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
5 from 180 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
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Easy Marinara Sauce

Ripe tomatoes, garlic, onions, and fresh basil are simmered together for a rich and savory flavorful marinara sauce.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 8 cups

Equipment

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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.
  • To the pot, add the finely diced onion, shredded carrot, and minced garlic. 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 180 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’m using this sauce to make your lasagna. In the lasagna recipe you call for 36 ounces of this sauce (or 48 ounces if you want more sauce in the lasagna). How many ounces of sauce does this recipe make? I’m guessing somewhere around 56 ounces since it calls for 2 28 ounce cans of tomatoes… Thanks!

    1. If you only have canned whole tomatoes, I would add two 28 oz cans. You can use an immersion blender to break up some of the whole tomatoes so they are more of a ‘crushed’ consistency, or just gently break them apart in the pot as per the recipe instructions. Let us know how it turns out for you, Michaela!

    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.

  2. This is absolutely the best recipe for marinara. I have tried many in the past and they don’t compare. I did not use sugar , other than that I followed recipe. I will always use this recipe!

  3. Excellent marinara with minimal effort. The hardest part was cutting the onion and garlic! Used dried basil and still tasted great. Increased tomato paste to 3 T. because we like it thick.5 stars

  4. I look forward to making this sauce. However, in your notes you say to use 2 teaspoons of dry basil if not using fresh, but in an answer to Susan 11/2/22 you say to use 1.5 tablespoons of dry basil. Which amount is it?

    1. Hi Rose, as the recipe is updated we don’t always catch the old responses to comments. So the recipe card will be your most accurate source of information! So I would use 2 teaspoons of dried basil.

      1. Thanks for getting back to me. This sauce is definitely better than any jarred sauce I’ve ever used!!! I adjusted the seasonings listed to my taste and used dried basil instead of fresh. I used part of the sauce in Dump and Go Manicotti and froze the rest. My husband wants to thank you for posting this recipe.5 stars

    1. I haven’t tried it so I can’t say for sure Julie. If you try it I would love to hear how it turns out!

      1. I’d like to know this answer, too, as I’m looking for a good marinara recipe that I can can!

  5. everyone loves this marinara! even me, and I’m not even a big a marinara fan usually. this could easily be tweaked by each user to personalize it and make it a recipe handed down for generations. and it’s so easy! thanks! another win!5 stars

  6. For people wondering about the tomato measurements in metric, a 28 ounce can of tomatoes is 796 ml in metric. It is the standard size of canned tomatoes that are available in most grocery stores today.

  7. Instead of dicing the onions and garlic, you can cut one or two onions in half or in quarters, smack the garlic cloves with the side of your knife, and toss them in like that. In the end, you can easily fish the garlic and onion out and have a much smoother sauce. If you find the sauce to be on the acidic side, simply add a pinch or two of baking soda to the sauce at the end of cooking and it will take care of that without adding any overly sweet taste to the sauce.

  8. Not made it yet. Planning to. Please consider including a radio button or whatever it’s called that will allow conversions of quantities from US to metric n vice versa. Also another to scale the recipes on your site up or down to you can halve it or increase the quantity. Important for an international audience. Thanks.

    1. I don’t have these available in those measurements and I would suggest using an online converter for accurate conversion amounts.

      To scale the recipe, click the print button and then you can scale up or down to as many servings as you would like. Please note the instructions do not scale, just the ingredients.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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