Marinara Sauce

Fast and easy homemade marinara sauce that is perfect for a simple pasta supper, or using as a dip for your favorite appetizers!

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Fast and easy homemade marinara sauce that is perfect for a simple pasta supper or using as a dip for your favorite appetizers like my pepperoni bread, Pasta Bake, Poached Shrimp or maybe some air-fryer pizza rolls!

You can also try my Homemade Meat Sauce or a simple Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce for more heartier sauces.

marinara sauce in a cast iron skillet

Marinara Sauce

The marinara sauce is a mainstay of Italian and American cooking for a reason. Sweet, savory, and incredibly versatile, this is one of the base sauces for all kinds of different recipes and culinary styles.

Whether for making a simple pasta dinner or for use as a base for something a little bit more extravagant, marinara sauce is something that every home cook should know how to make.

It is also a really great example of how a recipe can really benefit from high-quality ingredients. Getting organic, more expensive versions of all of your ingredients can dramatically increase the flavor and even the texture of this sauce.

If nothing else, make sure to get the absolute best quality of tomatoes you can afford, as that is the main flavor base here.

 marinara sauce ingredients

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

Make sure you look at the recipe card at the very bottom for the exact amounts so that you know exactly what to buy for this recipe.

• Cans of crushed tomatoes

• Large onion

• Large carrot

• Garlic cloves

• Olive oil

• Salt

• Dried basil

• Crushed red pepper flakes

• White sugar

• Flat leaf parsley

How To Make Marinara Sauce

• In a large, deep-sided skillet, add in the onion and carrots and sauté over medium heat until softened, around 10 minutes

• Add in the garlic and sauté for one minute

• Stir in the tomatoes, salt, basil, red pepper flakes, and sugar

• Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the oil is floating on the top

• Stir and taste test, adding more sugar, salt, or pepper as needed

• Serve hot, topped with fresh parsley

marinara sauce in a cast iron skillet

What Kinds Of Tomatoes Should You Be Using For This Recipe?

Seeing as the marinara sauce is a tomato sauce, you might be wondering what kinds of tomatoes you should try and find to use in this recipe.

Most people will make marinara out of basically any kind of cans of tomato, whereas other purists might try and only find the most artisanal, farmer’s market fresh tomatoes that they can.

The trouble with making any kind of tomato dish is that tomatoes are incredibly seasonal; outside of the limited 2 month period in the summer, it is basically impossible to get good, high quality and fresh tomatoes. The kind you find in the supermarket the rest of the year are picked while still underdeveloped and have basically no flavor.

While going for the freshest possible Roma tomatoes handpicked by a long-bearded artisanal grower will probably get the best taste, the best thing for a home cook is to get a high-quality canned tomato.

Canned tomatoes are made using fresh, actually tasty tomatoes that are canned to preserve them. There are a variety of different brands out there, all offering slightly different types of tomatoes.

The commonly accepted “best” canned tomatoes are the San Marzano tomatoes, but any high-quality, slightly more expensive cans of tomatoes should be fine.

A great tip is to not use the tomato liquid that the tomatoes are kept within inside the can. There is some argument to be made that the good quality tomatoes are actually being mixed with a poor quality tomato sauce to help keep everything submerged. You can safely just dump out that liquid and use the whole tomatoes instead.

dipping pepperoni bread into marinara sauce

Why Do Some People Say Not To Combine Onions & Garlic In a Sauce?

An oft-repeated adage of Italian cuisine is that most dishes contain either onions or garlic, but never both. However, pretty much all modern Italian dishes made in North America contain both, so what’s going on?

The truth is that pretty much all modern Italian cuisine is based on Italian-American cooking techniques. These deviate pretty heavily from their standard Italian origins, including that old rule of no onions and garlic together in the same recipe.

While some diehard Italian purists might insist on sticking to this same aversion to onions and garlic combined together, the truth is that it tastes really great! In fact, there is some research that shows that Mediterranean people have a tendency to have an aversion, almost so much as to call it an allergy, to alliums when eaten in large quantities, especially when they are undercooked.

Seeing as both onions and garlic are alliums, it could be that combining both in the same dish makes some Italian people feel bad after eating it, hence their hesitance surrounding combining both vegetables.

However, unless you too feel that same burning feeling in your throat after too much onion, feel free to combine onions and garlic together in the same recipe, no matter what the diehard Italian fanatic might say.

Looking for more delicious Sauce recipes? Try these out:

Classic Italian Gremolata Recipe (Parsley Sauce)

Homemade Ginger Sesame Citrus Salad Dressing

Penne Pasta with Homemade Meat Sauce





Fast and easy homemade marinara sauce that is perfect for a simple pasta supper, or using as a dip for your favorite appetizers!

Marinara Sauce

Fast and easy homemade marinara sauce that is perfect for a simple pasta supper, or using as a dip for your favorite appetizers!
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time
20 minutes
Cook Time
40 minutes
Dinner, Sauces
Karlynn Johnston


  • two 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 large onion finely diced
  • 1 large carrot peeled and finely diced
  • 4 large cloves garlic peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • pinch white sugar to taste
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley


  • In a large, deep-sided skillet add the onion and carrots and saute over medium heat until softened, around 10-12 minutes. (more if the pieces are larger)
  • Add in the garlic and saute for one minute. Stir in the tomatoes, salt, basil, red pepper flakes and sugar.
  • Simmer on low heat for 30-35 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the oil is floating on top and is orange colored.
  • Stir and taste test. Add more sugar and salt/pepper if needed.
  • Sprinkle with the fresh parsley when serving.

Recipe Notes

  • Adjust the sugar to taste, this will depend on how acidic the tomatoes are to start
  • This can be put into freezer safe bags and frozen flat for up to 6 months. Just defrost and use.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 98kcal, Carbohydrates: 4g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 7g, Sodium: 204mg, Potassium: 87mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 2g, Vitamin A: 2007IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg

All calories and info are based on a third party calculator and are only an estimate. Actual nutritional info will vary with brands used, your measuring methods, portion sizes and more.

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Karlynn Johnston

I’m a busy mom of two, wife & cookbook author who loves creating fast, fresh meals for my little family on the Canadian prairies. Karlynn Facts: I'm allergic to broccoli. I've never met a cocktail that I didn't like. I would rather burn down my house than clean it. Most of all, I love helping YOU get dinner ready because there's nothing more important than connecting with our loved ones around the dinner table!

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