Marinara Sauce is a tomato-based sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh herbs that is a versatile sauce for pasta dishes and dipping. If you prefer meat in your sauce, check out my Spaghetti with Meat Sauce.

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Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce is a sauce that you can easily make at home with just a few ingredients. And, with so many ways to use the marinara sauce in recipes, from lasagna to toasted ravioli, it’s nice to have on hand. And, this recipe can be made in about half an hour, which is quicker than running to the store for a jar.

Sauce Ingredients & Substitutions

Tomatoes: Look for two 28-ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes to use in this recipe. San Marzano tomatoes are elongated plum tomatoes grown in a specific region in Italy. When canned, they should be either whole or in strips. Otherwise, they are most likely not authentic. In addition, the can should read Pomodoro San Marzano dell’Agro Sarnese Nocerino D.O.P. for authentic San Marzano tomatoes. You could get away with using canned diced tomatoes, but the consistency of the sauce would be chunkier.

Herbs: I used a tablespoon of finely chopped fresh basil and fresh parsley. If you only have dried herbs on hand, use 1-2 teaspoons of each.

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What is Marinara Sauce?

Marinara Sauce is a tomato-based red sauce made with minimal ingredients. It is also thinner when compared to tomato sauce. It is mostly used for pasta or as a dipping sauce (Focaccia Cheesy Garlic Bread, anyone?).

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Can I Use Fresh Tomatoes?

Sure! If you use fresh tomatoes in place of canned, five pounds of San Marzano, plum, or Roma tomatoes work best. You will need to blanch them and peel off the skin first. It is up to you if you remove the seeds. If using garden tomatoes, you may have to increase the amount of olive oil, up to 1/2 cup, or to taste. Using fresh tomatoes will yield 3 cups of marinara sauce and the color of the sauce will be lighter. The canned recipe below yields 5 cups.

Can I Make the Sauce Creamier?

Yes! If you are looking for a creamier sauce with fewer chunks, you can use a food mill before cooking to grind down the tomatoes. Or, you could use the back of a wooden spoon to hand-muddle the tomatoes to your desired consistency. The bonus of making your own marinara is that you can make it as smooth or as chunky as you like!

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How to Store Marinara Sauce

Homemade marinara sauce can be stored in an airtight container for up to five days in the refrigerator. You could also freeze it for up to a few months. In both cases, let the sauce cool completely before storing.

More Sauces

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Marinara Sauce

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Marinara Sauce is a tomato-based sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh herbs that is a versatile sauce for pasta dishes and dipping.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (53 g) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) San Marzano tomatoes*
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

Instructions

  • In a large non-stick, ceramic, stainless, or enameled pan (a pan that will not react to the acidity of the tomatoes) over medium-high heat, heat olive oil. Once hot, add garlic and cook 1 more minute, or until slightly browned.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add tomatoes, with liquid, and salt. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce heat to low, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon as they cook. Simmer until thickened (about 20-25 minutes).
  • In the last 5 minutes of cooking, fold in the basil and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.

Notes

*Look for two 28-ounce cans of San Marzano tomatoes to use in this recipe. You could get away with using canned diced tomatoes, but the consistency of the sauce would be chunkier.

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