Freezer Tomato Sauce

Make this delicious simple freezer tomato sauce recipe when there is an abundance of cherry or grape tomatoes. Pull it out of the deep freeze and serve on pasta or even as a tomato soup.–Susie Theodorou

LC Tomato Sauce By the Truckload Note

If you like having tomato sauce at the ready, you’ll love this nifty freezer tomato sauce trick, especially the part about freezing the bags of sauce flat on their sides to create easy-to-stack slabs of sauce in modest two-cup portions. (Although with eight pounds of tomatoes, that’s an awful lot of freezer space devoted to sauce. While we’re big proponents of big-batch cooking, you could easily halve this recipe—or your favorite tomato sauce recipe—and still have an ample stash to get you through till next tomato season. Well, at least till next month.

Speaking of an abundance of tomatoes, the last Wednesday in August marks La Tomatina, the annual tomato-slinging fest which draws literally thousands of folks to Bunol, Spain. Here they engage in what has got to be the world’s most gargantuan food fight. Or at least, the world’s most extravagant tomato fight. Gosh, we hope they’re not using heirlooms.

Freezer Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 1 H, 30 M
  • Makes 3 quarts


  • 8 pounds cherry tomatoes or small plum tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 shallots, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 large basil or rosemary sprigs
  • 3 large flat-leaf parsley sprigs (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar, if desired


  • 1. Place the tomatoes in a large pot or Dutch oven with 6 tablespoons water. Dampen a large piece of crumpled parchment paper with cold water, open it, and place it directly over the tomatoes. Cover the pot and cook over very low heat for 30 minutes, shaking the pot occasionally to stir. Do not open, as the tomatoes are sweating and cooking in their own steam.
  • 2. Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor, in two to three batches if necessary, and process until smooth. Strain through a sieve, discarding the skins and seeds, if desired. Place the tomatoes, olive 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 12 cups. Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding the sugar if necessary. Use immediately, if desired, or freeze or later.
  • 3. To freeze: Allow the sauce to cool completely to room temperature, then divide among six 1-quart plastic freezer bags—each bag will contain about 2 cups of sauce, making each bag only half full. Freeze flat until solid, about 1 hour. When solid, store more compactly in the freezer.

    To thaw: Thaw the bags of sauce completely immersed in a bowl of cold water, about 1 1/2 hours to partially thaw. Or put the bags of sauce on a plate and thaw in the refrigerator for about 4 hours. You do not have to completely thaw the sauce before you heat it.

    To serve: Transfer the thawed sauce to a pot, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. If only partially thawed, simmer for an extra 5 minutes.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Lisa O.

Aug 30, 2011

This freezer tomato sauce recipe is great and easy way to bring summer tomato flavor to the doldrums of winter, without the scary canning part! I made some small adjustments. 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. If you have one, use a food mill 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 when I use it.

Testers Choice
Deb Russell

Aug 30, 2011

This freezer tomato sauce was easy and tasted delicious, but I think it needs less garlic, as it was overpowering. I would only use two cloves next time. Also, it’s the height of summer and tomatoes are pretty good. I think it would need to be puréed if cooked in the winter. It was nice and thick and didn’t lose its taste after defrosting.

Testers Choice
Gabriella K.

Aug 30, 2011

This freezer tomato sauce is sweet yet tart. I'd reduce it even further after defrosting, as ice crystals may build up during freezing and thin the sauce.

  1. Thanks for mentioning my spinach pesto! Love this freezer sauce, I almost always have homemade sauce in my freezer.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      A reliable tomato sauce in the freezer is better than money in the bank, isn’t it, Maris? Or perhaps let’s just say it’s as good as money in the bank…tastes better, though.

  2. Amanda says:

    This will be one to store in my memory banks until our summer down here in Oz. I especially like the idea of freezing it flat in bags for easier storage – inspired!

  3. Anna says:

    I remember seeing the ‘parchment lid’ method in a few Thomas Keller recipes. I’m curious, why parchment instead of the actual pot lid?

    I have an abundance of tomatoes, and I’m looking forward to freezing sauce for the winter.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      My understanding is that the parchment adheres to the surface of the liquid, thereby trapping the moisture and flavor that may otherwise evaporate into the air. Whereas a lid does much the same, the intervening air allows for dispersion of said moisture and flavor. That’s a very non-scientific answer. Anyone care to posit a more technical response?

  4. Ozma says:

    Please do not disregard this recipe if you do not have the requisite 8 pounds of tomatoes! Since tomatoes have been coming on this summer, every other day or so I end up with about 2 pounds more of lovely Roma beauties than can be consumed fresh; consequently, I have been using this technique to preserve them. Simply scale down the ingredients and make personal-preference adjustments to the seasonings and herbs.

    Some might comment “Why bother for such a small output?” My response to that position would be that anyone who loves to cook will not find the preparation of this freezer sauce onerous. What a great way to preserve the brightness of fresh tomatoes without the unbearable chore of canning.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Great advice, Ozma. So glad that you are able to sock some of those tomatoes away for a rainy day, so to speak.

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