How to Thicken Tomato Sauce Without Tomato Paste

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Things You'll Need

  • Tomato sauce of your choice

  • Saucepan

  • Metal spoon

  • Spices or seasonings (optional)

Properly thickened tomato sauce will stick to pasta.

Tomato sauce is best when it's thick enough to cling to pasta, meat and vegetables. Without the proper cooking technique, tomato sauce will not thicken, resulting in a watery, diluted sauce. Whether the sauce is store-bought or homemade, you don't have to add more tomato paste to balance it out. Instead, employ a method known as "reducing." To reduce a sauce means to cook it slowly over low heat, allowing the extra liquid to evaporate. The sauce will decrease in volume, but the flavors will be intensified and the texture just right.


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Step 1

Prepare tomato sauce as you would normally. You can use store-bought sauce, or make your own from scratch. Do not season too heavily, since the flavors will intensify as it the sauce thickens.

Step 2

Bring the tomato sauce to a boil in the saucepan, uncovered, over medium-high heat. Watch the sauce closely, monitoring the size of the bubbles that rise to the top.


Step 3

Reduce the heat to low when the bubbles in the sauce begin to enlarge.

Step 4

Continue to simmer the sauce for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on the amount of sauce and your desired level of thickness.


Step 5

Test the sauce's thickness by dipping a metal spoon into the pot. If the sauce sticks to the spoon, it is adequately thickened. If not, continue simmering and test again in a few minutes.