Marinara Sauce is an easy to make tomato sauce that is perfect to top your favorite pasta or to use in recipes calling for jarred pasta sauce.

A simple base of tomatoes (whole and crushed) with onions and garlic makes the best marinara sauce. This simple sauce takes less than 30  minutes and keeps for 5 days in the fridge and freezes well!

Once you start making this quick homemade tomato sauce, you’ll never buy jarred pasta sauce again! 

Overhead picture of Marinara Sauce in a pot

Homemade Marinara Sauce is incredibly easy to make! Juicy tomatoes are simmered with fresh herbs and aromatics to give you the best marinara sauce in just minutes.

What is Marinara Sauce?

Marinara Sauce is a simple tomato sauce with very few ingredients.  Generally tomatoes, aromatics (onion/garlic) and some seasonings. It is amazing on pasta, served as a dipping sauce, or perfect replacement for jarred sauces in your recipes (we always use it in place of spaghetti sauce)!

You may be wondering, what is the difference between spaghetti sauce and marinara? The difference between the two is that marinara is simply tomatoes and seasonings while spaghetti sauce contains more ingredients such as meat or other vegetables.

Marinara Sauce ingredients in pot

Tomatoes can be acidic (depending on the brand) and sometimes tart and adding shredded carrot to this recipe adds sweetness and replaces most of the sugar. Depending on what brand of tomatoes you use, you may need to add a little more or less sugar to your marinara sauce to help cut some of the acidity. If you’d prefer, you can add a bit of sugar and skip the carrot.

While I do always used canned crushed tomatoes and whole tomatoes, I sometimes add fresh tomatoes from my garden too (be sure to peel your tomatoes first).  I find whole tomatoes, squished by hand or by spoon have the best consistency.  I’ve tried canned diced tomatoes and they don’t seem to produce the same results.

From time to time, I do like to add things like shredded zucchini or even diced celery if I have them on hand or use this Marinara Sauce to make a homemade meat sauce!

Marinara Sauce being stirred with wooden spoon

How To Make Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a flavorful and surprisingly easy dish to make in just 30 minutes!

  1. Finely dice onions and shred carrots and soften in a pan.
  2. Add your tomatoes and use a wooden spoon to gently break them apart.
  3. Simmer your marinara sauce for about 20 minutes, or until it is your desired consistency.

You want to make sure that your sauce is a little thinner if it is being used as a pasta sauce, as opposed to a little thicker if you are using it on a pizza or as a dip.

To store your marinara sauce, it will last about 5-7 days in the fridge in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can freeze it in single serving sizes for up to a year, and just defrost as needed!

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Overhead picture of Marinara Sauce in a pot
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Easy Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce is an easy to make tomato sauce that is perfect to top your favorite pasta or to use in recipes calling for jarred pasta sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion finely diced
  • cup carrot shredded
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes canned
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes canned
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • ½ cup water


  • In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrot and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add whole tomatoes (with juice) and gently break apart with the spoon.  Stir in remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer uncovered on low heat for 20 minutes or until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  • Serve over spaghetti or enjoy in your favorite recipes. Freeze or refrigerate to store.


Sugar may be required depending on the brand of tomatoes you purchase.
5 from 88 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Nutrition Information

Calories: 112 | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 310mg | Potassium: 568mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1320IU | Vitamin C: 21.5mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian

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About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
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  1. Holly, I love your down home recipes! An Italian friend told me to try using a pinch of baking soda instead of sugar for tomato sauce and I’ve been using it ever since

  2. So good! I used this in lasagna! I skipped out on the whole tomatoes as I found the crushed tomatoes and tomato paste was enough. I also substituted balsamic vinegar for the optional sugar as I find that the balsamic cuts the acid better. I will defo make this again!5 stars

  3. Only issue I have is that the whole tomatoes you are putting directly in have seeds. Wouldn’t you want to take them out of the can and deseed them?

    1. Hi Rob, the seeds don’t bother us so we just add the tomatoes whole. You can remove them if you prefer.

  4. Absolutely delicious. I wouldn’t recommend changing anything. I doubled the recipe and made two lasagnas. One for dinner and one for the freezer. Yummy!!5 stars

  5. This recipe was easy and quick, and delicious!
    I followed the recipe, adding shredded carrots, and using less sugar. I love whole plum tomatoes, it gives a hearty texture to the sauce. The consistency was perfect, it clung nicely to the pasta.
    My family also enjoyed, I will be making this sauce again, but in a bigger batch!5 stars

    1. I personally do not have a lot of experience with canning so I can’t say for sure. Another reader may have some insight!

    1. We like using crushed and whole tomatoes for a lovely texture for the sauce! I find whole tomatoes, squished by hand or by spoon have the best consistency. I’ve tried canned diced tomatoes and they don’t seem to produce the same results.

    1. One is 28 ounces whole tomatoes and the other is 28 ounces crushed tomatoes. Enjoy Stewart!

  6. This is the BEST marinara sauce!!! I use it as the base for just about anything, from stuffed peppers, spaghetti, baked ziti, stuffed shells, lasagna, and more!!!!! I love the carrots and actually dice mine small and also add diced green pepper. This is seriously so much better than any of the jar sauce you can buy and it saves me money, because now I can jar my own. Thank you!!!!5 stars

  7. Holly, I found your site today and love it. I have been cooking for 20 years on my own and to the point I often no longer use recipes, unless I am looking for something new, or a new angle to something I already cool.

    This is another excellent recipe from your site – two in one day (your lasagna being the other). Agree on the carrots – to many online recipes skip this step. I grate mine instead of shred as there is no carrots left for kids to fish fore and call you out over. On the whole tomatoes, I recommend the San Marzano if you can get them. A few more dollars per can, but is a superior tomato, especially if you are sensitive to tomatoes being overly acidic. Cheaper brands (ie Hunts, etc) can be very acidic (carrots help). Not so much with the San Marzano brand.

    The only thing I did not see in the recipe was some red wine. As much as you love wine in your bio :), I’m surprised to not see it. Red wine is a perfect compliment to tomato sauce/dishes. Even if I am using store bought tomato sauce, I will use some red wine to rinse the bottle out into the pot. It highlights the tomato flavor to another level. I add about an inch per can/jar, give it a good rinse and pour into the pan. Some thicker sauces might get two wine rinses. If money is an issue or you just are not a drinker, the cheap cooking wines are good enough and better than nothing.

    On the recommended qualities, worth pointing out 1/2 cup of onions is half a medium onion and 1/3 cup shredded/grated carrot is about 1 medium carrot. May be helpful to some who don’t know their veggies by volumes.

    1. Thank you for sharing your tips on the tomatoes and the volumes Chris!! I agree, a splash of wine would be great in this.

    2. Made this sauce yesterday and swapped the water for red wine :). Cooked on stove top, made and browned ricotta meatballs(beef, veal, pork) I transferred both to the crock pot on low to marry for a couple hours before supper, absolutely delicious5 stars

    1. It all depends on what taste good to you. This is a good spaghetti sauce so it very well can be used for eggplant lasagna.

  8. One of the best ever marinara sauce recipe i have ever tried. I love this marinara sauce recipe. Thanks for sharing this recipe with all of us. 5 stars

    1. I haven’t tried this recipe with just fresh tomatoes so I can’t say for sure how the consistency or flavor would be. That being said I do sometimes peel fresh tomatoes and add them in with the whole canned tomatoes.