10 Essential Tomato Sauces

Nothing beats the rich, pure flavor of homemade tomato sauce.

Tagliatelle with Garlicky Tomato Sauce
Photo: © Con Poulos

Everyone needs a go-to tomato sauce recipe, but why have just one? From pure concentrated tomato to spiced and meaty, tomato sauce can take on myriad flavor-texture combinations uniquely suited for a variety of dishes. Regardless of what you're looking to slather in tomato sauce, we've gathered 10 recipes to cover the bases.

Puttanesca Sauce

Puttanesca Sauce
Photo by Jennifer Causey / Food Styling by Emily Nabors Hall / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

The combination of anchovies, olives, and capers gives this Napoletana sauce a robust flavor.

All'Amatriciana Sauce

Bucatini all'Amatriciana
© Simon Watson

This spicy, pancetta-studded sauce is great with shellfish and bucatini, the hollow, spaghetti-like pasta.

Sunday Sauce

Sunday Sauce
© Con Poulos

This ultra-meaty tomato sauce is quintessential Italian comfort food.

Vodka Sauce

close up of rigatoni with vodka sauce
Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Food Styling by Ali Ramee / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Vodka and crushed red pepper add spicy flavor to this lightly creamy Italian-American sauce.

Tomato Ginger Sauce

Cod with Tomato Ginger Sauce
© Bobbi Lin

Though you can put this simple tomato sauce together in a matter of minutes, it has surprisingly complex flavor. Try it on firm white fish like cod, grouper, or halibut.

Garlicky Tomato Sauce

Tagliatelle with Garlicky Tomato Sauce
© Con Poulos

Used for a dish called tagliatelle all'aglione in Tuscany, this sauce is named for the generous amount of garlic (aglio in Italian) in the sauce. It's simple but full of Mediterranean flavor.

Basic Tomato Sauce

Basic Tomato Sauce
© Abby Hocking

This all-purpose tomato sauce is flavored with a little shredded carrot and fresh oregano.

Summer Tomato Sauce

Fusilli with Summer Tomato Sauce
William Meppem

This light, uncooked sauce makes use of perfectly ripe peak-season tomatoes. Be sure they're at room temperature, not cold.

 Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter

Marcella Hazan Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter Recipe
Photo and Styling by Julia Gartland

"This is the simplest of all sauces to make, and none has a purer, more irresistibly sweet tomato taste," said late cookbook author Marcella Hazan.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

Penne with Shrimp and Spicy Tomato Sauce
© Christina Holmes

Paprika, cumin, and ginger lend their aromatic alchemy to a simple, no-cook tomato sauce. You can use the sauce with a wide range of ingredients, including penne with shrimp, mozzarella, sausage, or grilled vegetables.

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