Pasta Pomodoro

When you’re in the mood for an authentic tasting but easy to make pasta dish, Pasta Pomodoro is the answer! A simple tomato sauce tossed with al dente spaghetti garnished with fresh basil and nutty parmesan cheese.

spaghetti on a black plate with fresh basil

Authentic Pasta Pomodoro Recipe

Pasta Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, so this pasta recipe is literally spaghetti in a simple tomato sauce. Pasta Pomodoro is typically garnished with fresh basil and parmesan cheese, but you can add more or less to it as desired.

This spaghetti recipe is intended to have a light tomato sauce, rather than a heavy all day long cooked, thick sauce like you might find in a Sunday Gravy. The flavors are simple but stunningly delicious and can be on the table in just about 30 minutes.

How To Make Pasta Pomodoro

  • Step 1: Sauté onions in a dutch oven or large pot in olive oil. Cook for 10 minutes over low heat until the onions are brown and caramelized. Stir in fresh garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Step 2: Puree whole San Marzano tomatoes in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour the pureed tomatoes into the pan with the cooked onions. Simmer the sauce for 25 minutes.
  • Step 3: Add butter, parmesan cheese and fresh basil to the sauce, stir and then remove from the heat. Remove 1 cup of sauce from the pot and set aside.
  • Step 4: While the sauce is simmering, cook 1 pound of spaghetti 2 minutes shy of the package directions. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and toss to combine the pasta with the sauce. Add more sauce if needed, or reserve the remaining cup of sauce to use when reheating leftover pasta.
  • Step 5: Garnish the spaghetti with more fresh basil and parmesan cheese.

What’s The Difference Between Pomodoro and Marinara?

Both sauces have similar ingredients, but pomodoro sauce is smoother than a marinara sauce which typically has chunks of tomatoes. Pomorodo sauce starts with whole San Marzano tomatoes which are blended or pureed until smooth.

Marinara sauce usually starts with tomato sauce and or crushed tomatoes, giving the sauces different textures and consistencies.

pasta pomodoro in a pot with fresh basil

Can You Use Fresh Tomatoes To Make Pomodoro Sauce?

If you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes, you can use fresh tomatoes instead of canned. You’ll have to remove the skin and seeds first before blending. Check out this post over on the Food Network for some tips on how to best remove the skins from fresh tomatoes.

Honestly, unless you really have a ton of tomatoes from your garden that you need to use, canned San Marzano tomatoes are going to make a delicious, authentic flavored sauce.

spaghetti on a black dish with forks on the side

What Sides Can I Serve With This Pasta Recipe?

When a spaghetti recipe is this easy to make, you’ve got some time leftover to get a few side dishes going. A simple loaf of Italian bread sliced with butter is always a favorite, but we have some great ideas if you feel like whipping something up!

spaghetti swirled on a fork

Can I Make This Pasta Recipe Ahead Of Time?

While most pasta dishes are best when made and served right away, this Pasta Pomodoro recipe can be made in advance and reheated. Yes, it’s better when it’s first made, but life doesn’t always allow for everyone to be at the dinner table at the same time.

We’ve accounted for this in our recipe here by reserving a cup of the pomodoro sauce before tossing the pasta. That way you can add a little more sauce to the spaghetti when you go to reheat it, as the pasta will absorb some of the sauce as it sits in the refrigerator.

Looking For More Pasta Recipes?

spaghetti on a black plate with fresh basil

Pasta Pomodoro

  • Author: Dan
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 6 Servings 1x

We love making this simple Pasta Pomodoro for dinner! Serve with garlic bread and a crisp salad for an authentic Italian meal!



  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Fresh back pepper to taste (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 228 ounce cans San Marzano whole tomatoes, pureed in a blender or food processor
  • 1 pound spaghetti (16 ounce package)
  • 2 tablespoons sliced fresh basil (plus more for garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (plus more for garnish)


  1. Add the olive oil to a large pan or dutch oven over low heat. Add the onions and cook while stirring for 10 minutes until the onions have caramelized and softened. Season with salt and black pepper to taste, if using, and then add the crushed red pepper flakes. Add the garlic and cook one minute longer.
  2. Pour the pureed tomatoes into the pan and stir. Simmer the sauce 30 minutes, uncovered, while stirring occasionally.
  3. While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti a minute or two shy of the recommended cooking time. Drain and set aside.
  4. Add basil, butter and parmesan cheese to the sauce, stir and remove from heat. Remove 1 cup of sauce form the pot and set aside.
  5. Add the cooked spaghetti to the pot with the sauce and toss until all the noodles are coated well. Garnish with more parmesan cheese and fresh basil. Add more sauce if needed, or save the reserved sauce for reheating leftover spaghetti.

Recipe Notes

Store: Store leftover pasta in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Reheat: Reheat leftover pasta in the microwave until warmed through.

Freeze: Pomodoro sauce can be frozen in an air tight container for up to 3 months.

  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: Italian / American

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