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
Author Spend With Pennies AO


  • 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 86 votes

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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Recipe Rating


  1. For those of us using canned diced tomatoes, it would be helpful to include the quantity in milliliters along with the ounces. Please let me know if this recipe is updated.

    1. I’ve tried canned diced tomatoes and they don’t seem to produce the same results Cynthia, so I can’t say for sure.

    1. Depending on your taste preferences I would personally add anywhere from ¼ to ½ teaspoon of each.

  2. We used a food processor to blend up the tomatoes and it cooked down really nicely. Also added some red pepper flakes for a little more zip, and it turned out great! Big hit with the kids!

  3. This sauce is perfect exactly the way it’s written. I used more garlic than was called for and it was good but not necessary. Thanks for the great recipe.

  4. I made this tonight. It is simmering with the chicken slices I made last night that were terrible. I needed a marinara sauce, and I am out of it. In 40-some odd years of cooking, I have only made one spaghetti sauce-based recipe. It wasn’t good. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!! It is simmering and I still can’t believe that finally, I can make a decent marinara. Thank you!5 stars