How to make marinara sauce with just a few simple ingredients. Store up to a week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer. Jump to the Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe or read on to see our tips for making it.
We eat a lot of pasta around here and while we always stock up on boxes of pasta, we usually forget the jars of pasta sauce. Night after night of disappointment led to learning how to make our own marinara sauce. We’re so glad we did.
Our marinara sauce recipe is surprisingly easy to make and can be stored up to a week in the refrigerator and up to 6 months in the freezer.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Take a look at our Spinach Lasagna Recipe, using this marinara sauce recipe layered between fresh spinach and cheeses. It’s delicious.
How to Make This Easy Marinara Sauce
This is a very basic sauce and can be used as a building block for many dishes. Use for pastas, fish or meats. You can add a little cream, add olives or capers or make it a little spicy with crushed red chili flakes.
The main ingredients include cans of whole peeled tomatoes, which we hand crush (more on that below), olive oil, garlic, onion and carrot. The onion and carrot add natural sweetness to the sauce, balancing the acidity of the tomatoes.
For the carrots, we took a tip from Mario Batali — he gates the carrot. We loved that — the carrot sort of melts into the sauce. You almost don’t know it’s there. We also add lots of fresh basil at the end — you could also use parsley.
Why we prefer canned whole tomatoes for this
By hand crushing whole tomatoes, you control the texture of the sauce. Like your sauce a little chunky? Don’t crush the tomatoes as much. Love it extra smooth — crush the tomatoes more. We like it somewhere in the middle.
Not only do we love the extra control, we like getting our hands (well, hand) a little dirty — it’s fun to crush tomatoes. Cooking should make you smile — digging into a bowl of tomatoes and squeezing most certainly achieves that.
If that’s just not your thing though, you could always use a potato masher or just buy crushed tomatoes from the store — it’s your sauce after all.
You May Also Like
- We love pasta, so you may want to take a glance at all pasta recipes on Inspired Taste.
- We make our own rich tomato sauce for this Meaty Lasagna Recipe.
- Or, try adding this marinara sauce to our Baked Ziti with Spinach — We love it.
Recipe updated, originally posted April 2013. Since posting this in 2013, we have tweaked the recipe to be more clear. – Adam and Joanne
Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Basil
Making your own marinara sauce is so simple and to us, tastes much brighter and more fresh than what you can buy at the store. It’s easy to store in the refrigerator or even the freezer.
You Will Need
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 large onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated (about 1/2 cup)
2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 dried bay leaf
20 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
- Prepare Sauce
- Crush Tomatoes
- To Finish
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add onions and garlic then cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned – about 8 to 10 minutes.
Add the grated carrots and a pinch of salt then cook another 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until softened.
While the vegetables cook, open tomato cans then pour tomatoes with juices into a large bowl. Use you hands or a potato masher to crush the tomatoes until desired sauce consistency.
Add crushed tomatoes with all juices and bay leaf to pan. Stir sauce then bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Note – if the sauce is too bright or acidic, try adding a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity from the tomatoes).
Remove bay leaf and discard then stir in chopped basil. Use straight away or refrigerate up to one week or freeze up to 6 months.
Adam and Joanne's Tips
- Fresh tomatoes: For fresh tomatoes, we recommend peeling them first. To do this, cut an “X” in the bottom of each tomato then add to boiling water for about 1 minutes. Then plunge into icy water. The peel should come off easily. You will need about 4 pounds of tomatoes to equal 2 (28-ounce) cans.
- Nutrition facts: The nutrition facts provided below are estimates. We have used the USDA Supertracker recipe calculator to calculate approximate values. We assumed 1/2 teaspoon of salt.