Easy Tomato Cream Sauce: A Fresh-from-the-Garden Topping for Any Pasta

If I had to choose my favorite season, it would definitely be summer.

Vertical closeup image of a bowl of penne with sauce, basil, and cheese.

The sunny days, warm air, pool parties, and beautiful flowers are all so enjoyable.

But what I love the most is the opportunity to walk out to the garden, reach out my hand, and pull armfuls of vibrant red tomatoes and fistfuls of fresh rosemary and basil right from the soil.

The abundance of juicy tomatoes and fragrant green herbs from my summer garden are what inspired this simple recipe for tomato cream sauce.

Vertical closeup image of cooked penne on top of a sauce in a dark skillet.

It’s the perfect recipe to use up any of the extra produce you have on hand, especially if you have a plentiful harvest in your backyard (learn more about growing one of the most popular summer fruits on our sister site, Gardener’s Path!).

And it’s a creamier, richer version of your typical marinara or roasted tomato sauce, for days when you feel like indulging just a little.

The cream sauce will flood the air with the intoxicating aromas of herbs, butter, onions, garlic, and white wine.

Finished with a cup of heavy cream, this rich recipe is meant to be poured over a big, steaming dish of pasta, like homemade malfatti, fresh semolina noodles, gnocchi, or ravioli, along with a large heap of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Vertical top-down image of two bowls with pasta and breadsticks on the side.

I’d even use this as the sauce to smother alllllll over baked manicotti.

To really make an impressive meal, add a side salad, and top the pasta with pan-seared fresh shrimp or sliced roasted chicken.

Dinnertime is fast approaching – get your gardening gloves on, pick some ingredients, and make this recipe now!

clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
Horizontal image of a white serving platter with pasta in a sauce next to a bowl of cheese.

Fresh Tomato Cream Sauce

  • Author: Shanna Mallon
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


To top your next pasta dish, make this rich and creamy tomato sauce filled with fresh, juicy tomatoes and fragrant herbs.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until slightly softened.
  2. Add the garlic, basil, rosemary, and white wine. Simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes. Cook for 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened.
  4. Add the heavy cream. Gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened slightly, about another 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over freshly cooked pasta.
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Sauces
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian

Keywords: sauce, tomato, cream, herbs

Cooking by the Numbers…

Step 1 – Gather and Prep Ingredients

Horizontal image of prepped ingredients on a wooden cutting board for a pasta sauce.

Measure out the butter, heavy cream, and white wine. Set out the salt and pepper.

With a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, chop the onions, garlic, tomatoes, basil, and rosemary.

Have a few extra toms? Learn how to store them properly!

Step 2 – Saute

Horizontal image of cooked onions in a dark skillet.

Melt the butter in a large skillet, without browning it. Add the chopped onions and cook until softened, stirring frequently.

Step 3 – Add the Flavorings

Horizontal image of onions and white wine in a skillet.

To the skillet, add the garlic, basil, rosemary, and white wine. Simmer for 5 minutes to just slightly cook and reduce the wine.

Step 4 – Cook

Horizontal image of a skillet filled with diced tomatoes on a white towel.

Add the diced tomatoes and continue cooking to soften them.

Step 5 – Simmer

Horizontal image of a heavy cream sauce in a dark skillet.

Once the tomatoes have softened and start releasing some juice, pour in the heavy cream.

Horizontal image of a tomato sauce in a skillet with bowls of pepper and cheese.

Simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens slightly. Remove from heat.

Step 6 – Serve

Horizontal image of a white serving platter with pasta in a sauce next to a bowl of cheese.

Season to taste with salt and pepper – freshly milled is best! Serve over fresh pasta, with a side of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Fresh from the Garden Flavor

With all those fresh tomatoes from your garden, I’m sure you’ll be making your fair share of bruschetta, salads, and, if you’re feeling extra fun, your own homemade ketchup.

Horizontal image of two white bowls filled with a penne pasta dish on top of a white towel.

For another delicious recipe that features this amazing summer ingredient, I’m excited for you to try this pasta sauce.

It’s rich. It’s creamy. It’s the perfect indulgence for dinner this summer season, when you want something a little heartier than your usual go-to pesto.

And even if it’s not summer, you can still make the recipe – just substitute a small can or jar of diced tomatoes instead of fresh to enjoy this delightful dish all year round.

What other pasta sauces do you like to use that feature tomatoes? Give us a holler in the comment section below, and rate the recipe!

If you need some ideas, try more of our tomato-based sauces:

Don’t forget to Pin It!

A collage of photos showing an easy and fast tomato cream sauce recipe.

Photos by Nikki Cervone, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on July 30th, 2010. Last updated: March 1, 2022 at 17:55 pm. With additional writing and editing by Nikki Cervone.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

29 thoughts on “Easy Tomato Cream Sauce: A Fresh-from-the-Garden Topping for Any Pasta”

  1. ooooh…I’ve been growing both rosemary and basil and have lots! My tomatoes aren’t ready yet, but I think I might have to give this a try because I definitely need more ideas on using up those herbs!

  2. yes! summer! i was just telling murdo last night, as we took a walk around the neighborhood and listened to the crickets chirp, that this particular summer has been so very summer. hot hot hot days, crazy summer storms, humidity that hangs in the air and begs for a cold drink. last year it felt like we skipped summer and spring altogether! but this year, we’ve got all the seasons shining through so far. although if we skip winter this year, i won’t mind at all. 🙂

    also, kudos on the recipe-less recipe! and that tomato up there? i want to eat it. now!

  3. [to] cook less with recipes and more with bravery

    I love that phrase. How would you like a custom blog button designed and executed by little old me that you could put in your sidebar with all your brave recipes linked in?

    Let me know if you’re interested!

  4. Probably ought to use this email address if you’re interested so that the email comes to my business address.

    (should have made it clear; no charge, of course. Just for fun!)

  5. After this past winter’s storms brought an unheard-of amount of snow to D.C., I totally agree with you! Even a sweltering July kicks January’s butt. Having an entire week of snow days was cool, but the stir craziness doesn’t hold a candle to long bike rides and evening walks.

    Tomorrow, I’ll be making the tomato bisque that Jacqui wrote about here. Thanks for the tomato inspiration!

  6. OK, I’m with you 99 percent … on tomatoes, fresh herbs, the joy of cooking things YOU grew, growing braver in the kitchen …

    However —

    I cannot say, with a clear conscience, that I would honestly choose this particular Carolina July over ANYTHING! 🙂

  7. Holy cow, lady. You are the queen of the sauces! I am definitely adding this to me “things to make from Shanna’s blog” list 🙂

  8. It’s posts like these that make me wish I didn’t live in a porchless and yardless apartment. I guess that’s what farmers markets are for, that recipe looks amazing!

  9. THIS will get made today. i am so happy to see it, and hear your lovely lovely ode to a hot summer (for how else will we get these gorgeous tomatoes?). freeze some of this, girlfriend, for winter. it will bring it all back! thanks, again, for the delicious recipe. 🙂

  10. Antonietta, Indeed!

    Katie, Fresh herbs are such a delight – love that you’ve got an abundance!

    Jacqui, Took a walk and heard the crickets chirp? That sounds like a perfect night. Oh, summer.

    Kim, You’re so sweet! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

    Whitney, That’s true – with so much more to do, there’s so much more to tire us out, ha!

    Maddie, I totally remember seeing photos of D.C. last winter and being amazed by it all. Man, it’s nice to look out the window and see green grass instead! Hope you enjoy Jacqui’s soup! I’m bringing some to a friend tonight!

    Kelley, HA! I will say, of everywhere I’ve been this summer, the Carolinas do it HOT like nobody else. Yikes!

    Kim, Yes! Sauces are so much fun!

    TJ, Well said. I’ll sweat it out too!

    Susan, Exactly! A farmers market is def the next best thing, and I stopped at mine this morning for some fresh blueberries and peaches!

    JessieV, Hope you enjoy it! And great idea to freeze stuff. I’m afraid most of my tomatoes get eaten up before the end of August though!

  11. I was with my parents in Indiana and Ohio this July and my dad spent almost every day working outside around my grandparents house. He would always come in with sweat dripping, a large wet spot spreading on both the front and back of his shirt. One especially hot day, as he wiped his face and somebody commented on how hot he looked, he said, “I really love to perspire. Sometimes in Montana, I have to get some water in my hair wet just to stay cool because I don’t sweat enough.” Having lived in the northwest for more than a decade now, where summers are quite comfortable, but not always as sweaty as I would like, I do not take mid-western summers for granted or complain about the humidity anymore. It’s kind of what makes it summer for me—like you said, not always comfortable, but so great.

    I’ve been really enjoying looking around your site! I am always excited to find sites that pair writing and stories with food.

  12. I feel like I can smell this sauce right now. I am inspired to make this tonight and drizzle over perfectly cooked ravioli. Yum, lady, yum!

  13. Jessica, Your comment made me smile. I love hear stories like that, and it honestly did make me think about sweating in a new light. : ) Thanks so much for stopping by!

    Allison, Yes! Do it! That sounds like a wonderful Sunday evening.

  14. I am definitely struggling to cook more in this heat. I do it but I try to keep the stove action on low so I don’t sweat it out more in my place. This looks amazing!

  15. Jessica, I totally get that. Now’s a great time for fresh produce and salads, too!

    Julie, Right? Feels like such a long time ago now, and I want to savor every bit of warmth we have left!

  16. I think I’d chose fall over ANY of the seasons. And it always seems like the shortest. Sad. I’m totally ready for it though.
    I think that tomato sauce would god wonderfully over some roasted red pepper stuffed gnocchi for dinner tonight… Mmmmm…

  17. Niki, Oh, I love fall best too. NO question! Maybe 2010 will be the year of the long autumn, what do you think? I’ll start hoping now!

  18. Perfect date night recipe!
    This was absolutely delicious. I didn’t have fresh tomatoes, so I just used a can of diced tomatoes. I also didn’t have rosemary, so I used Italian seasoning. The wine I used was a Riesling, which gave the sauce such a beautiful flavor. I also added a little salted pasta water in the step where you add the spices and wine. Yum!!

  19. How many ounces/grams would 4 large tomatoes be for your recipe? One person’s large tomato can be another’s medium. Need a weight, please. Thank you.

    • Hi, Kazy! We completely understand the unique beauty of fresh produce! A large tomato with a diameter between 2 1/2 to 3 inches would be roughly 8 to 10 ounces. But rest assured that an exact weight for a recipe like this will not make or break this delicious cream sauce! More tomatoes will yield a sauce that is slightly sweeter, tangier, and delectably juicier. Less tomatoes will yield a sauce that is creamier, richer, and silkier. Either outcome will be amazing, and can easily be adjusted to satisfy your own personal taste preferences.

  20. Tried this recipe last night and it was a hit! I made some minor changes: used butter and olive oil (for flavour and health) and used both dried and fresh herbs.

  21. Was looking for a recipe to use up some tomatoes that had gone past best to use in salad or anything else – I made this sauce and it was absolutely incredible!! Only difference was I blended it at the end – can’t wait to make again and thank you for sharing!

  22. I made this tonight with fresh tomatoes & basil from my garden as well as onions & garlic that I grew this year. This recipe is amazing. I’ll definitely make it again.


Leave a Comment

Recipe rating 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.