Best Tomatoes for Sauce

Tomato Sauce
Tomato Sauce. Westend61/Getty Images

You can make tomato sauce out of any type of tomato, but if you want really good sauce, go with a paste tomato. They tend to have a firmer, meatier texture than other varieties, and they usually have fewer seeds and less water content, too. That'll mean less prep work and cook time for you, plus more sauce for your money. You just don't end up with much sauce when you start with a pile of juicy tomatoes.

So, which tomatoes should you grow or buy, if you plan to make your own tomato sauce? Here are my recommendations:

Tomatoes That Make Good Sauce

Amish Paste
Big Mama
Jersey Devil
Jersey Giant
Opalka
Polish Linguisa
San Marzano
Roma
Viva Italia

If you'll be growing your own tomatoes, it's easy to order seeds for any of these. But, if you'll be buying your tomatoes, your choices are bound to be more limited. Buy directly from a farmer or stop by a farmer's market for the best selection. Locally-grown tomatoes are bound to be riper than anything you can get at the grocery store.

Most of the tomatoes on this list are determinate varieties, meaning all of the tomatoes tend to ripen at once. That's ideal for sauce making, and deal making. Stop by a farmer's market at the end of the day, and you're likely to find farmers ready to negotiate -- especially if you're looking to buy a lot.

Stove-Top Tomato Sauce

New to sauce making?

Here's a step-by-step picture tutorial to take you through the process of making tomato sauce on the stove.

Hands-Off Sauce Making

Like the idea of making your own tomato sauce, but not excited about all the work? Then, make your tomato sauce in the crockpot. After years of making my sauce on the stove, I developed a crockpot tomato sauce recipe that requires no coring, seeding or peeling.

It's now my go-to sauce recipe. I love how easy it is, and that I don't have to stand over a hot stove in the middle of summer.

I tend to freeze my tomato sauce in freezer jars, but you can also can your sauce, if you prefer. Just know that you'll need to add lemon juice to your sauce to increase the acidity. Modern tomatoes aren't as acidic as they used to be. Review the National Center for Home Food Preservation's canning guidelines for all the ins and outs of safe tomato sauce canning.

Too Little Time or Too Many Tomatoes?

Freeze your tomatoes until you have more time to deal with them. Some canners (farmers especially) are in the habit of freezing their garden harvest, so they can wait to process it in the winter, when life slows down a bit, and a warm kitchen is a actually welcome thing. Here are my ridiculously simple tomato-freezing instructions. 

And if you're just plain overwhelmed with tomatoes and wondering what to do with them all, check out these ideas: