Want slow-simmered taste in under 30 minutes? Tomato Cream Sauce delivers deep flavor thanks to a few creative kitchen hacks and pantry staples. This creamy tomato pasta sauce goes beyond classic to crave-worthy. It’s quick and kid-friendly pasta recipe, but luxurious enough to impress a crowd.
For many people, a quick pasta sauce means opening a jar. And I get it. The legend of slow-cooked Sunday Sauce has probably made more than one of you roll your eyes so hard you thought your neck would give out. Even a fresh tomato pasta sauce can be daunting, and a heavier Italian meat sauce isn’t always wanted (or needed!).
So today I’m here to prove that you really can have good homemade sauce without much fuss. What’s more, this quick and easy 30-minute meal proves that you can have great homemade sauce, fast.
Better Pasta Sauce at Home
There are a few cardinal rules you’ll need to follow to make sure this sauce is fit for your pasta and your palate. This recipe is shockingly simple to make, but the key is not compromising on the ingredients.
There’s a delicate balance between creamy and acidic and aromatic and herbaceous, so cross those proverbial streams with care. If fire roasted tomatoes aren’t already a pantry staple in your house, make them one. (You’ll use ‘em for more than just this recipe.) If you don’t keep a hunk of good butter on hand for favorite recipes, start doing it.
I promise that once you’ve made a quick tomato pasta sauce the right way, it will become a regular fixture on your dinner circuit. And as an added bonus, you will never have to worry about finding a use for all those pasta sauce jars you insisted on saving. (Yeah. We’ve all been there.)
Video: Creamy Tomato Pasta Recipe Video
Creamy Tomato Sauce Ingredients
Using just a handful of pantry staples, creamy pasta sauce recipe is ready in just 30 minutes. Because this sauce is so quick, you’ll need a few key ingredients to create a deep, flavorful sauce (a feat generally reserved for long, slow-simmered Italian red sauces) – butter, cream, and the right canned tomatoes.
- Alliums. Sweet onions and fresh garlic are the aromatic flavor base.
- Kosher Salt. A good dose of salt brings out the flavor of canned tomatoes – don’t skimp, but do check to see if your canned tomatoes already contain salt and adjust as necessary (see the recipe card).
- Herbs. Dried herbs (basil, parsley, oregano) add depth, while fresh basil keeps the sauce bright.
- Butter. A few chunks of good quality butter (like Kerrygold) make this creamy tomato sauce so rich, plus the fat tamps down the acidity in the tomatoes.
- Heavy Creamy. A splash of heavy cream at the end – not too much – rounds out the butter and of course gives this tomato cream sauce it’s name.
- Fire Roasted Canned Tomatoes. And of course, tomatoes. But not just any tomatoes – because this is a quick sauce that mimics a long, slow-cooked red sauce, using the right tomatoes will give the best flavor. Fire-roasted whole canned tomatoes are the best choice.
What are Fire Roasted Tomatoes?
Fire roasted tomatoes are just that – tomatoes charred over an open fire. This process both cooks the tomatoes and caramelizes their natural sugars, creating a sweet and smoky flavor full of depth that regular canned tomatoes can’t touch. Their flavor pairs particularly well with cream and butter, resulting in a quick creamy tomato pasta sauce that’s so rich and complex you’ll swear it was cooked for hours.
Tools You’ll Need
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- Dutch Oven: because tomatoes are acidic, you’ll want to use non-reactive cookware. Enameled dutch ovens are always a great choice. A stainless steel stockpot is also ideal, but watch the temperature to ensure your onions don’t scald.
- Immersion Blender: for blending the cooked sauce into a smooth, creamy finish. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you have two choices: (1) keep the sauce on the chunkier side (I’ve done this, and while the flavor is still outstanding, my kids don’t like the consistency) or (2) transfer the sauce to a blender and puree in batches.
For a condensed post, click to view the web story for this easy dinner recipe!
How to Make Tomato Cream Sauce for Pasta
Tomato Cream Sauce is so good you’ll immediately want more, so we’ve got you covered. The portion size makes a double batch – one for tonight, and one for whenever. Cook once and eat twice for the win!
Pro Tip: serve over short ridged pasta like rigatoni or penne to “catch” more of this simple, but decadent sauce.
- SAUTE. Heat olive oil until shimmering and saute onions until translucent (not browned). Then, add garlic and saute until fragrant.
- ADD TOMATOES. Add tomatoes and dried seasonings. Mix, then place the butter on top.
- SIMMER. Simmer 20 minutes, or until the color deepens and the butter has melted into the sauce.
- FINISH. Turn off the heat and add the cream.
- PUREE. Puree the sauce until smooth using an immersion blender, or transferring to a stand blender.
- SERVE. Toss the tomato cream sauce with your favorite short, ridged pasta. Garnish with fresh shaved parmesan and fresh basil.
- Use fire-roasted tomatoes for superior depth and flavor.
- Season generously with salt to bring out the flavor of the tomatoes.
- Don’t use too much cream! Use just enough to enhance the flavor of the tomatoes and create a creamy consistency, but not so much that the cream overpowers the sauce.
- Choose the right pasta shape for creamy tomato pasta – a short, ridged pasta will grab onto the thick tomato cream sauce better than a smooth pasta shape.
- Garnish generously with fresh basil for layered flavor.
Storing and Freezing
- STORE. Keep leftovers in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- FREEZE. The recipe makes a double-batch. Freeze half in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Pro-tip: reserve a cup or so of pasta water and use a splash (1-2 tablespoons) to help reconstitute the sauce when reheating!
More of Our Favorite Pasta Sauce Recipes
- Whole30 Marinara Sauce
- Creamy Pesto Sauce
- Italian Sunday Sauce
- Fresh Tomato Sauce
- Creamy Pasta Sauce (White Sauce)
Did you make this Weeknight Tomato Cream Sauce? I’d love to know how it turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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30-Minute Tomato Cream SaucePrint Recipe Rate this Recipe Pin Recipe
- 1 lb short, ridged pasta
- 1 tbsp sea or kosher salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 28-oz cans fire roasted whole tomatoes
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp dried basil
- ½ tsp dried parsley
- pinch oregano
- 5 tbsp butter, use good butter, like Kerrygold
- ⅓ cup heavy cream
- ¼ cup fresh basil, torn or julienned
- Cook the pasta according to package directions; cook in heavily salted water (at least 1 tbsp). Strain and set aside.
- Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and sautee until translucent – do not brown – about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and sautee, stirring continuously, until fragrant (about a minute).
- Add the tomatoes with their juices, salt, dried basil, parsley, and oregano. Give everything a good stir, then place the butter on top.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Adjust the heat to low or medium low to maintain a consistent simmer with slow, large bubbles. Cover and simmer at least 20 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally and when you do so, use the back of a wooden spoon to gently crush the tomatoes.
- Turn off the heat, then add the cream. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt or cream if needed.
- Toss half the sauce with one pound cooked pasta. Portion onto plates or into pasta bowls and garnish with fresh basil.
- Freeze the remaining half of the pasta sauce in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 months.
- Check your canned tomatoes for salt content – if salt has been added, cut the salt amount in half to start. You can always add more at the end if more salt is needed.
- Choose the right pasta shape – a short, ridged pasta like rigatoni or penne will grab onto the thick sauce better than a smooth pasta shape.
Very easy, quick, and very tasty. I couldn’t get fire-roasted tomatoes at the grocery store, so I used whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes instead. I’m looking forward to making it again when I can get the fire-roasted tomatoes. For three of us, we had enough for two dinners that week and another container in the freezer for later.
Thank you Sheri! I’m always a big fan of recipes that last and last.
Kelly | Pjs and Paint
Mmm this looks so delicious! Definitely pinning to remind myself to make it soon! (Your photography is gorgeous by the way!)
Thank you so much Kelly! I hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂
2 cans of tomatos seems like a lot, is that correct?
Yes. It’s enough to make 2 batches – one to enjoy immediately, one to freeze. You can also cut the recipe in half.
Can I make this sauce ahead and reheat it?
Yup! It lasts about 4 days in the fridge, or in the freezer (it won’t separate) in an airtight container for several months.
I made this today and I LOVE LOVE LOVE the sauce. I live in Europe and I couldn’t find roasted tomatoes in the can so I grilled fresh ones in the oven with garlic and stored them in a jar in the fridge until I was ready to make the recipe. I love the fact that you can keep some of the sauce in the fridge for other days to repeat the dish. Yay!
I love a tomato cream sauce! And it looks like such a great recipe, however fire roasted tomatoes are not available by me. Can you substitute it with just regular canned tomatoes?
Yes, absolutely! I find that fire roasted tomatoes are less acidic, so if you’re sensitive to acid, try adding either 1/2 tsp baking soda or 1-2 tsp brown sugar. And if not, regular tomatoes work just fine 🙂
Thanks so much. We made it yesterday and loved it!