Out of jarred marinara sauce? You'll never need to buy it again when you make this easy recipe using canned tomato paste plus a few pantry ingredients. It's not only economical, it's incredibly delicious.
If you're anything like me, you probably turn to pasta when you're short on time or lack the energy needed to get dinner on the table. Not only is it satisfying, even the pickiest of eaters enjoy it.
But don't fret if you forgot to pick up a bottle of spaghetti sauce at the supermarket. This sauce not only tastes better than most store-bought sauces, it will be ready in the time it takes to boil water and cook a box of spaghetti or penne.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It cooks quickly and is ready in only 15 minutes.
- You only need 6 ingredients to make it, plus salt and pepper.
- It makes the exact amount needed to serve with a pound of pasta.
Balsamic vinegar: While it may sound contradictory, balsamic vinegar balances out the acidity of the tomatoes. If you don't have any on hand, you can leave it out.
Or add a pinch of organic sugar if the sauce tastes sour. You can also substitute a splash of your favorite red wine.
Italian parsley: Fresh herbs like parsley or basil compliment the flavors of this sauce. But if unavailable, simply omit them. You do not need to add extra dried herbs.
For the complete list of ingredients with measurements plus recipe instructions, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Saute the garlic in olive oil.
- Add the tomato paste, water, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf.
- Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar.
To change the flavors of the sauce, try stirring in sliced olives, capers, and/or crushed red chili flakes during the last few minutes of cooking. This will transform it to a variation of a vegan Puttanesca sauce.
This easy meatless spaghetti sauce pairs well with any of your favorite pasta shapes. In addition, you can serve it tossed with noodles made from wheat, rice, corn, quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, or a blend. For a complete meal, try it with a vegetable side dish or salad like one of these favorites:
Storing and freezing
Any unused sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 3 months. To freeze, leave a little room at the top of a glass container before adding the lid. When you're ready to use it, defrost the container in the refrigerator overnight or until thawed.
Tomato paste is a thick tomato concentrate made by cooking down tomatoes for hours and straining out the skins and seeds. It can be purchased in cans or tubes.
Tomato sauce is cooked pureed tomatoes. It isn't as thick as the concentrated paste.
While both sauces can be served over pasta, marinara refers to red tomato-based sauces like this tomato paste pasta sauce. Spaghetti sauce often refers to pasta sauces that also contain meat or vegetables. At the end of the day, both are names for pasta sauce.
More easy pasta sauce recipes
And for even more recipes, join the Vegan Mediterranean Diet Recipes Facebook group for support, inspiration, and fun.
If you love this recipe, please give it 5 stars! ★★★★★
15 Minute Tomato Paste Pasta Sauce
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 can tomato paste, (6 ounces)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, (or substitute dried oregano or basil)
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper, to taste
- splash balsamic vinegar, (See notes.)
- 12-16 ounces cooked pasta, for serving
- fresh Italian parsley or basil, torn or chopped, for serving (optional)
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in the tomato paste, water, Italian seasoning, and bay leaf.
- Bring to a low boil, then lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat. Discard the bay leaf. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, to taste. Add in a splash of balsamic vinegar and stir to combine.
- Toss with cooked pasta. Garnish with fresh Italian parsley or basil, if desired.
Nutritional information is an estimation only.
Made this recently, only difference is I diced and pre cooked one tomato in a frying pan then added it to simmer in the sauce and it was exceptional. One of the better pasta sauces I have had, and it was easy!
Love how you added a fresh tomato, Nate! I'm so happy you enjoyed the sauce.
can I can this sauce if I put lemon juice in the jars
I'm sorry, Marion. I have no experience with canning. Maybe someone else can answer your question.
Delicious recipe! I added some onion powder and was very pleased with the results. My old recipe has a lot of butter, and this is healthier, but so tasty. Thanks!
I'm so happy you enjoyed it, Stephenie!
I use a store-bought generic Italian seasoning but then I added a sprinkle of the everything Italian seasoning and it was very delicious!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Donna!
I have used this recipe twice and it works great every time!
I'm so glad to hear it, Tyanne!
Made it for the first time and I love it! Thickness of sauce was just right. The balsamic vinegar did help "mellow" the sauce and the sugar was a big help in the flavor!....Thanks Amy!
I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Richard!
It was pretty good but is there anyway to give it more flavor? possibly adding in white wine or less water?
Yes, you can add it wine and simmer it a few minutes longer. Or try adding red pepper flakes, fresh herbs, capers, olives, or anything you like!
Turned out really good. I added red pepper flakes and some Parmesan which tied it together in my opinion. Glad I saw this recipe saved me a trip to town ♥️
I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Red pepper flakes are one of my go-to add-ins too.
I had a 12 oz jar of tomato paste I bought on clearance for 69c. I doubled the recipe added alot of vegetables and it turned out great (about 2 c chopped onions, 2 c chopped green pepper, 8 oz can chopped button mushrooms and 4 oz can chopped olives.)
Those are fantastic additions, Paula!
This turned out surprisingly well!! Thank you for sharing the recipe! I needed some sauce for meatball sandwiches, and had some cans of tomato paste with zero knowledge of what to do with them. The family finished dinner with full tummies, and my 8 yr old actually asked for more! 🙂
That's fantastic to hear, Cheryl!
Thanks Amy! I had a can of paste, and all of the rest. What can you use if you run out of olive oil? I actually ran out of all oil. I doubt butter but it says Italian seasoning . What about Italian dressing?
Hi Raquel, you can saute in a little water if you don't have any olive oil. Enjoy!