Basic Tomato Reduction Sauce Guaranteed To Impress

I love to cook. My mom was a professional chef growing up. I would linger around and watch her in the kitchen any chance I got. She was a magician with the chemistry of flavor. It absolutely captivated my mind.

This is a very easy way to create a homemade tomato sauce that will delight your family, guests and friends every time.

I start with fresh whole tomatoes from the garden or farmers market. I like to experiment with different types of tomatoes and even combinations of tomatoes. Other ingredients include a bit of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, onion, garden herbs, balsamic vinegar, (and/or red wine) and water. That’s about it usually. Of course I always like to improvise a bit when cooking. Depending on available ingredients and seasonal options.


First I heat up my saucepan to a medium high temperature. I add in a very small amount of olive or coconut oil. (The coconut oil really hold up against the heat. I highly recommend it for any high heat oil needs.)

Next I throw in the onions and garlic. You can just go with what you have or want or none at all even. I’m never particular here. I’ll spice it up with chili flakes and some garden herbs a bit as well sometimes.

Let the onion and garlic brown up and caramelize a bit then add the cut up tomatoes. You’ll have to decide how much you want to make but remember we are reducing so it’s going to cook way down. Don’t worry too much as you can always add more. Plus the variable cooking times for each added ingredient will actually improve the devolving complexity of flavors.


Once the tomatoes start to boil and break down a little, lower the heat to a simmer. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Add additional garden herbs as available and desired. I almost always have oregano and rosemary growing in my garden so I tend to use these two often. Basil, thyme, marjoram, sage, bay leaf, dried savory, red pepper flakes, parsley, fennel, etc… are great possibilities as well. (however oregano, basil and thyme is the classic trio).


At this point the tomatoes should be simmering well and releasing plenty of water to stew themselves on low heat for a while. I now add in very sparingly a small amount of balsamic vinegar and/or wine to help the chemistry of the reduction process.

Depending on the sweetness and acidity of the current tomatoes in use I may or may not add very small amounts of additional ingredients to compensate. Sometimes it’s a 1/4 teaspoon of honey or sugar or it can be a savory soy sauce, anchovy paste, lemon, or additional seasonings. I’ve even used beer to get the desired balanced flavor.

Simmer, stir, taste, season slowly and carefully. Let your nose and tongue guide you. A bit more salt and pepper, more fresh herbs… Let it reduce and thicken, then add more water. Repeat. I sometimes do this for a few days even!

tomato suace

Once my palate is satisfied I will reduce the sauce to the desired thickness and remove from heat. This can be immediately added to pasta for a fantastic home-made basic tomato sauce or jarred for later use as a base for any other recipes that you might use a store-bought can of stewed tomatoes or marinara sauce for.

Remember this is a reduction sauce and a little goes a long way… Enjoy! Bon Appetite!

Standard Ingredients Needed:

  1. olive oil
  2. garlic
  3. onion
  4. tomato
  5. salt and pepper
  6. herbs (garden fresh basil, oregano and rosemary are the classic trio)
  7. balsamic vinegar/wine
  8. water

Alternative Ingredients:

  1. other herbs, (thyme, marjoram, sage, bay leaf, dried savory, red pepper flakes, parsley, fennel)
  2.  savory sauces, (soy sauce, anchovy paste, Worcestershire,) *NOTE be very sparing with these… There’s no going  back! I literally use drops at a time.
  3. lemon juice, (very little if at all, usually only if tomatoes are very sweet.)
  4. honey/sugar
  5. beer

2 Replies to “Basic Tomato Reduction Sauce Guaranteed To Impress”

  1. Hey fellow old school BFF and chef here. Sauce looks amazing and you should try this trip though. Cut a small cross slice on bottom tomatoes then blanch them in boiling water for 1 minute and watch the skins just come right off and leave you with a great texture! looks yummy! I too grew up with both out moms cooking up a storm. spoiled a bit we were i think! 😉

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