Penne Pomodoro – Simply Home Cooked


This Penne Pomodoro is full of garlic, fresh basil, sweet tomatoes, and cheesy Parmesan. You’ll love this recipe because it makes homemade sauce a breeze.

If you love red sauce, then try this Spaghetti and Meatballs recipe or this Stuffed Manicotti.

Penne Pomodoro topped with fresh basil.
Table Of Contents

Recipe Details

I love a good 30-minute meal, and this Penne Pomodoro is one of the best. The sauce is fresh and flavorful and the pasta is perfectly cooked. This recipe is so simple and quick, you can prepare it even on busy nights.

  • TASTE: Sweet tomatoes, nutty Parmesan cheese, fresh garlic, and fresh basil give this sauce all its flavor. It’s tossed with buttery pasta.
  • TEXTURE: The pomodoro sauce is thick and smooth, pureed so there are just little chunks of tomato in it. The pasta is cooked al dente for delicious chew.
  • TIME: 30 minutes is all it takes.
  • EASE: This recipe is nice and easy. You can whip up the homemade sauce in a matter of minutes.

What You’ll Need

Ingredients for Penne Pomodoro: parmesan, onion, garlic, salt, sugar, olive oil, butter, basil, penne, and tomatoes.

Ingredient Notes

  • San Marzano tomatoes- These sweet tomatoes give the pomodoro sauce its amazing flavor. You can use whole peeled tomatoes.
  • Onion and garlic- These add fresh and pungent flavor to the sauce.
  • Parmesan cheese- Cheesy, salty, and nutty, this cheese adds great flavor.
  • Sugar- Just a touch of sugar adds sweetness that offsets the natural acidity of the tomatoes.
  • Basil– Fresh herbs give so much flavor, and this one gives a mix of sweet and savory.
  • Butter- This gives the pasta richness.

Add-ins and Substitutions

  • Substitute other pasta types- You can easily make this with spaghetti, linguine, fettucine, cavatelli, elbow, gluten-free, or any other pasta you have on hand.
  • Make it dairy-free- Substitute the butter for plant-based butter and the parmesan cheese for a vegan version.
  • Add meat- Add ground beef or pork, meatballs, sausage, or chicken breast to this dish to make it even more hearty.
  • Add some spice- Make this with a little red pepper flakes to add some heat to the dish.

How to Make Penne Pomodoro

Pro Tip: Be careful as the garlic can easily burn, giving it an acrid taste. Stir often.

Steps to make Penne Pomodoro: saute the onion and garlic, then puree the tomatoes.
  • Simmer. Now add the puréed tomatoes to the pan and stir over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Now add the sugar, kosher salt, and chopped basil leaves. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Steps to make Penne Pomodoro: simmer the sauce in a skillet with fresh basil.
  • Cook the pasta. In the meantime, cook the penne pasta in a pot of well-salted water.
  • Add butter. Once it’s cooked, drain the water and mix in the butter.
  • Combine. Add the pasta to the tomato sauce along with the grated Parmesan.
Steps to make Penne Pomodoro: cook the pasta and then add butter, then combine it with the pomodoro sauce and parmesan cheese.

Recipe Tips

  • Don’t rush the garlic and onion- These need time to cook and develop their aromatic elements and sweeter flavors, so don’t rush them.
  • Make sure the tomatoes are peeled- If you use fresh tomatoes, just make sure that they are peeled as the skins will affect the texture and flavor.
  • Let the sauce simmer- Simmering the sauce allows the flavors to marry and become more bold. This is a crucial step to good sauce.
  • Don’t rinse the penne- Doing this rinses off the starch which helps the sauce stick to the pasta.


How is pomodoro sauce different from marinara?

Pomodoro sauce is usually thicker than marinara, as marinara sometimes uses red wine or olive oil, which thins it out. Flavor-wise, marinara has oregano, red pepper flakes, and bay leaves, which are not found in pomodoro sauce.

Is Pomodoro tomato puree?

In part, yes. But pomodoro sauce is also made with fresh basil, onion, and garlic to give it a boost of fresh and pungent flavors to complement the sweetness of the tomatoes.

Bowl of Penne Pomodoro topped with fresh basil.

Serving Suggestions

This Penne Pomodoro is sweet, garlicky, and full of fresh basil. You’ll love it served with bread, salad, soup, and vegetables.

Make This Recipe in Advance

Make ahead: You can prepare the pomodoro sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge. Reheat it before adding it to the penne with the parmesan cheese.

Storing: Store this Penne Pomodoro in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.

Freeze: You can freeze this sauce in a freezer ziplock bag for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge and reheat.

More Amazing Pasta Dishes!

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Full Recipe Instructions


Penne Pomodoro

This Penne Pomodoro is made with garlic, sweet tomatoes, and Parmesan cheese. The fresh basil gives this al dente pasta dish wonderful flavor.

Print Pin Rate

Course: Main Course

Cuisine: Italian

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 450kcal


  • Add the chopped onion and minced garlic cloves to a pan filled with of extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.
  • Stir the onion and garlic until the onion becomes translucent.

  • Now add 1 (28 oz) can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes into a blender and pulse it about 5 times.
  • Now add the puréed tomatoes to the pan and stir over medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.

  • Now add the sugar, kosher salt, and chopped basil leaves. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.

  • In the meantime, cook the penne pasta in a pot of well-salted water.
  • Once it’s cooked, drain the water and mix in 2 Tbsp of unsalted butter.

  • Add the pasta to the Pomodoro sauce along with the grated Parmesan.


Calories: 450kcal | Carbohydrates: 53g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 12g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 398mg | Potassium: 540mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 488IU | Vitamin C: 20mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 3mg


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