Freezer Tomato Sauce

This freezer tomato sauce is a simple homemade spaghetti sauce made with that glut of garden tomatoes. Stash it in the freezer now and thank yourself later.

Three resealable plastic bags filled with freezer tomato sauce.

This freezer tomato sauce is something you make once and indulge in for months afterwards. Consider it an investment in your future winter self. Editor’s Note: This recipe makes ample tomato sauce, which in turn equates to quite a lot of freezer space. Although we’re proponents of big batch cooking, you could easily halve this recipe and still have an adequate stash to see you through until next tomato season—well, okay, maybe until next month.–Renee Schettler Rossi

Freezer Tomato Sauce

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 12 cups | 3 quarts
4.5/5 - 2 reviews
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Plop the tomatoes into a large pot or Dutch oven and add the water. Dampen a large piece of crumpled parchment paper with cold water, open it, and place it directly on the tomatoes. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally to keep the tomatoes from sticking to the bottom.

Tester tip: Don’t remove the lid during cooking. The tomatoes are cooking in the steam and you don’t want any of that precious heat or liquid to escape.

Transfer the softened tomatoes to a food mill or food processor, working in 2 or 3 batches if necessary, and process until smooth. If using a food processor, strain the purée, discarding the skins and seeds.

Place the strained tomatoes, oil, shallots, garlic, and herbs in a pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until reduced to about 12 cups.

Taste and season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, the sugar. Use immediately or freeze for later.

To freeze: Let the tomato sauce cool completely to room temperature. Divvy it among six 1-quart plastic freezer bags—each bag will contain about 2 cups sauce, making each bag only half full. Place the bag on its side on a flat surface in the freezer until solid, at least 1 hour. Then stand the flat bags of frozen sauce on end, as you would books on a shelf, to minimize the amount of space they take in your deep freeze.

To thaw: Thaw the frozen bags of sauce by completely immersing them in a bowl of cold water, about 1 1/2 hours to partially thaw. Or place the bags of tomato sauce on a plate and thaw in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. You don’t have to completely thaw the sauce before you rewarm it.

To serve: Transfer the thawed sauce to a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and gently simmer until warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes. If a thicker sauce is desired, continue to simmer until reduced. Originally published August 20, 2016.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This freezer tomato sauce recipe is a great and easy way to bring summer tomato flavor to the doldrums of winter without the scary canning part!

If you have a food mill, use it instead of a food processor because you won’t have to strain the sauce to remove skins and seeds. I didn’t reduce it as much as they said; I like to reduce the sauce instead when I defrost and use it. I used basil instead of rosemary, which makes the sauce more versatile later on. I omitted the parsley, as it browns quickly when cooking and is better added either when putting the cooked sauce in the bag, or just before use, since parsley is available year-round.

This is a very simple tomato sauce. This sauce is full of flavor and timely ingredients with numerous tomatoes available at markets.


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  1. Hi. This looks wonderful and I would love to try it. Is it necessary to add lemon juice when freezing the sauce in bags? I see that it is called for when canning to prevent botulism. Thank you.

  2. I am so happy to have found this recipe as I have tons of cherry tomatoes and basil I need to do something with (other than dehydrate the tomatoes and make pesto with the basil :-)). Could you just offer some clarification on what you refer to as a “sprig” of basil? Is there an approximate number of large/medium/small leaves you could translate this to? Many thanks.

    1. Emily, we, too, are so glad you found this recipe! Great question. A lot of it depends on personal preference and just how pronounced a basil flavor you’d like in your final sauce. I tend to veer on the side of less is more, so I would go with maybe 6 small leaves. But again, it all depends on how you like your sauce and how you intend to use it. If you do plan to freeze some for random uses in the future, I would definitely use less basil so that the flavor isn’t too pronounced and doesn’t overwhelm whatever recipe you make in the future. Because you can always add more basil to the final dish, but you can’t take it away! Good luck and kindly let us know how it goes…!

  3. Can you just freeze the tomatoes once puréed and not make a pasta sauce? I wasn’t sure if it needed cooking before freezing.

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