Quick Pasta Pomodoro

Quick Pasta Pomodoro

If you love classic Italian pasta dishes as much as we do, you are going to love Pasta Pomodoro.  

Fresh, simple ingredients are at the heart of authentic Italian cuisine and this Pomodoro Pasta recipe is the perfect example. Fun fact: this spaghetti pomodoro recipe is a signature dish of Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, in Sorrento, Italy. Truly iconic! When the ingredient list is small, each one of those ingredients must pull their weight. This is why we recommend using the freshest, top-quality ingredients for this pasta recipe—from our Italian extra virgin olive oil to authentic Italian pasta. It will make all the difference!

This classic pomodoro sauce is a super simple from-scratch tomato sauce that is ready in just 40 minutes. Whether you serve it alone with crusty garlic bread or as a side to Parmesan-style entrées, this is one recipe that will come in handy again and again.

Pasta pomodoro sauce served with spaghetti

Shop DeLallo Pomodoro Fresco Tomato Sauces:

What Is Pomodoro Sauce?

Pomodoro sauce is a traditional Italian tomato sauce. It is made simply with just a few fresh and flavorful ingredients: fresh cherry tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic and basil leaves. This timeless pasta dish is named after its featured ingredient: pomodoro, which means “tomato” in Italian. While it seems like a very basic pasta sauce, it is very versatile and makes an appearance in a number of dishes, like classic Parmesan-style entrèes to simple summer pasta dinners. Our Pomodoro Pasta recipe cooks up in just 40 minutes.

Pasta pomodoro served with spaghetti and breadsticks

Why You’ll Love This Pasta Pomodoro Recipe

Pomodoro Pasta is a super simple, authentic Italian tomato sauce that we know you’re going to love. Made with just a handful of quality ingredients, this pasta dish captures the heart of true Italian cuisine. It’s the perfect pasta sauce for that abundance of summertime tomatoes from the garden. Not only is it an incredible sauce all on its own—loaded with vibrant, fresh tomato flavor—this sauce is the foundation of a number of recipes that call for a classic tomato sauce. Believe it or not, you can create a from-scratch Italian pasta recipe with 5 ingredients in just 40 minutes total. What’s not to love?

The Ingredients You Will Need To Make Pasta Pomodoro

There are few ingredients that go into making this simple, authentic Italian sauce.

Pasta: For this dish, we choose a long cut—the ever-popular Spaghetti. If you want to branch out, you can choose nearly any long cut of pasta like Capellini, Fettuccine or Tagliatelle. Whatever cut you choose, be sure to cook it for that perfect al dente bite. Mushy noodles won’t stand a chance in this pasta recipe.

Olive Oil: With only a couple of ingredients, every one of them counts! The foundation of a great Italian or Mediterranean meal begins with an exceptional Extra Virgin Olive Oil that owns its fresh, raw olive flavor (from cold pressing the fruit into oil).

Tomatoes: While there are many types of tomatoes you can use for a classic pomodoro sauce, we love the sweetness of cherry tomatoes. If fresh tomatoes aren’t in season, we recommend our DeLallo Tomato Passata or Whole-Peeled San Marzano Tomatoes.

Herbs: This tomato sauce is super simple in the aromatics department—only fresh garlic and fresh basil leaves. If cooked well, garlic will not overpower this tomato sauce. It’s important to allow the tomatoes to shine. The basil leaves are julienned to unlock their fragrant sweetness and added at the end of cooktime.

Ingredients for pasta pomodoro

How To Make Pasta Pomodoro

1. Cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to package instructions (for that perfect al dente texture). Reserve 2 cups of hot pasta cooking water before draining the pasta.

Hand stirring a pot of boiling pasta on a stove top

2. Flavor the oil.

Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic and once it begins to brown and become fragrant, remove and discard the cloves.

Olive oil and garlic cooking in pan

3. Add the tomatoes.

Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan, season to taste. Cook on high heat for about 10 minutes, until the sauce becomes nearly creamy in texture. Add the basil at the end of cook time.

Cherry tomatoes added to pan
Salt and pepper added to tomatoes
Sauce has started to thicken as it has cooked.
Basil added to sauce.

4. Bring it together.

Add the hot pasta to the pan. Stir to coat. Turn the heat to a low simmer and cook together for 2 more minutes to marry flavors. Add some of the starchy pasta cooking water, a little at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.

Spaghetti added to sauce.
Pasta water added to thin the sauce and help it stick to the pasta.

5. Serve.

Serve the pasta with a finishing drizzle of olive oil.

Completed dish. stirred to combine
Completed pasta pomodoro

Top Tips

Leftover Pomodoro Pasta can be stored in an air-tight container and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. The sauce itself (without the pasta) can be frozen for up to 3 months. That said, this pasta is best made and enjoyed right away.

Reheat the Pomodoro Pasta in a pot on the stovetop. Cook over low heat until just hot. Add a splash of water, if necessary to keep it from drying out.

Substitutions And Additions

Use fresh garden or heirloom tomatoes in place of cherry tomatoes.

No fresh tomatoes? Use whole-peeled Italian tomatoes like Roma or San Marzano.

Spice it up with crushed red pepper flakes.

Finish the dish with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese.

What To Serve With Pasta Pomodoro

Pasta Pomodoro is a simple pasta dish that can be served on its own as a lighter pasta dish or alongside entrées like breaded, fried Parmesan-style veal, chicken or eggplant.

Pasta Pomodoro: FAQ

What Does Pomodoro Mean In Italian?

The word pomodoro means “tomato” in Italian, referring to the heart of this simple classic pasta sauce. Pomodoro sauce is made with fresh tomatoes, ideally, but can also be made with whole peeled tomatoes like the famous Italian San Marzano tomato. The flavor of the tomato is what shines in this sauce—all the other ingredients are subtle complements.

Is Pomodoro Sauce Spicy?

No, pomodoro sauce is not spicy by definition. It is simply a tomato sauce made with fresh tomatoes or peeled tomatoes in a can, along with extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil and garlic. If you like a spicier sauce, you can easily add crushed red pepper flakes to kick up the heat of this sauce.

What Does Pomodoro Taste Like?

Pomodoro sauce has a vibrant, fresh tomato flavor with a subtle sweetness. The fresh basil leaves and garlic add a complexity and aroma to the tomato sauce. Its flavor is balanced and light—not the heavy, rich tomato-y presence of thick, slow-simmered sauces. Because it is so light and fresh-flavored, pomodoro sauce is super versatile and can be used in many creations—from pasta to braised beef to Chicken Parmesan.

Is Pomodoro Sauce Vegetarian?

Yes, pomodoro sauce is made simply with tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and fresh herbs. Pomodoro sauce contains no meat, making it a great vegetarian pasta sauce and perfect for Meatless Monday meals.

Is Pomodoro Sauce Vegan?

Yes, pomodoro sauce is made with just tomatoes, olive oil and fresh herbs. There is no meat, cheese or heavy cream involved in this simple tomato-centric pasta sauce. Pomodoro pasta sauce is a simple and delicious vegan pasta sauce paired up with al dente spaghetti, angel hair or fettuccine pasta.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Marinara - What Is The Difference?

The biggest difference between pomodoro and marinara sauces is in the texture of the two. Pomodoro is a smooth, blended tomato sauce, while the marinara sauce is a bit richer with more texture—rustic, one might call it. By definition, pomodoro sauce is simple with just a few herbs and spices. On the other hand, marinara is typically more aromatic with more ingredients like onions and garlic.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Bolognese - What Is The Difference?

Pomodoro sauce is a simple tomato-based sauce made with just a few ingredients, while bolognese sauce is a classic slow-simmered meat sauce of Bologna, Italy. While both include tomatoes, Bolognese sauce is much richer, heartier and much more complex to create.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Arrabiata - What Is The Difference?

Pomodoro sauce is a simple tomato sauce made with a few fresh, high quality ingredients: cherry or San Marzano tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. Arrabbiata is an “angry” Southern Italian sauce known for its super fiery flavor due to the addition of Italian chili peppers. While both of these sauces are tomato-based, pomodoro sauce is not spicy. You can always add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes to your pomodoro sauce to give it a little more of a kick.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Tomato Sauce - What Is The Difference?

Pomodoro sauce is a light tomato sauce made with just a few ingredients. The flavor is bright and a tad tangy. Pomodoro is a type of tomato sauce, but if we are speaking of the cans of tomato sauce, these are very different. Canned tomato sauce is a more cooked down sauce with a thicker texture and a richer flavor.

Pomodoro Sauce vs Vodka Sauce - What Is The Difference?

Pomodoro sauce is a simple tomato-based pasta sauce made with just fresh tomato, olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. Vodka sauce is a creamy tomato sauce. Because of the color of the sauce (the combination of tomatoes and heavy cream), it is sometimes known as “pink sauce.” Vodka sauce is made with just a splash of vodka, which helps bring out an enhanced tomato flavor. Pomodoro sauce does not include Parmesan cheese or heavy cream.

Can I Make This Dish Ahead Of Time?

The pomodoro sauce can be made ahead of time by a day or two, but make the pasta when it’s time to enjoy the dish. Reheat the sauce slowly in a pot on the stovetop. Add a splash of water to keep the sauce from drying out.

Quick pasta pomodoro

Quick Pasta Pomodoro



  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente (see package instructions for details). Drain, reserving 2 cups of hot pasta water.
  2. Heat oil over high heat in a large sauté pan. Add cloves of garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant and begins to color. Remove from oil and discard.
  3. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the pan and cook for 10 minutes at a very high heat. This heat will encourage the tomatoes to release their water and create a creamy consistency. Add the julienned basil when cooking is nearly complete. Turn to a low simmer.
  4. Transfer the hot cooked spaghetti and pasta water to the tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  5. Divide pasta among 4 plates and finish with a drizzle of oil. Or serve family style.
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