How To Thicken Tomato Sauce: Jack’s Quick And Simple Guide To Authentic Italian Tomato Flavoring

Does your tomato sauce often turn too watery? Check out my tips and tricks on how to thicken tomato sauce trouble-free!

While you all are familiar with the fact that I’m a cooking aficionado, what you probably don’t know about me is that I have Italian ancestry - my grandmother is half-Italian!

She is from the northern part of Italy, a charming little town Bassano del Grappa in the Venetian region where I used to go and enjoy Italian cuisine as a kid.

Needless to say, we enjoyed all varieties of pasta dishes, but what truly brings back my childhood memories is the aromatic smell of homemade tomato sauce.

Each time I made tomato sauce, I followed my grandmother’s recipe, but I have to admit that the first couple of times I had trouble achieving the desired consistency, so I learned five useful ways to thicken the tomato sauce which have proved to be excellent!

If you have similar problems, stay tuned and learn how to thicken tomato sauce effortlessly!

Nutritional Benefits of Homemade Tomato Sauce

Of course, I always try to keep my diet healthy, so I want to introduce you to the benefits of homemade tomato sauce.

First and foremost, it is rich in vitamins A, C, K, and minerals, as well as an efficient antioxidant, which is good for your cardiovascular health - heart rate, blood pressure and circulation. It also reduces cholesterol and enhances your digestive system.

As for the calories, it has approximately 40 calories in ½ of a cup (100g), which keeps it perfectly well-balanced for your daily intake.

The reason why I mentioned all these nutrition facts is that at least half of the vitamins, minerals and beneficial effects are lost when you buy a canned tomato sauce from a store - so follow my recipe or, if you have your own, jump to the section on how to thicken tomato sauce!

Before proceeding, you might want to check out the best pasta makers if you want to make homemade pasta and pair it with this delicious tomato sauce!


Recipe for My Granny’s Homemade Sauce

1. Ingredients

Here is what you will need for homemade tomato sauce, straight from Bassano del Grappa:

As you can see, most of these ingredients you already have in your kitchen or you can easily obtain from the nearest supermarket - they seem quite simple, but will turn into a wonderful flavoring for your home cooked dishes!

If you are a fan of spices, feel free to experiment with them somewhere between steps 4 and 5 - here I’ll be presenting the original, authentic Italian recipe that my family adores.

2. Instructions

Here is the procedure you should follow:

  1. Prepare all the ingredients - dice onions, carrots and garlic cloves and chop tomatoes. If you want to do it quicker and easier, you can use a vegetable chopper.
  2. Heat olive oil (around 4 tbsp.) in a skillet on medium heat.
  3. The first thing you will add to heated oil is diced onions - this will be the essence for the delicate taste of your sauce. Spread onions evenly and sauté for around 15 minutes so that they release their tender juice.
  4. Next, you will add a few drops of olive oil again, then garlic to enhance the taste and, in the end, carrots to refresh it. It is essential to add these ingredients after onions because they require less time to cook and release their taste. Sauté for 5 to 10 minutes so that all the flavors come together.
  5. It’s time for today’s protagonist, tomatoes! Add chopped tomatoes and around 2 tbsp of salt to the mixture. Now comes the crucial part of the procedure - slowly bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes while stirring.
  6. Depending on your preference, serve this delicious tomato sauce immediately with your favorite pasta or another dish, or let it chill and then store in a jar in your fridge for later use.

Now, this has maybe just once happened to me, but if you see that your sauce is thicker than you wish, just add a little bit of water while cooking!

The opposite, however, is something I dealt with more frequently - tomato sauce not being thick enough. After trying out many tips and tricks, I opted for five best ways to thicken tomato sauce, each with its little special touch.

5 Best Ways To Thicken Tomato Sauce

1. Spice It Up!

This solution works best for spice and herb enthusiasts, and my family loves when I add enhancements to the flavor in the form of various spices.

I usually add two teaspoons of spices, and what I use most often is:

  • Thyme
  • Oregano
  • Basil
  • Parsley

What you will add is highly subjective - you can add whatever spices or herbs you may like. For example, if you want to experiment and add a Mexican note to your dish, you can use ground red pepper or chili.

Note, however, that this solution will not thicken your sauce significantly, but it will be around ¼ thicker than previously. If you need a lot of thickness, you may opt for solution number 2:

2. Use Cornstarch

I’ll be honest with you, I learned this trick from the internet, just like you right now. What I want to emphasize is that I did, however, add my personal touch to it and changed a few things!

At first, I was skeptical it would affect the taste of my sauce or that it might ruin its original authentic flavor, but I can assure you that this one is the best one if you need a lot of boost in terms of consistency of your sauce.

In order not to get lumps, you can’t add cornstarch directly to the sauce, but you have to make the cornstarch mixture first:

  1. Mix a tablespoon of cornstarch and cold water in a bowl; make sure to stir until it has a consistency of a paste.
  2. Heat your sauce.
  3. Add the mixture into the sauce.
  4. Bring to a boil and simmer on low heat until you get the desired thickness.

As you can see, this procedure is quite simple to follow, and is sure to save the day if your sauce turned out to be watery!

3. Cook Pasta In It

Now, this trick cannot be found anywhere on the internet - it comes right from Bassano del Grappa as well as my recipe!

This is the advice my grandmother gave me when I had trouble thickening tomato sauce (apart from the usual “Ah, Jack, you messed up again”)

- “You don’t need to add anything, just cook your pasta in the sauce and the ingredients will absorb the excess water and add their own juices to thicken the sauce.”.

I second this.

I’ll leave it up to you to choose which pasta you will cook in the sauce to thicken it, but I wholeheartedly suggest Barbara’s delicious pasta!

4. Cheese It Up!

By adding cheese to your tomato sauce, you will change the taste to a small degree, but it is a wonderful enhancer to tomato flavor!

Simply grate the cheese into your sauce to thicken it and then stir it up. If you want, you can heat the tomato sauce up while adding cheese so that it has the perfect string-melted texture!

What kind of cheese should you use?

I suggest Parmesan and Romano cheese if you are a fan of authentic Italian taste, or Mozzarella and Ricotta cheese if you are more inclined to our way of eating pasta.

5. Reduce The Sauce

Use this method if you don’t want to add any additional ingredients into your sauce; for instance, if you’re planning on storing it and using later.

As the name suggests and you probably already figured out, this method will not only thicken your tomato sauce but also reduce it.

If you don’t mind that, then bring your sauce to a boil and then simmer it until you reach the desired consistency. This method works because the watery part of your sauce evaporates, and therefore it thickens.

To do it more quickly, cover the sauce, but don’t forget to uncover it occasionally and stir - otherwise, it will burn!

Further Reading: 

Conclusion

I hope my article helped you learn how to thicken your tomato sauce and that you will be using it in many of your delicious dishes, as well as bring the smell and taste of the mesmerizing aroma straight from the Venetian Region!

Again, which path you will follow is up to you - if you prefer strong flavors you will opt for spices or cheese, and if you want to thicken your tomato sauce without altering its taste, you will add cornstarch, cook pasta in it or reduce it!

Before you go, check out this Barbara’s recipe in which you can apply your newly acquired knowledge about thickening tomato sauce: chicken patties in tomato sauce!

Jack Davidson
 

Jack went from part-time freelance tech assistant to a food blogger and all-things-tech guy for Barb and Catherine. He loves his dog and treats her like his own child. On the other hand, working on Kitchen Byte has awaken his love for food.

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