31 July 2012

Sensational, Simple Homemade Pasta Sauce

Make real, old fashioned pasta sauce the easy way - in your slow cooker!

Pasta sauce is one of those things that most people automatically buy. I'm sure they have images of having to stand over the stove, stirring a big pot of sauce for hours and hours, much the way they do it in the old movies.

Not so in the 21st century! Making a good, slow cooked pasta sauce has never been easier if you have a slow cooker.  Slow cooking is the secret to a lovely, rich, thick sauce so what better appliance to use than your slow cooker. Get it out, get some tomatoes and make your own delicious, healthy, preservative and additive free sauce for around half the price of a jar!

Sensational, Simple Homemade Pasta Sauce

800g tin diced tomatoes (or whole tomatoes you have sliced through with a knife)
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp crushed garlic
2 tsp crushed basil
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp salt

Heat the oil in the bottom of the crock pot and saute the garlic until it is golden.  Add the tomatoes, basil and oregano and stir. Put the lid on and cook on HIGH for 4 hours. Stir. If the sauce is thick and rich, it is done. If not cook for another 30 minutes and stir again.  Let the sauce cool and then portion it into saved jars, freezer containers or zip lock bags and freeze.

This makes the equivalent of 1 jar of commercial pasta sauce. If your slow cooker is large enough, you can triple or quadruple the recipe, extending the cooking time by up to two hours. The cooking time will depend solely on your slow cooker. Newer slow cookers are actually very fast compared to the original models, so watch your sauce and when it reaches the consistency you like it's ready.

I use this sauce as the base for other pasta sauces, adding additional seasonings depending on the recipe. It also makes a lovely pizza sauce and is delicious with just a sprinkling of mozzarella and parmesan.


  1. Hi, I don't own a slow cooker. Is it still possible to make on the stove top?


    1. Yes, just be sure to have it over a very low heat and to watch it constantly so it doesn't burn. It won't take as long on the stove, about 2 - 2/12 hours total cooking time should be plenty. One of the advantages of the slow cooker is being able to "set and forget" until the cooking time is finished :)

  2. Hi Cath

    I dispute at the moment that it would be cheaper to make your own pasta sauce. In Adelaide, the cheapest 800g diced tomato tin would be around $2 (although I might find something cheaper at Rite Price, which is usually out of date, sometimes by quite a lot) and pasta sauce is constantly on special, even the exotic flavours, for $2 or $2-50 per jar. The basic Dolmio I think is $2-15 all the time in Coles and Woollies (our main supermarkets). Tomatoes are very expensive here and unless you grow the herbs yourself, they are expensive and then you need to add the electricity for the slow cooker.

    I'm just saying that there are times when you can save the time and energy to buy it already made and you still don't lose out in your budget.


    1. Rachel it's not always initially cheaper to make your own pasta sauce (or anything else for that matter). But you need to take in to consideration the ongoing effects - when you make your pasta sauce, even one as simple as this one, you know exactly what goes into it. There is nothing that isn't real food in this sauce, meaning it is less likely to have an undesirable affect on your health.

      Now, I've just done my sums.

      Tinned tomatoes 2 x 400g $1.00 (50c a tin on sale)
      Olive Oil - 22c
      Garlic - free, it's from my garden
      Basil 10c
      Oregano 10c
      Cost of running the slowcooker - 3c/hr for 4 hrs - 12c

      Total cost for 700g pasta sauce $1.54 or $2.15/kg

      Even if the tomatoes were $1 a can, it is still cheaper than a good quality bought pasta sauce full of unnecessary additives.

      Now to clarify - tinned foods do not spoil unless the tin is ruptured or damaged in some way. They do have a date on them - it will be a "best before...." date. That is not a use by date. The food contained in cans marked with a best before will still be safe to use, although the quality in terms of colour and texture may have started to change. So your tomatoes at Rite Price, even if they are out of their best before date, are still perfectly good to use.

  3. Hi, Are the basil and oregano fresh or dried? Many thanks.

    1. The herbs are dried. If you use fresh herbs you'll need to adjust the quantities to 6 teaspoons fresh. The ratio for fresh herbs to dried herbs is typically three times the amount of fresh herbs to dried. This is because dried herbs are concentrated and the flavour so much stronger.

  4. Hi Rachel, do you have a costco near you? I buy a 5kg tin of tomatoes there for 2.50 which I simply divide up when I get home and pop in the freezer :) saves me a fortune and you can pop it in your cooking from frozen for most recipes.

  5. I would like to make this but I was wondering if the basil and oregano are dried or fresh please?

    1. Thanks for the fast reply!!! I have added this recipe to my next fortnight menu plan! :D

  6. I would like to make a pasta sauce using fresh tomatoes as I have a good supply in my garden. Would this recipe be suitable?

    1. I use fresh tomatoes all the time, the garden is full of them at the moment.Peel and dice them and add about an hour to the cooking time. Check it after four hours and then watch it until it is as thick as you'd like it.

  7. If using fresh tomatoes, how many kilos to get how much sauce?

  8. Follow the recipe Winny, just use fresh tomatoes instead of tinned. One recipe will give the equivalent of one 500g jar of pasta sauce- the tomatoes will cook down.


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