The Flavorful Way To Thicken Homemade Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce. It binds a heaping bowl of spaghetti and meatballs together, serves as an acidic bath for eggs in purgatory, and is the primary flavor note in fagioli all'uccelletto, aka, beans with tomato sauce.

At its core, tomato sauce is made by simmering tomatoes (with an optional soffrito) until they start to loosen and change in both texture and flavor via La Cucina Italiana. This can take a while, but the results are worth it, as tomato sauce transforms into a thick and heavy gravy-like consistency with layers of complexity, per MasterClass. For a boost of flavor and richness, some home cooks also add in meat, fish, and vegetables.

But sometimes, tomato sauce has a difficult time thickening up, which results in a thin and runny gravy that might as well be tomato-flavored water. So here's a trick to make that homemade tomato sauce extra flavorful, rich, and thicker in consistency.

A concentrated form of tomatoes

It's easy to miss tomato paste in the grocery store. Often shelved next to large jars of tomato or marinara sauce, it is sold in small quantities for a reason. The ultra-thick texture and highly acidic notes pack a powerful tomatoey punch for tons of recipes, including tangy BBQ sauce, pasta, and kimchi Bloody Mary.

What's Cooking America states that tomato paste is made by cooking tomatoes and then straining them. After the skin, seeds, and excess moisture are separated, the tomatoes are then cooked even more until they become the enriched concentrate that adds a boost of flavor and thickening magic to your tomato sauce.

Martha Stewart explains that since tomato paste is a natural thickening agent (because of its texture), it works to make sauces denser. Just take 1 or 2 tablespoons of the paste, stir it into the sauce, and season to taste, Bustle recommends. Of course, you can add in a little bit more if you find the sauce is still thin and runny, but go easy with this stuff since it can overwhelm the palate with very strong tomato flavors.

So, if you've ever shied away from making tomato sauce because it turns out watery, don't fret because you can always add in some tomato paste to make it thick, luscious, and perfect for pasta recipes.