Easy Marinara Sauce (30-Minute Recipe!)

This Easy Marinara Sauce recipe offers rich and sweet flavors that can be enjoyed on plenty of dishes. Using a handful of basic ingredients and only 1 pot, you can whip up this classic Italian sauce in just 30-minutes!

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You’ll love it poured over these zucchini lasagna rolls, homemade gnocchi, mushroom parmesan, or use it as a dip with my toasted ravioli or pasta chips.

Now, this is a recipe to keep on hand at all times! Never will you need to buy plain or processed pasta sauce ever again, thanks to this quick Marinara Sauce recipe.

Sweet and tasty, this is a go-to tomato sauce to use with cooked pasta, roasted vegetables, or to use as a dip. You can indulge in this rich and lively Italian favorite knowing it’s been made with fresh and easy ingredients!

The only thing better than making marinara with fresh tomatoes is using San Marzano whole tomatoes. These high quality canned tomatoes still bring plenty of fresh flavors and help to cut down on the cooking time. Simmered with all of the right herbs and seasonings, this sauce still tastes like you’ve just picked the tomatoes straight from the garden.

As a bonus, this sauce is naturally vegan and gluten-free, which means you can use it on just about anything. 

Jar of homemade marinara sauce against black backdrop.

Are marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce the same?

Both marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce are tomato-based sauces, but they have slight differences. Marinara is made with just fresh or canned whole tomatoes and Italian seasonings. Spaghetti sauce, still made with tomatoes and seasonings, usually contains added ingredients like vegetables or meat. 

Ingredients Needed

  • Canned Tomatoes – I prefer to use San Marzano tomatoes for the sweetest flavor. However, any type will work here.
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic – Or, try swapping in this roasted garlic or air fryer garlic for a sweeter more complex flavor.
  • Basil – I use 1 large sprig of fresh basil. Or, you can add in a pinch of dried basil. Or, try one of these substitutes for basil.
  • Oregano – Or, try one of these substitutes for oregano.
  • Salt + Sugar
  • Red Pepper Flakes – This is optional. Omit for less heat. Or add in more if you like a spicy marinara sauce.

How to make homemade marinara sauce

Just like most Italian recipes, start by sautéing garlic in a saucepan with oil. Add the tomatoes and all of the seasonings. You’ll need to simmer the sauce for about 30 minutes to let all of the flavors mingle together.

Once it’s done simmering, use a sturdy spoon to crush the now soft tomatoes. Add salt and sugar and season to taste. It’s best enjoyed with fresh Parmesan and basil on top!

Need it smoother? Simply pour the sauce right into a blender, food processor, or use an immersion blender to blend until smooth.Spaghetti topped with marinara sauce in grey bowl with fork.


Why is marinara sauce called marinara?

In Italian, marinara means “seafaring.” It’s said that marinara sauce was given its name because it was most often consumed by Italian merchants who were out at sea. Not because it was eaten with seafood. Since the ingredients in this tomato-based sauce don’t spoil as quickly as meat or fish, the leftovers could be consumed for a longer amount of time.

Why is my marinara sauce watery?

If your marinara sauce is watery, it may be due to the type of tomatoes you are using. To fix this, simply increase the heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened.

Recipe variations

  • Spicy: Add another pinch of red pepper flakes.
  • Herby: Add a sprig of fresh rosemary, sage, or thyme into the sauce as it cooks. Make sure to remove them before serving or blending.
  • Roasted Garlic: Try swapping in some roasted garlic for the regular garlic cloves.
  • Cheesy: Add half of a cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
  • Sweet Onion: Saute a minced onion before adding the garlic.

Storing leftovers

Once the sauce is ready, leave it to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Store it in individual sealed airtight containers or jars in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Marinara is also freezer friendly. Pour it into a freezer-safe container or sealed bag and freeze for up to 3 months. You can reheat it from frozen or leave it to thaw in the fridge.

Hands holding bowl of pasta topped with marinara sauce.

How to use it

Classic marinara sauce can turn almost any dinner into a warm and comforting dish with plenty of oomph! 

Wine pairings

  • Chianti
  • Barolo
  • Teroldego

More pasta sauce recipes

Did you try this easy marinara sauce?

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PS – Need a way to preserve that extra basil? Try my method for how to freeze basil.

Hand holding jar of homemade marinara sauce.

Easy Marinara Sauce

Easy 30 Minute Marinara Sauce offers rich and sweet flavors that can be enjoyed on plenty of dishes. Using basic ingredients & only 1 pot.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4 people


  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes (with juices)
  • 1 large fresh basil sprig
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (plus additional, to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon sugar (plus additional, to taste)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

For Serving (optional):


  • In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute about 30 seconds, until fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes (with their juices), basil sprig, oregano, sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes (if using).
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and continue to simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and using a sturdy spoon to crush the tomatoes as they cook.
  • Remove and discard the basil sprig. Season with additional salt and sugar, to taste. (If you prefer a smooth sauce, you can also purée it with an immersion blender, blender or food processor until it reaches your desired consistency.)


This sauce keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 5 days. Freeze it for up to 3 months.
Note: Amount of sugar needed will depend on the sweetness of your tomatoes, so be sure to season to taste.
Did you make this recipe?Mention @platingsandpairings or tag #platingsandpairings!


Large Saucepan


Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 582mg | Potassium: 9mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 4mg

Note: This recipe was originally published in 2020. It was updated in 2022 to add new information. The recipe remains unchanged. Enjoy!

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