Marinara Sauce is an easy-to-make tomato sauce that is perfect to top your favorite pasta or to use in recipes calling for jarred pasta sauce.

A simple base of canned tomatoes with onions and garlic is all you need, Add in a sprinkle of fresh herbs and simmer for 30 minutes.

Make it in large batches and freeze it for a great homemade sauce anytime!

Easy Marinara Sauce in a pot

Homemade Marinara Sauce is incredibly easy to make, and once you try it, you’ll say goodbye to jarred sauces! It’s perfect with meatballs or used to make chicken parmesan.

Ingredients in Marinara Sauce

Tomatoes: For the best Marinara Sauce, I recommend using canned crushed and whole tomatoes. Whole tomatoes give the sauce a slightly thicker consistency compared to canned diced tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes have the best flavor, but whole plum tomatoes (or any canned whole tomatoes) will work well.

Got fresh tomatoes? Great! Include them in your sauce (in addition to the canned tomatoes) for an added fresh flavor. Just ensure they’re peeled first

Sweetness: Tomatoes can be tart due to their acidity. Shredded carrot helps add sweetness or, feel free to skip the carrot and add a bit of sugar to balance the marinara sauce.

Herbs: Dried herbs should be added before simmering, while fresh basil and/or parsley can be stirred in right before serving.

Additions: Try adding other vegetables like shredded zucchini or even diced celery, or use this Marinara Sauce to make a homemade meat sauce for ziti! Add a pinch of red pepper flakes if desired.

Marinara Sauce ingredients in pot

How to Make Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a flavorful and surprisingly easy dish to make in just 30 minutes!

  1. Finely dice onions and shred carrots and soften in a pan.
  2. Add the tomatoes and dried herbs and simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in fresh herbs.

Simmer this marinara sauce recipe a bit longer to adjust the consistency. Make it a little thinner if it is being used as a pasta sauce, or a little thicker if it’s being used on a pizza or as a dip.

Serve it over pasta, zucchini noodles, or use it for eggplant parmesan. The possibilities are endless.

Marinara Sauce being stirred with wooden spoon

What is Marinara Sauce?

Marinara sauce is a simple tomato-based sauce perfect for pasta or making things like lasagna or even soups. This marinara recipe has a base of canned tomatoes with aromatics like onion and garlic and a sprinkle of herbs. Don’t let the simplicity fool you, it’s a fantastic addition to pasta, a delightful dip for snacks, or a superior substitute for store-bought sauces in all your favorite recipes.

Is marinara sauce the same as spaghetti sauce?

Marinara sauce is a thinner sauce with very few additions, while our spaghetti sauce recipe contains meat and is simmered longer for a thicker, more robust sauce.

Is marinara pizza sauce?

Marinara sauce is different than pizza sauce. Pizza sauce tends to be thicker, and our recipe has a bolder and slightly sweeter flavor than marinara sauce.

Can I substitute marinara sauce for tomato sauce?

Yes, you can use marinara sauce in place of tomato sauce.

How long does marinara sauce last in the fridge?

Marinara sauce will last about 5 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. For longer storage, store marinara sauce in the freezer for up to 4 months.

More Easy Pasta Sauces

Did you love this easy Marinara Sauce? Leave us a rating and a comment below!

Easy Marinara Sauce in a pot
5 from 123 votes↑ Click stars to rate now!
Or to leave a comment, click here!

Easy Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce is an easy-to-make tomato sauce that is perfect on top of pasta or to use in recipes calling for jarred pasta sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 8 cups
Author Holly Nilsson



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion finely diced
  • cup carrot shredded
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 28 ounces whole tomatoes canned
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes canned
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup fresh basil chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  • Add the finely diced onion, shredded carrot, and minced garlic to the pot. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add whole canned tomatoes, juice included, breaking them apart gently with a spoon.
  • Mix in crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar if using, dried oregano, and season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Stir in ½ cup of water.
  • Simmer uncovered on low heat for about 20 minutes, or until thickened to the desired consistency. Stir in fresh basil.
  • Serve over spaghetti or enjoy in your favorite recipes.


Fresh basil is recommended and should be added just before serving.
Fresh basil can be substituted with 2 teaspoons of dried basil. If using dried, add it along with the oregano.
Sugar may be required depending on the brand of tomatoes you purchase.
Store leftover sauce in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stovetop until heated through. 
5 from 123 votes

Nutrition Information

Calories: 112 | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 5g | Sodium: 310mg | Potassium: 568mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1320IU | Vitamin C: 21.5mg | Calcium: 76mg | Iron: 2.5mg

Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.

Course Main Course, Pasta, Sauce
Cuisine Italian

Like our recipes?
Follow us on Pinterest!

Follow us on Pinterest

Easy Marinara Sauce in a pot with a title
mixing Easy Marinara Sauce in the pot with a title
close up of Easy Marinara Sauce with a title
ingredients in a pot to make Easy Marinara Sauce and cooked dish with writing


, ,

Recipes you'll love

About the author

Holly is a wine and cheese lover, recipe creator, shopping enthusiast and self appointed foodie. Her greatest passion is creating in the kitchen and making deliciously comforting recipes for the everyday home cook!
See more posts by Holly

Follow Holly on social media:

pinterest facebook twitter instagram

Free eBook!

Subscribe to receive weekly recipes and get a FREE Bonus e-book: Quick & Easy Weeknight Meals!

You can unsubscribe anytime by clicking the “unsubscribe” link at the bottom of emails you receive.

latest & greatest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating


  1. everyone loves this marinara! even me, and I’m not even a big a marinara fan usually. this could easily be tweaked by each user to personalize it and make it a recipe handed down for generations. and it’s so easy! thanks! another win!5 stars

  2. For people wondering about the tomato measurements in metric, a 28 ounce can of tomatoes is 796 ml in metric. It is the standard size of canned tomatoes that are available in most grocery stores today.

  3. Instead of dicing the onions and garlic, you can cut one or two onions in half or in quarters, smack the garlic cloves with the side of your knife, and toss them in like that. In the end, you can easily fish the garlic and onion out and have a much smoother sauce. If you find the sauce to be on the acidic side, simply add a pinch or two of baking soda to the sauce at the end of cooking and it will take care of that without adding any overly sweet taste to the sauce.

  4. Not made it yet. Planning to. Please consider including a radio button or whatever it’s called that will allow conversions of quantities from US to metric n vice versa. Also another to scale the recipes on your site up or down to you can halve it or increase the quantity. Important for an international audience. Thanks.

    1. I don’t have these available in those measurements and I would suggest using an online converter for accurate conversion amounts.

      To scale the recipe, click the print button and then you can scale up or down to as many servings as you would like. Please note the instructions do not scale, just the ingredients.

  5. For those of us using canned diced tomatoes, it would be helpful to include the quantity in milliliters along with the ounces. Please let me know if this recipe is updated.

    1. I’ve tried canned diced tomatoes and they don’t seem to produce the same results Cynthia, so I can’t say for sure.

    1. Depending on your taste preferences I would personally add anywhere from ¼ to ½ teaspoon of each.

  6. We used a food processor to blend up the tomatoes and it cooked down really nicely. Also added some red pepper flakes for a little more zip, and it turned out great! Big hit with the kids!

  7. This sauce is perfect exactly the way it’s written. I used more garlic than was called for and it was good but not necessary. Thanks for the great recipe.

  8. I made this tonight. It is simmering with the chicken slices I made last night that were terrible. I needed a marinara sauce, and I am out of it. In 40-some odd years of cooking, I have only made one spaghetti sauce-based recipe. It wasn’t good. THIS IS INCREDIBLE!!! It is simmering and I still can’t believe that finally, I can make a decent marinara. Thank you!5 stars