This homemade marinara sauce recipe is easy to make in under 30 minutes and is perfect for pasta and more.

Homemade marinara sauce in a glass jar.

What is marinara sauce?

Marinara sauce is a classic tomato-based sauce made with just a few simple ingredients, typically tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs. Variations of marinara may include the addition of carrot, olives, capers or and wine. The sauce is widely used for everything from pizza to pasta.

Wait, what’s the difference between marinara sauce and spaghetti squash? They’re quite similar but marinara sauce is known for being simply made with tomatoes and seasonings whereas spaghetti sauce usually has meat or other ingredients added to it.

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

Here are the 5 basic ingredients you’ll need for marinara sauce:

  1. Tomatoes. Tomatoes are key, of course! You can use whole, diced or crushed canned tomatoes. I like to use crushed as a I prefer a smooth marinara sauce but for a more rustic, chunky sauce, whole or diced work too.
  2. Onion. Yellow or white onion works well in marinara sauce. You’ll need 1 medium-sized onion. Take a few minutes to very finely dice it.
  3. Garlic. The more the better, right? I used 5 average-sized cloves. Feel free to use more or less!
  4. Oregano. Oregano is the probably most common herb found in marinara sauce recipes. To keep things simple, the recipe calls for dried oregano.
  5. Basil. You can use fresh or dried basil in this recipe. Fresh is more flavourful but if you don’t have any on hand, dried basil works just fine too.
Ingredients for homemade marinara sauce on a cutting board.

Optional Ingredients

Red Pepper Flakes For Spicy Marinara

I like marinara sauce to have a little heat so I included the option to add up to 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. With 1 tsp it will be nautically spicy, if you want just a little heat, use 1/2 tsp. Omit if you don’t want it spicy at all.

Sweetener

I noted in the recipe to add an optional tablespoon of coconut sugar or maple syrup however, I find the type of tomatoes used will determine whether you need it or not.

Italian tomatoes like San Marzano or Muir Glen Fire-Roasted are naturally on the sweeter side with less acidity, so they don’t really need additional sweeteners. You can always leave the sweetener out until the very end then decide if you want to add a little.

Shredded carrot can also be used to add sweetness without adding sugar. If you’d like to use carrot instead of added sugar, add 1/2 cup of shredded carrot along with the onions and garlic.

Homemade marinara sauce in a glass jar with a spoon in it.

How to Make Marinara Sauce

This sauce is surprisingly easy to make considering how flavourful it is. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Dice the onions and mince the garlic so you’re all ready to go.
  2. Add the onion and garlic to a heated pan along with a little olive oil and saute until until soft and fragrant. For oil-free marinara, you can skip the oil and use water or vegetable broth.
  3. Add everything else and lightly simmer until it reaches your desired consistency.
Diced onion and garlic in a skillet with olive oil.
Sautéed onion and garlic in a skillet with a wooden spoon.

Once the marinara sauce has finished cooking, it can be served with your favourite pasta, used as a pizza sauce or in any recipe calling for marinara or tomato sauce.

Homemade marinara sauce in a black skillet.

Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

You will love how easy homemade marinara sauce is. All you need to do is chop onion and garlic, add everything to a pan and cook until wonderfully flavourful and delicious. Best part is, the whole recipe is ready in under 30 minutes.

Enjoy this simple sauce over your favourite pasta or zucchini noodles. It can also be cooked down until even thicker and used as pizza sauce.

Here are some recipes you can use this sauce with:

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Homemade marinara sauce in a black skillet.

Easy Marinara Sauce

  • Author: Deryn Macey
  • Prep Time: 5 mins
  • Cook Time: 20 mins
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 3 cups 1x
  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian

This easy marinara sauce is fresh, flavourful and so easy to make. Enjoy it served over your favourite pasta or used on homemade pizza.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (use water or broth for oil-free)
  • 1 cup finely diced yellow onion, about 1 medium-sized onion
  • 5 average-sized cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp dried basil or 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional, for spicy marinara)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or coconut sugar (optional but helps balance acidity)

Instructions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat for 6-7 minutes until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add the entire can of crushed tomatoes, rinsing the can with 1/2 cup of water and pouring that in as well.
  4. Add the oregano, dried basil (if using fresh basil, see step 6) salt, pepper and if using, red pepper flakes.
  5. Reduce heat to low and lightly simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. For thicker sauce, simmer up to 40 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency. You can also thin with a little water if it’s too thick.
  6. If using fresh basil, stir it in now. Taste and adjust flavour, adding salt and pepper if needed and stir in the sweetener, if using. 
  7. Serve right away or store in a sealed container for up to 5 days in the fridge or freezer for up to 2 months.

Notes

You can use diced or whole tomatoes instead of crushed. If using whole, smash with a masher or wooden spoon after they’ve cooked for a while. If you prefer a smooth sauce, pulse a few times with an immersion blender or add to a blender and blitz a few times.

Good quality tomatoes make a big difference in this recipe. I recommend San Marzano or other Italian tomatoes or Muir Glen organic tomatoes for the best results.

Keywords: best, easy, homemade, sugar-free, oil-free