How Do You Stop Tomato Sauce From Splattering?

Most things you cook with tomato sauce turn out delicious, but sometimes your shirt doesn’t turn out so well.

How can you stop that tomato sauce from splattering?

The two most effective ways to stop tomato sauce splatter are to turn the stove down to a simmer, or use a splatter guard of some type, which is usually inexpensive.

Why Does Tomato Sauce Splatter So Much?

There is a scientific explanation for why tomato sauces splatter so much, but here is a simple way to understand it. Usually, your recipe will call for the ingredients to boil at some point, or at least be cooked on medium to medium-high heat. When that happens, gas bubbles form. Those bubbles automatically want to go to the surface, even when met with resistance by the other ingredients. Below the surface, pressure will build up until finally, the gas bubbles break through to the surface of the ingredients.

Tomato sauce bubbling
Gas bubbles rise from the bottom of tomato sauce as it heats and explode on the surface.

The bubbles erupt in an upward motion. When they do this, they take lots of sauce with them, which means you’ll see your sauce spewing out of your pot eventually. It’s both frustrating and terribly messy. If you’ve ever cleaned tomato sauce splatter, you know what we mean. The sauce seems to go everywhere—even inside the burners on the stove—and it’s time-consuming and difficult to get everything clean.

How to Stop the Splatter

To prevent splatters from tomato sauce, you have several options.

1. Simmer on Very Low Heat

The first is to lower the sauce and let it simmer instead of continuing to boil. When you do this, it provides several advantages. The main one is that, while the sauce may take longer to cook all the way, the taste will be heartier and tastier. You can even put a lid on the pan and leave a crack in it so it doesn’t start to boil again, or close the lid and put a wooden spoon inside the pan so that a small crack is open.

You still might get the occasional bubble bursting, but they should be few and far between.

2. Buy a Splatter Shield

The second option is to buy a good splatter shield. BergKoch makes a great one.

Most of these are made out of mesh or silicone and simply get placed over the pot. There are holes in every type of splatter screen, but they are so small that even the thinnest sauce won’t go through them.

The screens are fairly easy to clean because you can clean them in the sink, using only water and maybe a small amount of dishwashing soap.

3. Change Your Pot

Finally, you can change the type of pot you’re using. For the best results, use a pot that is both deep and wide. Extra depth means it’s harder for the splatters to burst out of the pot, and extra width gives it a bigger evaporation surface. Together, these should reduce the chances of sauce spewing all over the place as you’re trying to cook. Not everyone realizes that the size of your cooking pot directly affects the splatter that occurs, but it’s a good tip to remember.

Man stirs tomato sauce in a large pot on the stove.
A deep, wide pot will help keep splatter to a minimum.

Having tomato sauce splatter all over is really inconvenient, especially if you’re trying to cook while keeping your stove clean at the same time. If you let the splatters sit for a while as you move onto something else, they can get stuck onto just about any surface, which makes cleaning and removing the splatters a lot more difficult.

If you use some of the tips mentioned here, you can greatly reduce the amount of splatter that occurs when you’re cooking anything with tomato sauce in it, and that can save you both time and frustration.

By the way, if you ever find mold on your tomato sauce after storing it in the fridge for a while, all is not lost. See our post at the link to learn why it may still be edible.