Spanish Tomato Sauce Recipe (Salsa de Tomate)

One of the first sauces I’ve learned in culinary school in Spain is salsa de tomate — a classic Spanish tomato sauce recipe. What makes Spanish tomato sauce different than other versions is the use of onions and carrots– and also a sneaky sprinkle of flour.

Spanish Tomato Sauce Recipe
Delicious Spanish tomato sauce recipe Photo by: Patent and the Pantry

I’ll be honest– I was skeptical. I come from an Italian American family where making tomato sauce from our garden’s gorgeous tomatoes was a ritual each summer. And there were no onions, carrots (or, heaven forbid– flour!) in my family’s version.

But my culinary school teacher explained the reason behind the ingredients in this version of Spanish tomato sauce. The onion and carrot add sweetness to the sauce, which balances out the acidic tomatoes. The flour– just a bit– is cooked down and thickens the sauce. I was worried the sauce would end up tasting like flour, but assure you, it didn’t!

While this Spanish tomato sauce recipe is not what I am used to making, I really like it. It’s the perfect sauce to keep on hand for a variety of dishes, including pollo con tomate.

What’s your favorite tomato sauce recipe? Leave me a comment below!

Easy Spanish Tomato Sauce Recipe (Salsa de Tomate)

Spanish Tomato Sauce Recipe (Salsa de Tomate)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This Spanish tomato sauce recipe is straight from my culinary school in Spain! Easy and delicious.
Recipe type: Sauce
Cuisine: Spanish
Serves: 2 cups
  • 1 kilo (about 2¼ lbs) of ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and with the pulp and seeds removed, diced
  • 100 grams (about ¼ lb) of pancetta, diced (or a ham bone)
  • 50 ml (about 3 Tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil
  • 100 grams onion (about 1 medium onion), diced
  • 100 grams carrot (about 2 large carrots), diced
  • 25 grams (about 2 Tablespoons) flour
  • 80 grams (about ⅓ Cup) tomato paste
  • ½ liter (about 2¼ Cups) water
  • 2 cloves of garlic, skin left on and smashed
  • Bay leafs
  • Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste
  1. Heat the olive oil and add the pancetta or ham bone, cook slowly without browning
  2. Add the diced carrot and onion, and sauté over medium heat until cooked through (but not browned)
  3. Sprinkle the flour and stir, not allowing the flour to burn or take on color, but cooking it for a couple of minutes
  4. Add the tomato paste, the diced tomatoes, water, garlic cloves, and bay leaves
  5. Add salt and pepper, and a bit of sugar if the tomatoes are very acidic
  6. Simmer slowly for about an hour, skimming if necessary
  7. Strain through a colander and add salt and pepper as needed

More delicious Spanish sauces:

What’s your favorite tomato sauce recipe? Any tips for the perfect sauce?


  1. Your recipe reminds me of New Orleans Italian tomato sauces.
    My go to recipe is a simple marinara from a PBS show and book from the 60’s called Romagnoli’s Table which is nothing more than Olive Oil flavored with garlic and chili pepper until browned and then discarded, tomato, fresh or canned and seasoning (S/P/oregano.)
    For an elaborate sauce ,which everyone in my circle raves over, is a creation of a one time NYC restaurant, Trattoria da Alfredo (Viazzi) made with two consecutive reductions before adding tomatoes. Although not in the original recipe, I do add half a grated and chopped carrot to the first reduction for sweetness. Nary a whif of flour, though.

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