Whether you have a surplus of fresh tomatoes from your garden or you are just looking to make your own spaghetti sauce this homemade spaghetti sauce recipe is sure to be a hit with the whole family.
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Freezer Spaghetti Sauce
I love to can garden tomatoes and other food that we have grown but I also find that using my freezer is a great way to preserve food. In fact, using the freezer may be the easiest way to preserve food. I love this recipe for ripe tomatoes because it is so versatile. I have used it for all kinds of pasta dishes, for spaghetti of course, and even as a pizza sauce for my homemade pizza. Honestly, it is so delicious just by itself with some garlic bread to dip into. I don’t want to overstate things here but this really is the best spaghetti sauce. Yum!
I have written this recipe using 28 ounce cans of crushed tomatoes because I’ve found that that is a lot more accessible. You can use tomatoes you’ve grown or purchased from the grocery store or farmer’s market. You can also use cans of crushed tomatoes like I have demonstrated here. It is totally based on personal preference.
Keep in mind. There are approximately 10-12 whole tomatoes in one 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. So if you are using fresh tomatoes you will need approximately 20-24 tomatoes for this recipe.
What is the best container to freeze spaghetti sauce?
Because this is a freezer spaghetti sauce recipe you will also want to be sure that you have some freezer bags (I like ziploc bags) or another type of airtight container. You can freeze in glass jars but if you are not familiar with how to safely freeze in glass then I would recommend sticking with freezer-safe containers for your first time. After you get more comfortable with making freezer meals you could learn about how to safely freeze in glass containers.
These are great containers for freezing spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, or any other simple meal that you want to add to your freezer.
Ingredients For Homemade Pasta Sauce
Before starting any recipe it is a good idea to gather up all of your ingredients and the tools that you will need. This recipe is written for the Instant Pot or Crock Pot. There are a few different variations of the Instant Pot available. This is the one that I have and I found another one that is a bit cheaper.
- olive oil
- yellow onion
- garlic cloves
- tomato paste
- crushed or chopped tomatoes
- dried oregano
- fresh basil
- fresh parsley
- red pepper flakes
- salt and black pepper to taste
Making The Best Homemade Sauce
The first step to this great sauce is to dice your onion and mince your garlic. You can do this by hand or using a food processor. I will typically chop everything up myself but if I am making a particularly huge batch then I prefer to use the food processor and save myself some time. The food processor also comes in handy to avoid sobbing into your onions. Supposedly, if you let the onions soak for a little bit in a bowl of cold water they will not make you cry but I am skeptical.
Once you have prepared the onions and garlic it is time to saute them. If you are using your Instant Pot then you can use the saute function that is built in and save yourself from dirtying up another dish. If you have chosen to use a large slow cooker then you will saute in a pan over medium-low heat. Regardless of which method you choose you want the onions and garlic to soften up and become fragrant. This will take about four minutes.
The last thing that takes any amount of real effort is going to be preparing your fresh herbs. I like to use fresh basil and fresh parsley but you can also substitute dried herbs in place of fresh. You can find the measurements for both fresh and dried options in the original recipe below. If you do not have basil, parsley, and oregano on hand you could also substitute italian seasoning. I prefer to have more control over how much seasoning goes into the marinara sauce but I definitely respect using what you have on hand.
Best Spaghetti Sauce Recipe
Next, you are going to add the remaining ingredients altogether into your Instant Pot or Crock Pot. If you are using cans of crushed tomatoes then there are a few things you want to pay attention to.
One of the biggest benefits to making your own sauce is that you have complete control over the ingredients. When you are using fresh tomatoes there is nothing to worry about but with canned tomatoes you are letting go of some of that control. This is not necessarily a bad thing you just want to be aware of what additional ingredients are in the canned tomatoes you use.
The biggest offender is sodium. My goodness you would not believe the levels of sodium that some canned tomato products contain. When I was deciding which option would be best for our family I saw one brand of canned tomatoes that had 290mg of sodium. The cans I ultimately ended up purchasing only had 90mg each. That is quite a big difference.
Once you have added the rest of the ingredients into the Instant Pot or Slow Cooker it is time to start the cooking process. If you are using an Instant Pot then you will cook your homemade tomato sauce on high for ten minutes. If you are opting for slow cooker spaghetti sauce then you will cook the sauce on low for nine to eleven hours or on high for five to seven hours. Most slow cookers that you can purchase have a timer function that makes this so handy but even if you do not have a timer on the slow cooker it is still very simple.
Another option you have is to cook the sauce on your stove top. I would bring the sauce to a slow simmer, lower the heat and cover, and then follow the slow cooker directions. Definitely if you are using your stove top do not leave the sauce unattended for too long. You will want to keep an eye on it to make sure that nothing burns.
Does spaghetti sauce freeze well?
Yes! This recipe is perfect for freezer spaghetti sauce.
This delicious sauce will last in your freezer for up to six months. The best way to get the most time out of your sauce is to be sure and remove as much air as possible from the plastic bags or other containers that you are using for storing the sauce in the freezer. Air is the biggest cause of freezer burn so do your very best to get rid of it.
One of the best ways to make sure you are getting the air out and avoiding freezer burn is by making sure to let your sauce cool before you store it in the freezer. Sauce that is still hot or even warm will be releasing steam and condensation. Allowing the sauce to cool before you seal up the container and transfer to the freezer will help you to get the longest life from your sauce.
This is true about any foods that you are freezing. With all of your freezer meals make sure to let them cool completely before you freeze them.
Can you freeze spaghetti meat sauce?
Yes! It does not matter if you are using ground beef, chicken, or turkey. You do not need to stick to ground meat though. You can have sauce with large chunks of a meat like italian sausage and it will still be great for the freezer.
This recipe does not specifically include meat because I prefer the flexibility of plain tomato sauce but if you want to add meat it will still be a very great recipe. Just follow the same directions of letting the sauce cool, removing the air, and using a quality freezer storage container and your meat sauce will perform with the same quality in the freezer.
Something to keep in mind regardless of it you add meat to your sauce is the portion sizes you are freezing. Be sure that you freeze your sauce in portion sizes that you will use all at once. For example, you cannot easily retrieve a few cups of sauce from a container that has an entire gallon of frozen sauce. You would need to defrost the entire thing. Best food safety practices is to never refreeze something you have defrosted. Therefore, the best way to keep things simple and not risk wasting food is to think about the portion sizes when you are preparing your food for the freezer.
How do you use freezer spaghetti sauce?
You can use freezer spaghetti sauce in any of the same ways that you would use a store bought spaghetti or marinara sauce.
When you are ready to use the sauce remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw in the fridge. If you did decide to add meat to your sauce then you will want to be sure you use the refrigerator to thaw your sauce. If you did not add meat then you could choose to add the frozen sauce directly to a pot on the stove and defrost it more quickly that way. Be careful not to let your sauce burn if you are defrosting on the stove top.
The frozen sauce will make lots of easy meals. Add your sauce to any al dente pasta. Top with some grated parmesan cheese and voila. Dinner.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced (approx 1/2 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 (28 ounce) cans of crushed tomatoes
- Water, fill both 28 ounce cans with water after pouring tomatoes into the Instant Pot
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried basil)
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried parsley)
- red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- Set Instant Pot to "Saute". Pour oil into the pot, add onion and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes, continuously stirring, until onion and garlic are softened and fragrant.
- Press "Cancel" to turn off the saute mode
- Stir in the remaining ingredients
- Cook at high pressure for 10 minutes
- Quick release pressure
- Adjust seasoning as needed
For Slow Cooker:
1. In a skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic. Cook for about 4 minutes, continuously stirring, until onion and garlic are softened and fragrant.
2. Transfer onion mixture to slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients. Stir together.
3. Cook on Low for 9-11 hours or High for 5-7 hours
4. Adjust seasoning as needed
Let cooked sauce cool completely and transfer to a freezer safe container.
Label your container and store sauce in the freezer for 3-6 months.