No-Cook Tomato Sauce

July  2, 2018
15 Ratings
Photo by Bobbi Lin
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Makes 1 1/2 cups
Author Notes

Inspired by Marcella Hazan’s buttery tomato sauce, this minimalist no-cook take comes together in the blink of an eye. Just buzz up cherry tomatoes with soft butter and salt. That’s it.

Don’t skip the deseeding step. This ensures that the sauce doesn’t end up watery or separated. On that note, once you start the food processor, it will seem like the ingredients will never become one. Just be patient. Soon enough, they’ll turn into rosy-hued fluff. You can use right away or store in the fridge for later on. (And don’t resist making a double batch.)

When you add this tomato butter to hot pasta, it becomes weak in the knees, melting into a glossy sauce. Any noodle shape works, from twirly spaghetti or fettuccine to chunky rigatoni or penne. While I often prefer whole-wheat pasta, in this case, the nuttiness could distract from the pure tomato flavor.

After you try pasta, why stop there? Stir into warm rice (or quinoa or couscous or kasha). Spread onto toast and top with soft scrambled eggs. Use as the springboard for sautéed anything, from zucchini to corn to—wait for it—more tomatoes. Or plop onto grilled chicken, fish, steak, you name it. The possibilities are endless.

This is one of our Big Little Recipes, our weekly column all about dishes with big flavor and little ingredient lists. Do you know (and love) a recipe that’s low in ask, high in reward? Let us know in the comments.Emma Laperruque

Test Kitchen Notes

This is one of our Big Little Recipes. Read more here: A No-Cook, 2-Ingredient Spin on the Best Tomato Sauce Ever. —The Editors

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
No-Cook Tomato Sauce
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 8 ounces)
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed, soft
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. Prep the cherry tomatoes. Cut each one in half. Now squeeze out the pulp—either by pinching the tomato or scooping with your fingertip. Discard the pulp and collect the deseeded halves in a 1-cup measuring cup—it should be full by the time you’re done.
  2. Add the prepared tomatoes to a food processor. Blend until smooth. Add the butter and salt. Pulse, scraping down as needed, until cohesive and rosy in color. Use immediately or store in the fridge.

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Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

42 Reviews

Mking September 24, 2020
Already reviewed and love this. Question- can I freeze jars of this tomato butter?
Mking September 10, 2020
Loved it!!
Served over penne with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
Beth September 8, 2020
Made it and used some with macaroni for dinner. Also sauted some onion and browned some frozen meatballs and added them. It was good, but we like our macaroni saucier, so I don't think I'll use it that way again. But I spread some on bread and toasted it under the grill then added sliced tomatoes and cheese and that was delicious. I'm freezing the rest for another use. As Jacqueline said, we didn't notice the skins in the finished product.
CayeSkid September 3, 2020
Made this tonight for dinner. OMG!! It was amazing. Thank you!
Beth September 2, 2020
The skin on my chocolate/cherry tomatoes is kind of chewy and I usually spit it out. Should I try to skin the tomatoes first in hot water? If not, I would think the finished product would be full of little pieces of skin that don't get chopped up well. Let me know. Thanks
Jacqueline September 2, 2020
I almost never skin tomatoes for anything. I find that once processed, the pieces of tomato skin are so small that you don't notice them. Plus, even the short amount of time that they're in the hot water will cook them a bit, changing the character of the sauce somewhat.
Dana September 8, 2020
If you use a vitamix it fully pulverizes the skins and seeds. I never skin or deseed tomatoes for any sauce anymore when I use it.
Susanna September 1, 2020
So is the skin the main part of the tomato in this and, if so, could you save the skins from a big batch of full-size tomatoes that are being used for a different recipe, and just use those?

And if you do need to use the cherry tomatoes, what to do with the leftover seeds and juice? I could never discard any of a ripe summer tomato. Maybe you could strain through cheesecloth and use the tomato water as a savory cocktail base?
Martha September 2, 2020
I e used the leftover juice as a meat tenderizer. The tomato acid works wonders. Some of the most delicious grilled beef was the result.

Viola! No waste 😊
Lynda W. September 2, 2020
No need to throw out the juicy seedy tomato liquid. Save this slushy yummy stuff and throw it into soup or your next batch of cooked tomato sauce, or try dehydrating. My juicy summer tomatoes always leave a plate full of juice after slicing or dicing them for salad. I cannot bear to throw it away, so I put it in a jar in the fridge or freezer and add to it. Today's juice will go into tomorrow's Brunswick stew; another time, it would go into chicken-gumbo soup or something else.
Mking September 10, 2020
I used the pulp and seeds in my marinara sauce I made at the same time.
Valerie B. September 1, 2020
I agree with you Maureen, I like the pulp, seeds and all. I say use it all, don't want to waste a drop of tomato gold:)
Maria May 7, 2020
hello! Just wanted to shout out to my vegan friends out there that this *can* be made animal-agriculture free! I made it the other day with whipped Earth Balance, and it's delicious. Tastes like summer! Very fresh and full of tomato flavor.
Mary E. September 1, 2020
Thanks for that tip! I was skeptical.
Maria May 7, 2020
hello! Just wanted to shout out to my vegan friends out there that this *can* be made animal-agriculture free! I made it the other day with whipped Earth Balance, and it's delicious. Tastes like summer! Very fresh and full of tomato flavor.
Maria May 7, 2020
hello! Just wanted to shout out to my vegan friends out there that this *can* be made animal-agriculture free! I made it the other day with whipped Earth Balance, and it's delicious. Tastes like summer! Very fresh and full of tomato flavor.
Jane July 6, 2019
I've made this several times and it is delicious. So easy, too. I've passed it on to many friends who love it also.
Emma L. July 8, 2019
Thanks, Jane!
Jacqueline June 23, 2019
Not a fan of cherry tomatoes, so I'm wondering how this would work with regular tomatoes (and I have a garden full of ripening ones right now)
Emma L. June 24, 2019
They're probably juicier/waterier than cherry tomatoes, so you might have to adjust the amount of butter...but worth a try if you have a garden full of them! If you give it a whirl, please let me know how it goes.
Shabri F. July 14, 2018
Can I use canned whole tomato?
Emma L. July 15, 2018
Hi! I wouldn't recommend that substitution here. While you may be able to make a similar compote butter with canned whole tomatoes and butter, because the water content is so different, the tomato to butter ratio could be very different as well.
Maureen July 12, 2018
I'm confused. I thought the pulp of the tomato was the flesh and that it was left behind when you squeeze out the seeds. But you imply the skins are all that's left. Help?
Emma L. July 13, 2018
Hi Maureen! The pulp is the juicy, seedy part of the tomato. The 0:24 mark of the video above shows this step of the recipe. Hope that helps!
Lynda W. September 2, 2020
Hmmm. Even after squeezing out the seedy and watery part, there is a layer of tomato flesh along with the skin; some kinds of tomatoes will leave a thin fleshy layer and some will leave a more substantial amount. Not to put too fine a point on it, but that is what I would call the pulp. As a fifty-year hobbyist tomato grower of many, many varieties I am afraid I cannot see it another way.
Babette's S. July 12, 2018
I added onion and/or garlic salt. I've also added fresh or dried herbs, like basil, thyme, parsley, oregano. I've also tried adding some diced sauteed onion when processing the butter & tomatoes in homage to M. Hazan. All terrific & great to have on hand, not just for pasta but toasted crusty peasant bread or baguette, rice etc.
Emma L. July 13, 2018
Oo love the idea of adding sautéed onion!
Natalie W. July 9, 2018
This was delicious! I stirred this into a pot of bowtie pasta with a grated clove of garlic, a small handful of chopped salt cured black olives and some torn fresh basil and oregano. Finished it with a bit of grated parmesan. I will definitely make this again!
Emma L. July 9, 2018
That combo sounds sooo good!
Natalie W. July 9, 2018
This morning I used the butter as a base for avocado toast. Yum! I am trying to think of ways on how to use up all that butter. Tempted to use it on BLTs tonight.
Emma L. July 9, 2018
If you listen very, very closely, you can hear the BLTs cheering!
Kristen July 8, 2018
I'd love to hear a little more about how to use the prepared sauce! Boil noodles, and then add [how much?] sauce, stirring in some of the hot noodle water, maybe?
Emma L. July 8, 2018
Hi Kristen! Yes, I like to boil the pasta in salty water, then use a slotted spoon or tongs (depending on the shape) to transfer the pasta to a waiting bowl with the tomato butter. As I mentioned to Theresa below, about 1/2 cup tomato butter per 1 pound pasta is a good bet, but that's totally personal. Toss and add more tomato butter or pasta water to taste. Hope that helps!
Gina O. July 6, 2018
Sounds delicious. How long will the sauce keep in the fridge?
Emma L. July 8, 2018
It should be good for several days—but may spoil quicker than other compote butters because of the juicy tomatoes.
Eri G. February 11, 2020
That's a problem I have with such recipes that say, "Store in the fridge for pasta emergencies" and the like. It implies that you can keep such things in the fridge at least for weeks/months when the reality is that they are much more delicate and won't last much longer than it takes to make them. It sounds to me as though there isn't any point in making them "ahead" because they don't last at all. BOO! This is borderline false advertising in my book. It certainly won't keep me from trying it, though. It sounds amazing. :)
Bobbie V. September 1, 2020
Can it be frozen?
Theresa July 6, 2018
How much pasta do you use?
Emma L. July 8, 2018
Hi Theresa! Figure about 1/2 cup tomato butter per 1 pound of pasta. That said, this is the sort of recipe I always eyeball, adding bit by bit to taste. (There's no such thing as an over-buttered noodle, right?)
Theresa July 12, 2018
Thank you so much!
Misty212 July 4, 2018
Would a hand blender work too? I don't have a processor.
Emma L. July 5, 2018
It might! I haven't tested that method with this recipe, so I can't say for sure. If you try, let me know!