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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, check out my Tomato Recipes collection).

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.
4.75 from 109 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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Sunday 29th of January 2023

Hi, how long can it be kept in the fridge once opened

Libby Hakim

Sunday 29th of January 2023

Hi Sandra. Mine keeps for months, but I avoid offering guidance as it depends on so many factors. Enjoy!


Saturday 28th of January 2023

I loved it yes it has a kick but that’s what I too remember from childhood….I added an onion as I recalled my mum doing before I read the comments below. Thank you for sharing

Libby Hakim

Saturday 28th of January 2023

Wonderful! Thanks for leaving a review and rating, Zoe :)


Tuesday 24th of January 2023

It's the third season that I've made this recipe. The family can't get enough of it! The only change I make is to add extra garlic.


Monday 23rd of January 2023

Wow, this sauce is amazing! I read through the reviews before making this sauce and felt confident it was the recipe to try. I made it in my Thermomix - 3 hours, 105c, on Spoon/ Stir, 3 x 1 hour intervals, with the steamer on top to stop the splatters. It worked to perfection! I will definitely be making this one again! Thanks for sharing

Libby Hakim

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Awesome, thanks for the great feedback and rating Tammy! I've never used a Thermomix so it's great to know you can make it in one of those, too. Happy cooking! Libby x

Marcia Miller

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Made this recipe 4 times over last 5 months. Easy to follow and beautiful taste. Yes, a bit runny and have a batch on now and leaving to simmer without lid on for longer in the hope it thickens. Yes, I keep even unopened in the fridge

Libby Hakim

Sunday 15th of January 2023

Hi Marcia. Wonderful! I made up a batch last week, too. Love it! Yes, I might add some extra tips around simmer time as it just depends on so many factors. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment and rating. Happy cooking!

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