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Tomato Sauce Recipe

A homemade tomato sauce that tastes like the sauce you remember from childhood.
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tomato sauce recipe

This Tomato Sauce recipe will take you back to a time when the internet, Uber and Insta didn’t exist – but tomato sauce tasted a whole lot better.

Remember what tomato sauce used to taste like?

You will once you cook up a batch of this!

Enjoy your homemade tomato sauce slathered on a meat pie, serve it with hot chips or store it away for your next sausage sizzle.

tomato sauce recipe

An old-fashioned Tomato Sauce recipe

I’m a long-time tomato sauce fanatic.

As a child, I had it with EVERYTHING. I refused to eat many things without it.

I remember Mum having to go to our neighbour’s house one night to borrow a bottle of sauce because we’d run out and I had a meltdown.

I’ve never quite got tired of tomato sauce and still enjoy it, especially with hot chips or on a sausage sandwich.

One of my kids has inherited my tomato-sauce-loving gene, too.

And I always make sure we have a spare bottle of tomato sauce in the pantry.

So I was quite keen to test out this homemade tomato sauce recipe. With a haul of lovely locally-grown tomatoes from my local farmer’s markets, it seemed the perfect time to cook up a batch of Nana Ling‘s tomato sauce.

tomato sauce ingredients

Cooking up this Australian Tomato Sauce Recipe

Making this tomato sauce is quite simple once you’ve sourced some lovely, ripe tomatoes and checked to make sure you have all the spices on hand.

The other ingredients, vinegar and sugar, you probably already keep in your pantry.

Chop the tomatoes roughly and place into a large saucepan. Then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil.

The sauce takes around 2–3 hours of simmering to reduce. Keep a check on it and watch the how-to video to see the consistency of the mixture you’re aiming for.

Given the variability of the tomatoes, it’s difficult to give a precise cooking time. 

Then you just need to run the mixture through a sieve, pressing down with a spoon, to extract the beautifully rich and tasty tomato sauce.

Bottle it straight away in a sterilised bottle or jar and store in the pantry or fridge. 

The Tomato Sauce time machine

I hadn’t realised how much tomato sauce had changed over the years until I sampled Nana Ling’s tomato sauce recipe. A recipe she’d jotted down in her beautiful handwriting back in 1941.

One tiny taste and I was immediately transported back to my family’s dinner table in the 1980s.

I could see our old dinner table covered with a seersucker tablecloth. I could also see Mum’s hanging pot plant stand in the corner of the dining room (which fell down on the dinner table one night and saved me from eating a meal I wasn’t particularly enjoying). And on the table was a glass bottle filled with deep red tomato sauce.

These days, tomato sauce seems brighter and thinner.

And it may be in a super convenient squeeze pack now, but the taste just isn’t quite the same. It doesn’t pack a tomato punch the way the good old-fashioned tomato sauce did.

If you want tomato sauce that’s thick, full of tomato flavour and can even take you back in time, keep scrolling for Nana Ling’s Tomato Sauce Recipe.

You can also find other wonderful condiments and conserves from the Cooking with Nana Ling collection here (and if you still have heaps of tomatoes, I recommend this wonderful old-fashioned Tomato Relish Recipe).

tomato sauce pin image

How to store Tomato Sauce

“Where do you store tomato sauce?”

It’s a controversial question, indeed!

I store my sauce in the fridge once it’s opened. Others store it in the cupboard. Which way is the right way?

Well, even the experts at Australia’s Choice can’t agree. 

They say that tomato sauce is high enough in sugar and salt to be shelf stable, even after opening. However, bacteria is more of a risk in a warmer environment.

Some are willing to take the risk, saying cold sauce is a crime and impacts the flavour.

So, there seems to be no right and wrong.

If you’re risk-averse and don’t mind cold sauce, continue to store it in the fridge.

If you’re a tomato sauce aficionado who insists on enjoying it at it’s room-temperature best, go ahead.

What do you store your sauce in?

Go for an airtight glass container to maximise it’s shelf life.

Once you’ve opened it, you can pour it from there or transfer it to a squeeze bottle – yes, the ones we had in the 80s are still around today if you look hard enough.

tomato sauce squeeze bottle
glass sauce bottles

Nana Ling’s Tomato Sauce recipe

Keep scrolling for the tested and tweaked version.

tomato sauce recipe by Nana Ling
tomato sauce recipe

Tomato Sauce Recipe

A homemade tomato sauce that tastes like the sauce you remember from childhood.
4.73 from 92 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Australian
Keyword: ketchup, tomato sauce
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Servings: 20 portions
Calories: 23kcal


  • 1 1/2 kilos tomatoes roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar
  • 1 clove garlic sliced thinly
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated (or 1/4 teaspoon ground dried ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole cloves (or 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves)
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice (ground)
  • 3 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper


  • Place all ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring.
  • Simmer for 2-3 hours, covered and stirring from time to time.
  • Watch the video above in the post to see the consistency of the tomato sauce once cooked. If the sauce hasn't achieved the desired consistency, continue to simmer uncovered until it reaches the preferred consistency.
  • Strain half of the mixture through a coarse sieve into a bowl, and then the other half. Use a spoon to push sauce through the sieve and extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids.
  • Pour hot mixture into a medium-sized sterilised bottle and seal.
  • Store in a cool and dark place. Once opened, store in the fridge.



Makes 400–500 ml. Double, triple or increase quantities in recipe to make a larger batch of sauce.


Calories: 23kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 1g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 12mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 9IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 1mg
Recipe Rating

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Monday 5th of September 2022

Can I blitz the sauce instead of passing thru a sieve? Will the texture be the same?

Libby Hakim

Sunday 11th of September 2022

Hi Hannah. Yes, a few people have commented that they've done this with great results. I haven't tried it myself yet but will once tomatoes are in season again here. Thanks. Libby


Wednesday 27th of July 2022

just wanted to thank you for this. my family loved it! only thing i did just looking off the comments was cook the last 45 mins with the lid off and i blended everything instead of the sieve. it even thicken up more when it cooled which was perfect. what an aroma while it cooked as well!

Libby Hakim

Wednesday 27th of July 2022

Wonderful - you're welcome! I might add those ideas to the main post as well given there have been so many comments on this. Thanks for the feedback and rating, John :)

Keith Roser

Thursday 28th of April 2022

Absolutely the best sauce. Easy to make with cupboard ingredients and fresh, ripe tomatoes. I thought it was a bit watery so used a light cornflour slurry to thicken. Didn't affect the flavour and didn't waste any of the sauce through evaporation. I will do this again next season.

Libby Hakim

Thursday 28th of April 2022

Wonderful - thanks for taking the time to review Nana Ling's tomato sauce recipe, Keith! Happy cooking :)


Wednesday 30th of March 2022

Love this recipe, made a batch today and making another tomorrow. Only change I made was to not strain it, I just blitzed it all together and made a thicker sauce! Thanks for sharing :)

Libby Hakim

Thursday 31st of March 2022

Thanks for the lovely feedback and review, Kimberley. Enjoy your homemade tomato sauce!

Kelly Brooks

Monday 14th of March 2022

Hi there. I’ve always been a big relish fan but thought I’d put some homegrown tomatoes to use as tomatoe sauce for a change. Tried your recipe and loved it. It does as others say have a bit of kick, what ingredient gives the kick? I thought it might be the cayenne but such a small amount surely wouldn’t do it. If I could decrease the kick just a little it will be perfect

Libby Hakim

Tuesday 15th of March 2022

Hi Kelly. Thanks for taking the time to leave a rating and review :) I reckon decrease the quantities of both the ginger and peppercorns a little to soften that kick. Happy cooking!

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