We make this sauce in August when we have more tomatoes than we know what to do with. We love the “hearty without meat” flavor it brings to a wide variety of dishes. Another plus: it maintains it’s unique, smokey flavor through the canning process. In our version of the Italian-American classic, chicken parmesan, it brings a new dimension of flavor to an old dish. Also, it’s delicious in pasta bakes, tossed with veggies as a quick side dish or over make-ahead meatballs for a meal in short order.

Ingredients for Smokey Tomato Sauce

  • 8 lbs. fresh tomatoes (preferably a paste tomato such as Roma or San Marzano), halved
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1/4 C. white wine
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 T. fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1/2 – 3/4 T. molasses
  • 1 T. butter
  • Hickory wood chips



Arrange the tomatoes and onions, facing up, in grill-safe baskets or pans and smoke over a low fire for about 1 hour, adding wood chips every 10 minutes.


Remove onions first, chop and sauté over high heat with olive oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan until soft and clear. Add garlic and cook for 30 – 60 seconds, then turn heat to lowest setting and cover.


Remove tomatoes from the grill and peel them as much as you can. Add tomatoes to the pot of onions and break them down using a potato masher. Bring sauce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.


Add white wine and salt. (At this point you can use a stick blender or potato masher to break down the sauce further if you prefer a smoother textured sauce.)


Add basil and cook sauce until it is reduced by about 1/3. This will take 1 – 2 hours. Finish sauce with molasses and butter and use or can immediately. (Learn here how to go about canning your sauces.)

(Makes 10 – 12 cups.)