Marinara Sauce

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Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

How do you “unwind” at the end of a long day?

In different seasons of life, I have had different answers.  I remember that in my old job — when I was around people and music all day long — I loved coming home to a quiet house and reading a book in glorious silence for awhile.  Nowadays when I close my computer and call it a day with blogging, I generally beeline for the door to soak up some sunshine and take my pup for a walk around the block.  Or meet up with friends for happy hour.  Or watch an episode of The Millionaire Matchmaker, my guilty-pleasure show that was just released (all seven seasons!) on Hulu.

But as crazy as it sounds after a day of cooking, I have found that one of my favorite things in life is to still stand over the stove and stir something.  It could be a soup.  It could be a stir-fry.  It could be scrambled eggs.  I’ve learned that there’s just something about the physical act of stirring that settles my mind and is profoundly relaxing.  Plus, stirring usually means that some delicious warm meal is in my future, so that may be part of it too.

Without a doubt, one of my favorite comfort foods after a long day is pasta.  And I realized years ago that you can make a mean batch of homemade marinara sauce in the same time it makes to heat a pot of water and cook some pasta.  It’s like they were meant to be together, or something.  ;)

And as far as marinara sauces go, I have to say that I think this one is pretty tough to beat.  It’s made with classic, uncomplicated ingredients.  And it’s good on just about everything imaginable.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

The key to simple sauces with simple ingredients is being sure to use good ingredients.  For this recipe you will need crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic, (good-quality) olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, black pepper and oregano, and a sprig of fresh basil.

Since it’s summertime, you can totally sub in fresh tomatoes for this recipe (I recommend romas), and then just crush them up with your hands in a bowl.  But if you’re making this in the dead of winter, I definitely recommend going for canned tomatoes instead of the tasteless ones you may find in the produce section.  San Marzano’s are definitely the gold standard when it comes to tomato sauce.  But any can of crushed tomatoes will also do.

I’m also a stickler for fresh basil in this recipe.  And fresh garlic.  Those two will really make all the difference.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

To make the sauce, simply saute up your garlic.  You can either thinly slice or mince it.  (My garlic was a little green – oops!)

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

Then add in your crushed tomatoes…

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

…and seasonings…

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

…and then gently stir in a sprig of fresh basil.  You’re going to remove it before serving, so keeping the leaves attached to the sprig is easiest.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

Then give it a good stir, and let it come to a simmer.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

Then you can actually take a break from stirring and just let it simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it is reduced to your desired level of thickness.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

Remove the basil sprig before serving…

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

And then dish it up.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

Or pop it in a jar and save it for next time, if you have the restraint.  :)

Bottom line, if you love marinara sauce, I can’t recommend making a homemade batch enough.  It is comforting from the relaxing (stirring!) start to the delicious finish.  And you can rest easy as well knowing exactly what goes into this, versus some of the mystery ingredients on labels at the store.

And if you’re looking for a way to use this sauce, stay tuned tomorrow because I have a pretty special 10-minute recipe coming up that has been requested on the blog for years.  I think you’re going to love it.


Marinara Sauce

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: About 1.5 cups 1x


This delicious marinara sauce recipe is fresh, flavorful, and so simple to make at home with simple ingredients.



  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered (or minced)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1.75 lbs. fresh roma tomatoes (**see below for instructions on using fresh roma tomatoes)
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or a pinch of cayenne)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large sprig of fresh basil


  1. Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute, stirring frequently, until fragrant. Add in the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt, oregano and black pepper, and stir to combine. Add the sprig of fresh basil on top of the sauce, and use a spoon to gently press it below the surface. Continue cooking until the sauce reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low and continue to let the sauce simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the oil on the surface is a deep orange. It will be reduced and thickened. Discard the sprig of basil, and season the sauce with additional salt and pepper if needed.
  2. Remove from heat and serve immediately, or store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Or freeze for up to 3 months.


*The tomatoes in homemade marinara sauce are VERY important. So if you can, buy a good quality brand that you trust. I love using canned San Marzano tomatoes, which are usually sold “whole”. If using them, just pour them into a bowl and crush them with your hands. Then add them to the recipe as directed.

If you would like to use fresh roma tomatoes, I recommend also just crushing those in a bowl with your hands. (Although many people prefer to have fresh tomatoes peeled, in which case you can use a knife to cut a little x in the bottom, boil, blanch and then peel them.) Then add them to the recipe as instructed.

Recipe slightly adapted from Lidia’s Italy.

Homemade Marinara Sauce -- delicious marinara is so easy to make with simple, fresh ingredients! | #italian

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63 comments on “Marinara Sauce”

  1. All my favorite flavors! I love how my house smells when I whip up a batch of homemade tomato sauce.

  2. I love standing at the stove when I get home. It’s so relaxing for some reason. And marinara sauce? I eat it with a spoon! Especially this one :)

  3. We have been doing a lot of walks and evening gym trips as a family to unwind. I also love chopping vegetables. PS: I love Millionaire Matchmaker!! lol. So real life right?

  4. This looks delicious, Ali! I feel like I could bathe in this sauce ❤️

  5. Homemade is always the way to go, and I love how easy this sauce is!

  6. Hi Ali!
    I stumbled upon your blog last week and have since made two recipes, both of which I loved!!! Thank you so much for such refreshing recipes!
    I am Italian so a good marinara sauce is weekly made by my mother but I have never made any myself. Will have to try your recipe. :)

  7. Could I can this in a sterilized jar or would the sauce have to be more acidic for that to be safe?
    Thanks in advance =)

    • Hi Sara,

      Unfortunately, I’m not a canning pro so cannot say for sure. But I believe this sauce would be ok if the jar is properly sterilized.

      Best wishes!

  8. Millionaire Matchmaker – love it! Live for the Patty Melts ;-)

    This pasta sauce looks amazing! Love pasta sauce almost as much as my husband! Can’t wait to try yours :-)

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  10. Great recipe – similar to my family recipe. It was one of the first things I learned to cook (from my Mom the chef) and still one of my favorite comfort foods – especially on a busy school/work night! My three children and hubby are definite pasta lovers! The only thing I do slightly differently.. is use two cans of San Marzano tomatoes and one I crush up and the other I toss in whole then LIGHTLY break up with my spoon so there are nice biggish chunks of tomato! I also add some fresh basil in at the end for the plates.. but otherwise.. awesome recipe! Glad I found your blog!

  11. This sauce looks wonderful! I love making my own marinara which is usually a 4 hour process, but this is a great shortcut for a simple sauce when there isn’t an abundance of time. Hoping to try it out in Sunday cook up tomorrow. :-)

  12. If using fresh romas for the sauce, approximately how many/what weight? I always estimate wrong and then my proportions are off. Thanks!

    • Hi Shenley,

      Oh!! So sorry about that, I forgot to include the amount. If using fresh Romas, you will need to use a little under 2 pounds (about 1.75 lbs, to be exact). Good luck! :)


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  15. This Marinara sauce is outstanding!I made it tonight and served it with linguini and a platter of grilled peppers, zucchini and stuffed mushrooms. My guests enjoyed it as much as I did. Thanks for the great recipe, Ali.

  16. I made this over the weekend and LOVE it! This will definitely be my go to recipe from now on! I doubled the recipe so I could freeze some.

  17. This recipe was SOO FREAKIN GOOD. Thank you this is a keeper.

  18. Well, let me tell you.  I was making a baked ziti and man oh man I used this sauce with it.  DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!

  19. This was a great recipe! it tastes great. My boyfriend and I made this tonight and used it as the sauce for our cauliflower pizza. I highly recommend giving it a shot for any of the food lovers out there. ( Enjoy!

    – M & W – 

  20. I loooooooove your blog, I want to do all the recipes haha, I was looking for a good homemade marinara sauce, I’m defenitly trying this one!, keep the easy recipes coming!

  21. I grow a tomato sauce garden ever year.  I am looking for a basic recipe that can canned and then be altered into Spagetti Sauce, Pizza sauce, and Marinara (i would consider Marinara the sauce you use for dunking mott sticks and is sweeter than spagetti sauce or pizza sauce.)  What is the difference between Pizza Sauce and Spagetti Sauce?   Can you suggest a basic reciep and then provide additional ingredients to get 3 different sauces?  

    I’ve searched the web and never found this question addressed.  Thanks!!!

    • Hey Sarah! To me, spaghetti sauce has more to it than pizza sauce. Pizza sauce is usually less ingredients, and just cleaner, whereas most spaghetti sauces are heartier, and have vegetables (onion, carrots, celery, green pepper, mushrooms). It all depends on the recipe of course, and personal preference, but I hope this helps!

  22. What do you put in your sauce to cut the sharpness of the tomatoes?  I always use chicken broth.

  23. I just made this and it tasted great, but when I tried to simmer it, it splattered literally EVERYWHERE: the stovetop, the counter, the hood vent, even the floor! Anything I could do to prevent this?

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  26. Have you ever canned this?

  27. Sounds delicious! Does anyone know if diced tomatoes would be able to be a replacement for the crushed tomatoes?

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  31. Thank you for your response and encouragement to ALWAYS take the time to make your own rather than serve and attempt to smile at a jar of factory made marinara.  I started using San Marzano whole tomatoes after watching Jeff Smith use them on one of his shows.  Spendy can of tomatoes, but this is the proper way to a cheap thrill, of sorts.

  32. Hi Ali !!

    I came across your recipe on MSN Food & Drink – Top 20 World Sauces You Need to Master and low and behold there was your recipe for Marinara !!! I am so looking forward to making it, I’ve been looking for a good solid recipe for a long time. One thing though, for some reason I wasn’t able to print from your page, tried troubleshooting multiple ways with no success. Finally, I copied and pasted into Word and was able to print from there. I don’t know what the issue is and don’t know if anyone else had the same issue. I honestly thought I was looking at buying a new printer, grrrr. Just wanted to let you know. Thanks so much !!!

  33. This sauce is delicious! My kids were quite impressed with me when I made it last week and I’m making it again tonight (as I type). I snuck a little taste and it’s gonna be so good. Thanks for the easy recipe; it’s simple and quick yet so delicious! 

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  35. Hey Ali, thanks for this one.. it was the most needed one !

  36. Will this sauce hold up well as a base sauce in a slow cooker meatball recipe? I love your recipes and would like to try this marinara as the sauce I use. Thank you for all the delicious recipes!

    • Hi Rhiannon! Yes, most definitely! The only thing is we would suggest leaving out the basil and adding it to the slow cooker during the last five minutes of cooking (the excessive heat will kill the flavor). We hope you enjoy!

  37. Can you can this sauce? I do a lot of canning and am looking for a good marinara sauce to use in a lot of different dishes. 

    • Hi Tammy! We haven’t tried canning this ourselves but as long as you follow the proper canning procedure, it should work great!

  38. Can I substitute vegetable oil for the olive oil?

    • Sure, we think olive oil has a better flavor for this, but you’re definitely welcome to use vegetable oil instead if you prefer. We hope you enjoy!

  39. I tried this tonight with Roma tomatoes but I couldn’t get the sauce to thicken ? the flavor was great but it was still so watery.. I followed the directions, except I used the roma’s instead of the canned. I only used 1.5 lbs as well. I think I had it on for at least 20-25 minutes. Any suggestions? I will use the canned ones on my next attempt!

    • Hi Stacy! It sounds like the tomatoes just had too much water, which is why you had trouble getting your sauce to thicken. The canned tomatoes don’t have as much liquid, so we definitely recommend using those next time.

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  42. Are the tomatoes canned “in tomato purée” or in tomato juice.  Vast difference!

  43. In the list of ingredients where are the tomatoes?

    • Hello Anne! It’s the third ingredient listed: 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes or 1.75 lbs. fresh roma tomatoes

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  45. 5 stars
    I love this marinara sauce. It is so good and easy to make in a relatively short amount of time.

  46. 5 stars
    I absolutely love this sauce! I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve made it. You are 100% correct that chosing the tomatoes in the recipe is so very important. I bought some tomatoes just because they were on sale and I was so disappointed. Think quality for this. I always triple or quadruple the recipe and freeze.

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  48. 5 stars
    I love the intense flavor of this marinara sauce. I did cook it longer than suggested to cook my tomatoes down.

  49. 5 stars
    This was so delicious! And easy! I made it exactly as the recipe said without adding extras herbs and spices ( which I would normally do!) Then I put it in my Vitamix to puree to a smooth texture. Definitely will add this to my books and make again ☺️