Tomato Passata Recipe | How to Make Italian Tomato passata

Traditionally in Italy tomato passata recipe is made right at the end of summer, when there’s a glut of ripe, juicy red tomatoes. But fortunately red ripe tomatoes can be found throughout the year. It is enough to know how to choose the right quality. Today we’ll try to show you a way to enjoy the taste of ripe tomatoes in every season and we’ll do it making the classic tomato passata.

Tomato passata is one of the most useful basic recipe in Italian cuisine. It consists of cooked tomatoes, without seeds and skins, bottled and preserved, to be used in sauce dishes throughout the year. It can not be eaten directly from the bottle as it requires cooking.

So now we are going to show you how to make Italian tomato passata recipe and how you should use it.

Tomato Passata Recipe

Prep Time: 20 Min
Cook Time: 20 Min
Yelds: 10


  • 2 Kg (4lbs 4oz) very ripe red tomatoes


tomato passata 1

Step 1) – For our tomato passata recipe we opted for very red and ripe San Marzano tomatoes. Check the tomatoes one by one, removing rotten, stained or bruised ones. Then wash them very well under running water. Finally put them in a bowl and start cutting in half.

tomato passata 2

Step 2) – With a knife, remove the seeds and all the inner part of the tomato, as to make small tomato boats. This inner part is very watery, therefore it would make the tomato passata too liquid. Now place the tomatoes in a rather large pot (#ad).
tomato passata 4

Step 3) – Let them cook over low heat, covering the pot with a lid and stirring from time to time, until they are smashed. Now take a tomato strainer machine and, with a ladle, begin to place the cooked tomatoes in the special slot.

tomato passata 6

Step 4) – As you can see on the left, the skins of the tomatoes and the residual seeds will come out, which will be discarded, lower down, instead, the tomato passata will come out, ready to be used. If the passata should still be too liquid, pour it with a small strainer, until you get the consistency you want.

tomato passata 15

Step 5) – Don’t you have a tomato strainer machine? Don’t worry, the classic food mill will be fine. It’ll only take a little more time to make a delicious tomato passata than with a tomato strainer machine, but the result is the same. So don’t worry, here you can find some good choices of food mills (#ad).

How to preserve tomato passata

tomato passata 7

Step 1) – Take a rather large pot, fill it with cold water, then put a kitchen towel on the bottom. Get hold of some glass jars with vacuum seal button lids (#ad). Immerse them in the cold water. Turn on the heat and bring the water to a boil. This way you’ll sterilize the glass jars.

tomato passata 8

Step 2) – After about 10 minutes from the boiling, remove them with kitchen tongs (which you left a few minutes immersed in boiling water to sterilize them) and put them to cool on a kitchen towel.

tomato passata 9

Step 3) – Now, with the help of a funnel (#ad), start filling the jars with the tomato passata, but not to the brim. For 2 kg/4lb of tomatoes you will have from 500ml to 700ml of tomato passata, based on its consistency.

The bump in the middle of the cap is a safety. Now if you press it, it sinks in and you feel it click. This means that the jars are not under vacuum, there is still air inside and bacteria could form. 

So to preserve the tomato passata, you can do 3 things:

  1. freeze the jars, taking care not to fill them to the brim, and keep them for up to 3 months.
  2. keep them in the fridge and use the tomato passata within 1 week.
  3. make the vacuum: that is to completely remove the air so that bacteria do not develop. In this way you can keep the jars in the pantry for up to 1 hear.

So now let’s see how to vaccum seal jars.

How to Vaccum Seal Jars

tomato passata 10

Step 4) – Close the jars then bring a huge pot. At the bottom of the pot, put a clean cloth. Lean the jars on the cloth and try to wrap it around the jars (to not crash the jars during the boiling process). Fill the pot with water. Make sure to completely cover the jars. Use a lid if necessary. Calculate 40 minutes from the moment of boiling. After this time, turn off the heat and let the jars cool in the water. Remove the jars from the pot only when the water is cool.

Now the metal caps must appear slightly curved inwards and by pressing with your finger you should not hear the “click clack”. The jars are now safe. It’s possible to keep the jars of tomato passata in a cool dry place for one year.

How to Make Passata with Tinned Tomatoes

If you want to make tomato passata for your recipes but you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use canned peeled tomatoes. Our recommendation is that they are of excellent quality, possibly San Marzano (#ad) quality, without preservatives or additives. So read the label on the box carefully. Then proceed following the recipe from step 4/5. In any case, if it is a single box of peeled tomatoes, it is better to use a food mill (#ad)

What do you use Passata for?

There are many Italian recipes that require the use of the tomato passata recipe. You can use it to make pizza, or just add it in many pasta sauces, such as amatriciana sauce, penne alla vodka or bolognese sauce. 

Best Tomato Variety for Passata

In order to make a delicioustomato passata recipe it would be better using  “San Marzano” tomatoes. If you can’t find them, you can use other type of tomatoes, such as cherry tomatoes, pizzutello, datterino or cluster tomatoes, as long as they are ripe red. If tomatoes are not ripe enough, let them ripen in the sun a couple of afternoons.

What is a substitute for tomato passata?

There is no substitute for tomato passata. Why, you say? Because tomato passata is a basic recipe made only with tomatoes and nothing else. You can find tomatoes everywhere and it’s very easy to make. So why substitute it when you can easily make it by yourself or buy it already made?

But pay attention: if you add other ingredients such as onion, garlic, oil, you are making a tomato sauce, that is a different recipe.

READ: Tomato Passata, Tomato Sauce and Tomato Puree. Do you really know the difference?


Passata is an Italian word that comes from the Italian verb passare, in English go through. This is because the tomato passata is obtained through a mechanical process whereby tomatoes go through the blades and the holes of the machine used to make passata.

Tomato Passata Recipe Ingredients Box

Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 20 min
Yields: 10
  • 2 Kg (4lbs 4oz) very ripe red tomatoes


User Rating

4.2 (93 Votes)



24 Replies to "Tomato Passata Recipe | How to Make Italian Tomato passata"

  • comment-avatar
    Dick doman September 28, 2020 (5:01 pm)

    HI PAUL I agree if the jars are sterilised its the same as making chutney,keep it simple. DICK

  • comment-avatar
    Mr Paul Freeman September 11, 2020 (9:24 pm)

    If you are putting it in sterilized jars, then boiling the jars until the contents are sufficiently hot to be rendered sterile, why would you not just bring the sieved mixture in the pan gently to a boil and jar it with screw sealed lids like you would jam?
    A lot less fuss!

    • comment-avatar
      pandy October 20, 2020 (6:59 pm)

      The jars will have germ on, sterilising them is the only way to make sure your passata stays fresh, that goes with anything you wish to keep in a jar for a long time. An easy way to sterilise a jar is to put it in a hot oven for 20 mins. Make sure the jars are safe to do this, ie made for the job

  • comment-avatar
    Virginia Bird August 26, 2020 (9:17 am)

    I am using Glass Jars with Metal Plastisol Lined Lug Lids – do I follow the same procedures for the water bath?

  • comment-avatar
    Marina July 9, 2020 (2:59 am)

    The jars are no longer sterile if removed as shown, with one blade inside and one outside. Better to have a pair of tongs that has a wide enough spread to grab on both sides of the jar.

    • comment-avatar
      SJ Stewart July 18, 2020 (6:24 pm)

      Sterilize the tongs

  • comment-avatar
    Mary June 30, 2020 (3:20 pm)

    Thank you for sharing!

  • comment-avatar
    John May 11, 2020 (10:05 am)

    I quarter the tomatoes, taking out most of the seeds to dry and keep for the following year… I grow Pera D’Abruzzo tomatoes in my garden here in the UK to use, cook as above but I also add a fresh basil leaf to the jar before pouring on the hot tomato passata then sterilising in a hot water bath.
    I also use a hand mill which, by the end of the day has given you a good workout!

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara May 11, 2020 (10:11 am)

      Great John! Thank you for your comment!

  • comment-avatar
    Maria Theresa April 6, 2020 (1:57 am)

    I’m afraid of doing the boiling of tomatoes in glass jar, they may explode or crack. Haven’t done it before, just wanted to be safe in the kitchen. Thanks for sharing your tips here. Appreciate it!

  • comment-avatar
    sue February 10, 2020 (6:53 am)

    can I use Citric Acid instead

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini February 10, 2020 (1:20 pm)

      Generally the pH of the tomato is between 3.9 to 4.6. If the tomatoes are not very acidic, you can add lemon juice (two tea spoons for one liter) or citric acid. This will only decrease the pasteurization time, not replacing it.

    • comment-avatar
      Shelley March 28, 2020 (3:21 pm)

      Thank you for the detailed info. I’ve always wanted to know how a true Italian cook went about separating the tomatoes from the seeds and skin and all of the water! I don’t can, I freeze vegetables, but I can’t wait to try your method for preserving tomatoes this summer! Thanks again!

  • comment-avatar
    Anita Smith September 22, 2019 (6:00 pm)

    I use 1/4 teaspoon of ascorbic acid per pint (1/2 teaspoon per quart). This will not affect taste but will keep pH at low enough level.

  • comment-avatar
    Matt July 7, 2019 (3:07 am)

    Great recipe! Just wondering if there are any tips for what to do with the discarded tomato? Obviously, we can compost, but wondering if there are any useful cooking tips for stocks etc.

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini July 8, 2019 (4:28 pm)

      Hi Metthew,
      Thanks for you comment.
      Tomato passata waste is made up of skin and seeds. With tomato skin you can make a powder that will flavor or decorate your dishes. Due to the presence of the seeds I do not believe that the result can be satisfactory. In any case you can use a vegetable dryer machine or place the tomato skins in a lined baking tray and let them dry at 100°C for about 2 hours until they are completely dehydrated. Then grind the tomato leaves and reduce them to a powder.

  • comment-avatar
    Jules April 26, 2019 (6:46 am)

    I have all that I need to get started on this recipe. I have just one question, if I may? When you put the tomatoes in the saucepan on a low heat on the stove, do they need any additional liquid in the pan or will they create their own juices?

    Many thanks in advance

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini April 26, 2019 (10:38 am)

      Hi Jules!
      Don’t worry, if they are really ripe they will create a lot of juice.
      Any doubt, you can always add half a cup of water at the beginning of cooking…
      Cheers! 🙂

  • comment-avatar
    Joe January 5, 2019 (10:34 am)

    I’m sure that the Passata recipe is just fine ( though if I have a Victorio food strainer, I’d skip your first 3 steps, run the tomatoes thru the strainer and let it do it’s job and then just low heat cook down the remainder to desired consistency) but the preservation technique that you are describing is vague at best and potentially dangerous if people do it wrong. If I understand correctly, you’re talking about a hot water bath for preservation:

    – Get hold of some glass jars with caps. These need to be canning jars (Mason in the US) with unused caps … preferably with a separate ring to secure them – otherwise they stand the chance of shattering during processing and making a mess.
    – Do NOT boil the new caps / lids! This will serve to soften them enough that they may not take a seal when you actually need to use them. Heating them a bit is all good and fine but a boil will cause you problems.
    – Please don’t cool the jars after boiling – leave them in the hot water until you need to use them. This way, you’re putting like temperatures together and minimizing the chance of cracking the jars when you’d add hot tomato liquid to a cold jar
    – For canning, size does matter – both headspace (next comment) and processing times depend on whether you are using pint / quart / larger jars. 40 Minutes might be fine for one but overkill (thus effecting the flavor) or underkill (resulting in lids that pop up rather than stay down due to infection) for another container.
    – Headspace – critical for canning … in this application I’d probably be going with 1/2 inch from liquid to rim but it is also totally dependent on jar size.
    – Please suggest to your readers that they just go out and spend a little money on a jar lifter. That way, they can take the jars out of the hot water bath while hot (after boil), put them on a towel and then watch / listen for the signature “ping” when the lids go from flat to concave and show that a good seal has been achieved. If a lid doesn’t seal, just use the product like a normal bit of sauce … it’s not worth getting sick if it doesn’t.

    Passata is great and a totally flexible base – well worth making

    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini January 6, 2019 (5:35 pm)

      Hi Joe!
      Thank you for your comment. Really useful!

  • comment-avatar
    Nigel Darling October 1, 2018 (5:40 pm)

    Hi Barbara, love the recipe, I was just wondering if this passata would suit a pizza sauce (Garlic, sugar, olive oil, salt, black pepper and chopped basil added). This sauce recipe tastes great with shop-bought passata but i would love to make it all from scratch!



    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini October 1, 2018 (6:49 pm)

      Hi Nigel! Tomato passata is a basic recipe suitable for any type of pizza sauce, so I would say it is perfect for your recipe. Thanks for your comment! It reminded me to make a recipe in the near future: how to make homemade pizza dough!
      Cheers 😀

  • comment-avatar
    Mario Gravina September 8, 2018 (4:26 am)

    Although I used to watch mum make this Passata it was a very long time ago and would like to thank you for reminding of how it’s made great memories.
    And now I’m back home in Italy i think it’s about time I had a go in making it.
    Thank you ounce again.


    • comment-avatar
      Barbara Lucchini September 8, 2018 (6:14 am)

      Thank you for your comment Mario!

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