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How To Make Tomato Sauce Redder [9 Methods]

Tomato sauce is one of the staples in my life. I love all Italian food, especially pasta, so I’ve made a fair few tomato sauces in my time. Homemade always tastes better, right?

But one issue I’ve come across is that my sauce can sometimes come out more orange than red. While this isn’t a problem taste wise if I’m planning a dinner party, I would prefer the sauce to look the part as well as taste it.

So how do you make tomato sauce redder? To make a tomato sauce redder, crush the ingredients by hand or use a food mill. Avoid using a blender as this introduces air into the sauce, turning it orange. To make an already prepared sauce redder, adding ingredients such as tomato paste or red peppers will deepen the color.

How to make tomato sauce redder

The main reasons a tomato sauce won’t be red enough are down to the tomatoes you’ve used or how you’ve processed the sauce. 

To rectify this you need to process the sauce differently and make sure you’re using the reddest tomatoes possible. However, there are also other fixes.

Below I’ve listed 9 different things you can do to fix an orange sauce.

Don’t blend the sauce after cooking

Some people like their tomato sauce smooth. A good way to achieve this is to blend the sauce.

blended vs food mill tomato sauce
Blending a tomato sauce introduces air and turns it orange

However, when you blend the ingredients together you introduce a lot of air into the sauce, which turns it orange. Also, if you’ve included oil in your recipe this will emulsify as you blend it and get lighter in color (this is why mayonnaise is white). 

Another factor to consider when you blend your sauce is that you’re blending the whole tomato, core and the seeds included. The core and seeds aren’t red, so they’ll dilute the color a little bit. Sometimes cracking open the seeds can leave your sauce tasting slightly bitter as well.

To get round this you can use a food mill. Food mills don’t add much air to the sauce so you can puree it without turning it orange. Also, the food mill will remove the skin and seeds saving you a job.

You can also use an immersion blender, or if you don’t want to buy any new equipment, you can use a potato masher. 

The last two methods won’t remove the skins of seeds for you. But you can easily remove the skins by blanching the tomatoes beforehand. The skins should pretty much fall off. You can also core the tomatoes to get rid of the lighter flesh and the seeds.

If you really want to use a blender, blend the ingredients before you’ve finished cooking them. During the cooking process, some of the additional air introduced by the blender will evaporate and the sauce should turn red again.

Cook the sauce for longer

The longer you cook the sauce, the more concentrated it’s going to get.

simmering tomato sauce
The longer you cook tomato sauce for the redder it will become

You’ll notice that cooking it for longer results in the deeper red color you’re looking for.

Tomato sauces can be cooked for as little as 10 minutes, but I suggest at least 25-30 minutes. Some recipes call for hours of cooking. 

You can’t really cook the sauce for too long, so just keep cooking until it takes on the color you want. Do bear in mind the longer you cook it, the thicker it will become too.

Roast the tomatoes before cooking the sauce

roast tomatoes
Roast tomatoes contain less water so the sauce is more concentrated

If you don’t want to cook your sauce for hours to get it red, a quicker solution is to roast the tomatoes before you start making the sauce. This will get rid of the excess water in the tomatoes meaning the final sauce will be more concentrated.

Roasted tomatoes have a nice sweet, smoky taste that can enhance the flavor of your sauce.

Add extra red ingredients 

If you don’t mind deviating a bit from your recipe, you can get the red color you’re looking for by adding other red ingredients besides the tomatoes.

Roasted red pepper
Roasted red peppers can make your tomato sauce brighter

Options include:

  • Roasted red peppers
  • Paprika
  • Beetroot
  • Red wine (marinate the herbs in the wine to give them a deep red color before adding them to the sauce)
  • Balsamic vinegar (a sweet one)

Paprika and bell peppers are still quite authentic, while beetroot is definitely out there. But if it tastes nice, who cares!

Use different tomatoes

Different tomatoes are different colors. If you’re starting with orange tomatoes, chances are your sauce will be orange. Start with red tomatoes, and you’ll get a red sauce.

San Marzano Tomatoes
San Marzano tomatoes are known for being very red

San Marzano tomatoes are amongst the reddest tomatoes and make a delicious sauce. Roma tomatoes are also a good choice.

You could also add some sun-dried tomatoes. Sundried tomatoes contain minimal water, so will add some red color without diluting the sauce.

Use canned tomatoes rather than fresh

Quite often store-bought fresh tomatoes are under-ripe and haven’t reached peak redness yet. The skin will be red, but when you cut into the tomato you’ll notice its flesh is pinky-orange.

Canned tomatoes are picked at peak redness

Canned tomatoes are picked at peak ripeness and then canned straight away, so they retain their deep red color. Therefore using canned tomatoes will often result in a redder sauce just because the starting tomatoes are redder.

If tomatoes aren’t in season where you live, they’ll never be as red as canned tomatoes. Out of season tomatoes never develop as well as in-season tomatoes. They also won’t have the same flavor.

Look for canned tomatoes without added ingredients. Using canned tomatoes with no additives is essentially the same as using fresh, it’s just they’ve been stored in such a way to preserve their color and flavor.

Add some tomato paste 

If you want to use fresh tomatoes, you can add in some extra tomato paste or tomato powder to amp up the redness.

tomato-paste
Tomato paste is a deep red color

Tomato paste is super concentrated and really red.

Add in a small amount when you’re sauteing the onions as it can be bitter if you don’t cook it enough or use too much. This will also color the onions and stop them from diluting the final color of the sauce.

Reduce the amount of non-red ingredients 

Tomato sauces are often made with onions, and sometimes carrot is added for sweetness. Both these ingredients will dilute the red color of the tomatoes and aren’t necessarily needed.

In place of onions, you can use onion powder. Instead of carrots, you can use sugar. Or you can find a recipe that doesn’t include these ingredients at all, like the one I’ve included below.

Leave it orange

Although orange isn’t the color most shop-bought tomato sauces are, that doesn’t mean it’s bad. We are often conditioned to think food should look a certain way, but in reality, as long as it tastes good, that’s the most important thing.

Orange sauce can taste just as good as red sauce, sometimes even better. Taste your sauce first, and then decide if you really want to mess around trying to turn it red.

My tomato sauce is too dark

If you’ve overdone it with the redness and your sauce is too dark, you can add some cream cheese/sour cream to lighten it.

Be careful not to add too much because these ingredients will alter the flavor profile.

How do manufacturers get their sauces so red?

Manufacturers use several tricks to keep their sauces red. They’ll often include a significant proportion of tomato paste in their sauces and counteract the bitterness with sugar. 

They also have fancy cooking techniques that help prevent the sauce from turning orange. For example, some manufacturers use steam infusion to cook the sauce. This involves prolonged cooking on a low heat, without introducing any air. Sadly you can’t recreate this at home.

Other brands will resort to food coloring, so make sure you check the label before you buy if this concerns you.

Recipe for a bright red tomato sauce

bright red tomato sauce

Follow this recipe for a delicious and bright red tomato sauce. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 28-ounce cans of whole tomatoes (use San Marzano for the best color)
  • ¼ cup of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 garlic cloves (crushed and chopped)
  • A pinch of crushed red pepper or chili flakes (optional)
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper

Method:

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet with a medium flame. Avoid using a deep pot as this makes it harder for excess water to evaporate.
  2. Add the garlic and fry until it starts turning golden. Be careful not to burn it as this will leave it tasting bitter.
  3. Optional: add the red pepper or chili flakes and fry for 30 seconds.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes along with the juice from the can, salt, pepper, and basil.
  5. Crush the whole tomatoes with a potato masher.
  6. Bring the sauce to a simmer and leave for around 40 minutes or until all the tomatoes have fallen apart. Remove the basil leaf before serving.

This is a straightforward recipe that can be modified if you want. Some modifications include adding a cup of red wine, adding some roasted red peppers instead of the flakes, or adding a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar.

An alternative cooking method is to put the garlic and tomatoes on a baking tray. Drizzle the oil over and sprinkle on the salt, pepper, and herbs. Then roast for 40 minutes in the oven (at 350 degrees). You can then crush all the ingredients together to create the sauce.

How To Make Tomato Sauce Redder

The main reasons a tomato sauce won’t be red enough are down to the tomatoes you’ve used or how you’ve processed the sauce.
To rectify this you need to process the sauce differently and make sure you’re using the reddest tomatoes possible. However, there are also other fixes.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 0 mins
Total Time 15 mins
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 1 person
Calories 70 kcal

Equipment

Food mill

Ingredients
 

  • 1 portion tomato sauce

Instructions
 

Don’t blend the sauce after cooking

  • When you blend the ingredients together you introduce a lot of air into the sauce, which turns it orange. Also, if you’ve included oil in your recipe this will emulsify as you blend it and get lighter in color.
  • To get round this you can use a food mill. Food mills don’t add much air to the sauce so you can puree it without turning it orange.

Cook the sauce for longer

  • You’ll notice that cooking it for longer results in the deeper red color you’re looking for.
  • I suggest at least 25-30 minutes, to really bring out the depth of colors in the tomatoes.

Roast the tomatoes before cooking the sauce

  • A quick solution is to roast the tomatoes before you start making the sauce. This will get rid of excess water in the tomatoes meaning the final sauce will be more concentrated.

Add extra red ingredients

  • Adding naturally red ingredients such as roasted red peppers, paprika or red wine will help to bring out the deep red colors in the tomato sauce.

Use different tomatoes

  • San Marzano tomatoes are amongst the reddest tomatoes and make a delicious sauce. Roma tomatoes are also a good choice.
  • You could also add some sun-dried tomatoes. Sundried tomatoes contain minimal water, so will add some red color without diluting the sauce.

Use canned tomatoes rather than fresh

  • Canned tomatoes are picked at peak ripeness and then canned straight away, so they retain their deep red color. Therefore using canned tomatoes will often result in a redder sauce just because the starting tomatoes are redder.

Add some tomato paste

  • If you want to use fresh tomatoes, you can add in some extra tomato paste or tomato powder to amp up the redness.

Reduce the amount of non-red ingredients

  • Tomato sauces are often made with onions, and sometimes carrot is added for sweetness. Both these ingredients will dilute the red color of the tomatoes and aren’t necessarily needed.
  • In place of onions, you can use onion powder.

Nutrition

Calories: 70kcal
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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