Make your own roasted cherry tomato sauce in no time with just a few simple ingredients! Fresh cherry tomatoes are roasted in the oven until they caramelize and turn jammy, creating a sauce bursting with flavor.
Along with garlic, red onion, olive oil, and thyme, this recipe gives a delightful twist to the classic tomato sauce. You'll love it so much that you'll want to prepare it all summer long!
For me, simple ingredients don’t need to be fussed over too much. Roasting cherry tomatoes with some fresh herbs, garlic, onion, good olive oil and seasonings is as simple as it gets. The results are truly outstanding. Also a great way to use up my tomato harvests!
If you’re a tomato lover (or tomato grower) like I am, I know you’ll appreciate my popular 10 Things to do with Cherry Tomatoes blog post. It links to my favorite recipes on my blog, all of which feature and celebrate tomatoes!
A Note on Seasonality
Even though you can make this recipe year-round, I encourage you to make it during the summer months when fresh cherry tomatoes are at their peak (tomato season). This recipe is especially delicious with homegrown garden tomatoes. If you don't grow your own tomatoes, find locally grown ones at a farmer’s market or grocery store near you.
You only need a few ingredients, most of which are pantry and fridge staples.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Cherry Tomatoes: This recipe is based on cherry tomatoes so you would definitely want to use a small-fruited variety (cocktail and grape tomatoes work well too). If you only have larger tomatoes or plum tomatoes, check out my Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe instead.
- Thyme: I love using woody a woody herb like thyme but honestly the choice is yours here. Use what you have on hand (rosemary, oregano and sage are classics) or what’s growing in your garden. I am not a fan of using dry herbs in this recipe, but you can do that in a pinch (Italian seasoning can be used).
- Onions: I like the added flavor and depth onions give. You can use shallots or leeks or omit them altogether.
- Garlic: When roasted, garlic is no longer pungent and astringent. It becomes warm, rich and silky smooth. So even if you’re not a fan of fresh garlic, I suggest you try this recipe with a clove or two. I wouldn’t use dry garlic in this recipe personally.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Like many simple recipes with few ingredients, I like to use the best quality produce and pantry staples I can find. This would be the time to use that expensive olive oil you got for your birthday!
- Fresh Basil: I prefer adding my fresh basil later on, when the sauce is simmering. If the basil is added at the roasting stage, it will burn. If you don’t have basil, you can use a bit of parsley instead.
Fun additions: Feel free to add chili or red bell pepper, chili flakes, or balsamic vinegar when baking the tomatoes. You can add a parmesan cheese rind when simmering the sauce for added flavor.
How to Make Oven-Roasted Tomato Sauce
In many ways, this recipe is more of a method than an actual recipe. The quantities, timings and ingredients are very forgiving and I encourage you to use this method and create your own signature flavor profile.
1. Prepare. Preheat your oven. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper and place your cherry tomatoes in a single layer along with the garlic cloves, sliced onions and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast. Roast uncovered until bubbly and the cherry tomatoes have shrunk slightly. A little caramelization is expected.
3. Blend. Remove the tray from the oven and let it cool slightly. Discard the thyme. Transfer the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, onions and all the juice to a saucepan and blend using an immersion blender. You can also use a regular blender.
4. Simmer. Add the basil leaves and simmer on low to medium heat for 15-20 minutes. Simmer longer if the sauce is too thin. Remove or keep the basil leaves (your choice) and serve.
See the next section for serving ideas.
How to Serve and Use Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
This delicious sauce that can be enjoyed in any way a tomato sauce can, or in any recipe that calls for tomato sauce. Here are some ideas:
- Toss it with your favorite noodles or gnocchi for an easy pasta weeknight meal
- Thicken it (cook it longer) and use it as a pizza sauce
- Add cream to it and now you have a creamy sauce (Rosé)
- Use it in stews, chilis or soups (try using it in my Beer Braised Short Ribs or my Short Rib Ragu)
- Dilute it with stock and make a roasted tomato soup
Make Ahead, Storage and Freezing
This is a great make-ahead and simple recipe. You can prepare it up to 3 days before you want to serve it. The sauce will just need to be warmed up before serving. Store the finished recipe in an airtight container with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
You can also freeze the sauce in airtight containers, deli containers or freezer bags. Use within 6 months. My book covers various preservation techniques so if you’re interested in learning more about long-term storage of fruits and vegetables, check it out.
- Low Waste. Use fresh tomatoes whenever possible, but this is also a great recipe to make when you have some cherry tomatoes in the fridge that are perhaps past their prime.
- Low and slow. You can also opt to make slow-roasted cherry tomatoes. Drop the temperature to 300F and roast for longer. You can play with the roasting process as you wish, just make sure not to burn your cherry tomatoes.
- Skip the parchment. Parchment paper is there is help with clean up but it can be wasteful. Skip it and use a non-reactive baking sheet alone. You might want to spray the sheet with a little oil.
- Use non-reactive pans, utensils and storage containers as the acids in the tomatoes may interact with metallic kitchen equipment.
- Make a big batch. When my tomato plants are pumping out lbs of fruit, I like to make a big batch of this sauce to freeze for winter.
- Use a blender, a food processor or an immersion blender. Use whatever you have and whatever works for you.
Absolutely. Roasting cherry tomatoes concentrates their flavor. You can roast low and slow or high and fast.
You can freeze the sauce in airtight containers, deli containers or freezer bags and use within 6 months.
Other Cherry Tomato Recipes You’ll Love
If you make this roasted cherry tomato sauce recipe or any other appetizers and salads on Urban Farm and Kitchen, please take a moment to rate the recipe and leave a comment below. It’s such a help to others who want to try the recipe. For more Urban Farm and Kitchen, follow along on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, visit the Urban Farm Shop, or subscribe for new posts via email.
Roasted Cherry Tomato Sauce
- 2 pints Cherry tomatoes
- 1 Red onion - Peeled and cut into large wedges
- 4 Garlic cloves - Peeled
- 5-10 Thyme sprigs
- ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 3-4 Basil sprigs
- Prepare. Preheat your oven to 400F/200C. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and place your cherry tomatoes in a single layer along with the garlic cloves, sliced onions and thyme. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast. Roast uncovered until bubbly and the cherry tomatoes have burst and shrunk slightly, about 35-45 minutes. A little caramelization is expected.
- Blend. Remove the tray from the oven and let it cool slightly - about 10 minutes. Discard the thyme sprigs. Transfer the oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves, onions and all the juice to a saucepan and blend using an immersion blender, until you reach your desired consistency. You can also use a regular blender. Pro-Tip: Wear an apron, as the sauce can splatter!
- Simmer. Add the basil leaves and simmer on low to medium heat for 10-20 minutes. Simmer longer if the sauce is too thin, or simmer less if you want to keep it on the runny side. Remove or keep the basil leaves (your choice) and serve.