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Yellow Tomato Sauce (Marinara) in a pan
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5 from 2 votes

Yellow Tomato Sauce

This easy yellow tomato sauce is a classic Italian marinara sauce made with fresh yellow tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. It’s ready in 40 minutes and can be frozen for later!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time35 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Meal Prep
Cuisine: Italian
Diet: Gluten Free, Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 people (½ cup servings)
Calories: 168kcal


  • large heavy skillet (12-inch minimum)


  • 2 pounds fresh yellow slicing tomatoes
  • ¾ cup water
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1 sprig fresh basil, still on stem Or sub ¼ tsp dried oregano, plus more to taste
  • 1 ounce wine vinegar (white, red, or sherry), optional


  • Core the tomatoes. Optionally, remove the seeds (to help reduce the amount of liquid and the cook time).
    Roughly dice tomatoes and add to a large bowl with ¾ cup water. Set aside.
    Soak Tomatoes in Water
  • Add the oil and garlic to a large, shallow pan. (Use a 12" pan or larger, see recipe notes.)
    Heat the garlic over medium-low heat, until it begins to sizzle.
    Sizzle Garlic in Olive Oil
  • When the garlic is sizzling, but before it begins to toast, add the tomatoes and water. Some small pieces of garlic will likely begin to toast before you add the tomatoes, and that's okay.
    Increase the heat to medium.
    Add Tomatoes + Water to the Pan
  • Add the salt and chili flakes. Set the sprig of basil on top of the tomatoes, but do not submerge it.
    If you don't have access to fresh basil, sprinkle oregano in the tomato mixture instead.
    Add Salt, Chili Flakes, + Herbs
  • When the tomatoes begin to simmer, the basil will wilt. When it is completely wilted, gently push it down into the sauce.
    Gently Push Basil Into the Sauce
  • Simmer the tomatoes for 20-25 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated and the sauce has thickened.
    Taste the sauce, and if it's too sweet, add the vinegar to brighten the flavor. (Yellow tomatoes tend to be sweeter and less acidic than red.)
    Add more chili flakes or salt if desired. If you swapped oregano for basil, add more oregano if desired. Simmer 1-2 more minutes if you added more seasoning.
    Remove the sprig of basil from the sauce.
    Serve immediately along with fresh pasta or on pizza, or refrigerate and use within 4-6 days, or freeze and use within a year. 
    Simmer Until Thickened


Yields: ~2 cups marinara sauce.
Pan Size: Some readers have reported that their 12″ pans were too small for the volume of sauce. You may find a heavy Dutch oven works best for you, although I’ve always had success with my 12″ carbon steel pan.
Smoother Sauce:
If you want an extra-smooth marinara, you have two options.
1.  Peel the tomatoes first.  Use a knife to mark an X on each tomato, and then blanch them in boiling water until the tomato peel loosens (~15-30 seconds).  Peel, and then proceed with the recipe.  Crush tomatoes with your hands instead of dicing.
2. Blend the sauce.  After cooking, add the sauce to a blender or use an immersion blender to blend the peels into the sauce.
Varieties of tomatoes:
This recipe was written for yellow slicing tomatoes, but there are a wide variety of different yellow tomatoes.  The ones I used were moderately juicy.  If yours are exceptionally juicy, you may want to omit the added water (or add less water), depending on how juicy the tomatoes are.
If swapping red tomatoes, you can omit the vinegar, as these tomatoes are generally more acidic.


Calories: 168kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Sodium: 599mg | Potassium: 559mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1926IU | Vitamin C: 33mg | Calcium: 32mg | Iron: 1mg