Easy Marinara Sauce with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs has a rich flavor perfect for your favorite weeknight Italian recipes.
You will love using homemade marinara sauce in baked chicken parmesan, one pot spaghetti, and simply to top spaghetti squash noodles for a quick, healthy meal.
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I wanted an easy marinara sauce recipe for when I am out of jarred marinara. I kept this recipe simple using a can of crushed tomatoes and lots of fresh basil is the key.
I like to make my homemade marinara sauce with sweating onion and garlic in lots of quality olive oil. Then, for the best marinara sauce, add lots of basil for the most flavor!
I really love it on otherwise plain air fryer spaghetti squash, use as a sauce for almond flour pizza crust, or to serve alongside turkey meatballs.
What Is Marinara Sauce?
Marinara sauce has the taste and juice of real tomato. It is a meatless, moderately thin tomato sauce made with crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, and herbs. Incredibly versatile and a kitchen staple in my household that compliments any Italian recipe.
Ingredients for Easy Marinara Sauce
This recipe for marinara sauce comes together from simple pantry ingredients, you likely have most in your kitchen right now.
- Crushed tomatoes. I find any brand is good. I used my local grocery store no salt added and no BPA lining in a can.
- Onion and garlic: Minced onion and fresh garlic are the aromatic foundation for this easy marinara sauce recipe.
- Olive oil: Quality olive oil is key! I always use extra virgin olive oil.
- Cane sugar: Is a must to offset acidity in tomatoes.
- Herbs and spices: Salt, pepper, and dried oregano add great flavor.
- Fresh basil: Added at the end after cooking for the most flavor.
Of course, you can add whatever you like. I just wanted an easy marinara sauce. Add other pantry staples like red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, capers, wine, chicken broth, or beef broth. You can also add in heavy cream or sour cream along with Parmesan cheese for a creamy pasta sauce.
How to Make Easy Marinara Sauce
Here is a quick and easy photo overview of how to make marinara sauce at home.
- Sauté aromatics: Preheat your pot on low-medium heat. I used my large Dutch oven, if you are making a single batch a medium saucepan will also work. Once hot, add olive oil, minced onion and garlic then cook for 8-10 minutes until clear.
- Make the sauce: Stir in crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes stirring a few times.
- Add basil and simmer: Turn off heat and add fresh basil. Stir then cover and rest for 30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle.
- Taste and serve: Adjust any seasonings to taste and serve hot with your chosen dish.
Tips for Best Results
Here are my top tips how to make this easy marinara sauce amazingly flavorful!
- Don’t skip fresh basil: It adds a lot of flavor, do not use dried basil.
- Don’t burn garlic and onion: You want to sweat them in olive oil so they soften, allowing them to cook in their own juices.
- Cook with closed lid: The sauce splatters a lot, even on simmer, and can burn you.
- Do not burn marinara: Make sure to simmer, especially on electric stove. It can burn easily, so stir a few times.
- Let marinara sit for 30 minutes: The longer it sits, the more the flavors develop and sauce tastes better.
Ways to Use Marinara Sauce
- Use as a base for pizza: We love it on almond flour pizza crust and cauliflower pizza crust.
- Mix with vegetables noodles: Give otherwise plain zucchini noodles and spaghetti squash noodles a delicious flavor boost.
- As a dipping sauce: Dip cauliflower breadsticks in it.
- Use to make easy spaghetti recipes: Try my Instant Pot spaghetti and easy spaghetti recipe.
- In your favorite lasagna recipe: Instant Pot lasagna, chicken lasagna roll ups and low carb zucchini lasagna.
How to Store Homemade Marinara Sauce
Store: Once cooled, store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Freeze: This marinara sauce recipe is great for meal prep! You can double, even triple the recipe and freeze in separate airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
Canned tomatoes are inexpensive and easy to find. I like using canned crushed tomatoes for a smooth texture. Canned whole tomatoes will also work but you will need to break them down while cooking.
Yes. They will take longer to break down so dice them before adding to the pot or use an immersion blender to make a puree first.
Spaghetti sauce is a version of marinara sauce. Marinara sauce has the base ingredients for spaghetti sauce, then other spices, vegetables, and meat such as ground beef are added.
Use good quality olive oil, fresh garlic, and lots of fresh basil! You can add a variety of fresh herbs, spices, or wine. Or sauté veggies like diced celery and chopped carrot with the onion and garlic.
Sugar is used to offset the acidity of the tomatoes and create a more balanced sauce.
More Sauce Recipes to Try
Browse all sauces and seasonings.
Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe
- 28 ounces can crushed tomatoes I used no salt
- 1 large onion minced
- 4 large garlic cloves minced
- 1/4 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 20 fresh basil leaves chopped
- Preheat large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot on low-medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, cook for 8-10 minutes or until translucsent, stirring occasionally.
- Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt, pepper and stir. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer marinara sauce for 30 minutes. Stir a few times to avoid scorching.
- Turn off heat, add fresh basil, stir, cover and let marinara sauce rest for 30 minutes to allow flavors develop.
- Taste and adjust any seasonings, if you wish. Serve alongside meatballs, as a dip and use in your favorite dishes.
- Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
- Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
This sounds delicious and so easy! However, you mention fresh bay leaves under the photo of the ingredients, not basil. I hope you mean basil instead of bay leaves, although they can add a flavor to the marinara. I’m going to make some very soon!
Good catch, Sally. Yes, it’s fresh basil. It is everything for a marinara sauce. Bay leaves are more for soups and stews, you are right. I fixed it.