Classic Marinara Sauce

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 27 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Fragrant, homemade Marinara Sauce is great for dipping mozzarella sticks, pizza, breadsticks, and more! You’ll adore this easy sauce that’s ready in half an hour.

Zesty Marinara, Perfect for Dipping!

Everyone loves Italian food – it’s fresh, hearty, and loaded with flavor. Plus, many classic Italian recipes are also very simple and easy to make! Take marinara sauce, for example. With just a few basic ingredients, you can make perfect homemade marinara sauce in just 30 minutes.

Whether you’re canning this sauce, freezing it, or just making a batch to enjoy with some pasta, it’s sure to be a hit. My version includes fresh basil for a beautiful, summery freshness. Dried herbs work too, though, so you can whip up this recipe anytime. Let’s make some homemade marinara!

From top: olive oil, crushed tomatoes, diced onion, minced garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dried thyme.

What Is Classic Marinara Sauce Made Of?

Classic marinara only takes a few basic ingredients to make. The tomatoes are the star – San Marzano tomatoes from Italy are famous for their low acidity, so they make a great choice.

  • Olive Oil: For sautéing.
  • Onion: Finely chop the onion. You can do this by hand, or use a food processor.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic is best, minced or pressed with a garlic press.
  • Canned Tomatoes: Crushed San Marzano tomatoes, or regular crushed tomatoes if you don’t have San Marzano.
  • Oregano: I use dried, but fresh would be great as well.
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Red Pepper Flakes: To taste. If you like the sauce a bit spicier, add more. You can also leave them out if you prefer.
  • Basil: Freshly chopped basil leaves add so much flavor! If you need to use dried basil, that’s also fine, but definitely go for fresh if possible.
Lifting a spoonful of sauce out of a jar.

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce

The method for making this sauce is so simple, and you don’t need any special equipment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cook the Onion and Garlic. To begin, place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the olive oil, and once it’s heated, cook the onions until they are translucent – about 7 minutes. Then add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute to release the fragrance.
Cooking onion and garlic in a pot.
  • Combine the Remaining Ingredients. Next, you’ll add the tomatoes and seasonings to the onion and garlic mixture. If you want this smooth, combine them in a blender, blend until smooth, and then pour the sauce back into your pan to simmer for 20 minutes. If you like it chunkier, don’t blend it – just combine and simmer. You could also use an immersion blender to get the texture you want.
Mixing all of the marinara sauce ingredients in a pot.

Enjoy! Serve your zesty homemade sauce immediately, or cool the sauce down and store it for another time.

Spooning homemade marinara out of a jar.

What Is the Difference Between Marinara Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce?

You might be wondering if marinara sauce is the same as spaghetti sauce, and the answer is… sort of. But also not at all. Here’s the scoop.

Basically, marinara is a simple tomato-based sauce that’s flavored with just a couple of additions, like garlic and herbs. It doesn’t take long to cook, and has a fresh, bright taste. You can use marinara for dipping, pasta, and just about everything else! But it’s not quite the same as spaghetti sauce. Why?

Spaghetti sauce is usually (but not always) synonymous with what Italian-Americans call Sunday gravy – a rich, slow-simmered tomato sauce with lots of ingredients, from meat to mushrooms to chicken broth. 

Interestingly, you can use marinara to help shortcut your Sunday gravy – add extra ingredients like Italian sausage, beef, and sliced mushrooms to marinara sauce and let it simmer away, and you’ll have a pretty decent substitute. Just don’t tell anyone’s Sicilian grandma!

Overhead shot of a jar of homemade sauce with a wooden spoon.

Cook’s Notes

So there you have it! Classic marinara sauce, perfect for all your favorite dishes. But there are also lots of ways to customize this recipe. Check out these easy ideas: 

  • Herbs: For an herbier variation, add ​​a sprig of fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme.
  • Cheese: For a cheesy version, add some freshly grated parmesan.
  • Cream: Make a gorgeous creamy version by adding half a cup of heavy cream. 
  • Texture: Like a chunkier sauce? Just leave it un-blended! For a smoother texture, blend it for a longer time.
  • Garlic: If you LOVE garlic, you can always add a few extra cloves! Or roast the garlic first for a milder, sweeter garlic flavor.

Serving Suggestions

There are so many uses for a good marinara – serve it over spaghetti, with meatballs, on subs, you name it! It’s also great as a dipping sauce for…

  • Bread: From warm breadsticks to these killer Broccoli Cheese Bombs, if it’s garlicky and bready, dip it in this marinara!
  • Pizza: Dip that pizza (or these yummy Pizza Empanadillas) in marinara for even more saucy goodness. You can also use this marinara to make my favorite quick and easy Pizza Bagels or the Best Pizza Soup!
  • Potato Wedges: Skip the ketchup and dress up your Air Fryer Potato Wedges with a side of homemade marinara. So good!
Overhaed shot of sauce in a jar with fresh herbs.

Storing and Freezing

Marinara sauce is easy to store – just place it in a jar or other airtight container, and refrigerate for 3 – 5 days. 

For long-term storage, marinara sauce is often canned. Freezer storage is also great! To freeze, cool down the marinara, transfer it to freezer containers, and freeze it for up to six months. Thaw in the fridge before using in a recipe or reheating.

A jar of homemade marinara sauce with a sprig of basil.
4.3 from 3 votes
Print Pin Recipe
Yield: 3 Cups

Classic Marinara Sauce

This homemade Marinara Sauce is great for dipping mozzarella sticks, pizza, breadsticks, and so much more! You'll adore this easy sauce that's ready in half an hour.
Prep Time3 minutes
Cook Time27 minutes
Total Time30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes, San Mariano
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoons black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 7 basil leaves, minced

Instructions 

  • Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat and cook the onions until translucent, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  • Smooth Sauce: If you want the sauce super smooth, pour the onions, tomatoes, and seasonings into a blender. Blend till smooth, then pour back into the sauce pan and simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Chunkier Sauce: Or, if you like it chunkier, add the remaining ingredients to the onions and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • Serve immediately over pasta, or meat, as desired.

Notes

  • Storing: Marinara sauce is easy to store – just place it in a jar or other airtight container, and refrigerate for 3 – 5 days.
  • Freezing: To freeze, cool down the marinara, transfer it to freezer containers, and freeze for up to six months. Thaw in the fridge before using.
  • Herbs: For an herbier variation, add ​​a sprig of fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme.
  • Cheese: For a cheesy version, add some freshly grated parmesan.
  • Cream: Make a gorgeous creamy version by adding half a cup of heavy cream. 
  • Texture: Like a chunkier sauce? Just leave it un-blended! For a smoother texture, blend it for a longer time.

Nutrition

Serving: 1, Calories: 66kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g, Sodium: 300mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g

Categories:

More Easy Italian-Inspired Recipes

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy.

Related Posts

Comments

Share a Comment

Recipe Rating




Welcome!

Jessica
I'm a trial & error, self taught, sugar addict who thankfully learned how to survive in the kitchen! I am also a wife, mama of 3.