The sauce is pure magic. It is rich and creamy, but so fast and simple. I love quick, child-friendly weekday dinners, but it's also luxurious enough to impress a crowd. 

A plate of pasta mixed with tomato cream sauce, topped with fresh basil and Parmesan on a marble table. 
Maybe I should call this "magic pasta sauce" because that's pretty much what it is: this recipe that you take out of your back pocket at the eleventh hour, when the fridge is empty, the kids are angry and the brain cells that are still working are fighting to kill each other because it's just "that" as a day.

Lick-the-plate Tomato Cream Sauce, aka Magic Pasta Sauce.

Side view, rigatoni pasta mixed with creamy tomato sauce on a marble table.
I use this recipe when I want a comforting pasta recipe, but a big jar of Sunday sauce is not on the agenda.

It's my favorite dinner when my toddler throws me this child picker look and I know I'm going to cook with a kid on my hip.

But I also use this creamy tomato sauce when I need to feed a crowd, because there is no meal more pleasant for people than pasta. From Christmas Eve dinner to birthday parties, to everything in between, these quick and comforting pastas with creamy tomato sauce are here for me. 



Using a handful of staples from the pantry, this cream tomato sauce is ready in just 30 minutes. As this sauce is so fast, you'll need a few key ingredients to create a deep and tasty sauce (a feat usually reserved for long, slow Italian red sauces): butter, cream and good canned tomatoes.

The ingredients of the tomato cream sauce are arranged on a marbled background.

Sweet onions and fresh garlic are the basis of the aromatic flavor.
A good dose of salt brings out the flavour of canned tomatoes - don't erin, but check if your canned tomatoes already contain salt and adjust if necessary (see recipe sheet).
The dried herbs (basil, parsley, oregano) give depth, while fresh basil helps to keep the sauce fresh.
A few pieces of good quality butter (such as Kerrygold's) make this sauce very rich, and the fat reduces the acidity of the tomatoes.
A little thick cream at the end - not too much - completes the butter and of course gives its name to this creamy tomato sauce.
And of course, tomatoes. But not just any tomatoes - because it is a quick sauce that mimics a long slow-cooked red sauce, using the right tomatoes will give the best flavor. Flame-roasted canned whole tomatoes are the best choice. Flame-roasted tomatoes are just that: charred tomatoes over an open fire. This process allows tomatoes to both be cooked and their natural sugars caramelized, creating a sweet, smoky, deep-spoken flavour that ordinary canned tomatoes cannot touch. Their flavour goes particularly well with cream and butter, which gives a sauce so rich and complex that you will swear that it has been cooked for hours.
Two large cans of roasted tomatoes over high heat.


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  • Dutch Oven: Because tomatoes are acidic, you will want to use non-reactive kitchen utensils to prepare tomato sauce. The glazed Dutch ovens are always a great choice. A stainless steel pot is also ideal, but keep an eye on the temperature to make sure your onions don't scald.
  • Immersion blender: to mix the cooked sauce for a smooth, creamy finish. If you don't have an immersion blender, you have two choices: (1) keep the sauce in pieces (I did, and although the flavor is still exceptional, my children don't like the consistency) or (2) transfer the sauce to a blender and puree it in batches.


Portion sizes allow you to prepare a double serving of this creamy tomato sauce - one for tonight and another for freezer storage (or leftovers for the rest of the week). Cook once and eat twice to win! Serve this sauce on short pasta with bones (such as rigatoni, penne or rotini) to "catch" the sauce. Add a simple salad or steamed vegetable like broccoli for a well-balanced meal.

A collage of images showing how to make tomato sauce with cream for pasta.


Sauté diced onions in a little olive oil until tender. Add fresh garlic and sauté until fragrant (about a minute).
Add canned tomatoes, dried herbs and salt. Stir well, then place the butter on top.
Simmer the sauce for 20 minutes. While the sauce is simmering, gently crush the whole tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon to break them.
Turn off the heat and add the cream.
A dipping blender puree creamy tomato sauce in a Dutch oven; a ladle filled with creamy tomato sauce for pasta.
Use an immersion blender to puree the sauce until smooth. Taste the seasoning and adjust with extra salt or cream if necessary. Be careful not to use too much cream, as you will want the flavour of the tomatoes to be really bright.

Cooked rigatoni pasta mixed with tomato cream sauce in a large white bowl.
Mix the tomato cream sauce with your favourite short and streaked pasta (we used rigatoni). The edges of pasta in the shape of rigatoni and penne will hold better in the thick and rich sauce than a long, smooth paste such as spaghetti or bucatini.

Side view of a creamy pasta sauce mixed with rigatoni.
Garnish with freshly grated Parmesan and fresh basil.


Use flame-roasted tomatoes for greater depth and flavour.
Season generously with salt to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.
Don't use too much cream! Use just enough to enhance the flavour of tomatoes and create a creamy consistency, but not too much for the cream to overload the sauce.
Choose the right shape of pasta - short, streaked pasta will cling better to the thick sauce than a smooth pasta shape.
Garnish generously with fresh basil for a layered flavour.



  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 28-oz cans fire roasted whole tomatoes
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • pinch oregano
  • 5 tbsp butter, use good butter, like Kerrygold
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, torn or julienned


  1. Heat a dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until it shimmers. Add the onions and sautee until translucent - do not brown - about 5 minutes. Add the garlic cloves and sautee, stirring continuously, until fragrant (about a minute).
  2. Add the tomatoes with their juices, salt, dried basil, parsley, and oregano. Give everything a good stir. Place the butter on top. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a simmer. Adjust the heat to low or medium low to maintain a consistent simmer with slow, large bubbles. Cover and simmer at least 20 minutes. Stir the sauce occasionally and when you do so, use the back of a wooden spoon to gently crush the tomatoes.
  3. Turn off the heat, then add the cream. Puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt or cream if needed. Toss half the sauce with one pound of a cooked short pasta like rigatoni. Portion onto plates or into pasta bowls and garnish with fresh basil. Freeze the remaining half of the pasta sauce in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 months.
  4. Notes
  5. Check your canned tomatoes for salt content - if salt has been added, cut the salt amount in half to start. You can always add more at the end if more salt is needed.
  6. Choose the right pasta shape - a short, ridged pasta like rigatoni or penne will grab onto the thick sauce better than a smooth pasta shape.

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