This Easy Classic Marinara Sauce is a delicious blend of herbs and aromatics that perfectly complements the rich, flavourful slow-simmered tomato flavours without overpowering them. It’s your new go-to tomato sauce.
Classic Marinara Sauce
Having an amazing marinara sauce in your repertoire is a must for every Mediterranean cook. Marinara sauce is incredibly easy to make with a few pantry ingredients and 5 minutes of hands-on time. The sauce is so perfect for lazy cooking and busy weeknight.
I’ve made this recipe so easy! No need to chop, blend or bother.
Yes, that right, NO chopping or blending; just set and forget it. Open a can of tomatoes, squish them into a pot, toss in a halved onion and a few smashed garlic cloves, and that’s the extent of your hands-on cooking. Then simmer for 45 minutes.
Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts to make this sauce faster, but no amount of spices, salt or sugar will make up for the lost time. If you want a lovely, authentic Italian flavoured marinara sauce, it takes at least 45-minutes of simmering⏤It’s the only way to achieve enchanting, perfectly flavoured marinara.
So throw those ingredients in a pot, and boil water for pasta. Sit back and relax, dinner is almost ready.
What do You Need to Make a Marinara sauce?
With just 5 main pantry ingredients, you’ll be enjoying an authentic, tasty marinara sauce that’s sure to impress.
- 1 large can of wholeSan Marzano tomatoes
- 1 onion
- 3 garlic cloves
- Olive oil
- Fresh Basil and Oregano sprigs
- Italian Herb Blend (optional)
- Chilli flakes (optional)
- salt & pepper
What’s The Difference Between Marinara Sauce and Spaghetti Sauce?
A marinara sauce is a much lighter and fresher tasting tomato-based sauce with simple ingredients. A great Marinara should tastes like late summer in a pot. In contrast, spaghetti or pasta sauce has much more texture and often includes meats and chopped vegetables.
Each sauce has its place in the Mediterranean kitchen, and sometimes a recipe needs a light sauce and other times, it benefits from a thick, rich sauce. Both sauce types offer you that nostalgic, comforting, and flavorful experience you’re craving.
What Can You Use With Marinara Sauce?
This marinara recipe is so versatile; I recommend making a double and freezing the extras. Here are just a few uses for this sauce.
- Pasta of all kinds
- Baked pasta dishes like Lasagna, parmigiana, and more
- A dipping sauce for bread and baked veggies.
- It’s also a great base for soups and stews.
Tips for Making an Authentic San Marzano Marinara Sauce
Use good quality tomatoes. This recipe heavily relies on the taste of the tomatoes. Whenever I make this recipe I always choose the Italian San Marzano. These deep red, plum-type tomatoes are perfect for this recipe and all Italian tomato-based recipes. The main reason why I recommend this variety of tomatoes, is they’re not acidic tasting. If your canned tomatoes are acidic tasting, they can through off the entire dish. However, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you have a tin of acidic tomatoes then add some sugar to the dish to balance out the flavours.
I do have a few favourite brands which I regularly use they are: Mutti, Molisana, and Glen Muir.
Testing tomatoes acidic. The best way to test canned tomatoes is the finger test. Stick your finder in the tomatoes and then taste it. If the tomatoes are acidic tasting, you’ll need to add sugar to balance the flavour or choose not to use them for this recipe instead of using them in a ragu or bolognese sauce.
Spices for the recipe. I recommend using fresh herbs but when they’re not on hand then, I like to use an Italian herb blend for this recipe. When using dried herbs, its best practice is to rub the herbs between your hands over the pot. This trick helps to release the flavours from the dried herbs. The results are superb.
Throwing away the onion. It may seem wasteful of tossing the onion after simmering. Still, after testing many different variations of marinara sauce and my 75 years old Italian neighbour’s advice, it is the only way to achieve an authentic flavour texture. You shouldn’t see any onions in a marinara sauce; it should be soft chunks of rich and flavourful tomatoes and light basil flavour.
Can you freeze Marinara sauce? Of course, you can! It freezes extremely well. Make a double batch and freeze some for a delicious meal later.
Looking for More Saucy Inspiration
Classic Marinara Sauce
- 1 28oz can of San Marzano whole tomatoes (approximately 2 cups)
- 1 medium onion, peeled and halved
- 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 large sprigs of fresh basil
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 springs of fresh oregano (optional)
- 1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional) (optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- Crush the tomatoes. Empty the can of tomatoes into a large bowl. Using your hands, crush the whole tomatoes into smaller bite-sized pieces, add them and all of the tomato-y liquid into a 3 qt pot. Alternatively, you can scoop the tomatoes out of the can and crush them in your pot.
- Add aromatics. Add the fresh (or dried) basil & oregano (if using), onions, garlic, salt, and chilli (if using) to the pot of crushed tomatoes, then drizzle the olive oil over everything.
- Cook the marinara sauce. Heat on medium-high. Allow the tomatoes to come to a soft boil. Then reduce heat to low and cover the sauce. The tomato should be simmering lightly⏤Simmer for 45 minutes.
- Remove the aromatics. After 45 minutes of simmering, remove the onion and herbs, then smash the garlic on the side of the pot.
- Stir and serve. You can add more fresh herbs to the sauce just before serving.
- If you don’t have fresh basil: Use 1 tsp dried Italian herbs or seasoning (optional)
- Fridge Storage: Place leftover marinara sauce into an airtight container and store 5-7 days in the fridge.
- Freeze Storage: You can store marinara in an airtight container for 3-6 months. Dethaw in the fridge the next before using.