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Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

5 from 1 vote
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posted: 10/31/23

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This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy

This Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe is the perfect basic sauce. Use this simple easy marinara sauce from scratch the next time you are making pasta and meatballs for a great 30 minute recipe.

Bowl of pasta with Marinara Sauce. Glasses of wine and bowl of salad beside.

A simple marinara sauce can be exactly what you need in your house, especially if you have picky eaters who love pasta. While spaghetti sauce is a stand by in so many houses, marinara sauce is a little different because it tends to be thinner and have a brighter flavor. This makes it perfect for picky eaters.

Reader Review

I’ll never buy marinara sauce again….this was so quick, easy and delicious!

Homemade Marinara Sauce Ingredients

Part of what makes this the best marinara sauce recipe is how simple the ingredients are. These are easy to keep on hand for any time you need a simple sauce. For all the measurements, see the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  • Tomato sauce: The bulk and base of the sauce. Using canned tomato sauce makes this recipe very convenient and eliminates the need to blend or purée the sauce. Make sure to get plain tomato sauce, this is pureed tomatoes that have had the skin and seeds removed with no added seasonings.
  • Fresh onion and garlic: Adds a flavor profile and will fill your kitchen with the most amazing fragrance.
  • Herbs: Dried oregano and basil infuse into the sauce adding a savory flavor.
  • Red wine: See more below on cooking with wine.
  • Sugar: This is needed to balance the acidity of the other ingredients. I promise it won’t make your sauce sweet.
Photo of a pot of Marinara Sauce with bowls of spaghetti and salad beside

How to Make Marinara Sauce from Scratch

Here is a brief overview of how this recipe for marinara sauce comes together. For the full recipe including all measurements, scroll to the recipe card at the bottom of the post.

  1. Cook the garlic and onion. Sauté in a large Dutch oven with oil until the onion is translucent. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Add the other ingredients. Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits. Add the tomatoes, basil, and oregano to the pot. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very low simmer. Keep it uncovered.
  3. Taste the sauce. Stir in the fresh parsley and taste the sauce. If it is acidic, add just a little sugar, tasting until the acid taste is gone but not adding so much that your sauce is sweet. Additionally, you may decide you want to add more salt and pepper.

Why Make Homemade Sauce

It’s no secret I love making sauces, salad dressings, and seasoning mixes from scratch. I have a few reasons for this that I’m sure you will appreciate. Not only does it tend to be more cost-effective to make them yourself, but you can also control exactly what is in them. This is perfect for avoiding unnecessary preservatives and additives. It is also helpful for someone with dietary restrictions and to adjust the flavor exactly to your liking.

This classic marinara sauce is made with simple ingredients in one pot on your stovetop. You will love it and prefer it to store-bought!

Pizza Sauce vs. Marinara

Even though they are made with the same base (tomatoes), the difference between marinara and pizza sauce is that marinara needs to simmer while pizza sauce remains uncooked. This gives the sauces different flavors that are highlighted in the ways they are served.

With that being said, this marinara sauce would be delicious on pizza.

Pizza Sauce Recipe

My Pizza Sauce recipe comes together with just a few ingredients in the blender and adds the perfect flavor to your homemade pizza. You probably already have the ingredients waiting in your pantry!
ball jar filled with homemade pizza sauce recipe surrounded by parsley leaves with pizza in the background

Cooking With Wine

The first thing I tell people when cooking with wine is to use a wine that you enjoy drinking. If you aren’t a big wine drinker and don’t want to open a bottle just for this recipe, I recommend keeping a four-pack of small bottles in your pantry.

I would highly recommend avoiding wine that is labeled “cooking wine.” It contains more acid than traditional wine as well as some other preservatives that don’t bring much to your dish you want. But more than anything else, cooking wine enhances its taste. So if isn’t a wine you would want in a glass it is definitely not a wine you want in your sauce.

Every time I have a recipe that includes wine, I get asked if the alcohol cooks off. While some of it will cook out, it needs to cook for three hours to be fully removed which does not happen here. If you choose to make this recipe without wine, replace it with chicken or vegetable broth.

Photo of a pot of Marinara Sauce with a wooden spoon

Adding Sugar to Marinara Sauce

When you are making a sauce using canned tomatoes like we are here, they add a lot of acidity to the recipe. It is crucial to balance the sauce with sugar. This addition of sugar won’t make your sauce sweet, rather it will just take away that bite of acidity from canned tomatoes.

While the recipe calls for two teaspoons, you may not need all of that. Taste your sauce before adding any sugar. If it is acidic, add just a little sugar, tasting until the acid taste is gone but not adding so much that your sauce is sweet. Additionally, you may decide you want to add more salt and pepper.

Storing Marinara Sauce

This sauce can be enjoyed right after making it, which is perfect because you can be making your pasta while it simmers. If you have leftover marinara sauce or want to make this ahead of time, store it in an airtight container (a mason jar works great) in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Freezing Marinara Sauce

This is a great recipe to double or triple and freeze to have for busy weeknight dinners. Allow the sauce to cool and place in freezer-safe containers or bags, with about an inch at the top for it to expand. Freeze for up to three months. Allow to thaw and reheat on the stovetop before serving.

FAQ

How long does marinara sauce last in the fridge?

It will last in an airtight container for up to one week.

Is marinara sauce the same as spaghetti sauce?

Marinara is a more basic sauce with just enough seasoning. Spaghetti sauce has a more robust flavor and oftentimes contains vegetables and meat. Either can be used on pasta.

Can you use marinara sauce for pizza?

Yes! This recipe works as a pizza sauce or any recipe that calls for a basic sauce.

Is this recipe gluten free?

Yes, the sauce is not made with any ingredients that contain gluten. Make sure to serve with gluten-free pasta. As with any recipe, double-check your ingredients when you are cooking for someone who can’t have gluten.

How to Use Marinara Sauce

Overhead photo of a plate of pasta with Marinara Sauce. Bread and wine beside.

Other Homemade Sauce Recipes

Looking for other sauces to make from scratch? Here are a few of my favorites! You can check out all of my Homemade Sauces Here.

If you try this classic marinara sauce recipe or any of my other recipes, please leave a comment and let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

Bowl of pasta with Marinara Sauce. Glasses of wine and bowl of salad beside.
5 from 1 vote

Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

Serves: 3 cups
(tap # to scale)
Prep: 2 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 27 minutes
This Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe is the perfect basic sauce. Use this simple easy marinara sauce from scratch the next time you are making pasta and meatballs, for a great 30 minute recipe. 

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced (see note)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup red wine (118.294 ml)
  • 29 ounces tomato sauce (this is strictly tomatoes that have been pureed) (822 grams)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 2 teaspoons white sugar (you may not need all of this)

Instructions

  • In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onion and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.
    2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 small yellow onion, 2 cloves garlic, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Deglaze the pan with the red wine, scraping up the browned bits. Stir in the tomato sauce, basil, and oregano. Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a very low simmer. You should see just small occasional bubbles. Simmer for 20 minutes, uncovered.
    1/2 cup red wine, 29 ounces tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • Stir in the fresh parsley and taste the sauce. Tomatoes (especially canned) can be quite acidic. If your sauce is acidic, add just a little sugar, tasting until the acid taste is gone but not adding so much that your sauce is sweet. Additionally, you may decide you want to add more salt and pepper.
    2 tablespoons fresh parsley, 2 teaspoons white sugar
  • Serve over pasta and enjoy!

Notes

Garlic cooks very quickly and needs very little time on its own to add a lot of flavor to your recipe.  Have your tomato sauce ready to pour in after the 30 seconds of sautéing.  It’s a simple mistake to make!  If it does burn, start over!
Serving: 0.5cup Calories: 106kcal (5%) Carbohydrates: 11g (4%) Protein: 2g (4%) Fat: 5g (8%) Saturated Fat: 1g (6%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Monounsaturated Fat: 3g Sodium: 1040mg (45%) Potassium: 478mg (14%) Fiber: 3g (13%) Sugar: 7g (8%) Vitamin A: 714IU (14%) Vitamin C: 13mg (16%) Calcium: 37mg (4%) Iron: 2mg (11%)
Author: Lisa Longley
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Bowl of pasta with Marinara Sauce. Glasses of wine and bowl of salad beside.

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Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

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Hi! I'm Lisa Longley, and I am committed to giving you simple dinner ideas and recipes that are easy to make; recipes that will fill your home with joy. I am the owner and author of SimpleJoy.com and I'm so glad that you are here.

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  1. Lori says

    Do you have a marinara sauce using the plethora of home grown tomatoes from our garden!
    Thanks,
    Lori

  2. Martha says

    What can substituted for wine? Thanks.

    • Lisa Longley says

      Chicken or vegetable stock.

  3. Skip Schmid says

    5 stars
    I’ll never buy marinara sauce again….this was so quick, easy and delicious!
    I put in a small can of mushrooms otherwise made it as written. Thanks

    • Lisa Longley says

      I’m so glad you liked it as much as me!

  4. BRIAN R CUMMING says

    Hi Lisa, Love your recipes and I have tried a few! Lisa, Is there a sauce for Pasta that does not use Tomatoes? My digestive system has a tough time with tomatoes. Your input would be very much appreciated..Brian

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