My Version of Alton Brown’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

Last Updated on January 12, 2023 by Anne-Marie

An easier and tastier version of Alton Brown's tomato sauce recipe. Double this homemade tomato sauce recipe and freeze half.

A bowl of Alton Brown's tomato sauce with wooden spoon and tomatoes.

Why this recipe works

When I came up with my version of Alton Brown’s Tomato Sauce recipe, it was because I was overwhelmed by all the tomatoes that were growing in our garden.

I knew there was no way I could use all those tomatoes in a salad.

This recipe is also for anyone who is a fan of Alton Brown’s spaghetti sauce from his TV show.

So if you’re looking for an easy tomato sauce recipe made from tomatoes in your garden.

Or that you couldn’t resist buying at your farmer's market or supermarket, this is the easy homemade pasta sauce recipe for you!

I hope you enjoy my version of Alton Brown’s homemade tomato sauce recipe.

Why use this recipe for Alton Brown’s Tomato Sauce?

When you have an abundance of tomatoes, making homemade tomato sauce recipes is the most logical idea.

Yet until I saw Alton Brown's Good Eats Tomato Sauce episode, I never came across a tomato sauce recipe I liked, especially one that was this easy and tasty.

Usually, tomato sauce recipes have you slow roasting or baking the tomatoes for a full day. And you have to use a huge amount of tomatoes just to get a pot of sauce.

My feeling is that other recipes have you cook the tomatoes too long, which is why you have to use so many of them. Instead, Alton has you bake the tomatoes for only 2 hours.

How many tomatoes should you use in this recipe for tomato sauce?

I've had several readers ask me what does 20 tomatoes mean? Well, Alton Brown  used Roma tomatoes on his episode.

I looked up Roma tomato conversions. Each Roma tomato is about 3 ounces or 1/3 a cup. So for 20 Roma tomatoes, it would be 6 cups or 3 3/4 pounds.

I don't think you'd mess up too much if you used 4 pounds or even 4 1/2 pounds of tomatoes.

You can always taste the tomato sauce and add a little more of this or that to taste.

Here's another terrific tomato conversions table to use when cooking tomato sauce or other tomato based recipes.

How to puree the tomatoes for tomato sauce

To puree the tomatoes and to get rid of the skins, Alton Brown uses a food mill in his tomato sauce recipe.

Since I don’t own a food mill and don’t mind the skins staying in the tomato sauce, I blended the tomatoes in my food processor.

However, if you want super silky homemade sauce, use one of the best food mills, the highly recommended OXO food mill.

A bowl of freshly made tomato sauce, a wooden spoon, and tomatoes on the vine.

Tips for making my version of Alton Brown's tomato sauce

Here are more tips for making the best tomato sauce from my version of Alton’s Brown’s terrific recipe.

Can I freeze the tomato sauce?

I’ve made my version Alton Brown's recipe for easy spaghetti sauce ideal for doubling.

I use half right away and then freeze the rest of the pasta sauce for later to use in Slow Cooker Baked ZitiBest Instant Pot Meatballs Recipe, or 7 Can Taco Soup.

I freeze my spaghetti sauce in Glad Freezerware storage containers. Make sure to label and date your homemade tomato sauce.

You can also put your sauce in freezer Ziploc bags. (Make sure to zip them up tight!) Then stack them in the freezer for easy storage.

What kind of tomatoes should I use?

Alton uses Roma tomatoes, but you can use any tomatoes you wish from your garden in this recipe.

After all, the point is to use up the tomatoes you have on hand, right?

Can I make this a spicier tomato sauce?

If you wish, add some hot sauce to your tomato sauce while cooking.

My husband and son love adding hot sauce when they make spaghetti sauce from scratch.

I don’t. I’m just not into zesty pasta sauce. So I have them add it to their individual bowls after they serve themselves.

But if your whole family loves spicy spaghetti sauce, you can add a pinch or two of pepper flakes, which will do the trick.

This spicier tomato sauce pairs well as a dipping sauce with this Easy Fried Air Fryer Ravioli Recipe.

Can I make this a meat tomato sauce?

For you meat eaters, I like adding some Homemade Italian Sausage and a teaspoon or two of minced garlic to this recipe to turn it into a tasty meat sauce.

A bowl of freshly made tomato sauce and tomatoes.

What to do with your green tomatoes?

If you have a lot of green tomatoes left in your garden, learn how to make green tomato ketchup.

Or you can make Ham & Pimento Cheese Sandwich with green tomatoes.

I also put my green tomatoes on trays and put them where the sun will hit them indoors. This will help ripen a few of them slowly.

I also like dicing up my green tomatoes and adding them to curries and stews.

Some people also like using green tomatoes in salsa, which is perfect for serving with Mexican food like carne asada and slow cooker pulled pork.


My Version of Alton Brown’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

A bowl of freshly made tomato sauce, a wooden spoon, and tomatoes on the vine.

An even easier and tastier version of Alton Brown's tomato sauce recipe! Double this homemade tomato sauce recipe and freeze half.

Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours 30 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes


  • 20 (3 3/4 pounds) homegrown tomatoes, halved and seeded
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup red wine


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In two 13x9-inch cookie sheets, place tomato halves cut side up. Sprinkle the tomatoes with oil, salt and pepper, onion, garlic, and herbs.
  3. Bake tomatoes for 2 hours. Check the tomatoes after 1 hour and turn down the heat if they seem to be cooking too quickly. Then turn the oven to 400 degrees and bake another 30 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and process tomatoes through a food mill on medium dye setting over a saucepan. If you don't have a food mill, you can puree the tomatoes in a blender or food processor then add them to the saucepan.
  5. Add the red wine to the tomatoes, then bring sauce to a boil. Quickly reduce heat to low and cook for 5 minutes.

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Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:

1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 103Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

Nutritional information is automatically calculated per the ingredients list. Serving size may not be accurate. Please double-check with your preferred nutritional app for the most accurate information.

Originally published on November 2, 2004 and June 3, 2016. Updated with new pictures and information.

16 thoughts on “My Version of Alton Brown’s Tomato Sauce Recipe

  1. Kathy

    Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I roast the tomatoes and freeze them in food saver vacuum bags whole. When I am ready to use, I can choose to use them whole or puréed. And add wine or not. (I don’t add liquid if I’m using it for homemade pizza). I hope to get a dozen bags from this year’s crop! Also, I find that the skins are really easy to remove when they have cooled a bit.

  2. Diane Mitchell

    For me, recipes that say 20 tomatoes instead of providing pounds or cups are useless when you grow a variety of tomatoes. I would have liked to use this recipe for canning purpose, but I have over 20 pounds of tomatoes (of various sizes) and not sure how to convert .

    1. Diane Mitchell

      Just looked up a conversion for tomatoes: 4 romas = 1 pound. So maybe this recipe uses about 5 pounds of tomatoes. Ummm?

    2. Natalie

      Alton Brown calls for 20 Roma tomatoes. Maybe that helps? I agree, I would love to know the volume since the tomatoes I have are like cherry tomatoes.

    1. Anne-Marie Nichols Post author

      You could try cooking wine, which is wine with a lot of salt (then leave out the salt). So practically the same thing.
      Or leave out the wine and add a couple of tablespoons of sugar or honey to sweeten it up a bit and cut the acidity. It will be different but maybe just as tasty.

  3. Teri

    This is a great recipe. I added vegetable base, 1 teaspoon, roasted garlic base, 1 tsp, and dried red pepper flakes for some heat. Best sauce ever. Thanks

  4. Mary

    Thanks for posting this recipe. I saw him make this on the show and I have been wanting to try it too. We have SO many tomatoes. We have been through: gazpacho, salsa, bruschetta. Now it is time to sauce!!

  5. UrbanPossum

    FYI, Roma tomatoes are also known as “plum” tomatoes. They’re sorta the size and shape of large grade A eggs.


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