This marinara sauce recipe gets done in under 20 minutes with canned tomatoes and a few pantry staples. I also show you my cool trick to getting a nice deep red color on my homemade tomato-based sauces.
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There is always marinara sauce in my freezer. When I have time, I make a big batch with fresh tomatoes. And, sometimes, I make a big batch with canned tomatoes. Then, I freeze them in batches so I can use them on busy days. I like to use it on its own over pasta or make a mushroom sauce, meat sauce, or vegetarian lasagna.
Why make this marinara?
- Unlike my marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes, this is a simple and easy recipe to make in under 20 minutes. Because we are using canned crushed tomatoes.
- This sauce doesn't really need many ingredients. Canned tomatoes and a few pantry staples. I also like to add fresh herbs to my sauce to get that wonderful fresh flavor.
- The best part is it freezes beautifully and can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months. I like to portion them in flat ziplock bags to occupy less space.
- There is so much you can do with this sauce. Use it as is over boiled pasta for a simple marinara pasta.
- You can thicken this sauce to make a delicios marinara pizza sauce
- Brown some ground beef with a marinara sauce for a quick meat sauce or try my bolognese sauce and serve with spaghetti to make marinara spaghetti bolognese.
- Add some mushrooms to make a quick marinara mushroom pasta.
- You can drop a few meatball in this sauce to make a quick marinara meatball pasta.
Ingredients for marinara
- Tomatoes - A marinara sauce is best made with crushed tomatoes. I like to use different types of cans to get some variety in my sauce.
- Oregano - Adds a nice flavor along with the basil.
- Onion - I love the flavor of Spanish onions in my tomato sauce.
- Garlic - I'm using fresh, but you can also use ¼ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Herbs - I love the flavor of fresh basil and parsley but you can also use ½ teaspoon each of dried instead.
Step by step instructions
- In a Dutch oven or heavy bottom saute pan, saute onions, carrots, and garlic in oil until they are translucent.
Pro tip - I like to finely chop the onions, carrots, and garlic so they almost disappear in the sauce.
- Add the brown sugar. Saute for 2 minutes until the sugar caramelizes
Pro tip - This is the secret to the deep color in this sauce. Caramelizing the sugar will deepen the color of our sauce
- Next, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and dried oregano - combine well. Season with salt and pepper. And, add the water, parsley, and basil leaves.
Pro tip - I like to add the whole sprigs of basil in there so I can take it off easily
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes or until the sauce is thicker and you see some oil on the surface of the sauce. (looks shiny)
Pro tip - The sauce will thicken and deepen as it cools.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with your favorite pasta, or use in your recipe as directed.
Pro tip - this sauce freezes well for up to 3 months.
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- See all pasta recipe, pizza recipes, or see all Italian recipes
Frequently asked questions
This sauce will keep in the fridge for 4 to 5 days. You can portion it and freeze it in freezer-safe bags for about 3 months.
Both are tomato sauce. However, the marinara sauce recipe is best made with crushed and strained San Marzano or plum tomatoes.
Yes, the base is the same. Pasta sauce is usually simmered over low heat until thicker. The slow cooking makes the tomatoes sweeter, richer, and deeper in flavor. Often other ingredients are also added. Sometimes, a sprinkle of parmesan, cream, sour cream can be added as well.
The main purpose of the brown sugar here is to caramelize it so it adds a touch of brown to the red. Do you know what happens to red when you add a touch of brown? It deepens the red. We are using the same principle here. Just add a dash of brown to the red, which is why we want to make sure we just caramelize it not burn it.
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- 2 tablespoon Olive oil
- 1 cup Onions finely chopped
- ½ cup Carrots finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon Galic minced
- 1 tablespoon Sugar
- 28 oz (790 g) Crushed tomatoes canned
- 2 tablespoon Tomato paste
- 1 tbsp Oregano dried
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon Pepper
- ½ cup (120 ml) Water
- Add the brown sugar. Saute for 2 minutes until the sugar caramelizes Pro tip - This is the secret to the deep color in this sauce. Caramelizing the sugar will deepen the color of our sauce
- Next, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and dried oregano - combine well. Season with salt and pepper. And, add the water, parsley, and basil leaves. Pro tip - I like to add the whole sprigs of basil in there so I can take it off easily
- Bring to a boil then lower the heat and simmer on medium-low for 10 minutes or until the sauce is thicker and you see some oil on the surface of the sauce. (looks shiny) The sauce will thicken and deepen as it cools.
- Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve with your favorite pasta, or use in your recipe as directed.Pro tip - this sauce freezes well for up to 3 months.
- Use a deep Dutch oven or heavy bottom saute pan to prevent sticking and splattering.
- If you want a chunkier marinara sauce, use whole plum tomatoes and keep them chunky
- If you don't want to use canned tomatoes use my recipe for a marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes
- If the tomato sauce is too thick - add a little water to bring it back to consistency.
What can you do with this marinara sauce recipe?
- Pasta sauce marinara - Simmer 2 cups marina sauce, add ¼ cup cream, ¼ cup Parmesan sauce, and fresh basil - serve over boiled pasta.
- Pizza sauce marinara - If you thicken the marinara sauce it works perfectly as a pizza sauce. Add some topping and some cheese before baking. See all my pizza recipes here.
- Marinara mushroom Pasta - Saute 1 lb mushrooms, then add 2 cup marinara sauce, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and some fresh basil. Add 1 lb boiled pasta.
- Marinara spaghetti bolognese - brown 1 lbs ground beef, add 2 cups marinara sauce, ½ cup Parmesan cheese, ¼ cup fresh cream, and fresh basil. Serve over boiled spaghetti pasta.
The nutrition information and metric conversion are calculated automatically. I cannot guarantee its accuracy. If this data is important to you please verify with your trusted nutrition calculator. Thank you