Pasta al Pomodoro Recipe: A Classic Italian Pasta Recipe

Author: Veruska Anconitano, Award-Winning Food Travel Journalist, Sommelier & Outdoor LoverAuthor information
About the author
Veruska Anconitano
Veruska is a a food travel journalist with awards to her credit, such as World Best Food Travel Journalist. She holds a certification as a sommelier and she is also an ardent lover of the outdoors. Aside from this, Veruska is a Multilingual SEO and Localization Consultant and co-owns multiple websites that cater to a global audience.
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This pasta al Pomodoro recipe will make you want to quit everything and travel to Italy: it’s such an easy and traditional recipe you won’t find it hard to prepare. The only conditio sine qua non this recipe will be amazing? The use of traditional Italian ingredients and good and locally sourced ingredients.

In fact, every time I hear someone saying that pasta pomodoro is easy to prepare at home, I agree: there’s no simplest Italian recipe, aside from slicing some bread and fill it with cheese.

The main problem with this pasta is that since it’s so easy to make, many people miss the main point of this traditional pasta pomodoro recipe: the ingredients have to be amazing. You can’t save on ingredients or go cheap. This pasta pomodoro requires you to buy the best tomatoes you can find, the best olive oil, and the best pasta ever.

If you see closely, you immediately realize why: this pasta pomodoro only requires 4 ingredients and doesn’t require any extra sauce, cheese, meat, so it’s really up to the main ingredients to be able to amaze.

Pasta pomodoro is a simple pasta dish with a simple tomato sauce and fresh basil: no onion, no meat, no vegetables. It’s basic cooking, basic Italian cooking that requires the use of the freshest ingredients possible.

How do you make pasta pomodoro

All the above just for this recap. The key ingredients in Pasta Pomodoro are:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Pasta
  • Tomatoes
  • Basil

Very simple ingredients, that make this pasta recipe a dinner lifesaver.

You can add some chili flakes to give your pasta a bit of a kick, but this is absolutely not necessary. Parmesan cheese is optional.

Ingredients for 4 people

  • 300 grams of pasta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Basil
  • 800 grams of peeled tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • Salt


  1. Start with the preparation of the tomato sauce. In a pan, pour the extra virgin olive oil together with the peeled clove of garlic cut in half. After 2 minutes of cooking over high heat, remove the garlic, add the peeled tomatoes, and season with salt;
  2. Cover with a lid and cook for at least 1 hour over very low heat: stir occasionally. Once cooked, puree the tomatoes in a food processor or blender to obtain a smooth and homogeneous sauce;
  3. Transfer the tomato sauce to the pan again, turn on the very low heat again and add the basil leaves. After a few minutes, you can turn off the heat, cover the sauce with a lid and keep it warm;
  4. Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water, then drain it al dente directly in the sauce and keep heating at a lower flame for a few seconds;
  5. Your pasta Pomodoro is ready. You have to serve it and garnish it with other fresh basil leaves.


Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Total time: 1.2 hours

Pasta Pomodoro Recipe Italian

The Best Pasta Pomodoro Tips

These are a few tips for making the best pasta pomodoro like the one we eat in Italy. At the end of the day, the secret to the best pasta pomodoro recipe is in the little details, and we Italians literally know how to make little details become a huge thing when cooking.

  1. First, make sure you use quality ingredients. I cannot say this enough: good ingredients are the basis for this pasta, and they are the only way to prepare a delicious sauce everyone will love;
  2. You can use canned San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes, or you can go for ripe tomatoes. Make sure to use one or the other, nothing else for your tomato sauce (most of all, do not use store-bought pasta Sauces);
  3. You can use whatever type of pasta you like: traditionally, in Italy we use spaghetti, but you can also use short pasta, especially if this pasta pomodoro is meant for kids;
  4. Please do not use butter to add richness to the pasta: not only it’s not necessary, but it’s also not even something you’ll find in Italy. Stick to the original Italian pasta pomodoro recipe or… don’t call it a pasta pomodoro;
  5. Ideally, your sauce should cook for one hour to be extra flavourful. You can cook your sauce for less time, but once you’ve tried the real and original Italian tomato sauce, I doubt you will do something differently;
  6. Do not serve this pasta pomodoro with a side of green salad or garlic bread: pasta is meant to be eaten alone, with no bread and no salad. And this pasta pomodoro recipe has to be enjoyed for what it is, in the way we Italians enjoy it;
  7. If you choose to add some cheese, make sure it’s original Parmesan cheese: this is unnecessary because the original Italian recipe doesn’t call for it, but if you want, sprinkle some Parmesan after having it plated on the pasta.

Best Advice for your Pasta Pomodoro Recipe

  • Make sure you cook your pasta al dente and follow these directions to get the best pasta pomodoro recipe;
  • Once ready, you may serve your pasta pomodoro straight away. If it lasts, put it in the fridge and eat it in 2 days, simply by heating it in a pan with a little water or even without water at all;
  • Never add water or broth to the tomato sauce;
  • The basil used must be strictly fresh: the dry basil does not have the same consistency and taste.

Pasta al Pomodoro Recipe: FAQs

1. What’s the best pasta to use for this pasta al pomodoro recipe?

Spaghetti is the best type of pasta to use to make pasta al pomodoro. It’s also the traditional pasta used in the Southern part of Italy, from where this dish is originated.

2. Can I freeze pasta al pomodoro?

No, it’s best not to freeze your pasta al pomodoro. You can refrigerate it and bring it to life again in a cooking pan with a bit of olive oil. Just reheat it until it is golden and crunchy, and you will feel that goodness.

3. How can I make creamy pasta al pomodoro?

This recipe is not meant to give you creamy pasta. If you want to prepare a creamy pasta al pomodoro, you can add a bit of cream to the sauce to thicken it. Bear in mind: you’re cooking something different from an Italian pasta al pomodoro.

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