Cherry Tomato Sauce for Pasta

tomato pasta with shredded parmesan in a bowl on a green background.

This vegetarian burst cherry tomato pasta is packed with flavor. From the roasted tomatoes to the balsamic reduction, this recipe is designed to tantalize your taste buds. Best of all, it requires very little effort on your part. I have banned the chopping and peeling of tomatoes for this recipe because, honestly, I'm not here for that.

What makes this pasta so flavorful?

Burst tomatoes: Roasting tomatoes is a super easy way to enhance their flavor. As the water cooks off of the tomatoes and the sugars are exposed to heat, caramelization occurs. This gives the tomatoes a nuttier, rounder flavor. Learn more about caramelization.

Roasted garlic: With virtually no extra effort, slices of garlic roast with the tomatoes. They get soft, melty, and nutty, adding a little oomph to the pasta.

Balsamic vinegar reduction: Reducing balsamic vinegar evaporates some of the water. This concentrates the sugars in the vinegar, making it sweet and a little thicker, which helps it to stick to the pasta. Besides, it couldn't be much easier to do. Simply place the vinegar in a small pot over med-low heat and let it slowly evaporate.

Burst tomato sauce over rotini pasta being dipped into with a slice of buttered French bread.

What to serve on the side

I prefer buttered French bread on the side because carbs are my love language. For something a little lighter try a balsamic strawberry salad or some roasted asparagus.


Can other tomatoes be used in this recipe?

Other types of tomatoes can be used in this recipe but they may require a little alteration to the instructions. Some people may find the peels of larger tomatoes offensive, so it may be prudent to peel them prior to cooking. However, it does not bother everyone. Additionally, the tomatoes will need to be cut into smaller pieces and may take a bit longer to cook in the oven.

How should leftovers be stored?

This pasta and its sauce do not lend themselves well to freezing. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Can the recipe be doubled?

Absolutely, just be sure to use a large enough baking sheet that the tomatoes are not too crowded. Additionally, you may not need double the vinegar reduction, so add some, then taste the pasta before adding the rest.

Can this pasta be made dairy free?

This pasta can be made dairy free either by simply leaving out the parmesan or by using vegan parmesan cheese.

What type of pasta works best?

Any type of shorter pasta will work well for this sauce. Bonus points if the pasta has ridges for the roasted tomatoes to hook into. I find that longer pastas like spaghetti don't work quite as well as the sauce does not distribute evenly.

Other pasta recipes you might like

Broccoli pine nut pasta

Creamy sun dried tomato pasta

Baked buffalo mac and cheese

Pasta with burst cherry tomato sauce on a plate, sprinkled with parmesan and buttered bread.

Get your tomatoes and garlic roasting and your vinegar reducing, then take a few deep breaths. Your wholesome dinner is cooking and you can relax.

Keep your belly full, your mind engaged, and your heart open.

burst cherry tomato pasta in a bowl.

Pasta with burst cherry tomato sauce

This pasta sauce is packed with flavor, from a balsamic reduction to its roasted garlic and tomato sauce.
5 from 11 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Dinner, lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings


  • 1 pound cherry tomatoes* washed and dried
  • 3 cloves garlic sliced the long way
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pound pasta**
  • ¼ cup reserved pasta water
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan plus more for topping
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Pre-heat oven to 400°F.
  • On a large parchment lined baking sheet mix together tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and a light sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast tomatoes and garlic for 45 minutes, mixing them every 15 minutes. If after 45 minutes the baking sheet still seems to have a lot of tomato juice, keep cooking for another 5-10 minutes.
  • During the last 15 minutes of roasting the tomatoes, place the balsamic vinegar into a small pot over medium low heat. When the vinegar starts to simmer, reduce the heat just enough to maintain a low but consistent simmer. Continue to reduce the vinegar until about 3 tablespoons remain and the vinegar lightly sticks to the back of a spoon. Set aside until the tomatoes and pasta are ready.
  • Meanwhile, cook pasta according to the directions on the box, adding about 1 tablespoon of salt to the water, prior to adding the pasta. Before draining the pasta, reserve ¼ cup of the cooking water.
  • When all the components are ready mix together the pasta, tomatoes and garlic, vinegar, ¼ cup of pasta water, and parmesan. Taste the pasta and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Plate the pasta, then top with additional parmesan if desired. Serve alone or with French bread, salad, or some roasted veggies.


*Tomatoes: You can use other types of tomatoes but be sure to cut them into smaller pieces. They may also take a little longer to cook, keep cooking until most of the tomato juice has cooked off. You may also want to peel larger tomatoes if the skin will bother you.
**Pasta: I recommend using shorter pastas, especially those with ridges such as rotini, rotelle, cavatappi, or penne. 
Keyword balsamic reduction, broccoli pasta, burst cherry tomatoes, cherry tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, fall pasta, pasta sauce, roasted tomato, roasted tomato sauce, summer pasta
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  1. 5 stars
    Lovely pasta recipe. So simple and looks delicious. I'm adding this on my menu.

  2. 5 stars
    This sauce was incredibly easy to make and was so delicious! It will be my go-to sauce from now on. Thanks for the recipe!

  3. Amanda Scarlati

    5 stars
    Such a quick and easy recipe, my kids loved it with farfalle!

  4. 5 stars
    who doesnt like carbs! lol I can relate to it, this is perfect for my carbo loading before my long runs

  5. 5 stars
    I love all the fresh bright flavors going on in this pasta. So tasty and simple, too!

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