How to make Easy Marinara Sauce

Looking to make a delicious homemade tomato sauce recipe? This Easy Marinara Sauce is it! Calling for a handful of ingredients, this simple sauce is delicious and perfect on pasta, pizza and more. Makes 8 servings.

Close up of a white bowl holding spaghetti covered in marinara sauce

2023 Update: This recipe was originally shared in October 2011. I tweaked the recipe slightly throughout the years, as well as included ingredient measurements by weight. The post has been updated to include new photos, as well as more tips and tricks. I hope you love them!

I’m the kind of girl who either craves barbecue or Italian food when she has a bad day. 

Why these two completely different food groups? I have absolutely NO idea, but you’d better believe that I will be in the kitchen making one or the other… or attempting to convince my husband to take me out to one of these kind of restaurants if I’ve had a rough day.

In college, I realized that cooking and sharing the food I made was a love language. My first real recipe to make was my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs. (If you haven’t tried my mom’s spaghetti and meatballs, you have not lived. True statement. It’s that good.) 

The thing is, though, that I don’t have the kind of patience my mom has when it comes to making the meatballs. And since I’m a little lazy when it comes to some things, I have spent time perfecting a bastardized version of my mother’s red sauce… without meatballs… or meat…

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    Hence this Easy Tomato Sauce recipe coming into being. Please note that this is not an authentic Italian marinara sauce, so if you’re looking for that, you might want to head elsewhere.

    Why I love this recipe:

    Simply put, this tomato-based sauce is amazing on everything I’ve tried it on… and in my opinion, it’s worlds better than any jarred sauce. 

    The beauty of this sauce is that it’s versatile.

    It works perfectly as a homemade pizza sauce, but you can easily toss it with pasta, too, to transform it into a vegetarian spaghetti sauce.

    It’s an awesome dipping sauce, as well. 

    We like to serve it alongside Baked Eggplant ParmesanBaked Turkey Meatballs or even mozzarella sticks.

    It takes just 11 basic pantry ingredients to make, and chances are, you might already have them in your kitchen. 

    This easy recipe also stores really well in the fridge and freezer, so you can make a double batch to store for later.

    Other easy Italian recipes to make: Tortellini Butternut Squash Pasta with Pancetta and Spinach | Cajun Chicken Alfredo | Spicy Sausage Ground Turkey Pasta Sauce | Chicken Pesto Pasta | Turkey and Broccoli Orecchiette

    Need dinner inspiration? Head on over to my Dinner Recipe Index for more ideas.

    Ingredients to make easy marinara sauce on marble next to a blue checked towel

    What you need to make this recipe:

    The Speckled Palate participates in affiliate programs. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a commission from qualifying purchases. Please refer to my disclosure page for more information about these affiliate programs.

    Let’s talk ingredients!

    In addition to the tools above, you’re going to need some ingredients to make this recipe, too! Chances are, you might already have some of them in your fridge or pantry. Scroll down to the recipe card for the full measurements and instructions.

    Here’s what you need:

    • Extra virgin olive oil — you could also use another unflavored oil, but I prefer good quality EVOO or olive oil
    • Onion and garlic cloves — for their flavor and their aroma! You want a yellow or white onion.
    • Red wine — whatever drinkable kind you’ve got on hand works here. I like an Italian red, if I’m opening a bottle, to play with these ingredients, but use what you have. Just make sure it’s not cooking wine, as that will make our sauce salty.
    • Crushed fire roasted tomatoes — while some tomato sauces call for fresh tomatoes, this is not one of them. Grab your favorite 29 oz. can (you can also use tomato puree or plain crushed tomatoes if you can’t find the fire roasted kind) to use. If you can find authentic San Marzano tomatoes in a can, GET THOSE!
    • Tomato paste — for some intense tomato sweetness and flavor!
    • Water — this thins out our sauce a bit. If you’re making pizza sauce from this, you will need less than you do when making the pasta sauce.
    • Spices and herbs — salt and pepper are a must. We also add in red pepper flakes (also known as crushed red pepper) for a bit of spice and heat, then fresh basil and oregano, too. If you don’t have fresh herbs, you can use dried oregano and basil, but use half of the suggested amount because dried herbs are more potent than fresh herbs.

    Variations on this recipe:

    • Add meat! Use ground beef, ground turkey or ground chicken to add some meatiness to this simple marinara sauce. Cook this first before adding the onion and garlic.
    • Swap out the wine. White wine works here, as does vegetable stock if you do not want to use wine at all.
    • Blend the sauce with am immersion blender* (affiliate link) to make a smooth sauce.

    How to make this easy marinara sauce

    You’ll start off with some EVOO, a finely chopped onion and minced garlic.

    Heat your pan over medium heat, and sautee it up, baby.


    Then you’ll pour in some red wine and let that cook down until about half of it has boiled off.

    Really take the time to sniff the wonderfulness of this combination. It’s pretty magical, if you ask me.

    And then you’ll throw in the crushed fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste and water.

    Add in the salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, chopped basil and oregano, too.

    Let the mixture cook low and slow… for as long as you have. 

    You can let it cook for as little as 15 minutes and for as long as you want. The longer it cooks, the more developed the flavors will become.

    Serve over your favorite pasta with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. You can also have this be a marinara sauce for pizza, which is equally delicious. 

    How to store and freeze

    This recipe will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container after you let it cool completely.

    The sauce freezes well, too. Once cooled off, transfer to a freeze-safe food container or ice cube trays. I love SouperCubes* (affiliate link) and will transfer them to freezer bags.

    Freeze until solid. Defrost in the refrigerator, then toss with pasta or use it on pizza, etc. 

    A pot of easy marinara sauce after simmering next to a blue checked towel with a wooden spoon

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are the best tomatoes to use in a homemade marinara sauce recipe?

    Since this is a QUICK marinara sauce, we’re using canned tomatoes instead of fresh. 

    Close up of pasta noodles in simple homemade marinara sauce

    Quick tips and tricks to the best tomato sauce recipe:

    • Let it simmer. This easy homemade pasta sauce develops awesome flavors in less than 30 minutes, but those flavors will depend the longer it cooks.
    • Double the recipe. Since this keeps well in both the fridge and freezer, you can make a double batch in a larger saucepan (or a Dutch oven) for extra sauce.
    • How to store: Once the sauce is cooked, let cool. Transfer to a mason jar or another food-safe storage container, and keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
    • How to freeze: If you want to freeze this sauce for later, that’s a great idea because it keeps well. Transfer the cool sauce to a freeze-safe food container, and freeze until solid. It will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer. Defrost in the fridge, then toss with pasta or use as a sauce on pizza, etc.
    Two bowls of pasta covered in a simple marinara sauce on marble next to two glasses of red wine and a container of grated parmesan cheese
    Close up of a white bowl holding spaghetti covered in marinara sauce
    Yield: 8 servings

    Homemade Marinara Sauce

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 45 minutes
    Total Time: 55 minutes

    Looking to make a delicious homemade tomato sauce recipe? This Easy Marinara Sauce is it! Calling for a handful of ingredients, this simple sauce is delicious and perfect on pasta, pizza and more.

    Ingredients

    • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1 small onion, diced finely (¾ cup chopped or 100g)
    • 3 garlic cloves, finely minced
    • ½ cup red wine
    • 29 oz. crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or tomato puree)
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 1 ½ cup water (350ml)
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon black pepper
    • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano

    Instructions

    1. Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
    2. Add the onion and garlic and sauté, stirring around the saucepan until softened and slightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
    3. Add wine to the onion and garlic, lowering the heat to the lowest setting.
    4. Simmer for about five minutes, or until the alcohol has cooked off. The mixture will look almost jammy at this point.
    5. Add the crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or tomato puree), tomato paste and the water to the pan, stirring to combine.
    6. Next, measure in the salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes, chopped fresh basil and chopped fresh oregano. Stir well to incorporate the ingredients.
    7. Simmer the sauce for at least 30 minutes. The longer this simmers, the better, so you could let this sit on the stove all day and eat it at night, and it would be amazing.
    8. Serve when ready with your favorite pasta noodles, as a base sauce on pizza or a dipping sauce, and enjoy!

    Notes

    How to store and freeze:

    • This recipe will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge in an airtight container after you let it cool completely.
    • To freeze the sauce, transfer to a freeze-safe food container or ice cube trays. I love SouperCubes* (affiliate link) and will transfer them to freezer bags. Freeze until solid.
    • Defrost in the refrigerator, then toss with pasta or use it on pizza, etc. 

    Recommended Products

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    Nutrition Information:

    Yield:

    8

    Serving Size:

    1

    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 460mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 2gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g

    Nutrition facts are an estimate and not guaranteed to be accurate.

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    About the Author:

    Erin Parker is a Southern gal living in Texas with her husband and two daughters. She started The Speckled Palate to share what she was cooking as a newlywed… and over the years, it’s evolved to capture her love for hosting. Specifically, the EASIEST, lowest key entertaining because everyone deserves to see their people and connect over good food. Learn more about her

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    4 Comments

    1. Oh, I’m definitely trying this ASAP. I usually put white wine into my red sauces at the end of simmering. I’ve never tried red at the beginning!

    2. This looks delish! My husband makes a really good sauce and we’re always trying to think of ways to spice it up, but we’ve never really tried to keep it simple, which can prove to be as good or even better.

    3. Erin thank you for sharing your recipe for red sauce. I found this from google approx 3 months ago and have made it several times now. It’s perfect and everyone thinks it’s delicious! I’ve made it with turkey meatballs a couple of times, shrimp, and tonight regular meatballs. It’s so good I couldn’t make it again without saying thank you! Sally

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