Easy Marinara Sauce – Spend With Pennies

Homemade marinara sauce is perfect for pasta, pizza, or dipping.

This easy sauce is made with canned tomatoes and a handful of seasonings simmered until thick and flavorful.

Marinara Sauce in a pot Marinara Sauce in a pot

Marinara sauce is a simple tomato sauce, perfect for pasta or preparing lasagna. Don’t let the simplicity fool you; it’s delicious.

  • This sauce is easy to make, and the taste is deliciously fresh.
  • It uses simple everyday ingredients, most of which you likely have on hand.
  • It’s fresh, wholesome, and nutritious—perfect for replacing a jar or adding to recipes or pasta sauce.
  • Homemade marinara sauce can be used to replace tomato sauce in most recipes.
  • You can double or triple the batch and freeze it for last-minute recipes!
Marinara Sauce ingredients in potMarinara Sauce ingredients in pot

Ingredients for Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Tomatoes: Use a combination of crushed and canned tomatoes along with tomato paste. While it costs just slightly more, I love the fresh flavor that San Marzano tomatoes add to sauces. Fresh tomatoes can be peeled and added.
  • Vegetables: Onion and garlic add flavor, while shredded carrots add sweetness and balance the tart flavor of the tomatoes.
  • Sugar: Depending on the brand of tomatoes, you may not need sugar in this recipe. If the sauce is tart, add a pinch or two. You can omit the sugar entirely if you’d like.
  • Seasonings: Add dried seasonings (like DIY Italian seasoning) before simmering in Step 5. Fresh herbs should be added just before serving. A few red pepper flakes or a splash of sriracha gives homemade marinara a little pep!

Marinara sauce is a thinner sauce than spaghetti sauce and has very few additions. Spaghetti sauce tends to be thicker, zestier, and bolder.


  • Sneak in shredded zucchini or a little pureed pumpkin or squash as a natural sweetener and nutrient booster.
  • Or add ground beef and turn this into a hearty homemade spaghetti sauce.
Marinara Sauce being stirred with wooden spoonMarinara Sauce being stirred with wooden spoon

How to Make Marinara Sauce

  1. Saute onion, carrot, and garlic in oil until softened (.
  2. Add whole tomatoes and break them up with a spoon.
  3. Add remaining ingredients with ½ cup of water and simmer until thickened.
  4. Stir in basil before serving.

Besides spaghetti, use marinara sauce in chicken parmesan, for a great meat sauce, or as a dipping sauce for breadsticks.

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

More Easy Tomatoe Sauces

Step up your sauce and try one of these favorites to spoon over your favorite pasta or pizza.

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Easy Marinara Sauce

Ripe tomatoes, garlic, onions, and fresh basil are simmered together for a rich and savory flavorful marinara sauce.

Prep Time 20 minutes

Cook Time 30 minutes

Total Time 50 minutes

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  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

  • To the pot, add the finely diced onion, shredded carrot, and minced garlic. 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. 

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
Marinara Sauce in a pot with writingMarinara Sauce in a pot with writing
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a pot full of Marinara Sauce with writinga pot full of Marinara Sauce with writing
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