This Homemade Marinara Sauce is easy to make and packed with BOLD flavor! Made with San Marzano tomatoes, basil, and lots of garlicky goodness, my marinara is pure simplicity at its best! Serve these with my Mozzarella Cheese Sticks! If you love this sauce, you will also love my Pizza Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce recipes!
Marinara Sauce is so iconic! There simply can’t be anyone on earth who hasn’t had a taste of this Italian classic. I’ve been making my marinara recipe for the better part of the last 5 years and, after lots of trial and error, I love how it has turned out. This isn’t authentic Italian marinara sauce but I hope I did it some type of justice since I love and adore Italian food and culture so much.
Today’s marinara is exceptionally easy to make, so it’s perfect for busy weeknights! Each spoonful of sauce offers heavenly, wonderful Italian flavor after only 30 minutes of slow and low simmering.
Naturally gluten-free and vegan, this is sauce made for literally everyone. Throw it on pasta, toss meatballs in it, or swirl it atop pizza dough; the possibilities are endless!
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE
For a long time, I was intimidated by marinara sauce. I didn’t believe that something that seemed to be so complex could be so simple especially since I don’t have Italian roots! I assumed that, like a homemade southern-style gravy, the recipe needed to be passed down through generations of Aunties and Grandmamas. But boy, was I wrong!
Anyone can learn to make a great gravy, so why can’t we also learn how to make a BOMB marinara sauce? Well, I’m here with good news: I made this take which I hope gives justice to the wonderful authentic marinara I’ve tasted, and I’m here to share with y’all today!
Here’s what I used:
Olive Oil is light, bright, and brilliantly delicious.
Onion + Garlic are aromatic, crisp, and oh so flavorful! Measurements for these two ingredients can be adjusted to suit your personal preference.
Oregano tends to be very subtle, yet still quite present; it’s peppery, pungent flavor adds an indescribable quality to this sauce.
Salt + Pepper need to be added according to taste! The measurements provided are a loose guideline. Season as you go!
Crushed Red Pepper adds heat and balances out the tomatoes’ sweetness. Omit if you prefer a sweeter sauce or add more if you want a not-so-subtle kick.
San Marzano Tomatoes are famed for their balanced flavor that combines sweetness, intensity, and acidity. Tomatoes are the shining star in this recipe, so I recommend splurging on a higher quality can. Trust me, better tomatoes make all the difference.
Bay Leaves offer a slight bitterness that keeps soups, stews, and sauces from being too heavy. If you’re not a fan of the almost minty flavor, omit the ingredient all together.
Granulated Sugar is a MUST. Just a spoonful of sugar (hehe) equalizes the acidity introduced by the tomatoes.
Basil Leaves (optional)- Basil is a mixture of sweet and savory, with hints of anise, mint and pepper throughout. I love the herby addition to this rich sauce. Basil can be quite bold, so if it doesn’t fit the flavor profile you’re going for just leave it out.
CAN I USE FRESH TOMATOES?
Yes! During tomato season (May-October), you can find some pretty incredible varieties at grocery stores and local farmers markets. I love using fresh, ripe tomatoes to make sauce, then freezing it for Winter use. San Marzano and Roma tomatoes are ideal for marinara sauce.
USES FOR MARINARA SAUCE
Marinara Sauce is a simple sauce that pairs well with a lot of bold flavors. I use this sauce in various Italian-inspired dishes: pizza, stuffed shells, spaghetti and meatballs, etc.
Lately, I’ve been on a real Air-Fried Mozzarella Stick kick! This marinara makes for the PERFECT dipping sauce.
Still needing a bit of inspiration? Try one of the recipes below:
HOW LONG IS HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE GOOD FOR?
Once made, this sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for 4 to 5 days.
CAN MARINARA SAUCE BE FROZEN?
Absolutely! Marinara Sauce is great for freezing! Once made, allow the sauce to completely cool (to room temperature), then transfer to a sealable, airtight container. Freezer bags work great! I wouldn’t recommend using glass containers (mason jars), expansion will occur and the glass can explode.
Marinara Sauce will keep for up to 4 months in the freezer!
GRANDBABY CAKES’ BEST SAUCES & MARINADES
I don’t know about y’all but I’m feeling saucy today! Grandbaby Cakes is brimming with smooth, savory and sweet sauces of all sorts.
Check ‘em out for yourself:
- HOMEMADE PIZZA SAUCE
- EASY CARAMEL SAUCE
- SOUTHERN SPAGHETTI SAUCE
- SKIRT STEAK MARINADE + HOMEMADE CHIMICHURRI
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
- 2 whole garlic cloves
- 1 tsp ground oregano
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 28 oz San Marzano Whole Tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf plus 2-3 more optional
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- In a small saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-heat. Add the diced onions and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until translucent and tender.
- Add garlic cloves, oregano, salt, black pepper and red pepper. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the tomatoes, then add in the bay leaf and sugar. Stir until fully combined.
- Bring the sauce to a low-boil then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Remove the lid, carefully remove the bay leaf, and allow the sauce to cool for about 10 minutes. If using basil, add it here.
- Add sauce to the blender, blend until smooth, and pour into a heat-safe bowl.
- Stir sauce into pasta, layer into lasagna, or serve as a dipping sauce! It’s a perfect versatile sauce. Enjoy!