Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce, perfect for every Italian meal. This homemade sauce is done in as little as 15 minutes but perfect in 40.

You’ll love working with homemade marinara sauce in your kitchen and using it in favorite classic Italian recipes like Chicken Parmesan, Meat Lasagna, and this insanely popular Million Dollar Spaghetti.

Marinara Sauce

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce is a staple recipe, like Enchilada Sauce. It’s so easy, you can make batches of it and keep it in the freezer for quick pasta meals. The best thing about this homemade marinara sauce, aside from being a base recipe, is that it is such an easy recipe to make. You can also adapt it easily for any other needs.

One of the easiest things about this recipe is that it’s intentionally created it to be easily scaled up or down. If you have the space, make this recipe in quadruple batches and freeze the remaining three. This means using 2 onions instead of ½ of one, and 2 cups of broth instead of half of one cup.

The thing about pantry staples is you’ll always be glad when you have them in your back pocket for quick weeknights that catch you unprepared. If you get home and nothing is planned you can thaw this sauce quickly, add to frozen meatballs or rotisserie chicken along with some pasta and you have a quick, healthy, and most importantly, homemade meal.

For many years, I used to spend hours making marinara sauce or I would end up using a jar, but it wasn’t until I started toying with quicker recipes that I realized I was wasting time and lots of money (good jarred marinara is not cheap!).

Even using high-quality ingredients in this easy marinara sauce makes a delicious homemade marinara that costs just a few dollars. The most important part, no matter how much you spend on the jarred sauce, this sauce will taste better. It always will. Fresh garlic will always win, and fresh cooking always wins over mass cooking and bottling when it comes to flavors.

You’ll love adding this sauce to classic Italian recipes but it is just as easy to serve with easy pastas like Lasagna Soup, Stuffed Shells and Stuffed Peppers. You can even make it easy and serve it with easy things like tortellini, Ravioli or Meatballs and spaghetti for a quick meal.

Easy Marinara Sauce

The Best Ingredients for Marinara Sauce

The key to the recipe is to use the best ingredients you can in the marinara sauce. Here are some of our favorites below if you aren’t sure.

  • Crushed tomatoes/Tomato Puree – I usually use San Marzano, but Cento and Muir Glen are also great options if they’re more readily available for you. If you’re using a brand that may be more inexpensive, taste the crushed tomatoes first, you may need a hint of sugar to tame the acidity or maybe a small addition of white wine vinegar if the taste is bland.
  • Tomato Paste: Cento makes a good one, but really don’t stress the tomato paste. I even sometimes use giant glass jars of tomato paste from ethnic grocery stores.
  • Fresh Garlic: If there are three places you should avoid shortcut products it is in jarred garlic, jarred ginger and bottled lemon juice, they NEVER replicate the fresh flavors well.
  • Fresh Herbs: add them in at the very end or you’ll lose all the flavor benefits. Fresh Basil and oregano are great flavors for this recipe, and is great to use when those plants are in full bloom.
  • Dried Herbs: This is a pantry recipe, so dried herbs are great in this recipe, they add great flavor, they simmer well with the tomatoes and they freeze well. Just be sure your herbs have not been in your pantry longer than 6 months or they may have lost their flavors. Dried herbs may seem like they’re preserved but they do have a shelf life.
  • Chicken Stock: Better than Bouillon is a great option so you can add as little or as much as needed and adjust the strength as needed. You can even triple the strength when making pan sauces. In this case I like it because the recipe only calls for a ½ cup.

Frequently Asked Questions

There are multiples ways you can play with this base marinara sauce to fit your recipes and tastes. That’s what’s great about this easy marinara sauce. It’s lovely on its own but a versatile base for different flavor profiles.

How do I make Homemade Meat Marinara?

Swap chicken stock for beef stock. Brown your beef well, remove, brown your onions and garlic in a mix of the beef fat and olive oil. For a “sausage” flavor using straight ground beef, add some fennel seeds to the pot too.

How do I make Angry Red Marinara Sauce?

Add more crushed red peppers to taste (up to two full teaspoons) and add a much larger amount of garlic, up to ¼ cup of minced garlic.

How do you make Vodka Sauce with Marinara?

Add a ½ cup heavy cream and a ¼ cup of vodka. Omit the herbs. This is best served with shrimp or chicken. Also top with healthy amounts of parmesan cheese.

How can I make a Creamy Marinara Sauce?

Simmer the sauce down to a thicker consistency, uncovered instead of covered, then thin with some cream. You can also add a pinch of nutmeg since the cream adds a hint of sweetness to the marinara sauce anyway.

Can I make Marinara Sauce with fresh tomatoes?

Yes, use fresh whole tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oil – go for a really juicy tomato, as ripe as you can find. Hard, Roma type tomatoes won’t make for amazing flavors, this type of fresh Marinara sauce is best made towards the end of summer when ripe red tomatoes are most available.

Can I use grape tomatoes in Marinara Sauce?

Yes, you can half the crushed tomatoes and add in fresh Roasted Garlic Tomatoes. I usually do a couple of pints of grape tomatoes and skip the garlic in the base recipe since the garlic roasts on the grape tomatoes.

How do I make Tomato Soup from Marinara?

For Easy Tomato Soup, add chicken stock and some salt, pepper, fresh oregano and basil.

How to Store Marinara Sauce

  • Serve: Marinara Sauce can be left at room temperature for up to 2 hours before it should be cooled and stored.
  • Store: Sealed in an airtight container, homemade Marinara will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze: Marinara Sauce freezes beautifully. After cooling, portion sauce into airtight containers or seal in strong freezer bags and store for up to 6 months. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight, or heat on the stove from frozen, adding a little chicken stock if needed.

Marinara Sauce

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Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce, perfect for every Italian meal. This homemade sauce is done in as little as 15 minutes but perfect in 40.
Yield 8 servings
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Author Sabrina Snyder

Ingredients
 

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion , diced
  • 3 cloves garlic , minced
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth , (water is okay too)

Instructions

  • Add the olive oil and onion to the pan and sauté on medium low until very lightly browned.
  • Add the garlic and let cook for 15 seconds or so until you can smell the garlic.
  • Add in the rest of the ingredients and simmer, covered, on low for 30 minutes.

Video

Notes

This post contains affiliate links.

Nutrition

Calories: 118kcal | Carbohydrates: 13g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 645mg | Potassium: 545mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 565IU | Vitamin C: 15.7mg | Calcium: 59mg | Iron: 2.4mg
Keyword: marinara sauce
Marinara Sauce Collage

Photo used in a previous version of this post.

Homemade Marinara Sauce
Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce, perfect for your favorite Italian meal. Done in as little as 15 minutes but perfect in 40. Five different add in options for more flavors!
Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce, perfect for your favorite Italian meal. Done in as little as 15 minutes but perfect in 40. Five different add in options for more flavors!
Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce, perfect for your favorite Italian meal. Done in as little as 15 minutes but perfect in 40. Five different add in options for more flavors!

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.

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Comments

  1. Hi there,
    Making your lasagna recipe and it calls for 6 cups marina. Do I double this recipe to have enough? It says 8 servings but not sure what that works up to. Thanks!! Dawn

  2. This is so so so so good. First marinara sauce that I’ve made that I actually really enjoy. Thank you for posting!!

  3. What if I mistakenly put canola oil instead of olive oil. I didn’t realize my mistake until I put it in jars.

  4. Just made this. So easy and so tasty. I always have these ingredients on hand. This will be my go to sauce from now on.

  5. I plan on trying this very soon. I don’t feel like jar sauce gives me the perfect sauce so I don’t care for at home made pasta which is a downer (I love pasta). Which has made me look into other things such as this recipe. I have a question tho, am I able to use fresh tomatoes or do I need to get canned crushed? Either is fine I’m just curious.

  6. If you would let your sauce rest on a very low simmer for 6 to 10 hours you would find a sauce that would truly be a”million dollar” recipe. From my mom who would have been 136.

  7. I see that the recipe calls for 1/2 yellow onion, diced. What size onion should I purchase? I just discovered your wonderful recipe site today, and I’m having a great time checking out your recipes!!

      1. I never buy marinara anymore after making this easy, amazing recipe!! And everyone I’ve given this recipe to, they agree. So easy and so flavorful. My 3 kids love it!! ?

  8. DELICIOUS!

    Made this yesterday, to use on the chicken parm recipe that I found on this site. The house smelled heavenly. YUMMO!

    The only change made was to cut the oil down to 1/8 cup, as I was using a pot vs. pan to prepare.

    I love the versatility of the this recipe and am looking forward to trying many variations.

    Thank you, Sabrina!

  9. I love this easy yummy sauce!!! No more Jar pasta sauce for me!!! I did add about 1/4 cup of red wine.

  10. Hi!

    I’d like to use my food processor to puree whole canned San Marzano tomatoes. Do I need to strain the seeds? And is simply pulsing/processing them sufficient or do I need to add/remove some liquid, etc.?

  11. Love this sauce! My six year old is a picky eater and requested I make it with some homemade meatballs this weekend. I have a double batch simmering now and the house smells amazing.

  12. Hi Sabrina, I’ve tried many pasta sauce recipes. This has become the goto for all my pastas. I have a double batch in on the stove now. Thank You,

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