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Homemade Meatless Spaghetti Sauce

When my tomatoes ripen, the first things I make are BLTs and this homemade spaghetti sauce. —Sondra Bergy, Lowell, Michigan
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. Cook: 3-1/4 hours
  • Makes
    2 quarts


  • 4 medium onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 12 cups chopped peeled fresh tomatoes
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1-1/4 teaspoons pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 cans (6 ounces each) tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • Hot cooked pasta
  • Minced fresh basil, optional


  • In a Dutch oven, saute onions in oil until tender. Add the tomatoes, garlic, bay leaves, salt, oregano, pepper and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomato paste and brown sugar; simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Discard bay leaves. Serve with pasta and basil, if desired.

Test Kitchen tips
  • Browned ground beef or Italian sausage can be added to the cooked sauce if desired.
  • The sauce also freezes well.
  • Nutrition Facts
    1/2 cup: 133 calories, 7g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 614mg sodium, 17g carbohydrate (12g sugars, 3g fiber), 2g protein.

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    Average Rating:
    • lbp60
      Jul 16, 2019

      I make this several times during tomato season and can it for use in the winter. This is the best spaghetti sauce recipe I have found.

    • Appy_Girl
      Oct 4, 2018

      A nice slow simmer reduces this recipe to a wonderful thick sauce. I love the addition of the brown sugar. It helps reduce the acid build up that can occur with these types of homemade sauces. I used fresh summer tomatoes. I too reduced the amount of salt due to dietary needs. TOH * VFEditor

    • knollbrookcook
      Oct 1, 2015

      I made this last week and we liked it. I cut the salt down to 1 tsp. because we are salt conscious and I didn't have fresh garlic so I used a couple tsp. of dried minced garlic from a jar. I ended up canning the sauce because my freezers are full and I got 6 and a half pints. I also pureed it before I put it in the jars. Looks wonderful. I definitely will make it again.

    • dcscake_OH
      Oct 15, 2014

      I make this every year with the tomatoes from my garden and have tomato sauce all year long. It is great.

    • Texascynt
      Sep 13, 2014

      This is way too sweet for our taste, fairly bland as well. Great use for garden tomatoes, but still searching for a secret ingredient that can give this some flavor and something to take away the sweetness. Very disappointed.

    • susanhavlicsek
      Sep 9, 2014

      Best sauce I ever made!!!

    • MichelleKTrapp
      Oct 3, 2013

      Excellent! I added fresh basil & doubled the garlic.

    • chooseanother
      Sep 15, 2013

      This sauce is sweeter than I like. Of course, next time I can reduce the sugar but does anyone have any idea what I can do for this completed batch to reduce the sweet taste?

    • cle6367
      Sep 8, 2013


    • kerrizims
      Aug 12, 2013

      This is a great sauce! I used two different types of garden fresh tomatoes and loved the flavors. I also cut the recipe into thirds and made a third of the recipe and it worked great-just reduce the cooking times by a third too!