seeds. No, I don’t care. (If you use plum tomatoes and the seeds offend you, they’re easily scraped out before roasting.)

Yes, the sauce would be more refined if you passed it through a food mill or cone sieve, and it’s perfectly fine if you want to. I took Joanne’s word and decided it wasn’t worth the effort for such a large bunch of sauce.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Meryl

    I think we should start a roasted tomato sauce mafia or something–my freezer is bursting right now, but otherwise I could easily make and use quite a bit more.

  • Scott

    I also tend not to worry about seeds and skin, unless making sauce for something particular. A tiny bit of sugar helps neutralize the bitterness. I use a pinch or two (less than 1/2 t) for a pretty good sized batch of sauce – not enough to make it taste sweet – just enough to reduce the bitterness.

  • Susan G.

    This must be one forgiving process as I found a number of different recipes/methods when I googled “oven roasted tomato sauce”. Just wish all the tomatoes I’d planned on having had come true. Have to figure out a way to outwit those wascally walnut trees.

  • Lori

    We love this recipe … and thankfully our tomatoes are finally ripening . We made our first batch of tomato sauce last night. It’s still as easy and amazing as ever! Thanks, Janet, for sharing the recipe and Joanne for creating it’s simple, laid back directions. It’s a huge improvement over the Gourmet cookbook recipe and tastes better, too! We love super results with little stress and this recipe is absolutely the best for both.

  • Janet Majure

    –Meryl, I think a secret recipe would be required in that case, and I think it’s too late for that!
    –Scott, thanks for the tip.
    –Susan, I’m sure you’re right about the forgiving-ness, but good luck with the walnuts.
    –Lori, you’re welcome, and thanks for the comment!

  • Jen Humphrey

    Great recipe, Janet, and very similar to one that I used last year. That recipe added a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, which seemed to break down the tomatoes even further and made their sugar stand out.

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  • MJ

    I’m into my second year of roasting, blending and freezing. I use considerably less oil … a little on the bottom of the pan to help with sticking and then a drizzle over the top. I discovered last year that naked garlic could burn, so I now leave the cloves in their “paper.” And just squeeze out the good goo into the blender. I do some with a drizzle of balsamic, some with a good scattering of dried herbs, some with added chiles. It’s all so good you can eat it with a spoon!

  • Annette

    About to make my first batch,hope it’s as good as it sounds.

  • Janet Majure

    I hope so too! Fun to see someone from the southern hemisphere cooking up tomatoes as I sit here amid gloomy winter. If anything goes wrong with the sauce, check out this post for one rescue option: