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Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Basil

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.

Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Basil

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.

Easy Spinach Lasagna RecipeYOU 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.

How to Make This Easy Marinara Sauce

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.

Adding the basil

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. 

Why we prefer canned whole tomatoes for marinara sauce

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.

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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

  • PREP
  • COOK

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.

Makes approximately 6 cups

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
  • 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.

    • Crush Tomatoes
    • 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.Homemade-Marinara-Sauce-Step-2

      • To Finish
      • 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.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #inspiredtaste — We love to see your creations on Instagram and Facebook! Find us: @inspiredtaste

Nutrition Per Serving: Serving Size 1 cup / Calories 134 / Protein 3 g / Carbohydrate 12 g / Dietary Fiber 6 g / Total Sugars 8 g / Total Fat 10 g / Saturated Fat 1 g / Cholesterol 0 mg / Sodium 517 mg
AUTHOR: Adam and Joanne Gallagher

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21 comments… Leave a Comment
  • Rachel April 29, 2018, 5:45 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe. I had to used this as a base but unfortunately had to do modifications. I used a can of crushed tomatoes and all my spices were dry. But it is so dang good! We will be making again and again!

  • Pauline April 1, 2018, 1:38 am

    Can’t wait to try this!

  • Anna Dunn February 25, 2018, 1:10 pm

    This recipe is killing me with the desire to make! I’ll gather the ingredients this week and surely give it a try! It looks like a winner!!!!! Anna


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