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 canned tomatoes with onions and garlic is all you need. Add in a sprinkle of fresh herbs and simmer for 30 minutes!

Make it in large batches and freeze it for a great homemade sauce anytime!

Easy Marinara Sauce in the pot

Homemade Marinara Sauce is incredibly easy to make, and once you try it, you’ll say goodbye to jarred sauces! It’s perfect with meatballs or used to make chicken parmesan.

Ingredients in Marinara Sauce

Tomatoes – For the best marinara sauce, use canned crushed and whole tomatoes. Whole tomatoes will create a slightly thicker consistency compared to canned diced tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes have the best flavor, but any variety of canned whole tomatoes or plum tomatoes will work well.

Got fresh tomatoes? They can be peeled and added to the sauce along with the canned tomatoes for fresh flavor. If you’d like to replace the canned tomatoes, I suggest making this fresh tomato sauce.

Sweetness – Tomatoes are acidic and can be tart so I add shredded carrot for natural sweetness. You can replace it with a bit of sugar (start with ½ teaspoon) to balance the flavor if you’d prefer.

Herbs – Dried herbs should be added before simmering, while fresh basil and/or parsley can be stirred in right before serving.

Variations

  • You can add other vegetables like shredded zucchini or diced celery.
  • Use this marinara sauce to make a homemade meat sauce for ziti!
  • Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.
Marinara Sauce ingredients in pot

How to Make Marinara Sauce

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

  1. Finely dice onions, shred carrots, and soften in a pan according to the recipe below.
  2. Add the tomatoes and dried herbs and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in fresh herbs.

Simmer this marinara sauce recipe a bit longer to thicken it more.

As written, it’s perfect for pasta or added to recipes. I like it a little thicker if I’m using it on pizza or as a dip.

Add it to casseroles, serve it over pasta, zucchini noodles, or use it for eggplant parmesan.

Marinara Sauce being stirred with wooden spoon
What is Marinara Sauce?

Marinara sauce is a simple tomato-based sauce, perfect for pasta or making things like lasagna or even soups. This marinara recipe has a base of canned tomatoes with aromatics like onion and garlic and a sprinkle of herbs. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, it’s a fantastic addition to pasta, a delightful dip for snacks, or a superior substitute for store-bought sauces in all your favorite recipes.

Is Marinara Sauce the Same as Spaghetti Sauce?

Marinara sauce is a thinner sauce with very few additions, while our spaghetti sauce recipe contains meat and is simmered longer for a thicker, more robust sauce.

Is Marinara Pizza Sauce?

Marinara sauce is different than pizza sauce. Pizza sauce tends to be thicker, and our recipe has a bolder and slightly sweeter flavor than marinara sauce. If using this recipe for pizza, I would suggest simmering it a bit longer to thicken further and adding a bit of oregano and tomato paste.

Can I Substitute Marinara Sauce for Tomato Sauce?

Yes, you can use marinara sauce in place of tomato sauce.

How Long Does Marinara Sauce Last in the Fridge?

Marinara sauce will last about 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. For longer storage, store marinara sauce in the freezer for up to 4 months.

More Easy Pasta Sauces

Did your family love this easy Marinara Sauce? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

Easy Marinara Sauce in a pot
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Easy Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce is an easy-to-make tomato sauce that's perfect on top of pasta or to use in recipes calling for jarred pasta sauce.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 cups

Equipment

Ingredients  

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

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the finely diced onion, shredded carrot, and minced garlic to the pot. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add whole canned tomatoes (juice included), breaking them apart gently with a spoon.
  • Mix in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar if using, dried oregano, and season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in ½ cup of water.
  • Simmer uncovered on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until thickened to the desired consistency. Stir in fresh basil.
  • Serve over spaghetti or enjoy in your favorite recipes.

Notes

Fresh basil is recommended and should be added just before serving.
Fresh basil can be substituted with 2 teaspoons of dried basil. If using dried, add it along with the oregano.
Sugar may be required depending on the brand of tomatoes you purchase.
Store leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop until heated through. 
5 from 169 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, Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine Italian
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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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Comments

  1. i love this sauce and so does my family. makes my homemade lasagna SO much better than store ought marinara or spaghetti sauce! thrilled. I freeze the leftovers in ziplock and thaw in fridge or warm water5 stars

  2. Excellent recipe, made it today for my church spaghetti dinner. Everyone loved it. We had some sauces with meat, but i wanted to make a meatless, fresh and garlic rich sauce. Perfect!5 stars