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Enjoy the classic taste of Italian-American cooking with this small batch tomato sauce recipe. It makes about 2 cups – just enough for one or two people. The recipe is based on my family’s traditional sauce, packed with herbs and those comforting flavors you’ll love.

This delightful small batch tomato sauce, simmering to perfection, opens the door to a variety of memorable single serving and small batch dishes. Its rich flavor perfectly complements Eggplant Parmesan, enhances the layers of a classic Lasagna, adds zest to a giant Italian Meatball, enriches Baked Ziti, and transforms French Bread Pizza.

Why You’ll Love This Tomato Sauce Recipe

  • Flavorful: A rich medley of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs offers a complexity of flavors.
  • Versatile: Beyond pasta, use it as a base for other meals like a hamburger casserole or stuffed peppers.
  • Nostalgic: A family recipe that takes you back to large Sunday meals, and Nonna’s kitchen.
  • Scaled Down: Perfectly portioned to prevent waste, especially when cooking for one or two.

RELATED: Best Single Serving Summer Recipes

a small jar of tomato sauce next to fresh garlic.

Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this easy tomato sauce recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder.

  • Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil is my go-to for its rich flavor and health benefits. It’s less processed and contains essential vitamins. However, if you prefer a milder flavor, you can opt for a lighter olive oil.
  • Vegetables: The combination of chopped onions, a carrot, a celery stalk, and garlic lends a robust flavor profile to the sauce. Use these same vegetables in Split Pea Soup, Chicken Stew, and Vegetable Soup.
  • Seasonings: The spice medley of salt, black pepper, dried basil, oregano, and a bay leaf enhances the sauce’s complexity. Feel free to adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Diced tomatoes: Canned diced tomatoes are super convenient and work great in this sauce. If you have any leftover tomatoes, consider using them in a small batch of Spanish Rice, Chicken Cacciatore, and Jambalaya.
  • Butter: A dab of butter is added to lend a creamy richness and counter the tomato acidity.
  • Honey: While it might seem optional, a splash of honey or sugar balances the tomato’s natural tartness. This is a common trick in southern Italian cuisine, making the sauce more rounded in flavor. Feel free to adjust the sweetness to your palate.

This is just an overview of the ingredients I used and why I used them. For the full recipe please scroll down to the recipe box at the bottom of the post.

Recipe Variations

Wondering how to tweak this homemade tomato sauce to suit your individual taste? The recipe is incredibly versatile, so here are some variations you can explore.

  • Spicy Tomato Sauce: Add a kick with red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce for a spicier profile.
  • Creamy Tomato Sauce: For a lush, velvety texture, stir in a splash of heavy cream or a dollop of mascarpone cheese during the last few minutes of cooking.
  • Herb-Infused: Fresh basil, rosemary, or thyme can be added for a fragrant, herbaceous twist. Just remove the larger stems before serving.
  • Vegetable-Loaded: Toss in some diced bell peppers, mushrooms, or even spinach for a veggie-packed version.
  • Meaty Tomato Sauce: For a heartier fare, brown some ground beef, turkey, or sausage and stir it into the sauce.
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a plate of pasta topped with spaghetti sauce.

Expert Tips

  • Tenderize the Vegetables: For a flavorful base, cook the vegetables until they are soft and tender. For an added layer of complexity, let them lightly brown to achieve a roasted flavor profile.
  • Blending Options: Use either an immersion blender or a standard countertop blender to achieve a smooth texture in your tomato sauce. Both methods work well for turning those cooked vegetables into a velvety mixture.
  • Adjust the Sweetness: The honey content in the recipe is adjustable. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, feel free to add more honey, or dial it back if you’re not a fan of sweeter tomato sauces.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I double this tomato sauce recipe?

Yes, the recipe doubles very well!

Can I add meat to tomato sauce?

Absolutely, ground sausage or beef works well.

How long can I store tomato sauce?

Up to 5 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.

tomato sauce in a small ball mason jar with a spoon in it.

Ways To Use Leftover Ingredients

If you have any ingredients leftover from this recipe, check out our Leftover Ingredients Recipe Finder or you might like to consider using them in any of these single serving and small batch recipes:

RELATED: Best Soup Recipes For One

For more information on the cooking and baking dishes I use in our “recipes for one”, please visit our FAQ page.

For examples of the dishes used at One Dish Kitchen, please visit our Store page.

If you’ve tried this small batch tomato sauce recipe or any recipe on One Dish Kitchen please let me know how you liked it by rating the recipe and telling me about it in the comment section below.

Also, if you take a picture please tag us on Instagram (@onedishkitchen) we’d love to see!


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Small Batch Tomato Sauce

4.95 from 17 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 35 minutes
Total: 50 minutes
Servings: 2 servings
Enjoy this easy small batch tomato sauce recipe, ideal for one or two servings, adding rich flavor to pasta, meatballs, and other dishes.

Ingredients 
 

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped onions
  • ½ cup chopped carrot , (appx. 1 carrot)
  • cup chopped celery , (appx. 1 celery stalk)
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ teaspoon honey
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Instructions 

  • Heat oil in a small saucepan on medium-high. Sauté onions, carrots, and celery until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute.
  • Stir in tomatoes, basil, oregano, and bay leaf. Bring to a gentle boil.
  • Lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Take the saucepan off the heat and remove the bay leaf.
  • Blend the sauce slightly using an immersion or stand blender. Aim for a partially pureed texture, not completely smooth.
  • Mix in butter and honey until the butter melts. Taste and add a pinch of salt if needed.

Notes

  • Tenderize the Vegetables: For a flavorful base, cook the vegetables until they are soft and tender. For an added layer of complexity, let them lightly brown to achieve a roasted flavor profile.
  • Blending Options: Use either an immersion blender or a standard countertop blender to achieve a smooth texture in your tomato sauce. Both methods work well for turning those cooked vegetables into a velvety mixture.
  • Adjust the Sweetness: The honey content in the recipe is adjustable. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, feel free to add more honey, or dial it back if you’re not a fan of sweeter tomato sauces.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving, Calories: 97kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 4g, Cholesterol: 15mg, Sodium: 349mg, Potassium: 51mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 215IU, Vitamin C: 2.2mg, Calcium: 18mg, Iron: 0.2mg

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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4.95 from 17 votes (10 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




51 Comments

  1. Emily says:

    I can’t say enough how much I love this sauce!!! I make it almost every day. I am making the manicotti today and I can’t wait!! Thanks for the great recipe!!

  2. Lorna says:

    I’ve just finished making this sauce which turned out delish.. I did add another 1/2 TSP honey& a sprinkle of both garlic& onion powder & salt to suit my taste.. But really it’s fab… Will definitely make again😊 It’s to go with your chicken Parm for one..
    Take care Joanie.. Oh, and I downloaded the dessert recipes after I subscribed to your newsletter.. (thank you) They were making my mouth water!
    Lorna..🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿😊

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      Thank you so much, Lorna. I’m so happy you enjoyed it and hope you love the dessert recipes!

  3. Rachel says:

    I’m wowed how good this tastes. So fresh and delicious. I used organic fire roasted tomatoes. It made just enough sauce for my chicken Parmesan zucchini boat recipe. My child wanted to lick the spoon she loved it so much!

  4. Joli says:

    I rarely use celery. Even cooking for 6 at holidays I only use a few stalks in dressing and throw out the rest after it’s been in fridge 2 months. So I keep celery seed to sprinkle in my potato salad or chicken salad recipe. How much celery seed would you suggest to substitute for your 1 stalk in this recipe? Or just leave it out?

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      I would start with using 1/4 teaspoon of celery seed and taste the sauce. Add additional celery seed until you reach your desired flavor.

  5. Susan says:

    Terrific!! Thank you….💖

  6. jackie siely says:

    How long can this keep please?

    1. Joanie Zisk says:

      This sauce will last for 3 to 4 days, covered in the refrigerator. It can also be stored in the freezer; freeze in a covered airtight container or heavy-duty freezer bag. It will last for up to 3 months in the freezer.