How to make canned tomato sauce taste homemade

Bored of canned tomato sauce? Try this three-ingredient quick-fix.

Canned tomatoes

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Pasta dishes are a staple of family weeknight dinners, and store-bought tomato sauces are often over-seasoned and tinny tasting. Yet, it’s what my children want and is often what we turn to when time is tight and fresh tomatoes are out of season. One of the quickest and simplest tricks I’ve learned as a result is how to improve the flavour of canned tomato sauce.

When tomatoes aren’t in season, canned tomatoes are a life-saver. Picked when perfectly ripe and processed quickly, they preserve the flavours of summer all year long. Adding these tomatoes to a canned tomato sauce balances the seasonings of the sauce with the freshness of the canned tomatoes with little effort. For best results, use a canned tomato sauce that is relatively plain and good quality canned tomatoes. (Tip: San Marzano seem to have the best flavour, but any will do.)

To combat canned tomato sauce fatigue, here’s my tomato sauce trick. It’s fast, simple and requires no chopping at all. Here’s what to do:

You’ll need:

  • 680ml can store-bought tomato sauce
  • 796ml can diced or whole canned tomatoes
  • fresh basil
  • orange or lemon rind, cut into a two-inch slice
  • stick or immersion blender


  • HEAT tomato sauce in a pot over medium heat. Add diced or whole canned tomatoes (with the liquid). Bring to a simmer.
  • PURÉE using a stick or immersion blender. Add five or six basil leaves and slice of orange or lemon rind. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  • REMOVE rind, and basil leaves if desired. Taste for seasoning, add in a pinch of salt or pepper if desired. Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Here are 8 more ways you can use canned tomatoes:

How to cook pasta: 10 tips and tricks
7 ways to make healthier pastas
How to make the best baked pasta


5 comments on “How to make canned tomato sauce taste homemade

  1. I thought we weren’t supposed to be using canned foods because the lining of the can contains BPA – “Cut back on cans. Reduce your use of canned foods since many cans are lined with BPA-containing resin” This is especially true, I understand, in acidic foods like tomatoes. Is there an update on this information? I haven’t bought canned tomatoes for a very long time and I certainly miss the convenience.


    • In response to, ‘Musing’….I know how you feel. That is why I buy my tomato sauce in glass jars. There’s a really good one I buy under the label of, ‘Simply Natural’….they have different types of tomato sauces and they are all 100% Organic ingredients. I find these sauces at my local Independent grocer. I have noticed one company are now using cans for their beans BPA Free!!!! The name of the company is called, ‘Eden Organic’….so far in all the companies I have seen using cans…they are the ONLY ones who are using BPA cans….(and so far it’s just for their beans, but still, that’s a step in the right direction!!!) People need to really know that they have options…..and although it may cost a little bit more….in the long run, they will be saving themselves from poisoning themselves and getting sick, and paying for it healthwise!!!! Wake up people,… the facts out there, People need to read all food labels, beware of what they are buying and putting in their bodies and their children’s bodies….The food industry along with the pharmaceutical industry are trying to harm you,…if you don’t inform yourself!!! People please check out the movie…’Forks Over Knives’ and also visit the website…’EWG’- Environmental Working Group….they list every year the ‘Dirty Dozen’ and the ‘Clean 15’….fruits and vegetables that are safe to eat and the ones that you should buy organically. It’s a great site for information for people to inform themselves. Happy Earth Day everyone!!!!


      • There are at least two brands of canned whole or diced tomatoes that are BPA free, both from Canada – Ontario Natural and VitaBio. You should be able to find these in any natural food store.


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  3. Curious to know why orange or lemon rind is added.


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