Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce (Simple Pasta Recipe)

This Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce comes together easily, with no chopping or constant stove monitoring. Just pop it in the oven and let the roasting process intensify the flavor of canned tomatoes.

If I could have a stockpile of something in my cupboards, it would be canned tomatoes.

Like, it would be my dream if I could be one of those extreme couponers who has some magical way of leaving the grocery with three carts full of free tomatoes in tow.

I’m not normally a hoarder, but I could make an exception...

There are so many things you can make with canned tomatoes – Lasagna Soup, Blender Salsa, Shrimp Fra Diavolo. The list goes on and on.

Plus, of course, there’s always pasta sauce!

My standard go-to recipe my Nana’s Sunday Gravy. I absolutely love this sauce – Tomatoes slow-simmered with all kinds of cuts of meat, until they’re tender and falling off the bone, finished with some fresh basil. It just brings back food memories – You know? When you taste one bite of something and you’re whisked away to some random point in your life?

As much as I adore Sunday Gravy, it really is a bit time intensive. Hence the name “Sunday” gravy. It really needs to simmer all day to get that great flavor.

So, I’ve been on the hunt for a great sauce recipe that’s more suitable for everyday cooking. I found this recipe for butter roasted tomato sauce in Bon Appétit and thought I’d give it a whirl.

The first thing I loved about this recipe – No chopping.

The second thing, stress reliever – You get to crush the tomatoes with your hands, smash the garlic cloves, and pop it all into the oven while you drink wine… That’s a winner in my book!

Ingredients needed

  • Canned Whole Tomatoes
  • Garlic
  • Anchovies
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  • Butter

That’s it.

Do not let the anchovies throw you into a panic attack. These ‘lil guys lend such an extra element of flavor to this dish – I can’t imagine it without them. Nutty, salty, umami-ness. Plus, I guarantee you – They dissolve by the end of the roasting process. You won’t even know they were there.

What I was a bit skeptical about was the butter – Why do I need all that extra fat in an otherwise healthy tomato sauce? The butter lends a sweetness, the dairy helps to tenderize the tomatoes, and when it all condenses together, it really helps the sauce to coat those noodles perfectly.

I think of it this way – there’s no meat in the sauce, so I can spare a few extra calories for the butter. It really is worth it!

How to make it

Just toss all the ingredients into a large baking dish. Let it roast in the oven for about 45-minutes and then mash it all together. The garlic becomes like butter itself, and the flavor of the tomatoes really concentrates and becomes extra delicious.

Recipe tips

  • Be sure to save your pasta cooking liquid once the cooking time is up. You’ll want to add a splash of that in when you’re tossing your pasta with the roasted tomato sauce.
  • If you are sensitive to heat, or serving this dish to children, feel free to omit the red pepper flakes, and just sprinkle on the finished dish.

How to make ahead & store

  • The sauce can be made up to four days ahead, and kept covered in the refrigerator. Just reheat before mixing with the pasta.
  • You can also freeze the sauce for up to three months.

Wine pairings

Because this sauce (like all tomato sauces) is high in acid, you’re going to want to pick a wine that can match that acidity. Stay away from heavy, tannic wines, and those flavors will clash with the tomatoes.

  • A light-bodied Pinot Noir, Barbera or Dolcetto will pair well with this dish.
  • Pinot Grigio has a crisp, vibrant flavor that will work also if you’re looking for a white wine option.
Two bowls of bucatini tossed with butter roasted tomato sauce.

More pasta recipes

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Overhead shot of bowl of pasta with roasted tomato sauce.

Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce

This Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce comes together easily, with no chopping or constant stove monitoring. Just pop it in the oven and let the roasting process intensify the flavor of canned tomatoes.
5 from 19 votes
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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 10 cloves garlic (peeled and crushed)
  • 3 anchovy fillets (packed in oil )
  • 8 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (plus more for serving)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • Finely grated Parmesan (for serving)


  • Preheat oven to 425°F.
  • Crush the tomatoes with your hands and add them, and their juices to a 13×9” baking dish, along with the garlic, anchovies, butter, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing halfway through, until the garlic has softened, and the liquid has reduced, approximately 40-45 minutes.
  • Use a fork, or potato masher, to break up the tomatoes and garlic.
  • Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling, salted water, until al dente. Drain, reserving ½ cup of the pasta coking water. Return pasta to pot and add tomato sauce, and reserved cooking water. Cook over medium-high heat, tossing the pasta and sauce, until pasta is well coated, about 3 minutes.
  • Serve topped with parmesan cheese, and additional red pepper flakes, if desired.
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Calories: 531kcal | Carbohydrates: 66g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 14g | Cholesterol: 62mg | Sodium: 12mg | Potassium: 231mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 700IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 43mg | Iron: 1.3mg

29 thoughts on “Butter Roasted Tomato Sauce (Simple Pasta Recipe)”

  1. Mmmmm, butter. You know, I might make this my birthday dinner. My husband has already vetoed corned beef and tuna casserole (why he gets to veto my birthday dinner, still unclear, haha).

  2. This looks great! “My” spaghetti sauce recipe is pretty labor intensive and makes A LOT. I might try this one when I want something simpler for fewer people.

    • Great point Melinda – This is a good sauce recipe to make when you don’t want a lot of leftovers. It makes just the right amount for a table of four.

    • As a vegetarian, you could definitely leave out the anchovies Kelley. You may need to add a bit more salt at the end, but it would still be absolutely delicious!

    • The butter gives that extra bit of richness and really helps the sauce to cling to those noodles! It’s a good thing. (Remember when Martha Stewart used to say that?)

  3. A hands-off sauce I can toss in the oven? Sign me up! I’ve seen butter added before, but not anchovies. I’m the one who would be scared of that, but I also love Caesar dressing so I know they add to flavor, same thing with fish sauce – the idea sounds gross but the final taste is amazing, haha!

  4. I would love to make this for dinner tonight, but I don’t have anchovies on hand. Is there something other than salt I could use as a substitute such as capers or green olives?

    This sounds delicious and I will definitely try it with anchovies in the future!

    • Hi Brook – You could leave out the anchovies. But I also like your idea of adding in olives or capers! Maybe don’t add them until halfway through so they don’t overcook though!


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