This Marinara Sauce delivers rich tomato flavor and is so easy to make using pantry ingredients. It’s the perfect homemade pasta sauce to serve with spaghetti or your favorite pasta!
Making marinara sauce from scratch is surprisingly simple! This marinara sauce recipes requires just a few ingredients and is so easy to prepare, you can even make it on a weeknight. It’s my go-to red sauce recipe, and I hope it will become a staple in your recipe collection as well.
I use canned tomatoes to make this recipe especially simple and pantry-friendly, but the flavor is undeniably fresh and homemade. I love to serve this marinara with spaghetti and my family’s favorite Meatball Recipe, plus a crisp Italian Salad. Add in some Garlic Bread for soaking up extra sauce for the ultimate comfort food dinner.
What is Marinara Sauce?
Marinara sauce is a tomato-based sauce that is typically seasoned with herbs, onion and garlic. In this recipe I use dried herbs for ease, but fresh herbs, such as fresh basil leaves, can also be used to impart flavor into the sauce.
This marinara sauce is a flavorful red sauce that’s perfect for using as a spaghetti sauce or pasta sauce. Or use it in your favorite recipes that call for marinara sauce. I’ve included some of my favorites below!
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
You’ll need only a few ingredients to make a marinara sauce that’s sure to impress.
- Olive Oil: This recipe uses a generous amount of olive oil to bring richness and flavor to the sauce.
- Onion & Garlic: These aromatic ingredients create the first layer of flavor in this delicious homemade sauce.
- Tomatoes: Canned crushed tomatoes bring rich tomato flavor to the sauce. Using crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes makes this recipe easier because you won’t have to break the tomatoes up in the pot. Using canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes allows you to make this recipe year round.
- Water: I add a small amount of water to thin the sauce out a bit. Before adding the water to the pot, swirl it around in the empty tomato cans to get out the remaining bits of tomato.
- Seasonings: You’ll need just a few seasonings to make the best flavorful marinara sauce: dried oregano, dried basil, salt and pepper. I also like to add a small amount of crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, but this is optional.
- Sugar: A teaspoon of granulated sugar balances out the acidity of the tomatoes. If you prefer to make your marinara sauce without sugar, you can leave it out.
Find the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and instructions in the recipe card below.
How to Make Marinara Sauce
- Sauté the onion in olive oil until softened. Then stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Stir in the crushed tomatoes. Swirl the water around in the empty tomato cans and add it to the pot.
- Add the seasonings and sugar (if using). Stir.
- Bring the pot to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low.
- Cook the sauce at a low simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes. As the sauce simmers, it will thicken up a bit and the flavors will develop.
- In the Refrigerator: The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Reheat in a pot on the stove, or in the microwave.
- In the Freezer: Marinara sauce freezes wonderfully. Let the sauce cool and then store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat in a pot on the stove or in the microwave.
- Enjoy it as a dipping sauce for Garlic Knots, Air Fryer Zucchini Fries, Chicken Tenders or Air Fryer Chicken Tenders.
- Use it as an ingredient in your favorite Italian recipes. We love Lasagna, Instant Pot Lasagna, Chicken Parmesan, Stuffed Shells, Lasagna Roll Ups and this Macaroni Pasta Bake.
- It makes a perfect pizza sauce to spread on Whole Wheat Pizza Dough!
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
- 6 cloves garlic (minced)
- 56 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (two 28 ounce cans)
- ½ cup water
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional, or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional, for spice)
- Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven, large skillet or other large pot.
- Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
- Add the two 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes to the pot and stir. Pour the ½ cup water into one of the cans, swirl it around, then pour it into the second can and swirl it before pouring the water into the pot.
- Add the dried oregano, dried basil, sugar, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes, if using. Stir. Bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low.
- Cook sauce at a low simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes.
- Serve sauce over pasta or use as desired.
- Sauce may be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Recipe may be halved to make less sauce.
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