Easy 5-ingredient marinara sauce with the most amazing tomato flavor. Perfect for dipping, served over pasta or added into your favorite Italian dishes.
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 roasted garlic tomato sauce. You can even make a delicious spaghetti and meat sauce by doctoring up a jar of pasta sauce and adding extra veggies, meat and spices.
This is my favorite marinara sauce to make on a busy weeknight! My kids love it served over gnocchi and they love to dip their breadsticks into it as well. It’s so easy to whip up and is made with simple ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry.
This homemade marinara sauce has the perfect tomato flavor. Allowing the tomatoes to simmer brings out their natural flavors perfectly. Once you’ve made marinara from scratch, you’ll never go back to the jarred version!
What is the difference between marinara and 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 served over pasta or used in your favorite Italian dishes. Marinara also makes a great dipping sauce and is usually quicker to make than spaghetti sauce.
How to make marinara sauce
- Crush tomatoes. Pour the whole tomatoes into a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon (or your hands) to the crush the tomatoes into pieces.
- Simmer. Heat olive oil in a skillet, then add garlic and cook until fragrant and golden, about 1-2 minutes. 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.
- 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.
- Use a skillet instead of a sauce pan to allow the water to evaporate quickly.
Favorites to serve with
This marinara sauce tastes delicious served over pasta, in your favorite Italian dishes or used as a dipping sauce. Below are a few of our favorite dishes to serve it with:
- Cooked pasta
- Spaghetti squash
- Cheesy garlic bread
- Pizza dough
- Homemade meatballs
- Mozzarella sticks
- Fried mac and cheese balls
- Pizza pinwheels
- Garlic knots
Storing + freezing
If you leftover sauce, let it cool completely then pour in an airtight container and store in the fridge for about 3-5 days. 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.
More Italian recipes:
- Chicken parmesan
- Mozzarella stuffed meatballs
- Easy homemade Alfredo sauce
- Spaghetti and meatballs
- The best homemade bolognese
Marinara Sauce Recipe
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.