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EASY Marinara Sauce

This homemade marinara sauce is easy to make with only 5 ingredients in just over 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and use it any meal that calls for jarred tomato sauce.

marinara sauce in cast iron skillet
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Homemade Marinara Sauce

Making sauces from scratch really is super easy and tastes so much better than the store bought jar versions. I love to make my own pesto, pizza sauce and spaghetti and meat sauce, too.

This is my favorite homemade marinara sauce to make on a busy weeknight! It’s easy to whip up with simple ingredients and has the best tomato flavor. Simmering the tomatoes brings out their natural flavor and makes it perfect for serving over pasta or dipping breadsticks.

Marinara vs. Spaghetti Sauce

Marinara is made with tomatoes, olive oil and very few seasonings. Spaghetti sauce contains meat and/or vegetables usually with more seasonings. It’s a bit more thick and hearty than marinara.

Both taste delicious in your favorite Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs or baked chicken parmesan. Marinara also makes a great dipping sauce and is usually quicker to make than spaghetti sauce.

Marinara Sauce Ingredients

Marinara sauce ingredients.
  • Canned whole tomatoes: For the best marinara sauce with a thicker texture, use a large can of whole tomatoes. I prefer San Marzano for best flavor but any can of whole tomatoes will work.
  • Extra virgin olive oil: This will be used to saute the fresh garlic and add rich taste to the sauce.
  • Salt: I used Kosher salt. If you using table salt you may need less but adjust to your taste.
  • Dried oregano. I love the herby, earthy taste oregano adds. You can use 1 teaspoon dried or 1 Tablespoon fresh oregano.

How to Make Marinara Sauce

How to make marinara sauce in skillet.
  • Crush tomatoes. Pour the whole tomatoes into a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon (or your hands) to the crush the tomatoes into pieces.
  • Saute garlic. Heat olive oil in a skillet, then add garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Simmer. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, salt and oregano and simmer for about 20 to 30 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. About 15 minutes in, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
  • Serve. Enjoy the marinara with your favorite pasta or use as a dipping sauce.

Cooking Tips

  • Make sure to allow enough time to simmer. I typically simmer the sauce about 30 minutes.
  • Taste the sauce after 15 minutes of simmering before you add more salt and pepper.
  • You can add a pinch of red pepper flakes if you’d like to add a little kick.
  • Sugar can help balance the acidic taste of tomatoes. Start with 1/2 teaspoon.
  • Use a skillet instead of a sauce pan to allow the water to evaporate quickly.

Ways to Use Marinara Sauce

This marinara sauce tastes delicious served over pasta, used in your favorite Italian dishes like this easy baked ziti, easy lasagna recipe or try it as a dipping sauce. Below are a few of our favorite dishes to serve it with:


Can I substitute fresh tomatoes?

While you could peel a few and them to the sauce, I do not recommend replacing all of the canned tomatoes with fresh tomatoes. The consistency of the sauce will be quite different.

How to store marinara sauce?

If you leftover sauce, let it cool completely then pour in an airtight container and store in the fridge for about 3-5 days.

Can I freeze leftover sauce?

Yes, to freeze, add to a freezer bag and seal the air out. Then store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Let sit in the fridge overnight to thaw, then reheat on the stove when ready to enjoy.

Marinara sauce in skillet.

Other Italian pasta sauces we love include this homemade spaghetti bolognese, Alfredo sauce and garlic roasted tomato sauce.

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marinara sauce in cast iron skillet

Marinara Sauce Recipe

5 from 9 votes
↑ Click stars to rate now!
Author: Jamielyn Nye
This homemade marinara sauce is easy to make with only 5 ingredients in just over 30 minutes. Serve with your favorite pasta and use it any meal that calls for jarred tomato sauce.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6


  • 28 ounce can whole tomatoes , I prefer San Marzano
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic , 1 Tablespoon minced
  • ½ teaspoon Kosher salt , more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano , or 1 Tablespoon fresh

Optional for serving: Cooked pasta, Parmesan cheese, Fresh basil or oregano


    • Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with the back of a wooden spoon (or your hands). Add about 1/2 cup water to the can to reserve any extra tomato sauce.
    • Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1-2 minutes or until golden. Then add the crushed tomatoes, salt and oregano. Simmer until thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Taste sauce about 15 minutes in and salt and pepper to taste. Add fresh oregano or basil if desired.
    • Serve over your favorite pasta or use for dipping.


    Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 383mg | Potassium: 255mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 155IU | Vitamin C: 13mg | Calcium: 49mg | Iron: 1mg

    Nutrition provided is an estimate. It will vary based on specific ingredients used.

    Course: Condiment
    Cuisine: Italian

    Did you make this recipe? Don’t forget to give it a star rating below!

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