red sauce pasta

Red Sauce Pasta (Red Pasta Recipe)

By Swasthi on May 29, 2023, Comments, Jump to Recipe

Make delicious and easy Red Sauce Pasta under 30 minutes. Made with pantry staple like fusilli, tomatoes, onions, spices and herbs, this flavorsome Red Pasta is sure to please your family. For a vegetarian meal, serve this Red Sauce Pasta with Grilled veggies, Cheese Sandwiches, Garlic Cheese Toast or a Vegetable Salad.

Red Sauce Pasta

If you are a meat lover, serve Red Sauce Pasta with grilled Chicken Kebabs or simply stir in some cooked Keema/ minced meat with the finished pasta.

About Red Sauce Pasta

A romantic Italian restaurant? A Sunday gravy menu? Checkered tablecloths? These all sound lovely and do have some place in the history of red sauce.

After the introduction of tomatoes to Italy, it took a few hundred years for them to be regularly cultivated and incorporated into Italian food. By the 1830s, however, some regions of Italy began serving tomato sauce on top of pasta and red sauce started catching on.

By the late 1800s, innovations in canning, industrial agriculture, and factories let migrating Italians take the recipe with them across the globe and the rest is history.

What is Red Sauce?

Red Sauce was originally a vegetarian pasta sauce made from tomatoes cooked in olive oil and sometimes flavored with herbs and garlic.

When Italians migrated to the Americas, where meat and dairy were plentiful, they began incorporating more Parmesan, meatballs, ground meat, and braised meat into their red sauces.

What was once a holiday treat became an everyday staple!

How to Make and Use Red Sauce

This recipe returns to the vegetarian-friendly origins of red sauce, but with a twist. Instead of canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes are roasted until soft and sweet for a concentrated flavor.

They are then pureed with roasted bell peppers – another uncommon inclusion for a unique piquant taste and enhanced color.

The puree is added to sautéed garlic, chili flakes, and onion, then salted and cooked down to a thicker consistency.

Once the sauce has been cooked and seasoned to preference, it’s tossed with cooked pasta, garnished with fresh herbs and freshly cracked pepper, and served hot.

While a sauce like this is most traditionally served over pasta, don’t be afraid to use it in other culinary experiments. Use leftover sauce on Homemade Pizza, add it to a pasta bake, or try poaching eggs in it and serve with some crusty bread on the side.

More Pasta Recipes,
Masala Pasta
White Sauce Pasta
Spaghetti Aglio e Olio
Pasta Soup
Chicken Pasta

How to Make Red Sauce Pasta (Stepwise Photos)

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil. Saute/ roast 1 cup bell peppers (or ½ to ¾ cup diced onions) on a high flame just for 3 mins. Set them aside to cool.

frying bell peppers for pasta recipe

2. To the same pan, add 1½ cups tomatoes and saute or roast for 3 to 5 mins.

frying tomatoes

3. When the tomatoes turn soft, add ½ to 1 teaspoon red chili flakes. Set this aside to cool.

adding chilli flakes

4. Add them to a grinder/blender jar.

adding tomatoes to blender for red sauce pasta

5. Blend to a smooth or coarse puree. Set this aside.

pureed tomatoes

Cook Pasta

6. While you make the sauce, you can bring 2 liters (8 cups) water to a boil in a large pot. Add 1.5 teaspoons salt as needed.

boiling water with salt

7. When the water comes to a boil, add 1½ cup pasta. Cook al dente following the instructions on the pack. (More tips below in the pro tips section)

adding pasta to boiling water

8. Drain to a colander and reserve half cup of pasta cooked stock. Rinse the pasta to remove extra starch.

draining cooked pasta

Make Red Sauce

9. Put back the same pan on the stove with another 1 tbsp oil. When hot, add 3 to 4 chopped garlic and ½ teaspoon more red chili flakes (optional). Fry them on a low heat until fragrant, for about a minute.

frying garlic chilli flakes to make red sauce pasta

10. Add ¼ cup chopped onions.

adding onions to make red sauce pasta

11. Saute until they turn golden and the raw smell is gone.

frying onions for red sauce pasta

12. Add the tomato puree and ¼ teaspoon salt. Mix and cook on a medium heat until the sauce turns thick.

adding tomato puree to make red sauce pasta

13. The sauce turns red as it cooks down. Add ½ teaspoon oregano or any fresh herbs of choice. Taste test and adjust salt, spice and herbs. If your sauce is too tangy you may add some sugar and cook until it dissolves.

cooked red sauce for pasta

14. Add the cooked pasta. I prefer another tbsp olive oil now. This is optional. Mix until well combined. If the sauce is too thick pour a few tablespoons of the reserved hot pasta stock.

prepared red sauce pasta in pan

Add crushed pepper as needed. Serve red sauce pasta hot.

red sauce pasta recipe

Pro Tips for Cooking Pasta

If you plan on serving your red sauce the traditional way, here’s some techniques to cook the best possible pasta.

When you cook the pasta, use a large pot with at least 3-4 quarts of water. Season the water with plenty of salt, and make sure it’s at a rapid boil before you add the pasta to it.

Do not add oil, as it prevents the sauce from sticking to your pasta. Cooking the pasta with lots of water and at a high temperature will prevent the pasta from sticking to itself.

Test the pasta yourself to see if it’s cooked. You’ll want it al dente or a little under cooked. Use the package directions as a guide for cook time if you’re unsure.

Before you drain the pasta, reserve some of the cooking water and then add the pasta to the sauce (not the other way around!). The pasta will continue to cook and absorb the sauce as you toss it, and you can add pasta water to the sauce to help it come together.

red sauce pasta recipe

Related Recipes

Recipe Card

red sauce pasta

Red Sauce Pasta (Red Pasta Recipe)

Make this delicious and healthy red sauce pasta under 30 mins. It is a plant-based dish but you can also make it vegetarian by stirring in your favorite cheese. Make it a meat-based meal, by stirring in some grilled or cooked chicken or Keema.
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For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card

Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Total Time30 minutes
Servings2 to 3

Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )

  • cups pasta (any)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil (or butter, divided)
  • salt as needed
  • 3 to 4 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • ¼ cup onions finely chopped
  • cups tomatoes fine chopped
  • 1 cup red bell peppers (red capsicum or ½ to ¾ cup diced onions)
  • ¾ to 1½ teaspoons red chili flakes (divided, reduce for kids, adjust to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano or any fresh herbs
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper freshly crushed to garnish (optional)



  • Roast bell peppers in 1 tbsp oil for 3 mins on a high flame. Transfer to a plate to cool.
  • Roast tomatoes until mushy for about 3 to 5 mins. Add half of the chili flakes and cool this as well.
  • Blend them together to a smooth puree. Set aside.
  • In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Cook pasta with salt till al dente (just cooked). Follow the cook time on the pack.
  • Drain to a colander and reserve ½ cup of the drained stock. Rinse the pasta and keep aside.

How to Make Red Sauce Pasta

  • Heat the same pan with more oil. Fry garlic and the other half of chili flakes (optional) until aromatic. This should just take you a minute.
  • Add onions and saute until golden. Pour the pureed tomatoes and add salt. 
  • Mix well and cook until it reaches a thick sauce like consistency. Make sure the sauce is not runny. Taste the sauce and adjust salt as needed. If the sauce is too tangy, simply add some sugar & more chilli flakes to balance the flavors and taste.
  • Add the herbs and turn off the stove. Stir the pasta into the red sauce. If it is too thick, you may add a splash of the reserved stock.
  • Serve red sauce pasta hot with a side of grilled veggies or meat and salad. Even a cheese sandwich or a cheese toast goes well.


  1. With prawns: You can add about 125 to 150 grams of fresh cleaned tiger prawns after sauteing garlic, onions. Saute until they get cooked. They swirl completely when done. Set them aside without removing onions or garlic. Add them back to the pan along with cooked pasta.
  2. With chicken: Cook 150 grams of boneless chicken separately until tender, shred and then add it after sauteing garlic, onions.

Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.

For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.

NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)

Nutrition Facts
Red Sauce Pasta (Red Pasta Recipe)
Amount Per Serving
Calories 388 Calories from Fat 135
% Daily Value*
Fat 15g23%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 250mg11%
Potassium 816mg23%
Carbohydrates 54g18%
Fiber 7g29%
Sugar 13g14%
Protein 10g20%
Vitamin A 3445IU69%
Vitamin C 137mg166%
Calcium 82mg8%
Iron 3.4mg19%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tried this recipe?Mention @SwasthisRecipes or tag #swasthisrecipes!

© Swasthi’s Recipes

Red Sauce Pasta (Red Pasta Recipe)

About Swasthi

I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills. More about me

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5 stars
delicously scrumptious scran

5 stars
Loved the recipe. I tried red sauce pasta for the first time and fell in love with it. I think this recipe made the best pasta ever! Thank you so much. I always use your recipes for all the other dishes as well.

5 stars
Thanks. Mam super recipes tomato sauce

5 stars
Swasthi – I just wanted you to know, that our family survived covid because of your recipes. I had never cooked before. Learning all these recipes with exact ingredient measurements, detailed instructions and pro tips made sure the first time cooked meals were tasty and nutritious.

Thank you so much for sharing this widely. Our family will be forever grateful.

the recipe was quick to make with a delicious savour……a tablespoon of ketchup helped to make it more finger licking

Your recipes r awesome…when I cooked by it It cooks yummy

Awesome Sauce! Love is in your kitchen!

5 stars
I love your recipes

5 stars
It’s awesome ! I was scared it was gonna be too spicy for baby boy so I didn’t add red pepper flakes in the end as suggested! Overall I would add less pepper flakes but super simply and quick to make I love !

5 stars
Thank you so much…. Brilliant and taste is superb

5 stars
I came out reaaaaallly well! I loved it! It has everything. Spicy tangy.. Perfect balance!

5 stars
Tastes so good! I made this with meatballs and gave a portion to my Italian friend too. She loved it ?
Thank you for sharing this recipe.

5 stars
This was a very nice recipe and I shared this with my friends and they all loved it too.. 🙂 totally making this again lol

Hi I love your recipes but this one is not tasting so great seems red capsicum quantity is a lot. Or is it my mistake.
Had once used a small quantity of green capsicums it tasted great
What is your suggestion ?

5 stars
Thankyou so much for the recipe. I tried it with chicken (as per the instructions given) ?and it was amazing..?

5 stars
I have made this recipe several times and it always turns out best. My kids truly love it. Thanks for such wonderful recipe.

oh u made me wanna try this recipe …thanks 🙂

5 stars
I have followed the recipe exactly except using green chillies instead of red chilli flakes.The taste was amazing.Everyone njoyed the pasta.

Is this sauce be good to store in the refrigerator? If so, how long?

Love your recipes! Can I add Spinach/Palak in this Red Sauce Pasta? If yes, when should I add it?

Tried it for dinner last night, it was yumm. The tip that you shared about roasting onions/pepper and tomatoes really lifted the flavors.

I love it ?