Easy French Food and Recipes

Homemade Tomato Sauce Recipe
Fresh French Coulis

This homemade tomato sauce recipe is for what the French call fresh tomato coulis. It is best made with the very ripest, most flavorful tomatoes you can muster, since it is cooked only a short while and is meant to showcase the flavor of the tomato and little else.

homemade tomato sauce - cooking

homemade tomato sauce - done

Why Make Your Own Tomato Sauce?

Well, if you have a vegetable garden and it's getting later in the summer, you probably have the single best reason to make your own sauce - you have tomatoes coming out of your ears!

This sauce is so easy to make, it freezes well, and it is delicious. Nothing like what you get out of a jar or can. In fact, I am a bit alarmed to see that my homemade sauce is an entirely different color than what I get out of a store bought can. This coulis is more orangey in color - makes me wonder what they're doing to get that deep red color into their sauce?

Using a Food Mill

The recipe in my Larousse Gastronomique for tomato coulis begins with peeling and seeding tomatoes. Peeling tomatoes? Well really it's not that hard - you drop them in a pot of boiling water for a few seconds until the skins split, then you cool them quickly and the peel slips right off. And I suppose seeding them isn't that much of a bother - but don't you lose some of the lovely juice along with the seeds?

homemade tomato sauce - using food mill

Anyway, I was happy to find another solution. A stainless steel food mill! One of my personal favorite pieces of kitchen equipment.

So this homemade tomato sauce recipe becomes a simple matter of cutting the tomatoes into chunks and simmering them with a few other ingredients. At the end you quickly run the sauce through a food mill, and the result is a gorgeously smooth and flavorful tomato coulis. And if you're worried about the extra clean up involved with a food mill - don't. All the bits and bobs go right into the dishwasher and come out perfectly clean every time.

Bottom line: If you want to spend extra time fussing in the kitchen with easy things like this homemade tomato sauce recipe, don't equip yourself with a food mill.

Coulis de tomates


Makes about 2 cups

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds of ripe, flavorful tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • salt and pepper


  1. Melt the butter with the olive oil in a non-reactive (enamel, glass or stainless steel) pot on medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
  2. Cut each tomato into 16 or so chunks and add to the pot. Bring the sauce to a boil, then turn down the heat until it is at a very low boil. Add the bouquet garni. You can also add a small amount of sugar if the tomatoes are not sweet enough.
  3. Cook the sauce at this very low boil for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Using the finest mesh strainer on a food mill, process the sauce into a bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. You can freeze this sauce in clean plastic containers.

(If you don't have a food mill, be sure to peel and seed the tomatoes before adding them. After it is cooked, run the sauce through a food processor to smooth it.)

Learn more about French sauces.

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