The Cozy Cook

Homemade Marinara Sauce

This simple homemade marinara sauce is easy to make it just 20 minutes.  Use it for pastas, meatballs, pizza, and as a dipping sauce! This is one of the easiest sauces to make from scratch and is perfect for the freezer!

Plus, I’ll give you all of the info you need to know about picking out the best tomatoes for marinara sauce.

A wooden spoon scooping up homemade marinara sauce from a pot.

I absolutely love making my own marinara sauce at home. Not only is it budget-friendly, but it takes just 20 minutes!

…that’s about how long the jarred stuff takes to heat up on the stove anyway!

Sometimes I’ll combine my homemade version with a jar of my favorite store-bought sauce to stretch it a little farther and expand the flavors a bit.

Ingredients

  • Olive Oil- Lucini olive oil is a high-quality brand that I like to use for sauces and dressings.
  • Garlic- Use fresh cloves for best results. A garlic twister makes it easy and fast.
  • Plum Tomatoes- See below for important brand recommendations. You can even make these easy roasted tomatoes for this recipe!
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Bay Leaf
  • Fresh Parsley
  • Salt

How to Make it

Heat the oil and the garlic over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the Plum Tomatoes.

Garlic and oil in a pot with plum tomatoes to make homemade marinara sauce

Crush the tomatoes. You can use an immersion blender, regular blender, or food mill. Add seasonings. 

Crushed tomatoes with seasonings being added to make marinara sauce

Stir to combine. Simmer for 15 minutes or until ready to serve, sauce will continue to thicken as it simmers.

Seasonings being stirred into a pot of marinara sauce.

(Optional) Premium Additions

  • Salt Pork- Add 2 oz, sliced thin. Add with the olive oil. Saute for 5 minutes, discard, then add garlic.
  • Minced Onion- Add 3 tablespoons. Heat with olive oil for 3 minutes before garlic is added.
  • Fresh Basil- 6 leaves, sliced into strips. Stir in at the end.

San Marzano Plum Tomatoes

The San Marzano variety of tomatoes are ideal for marinara sauce. But there are a few options to consider.

Authentic Italian San Marzano Tomatoes:

  • Carmelina San Marzano tomatoes are a high-quality variety to purchase that are true San Marzano tomatoes imported from Italy. They’re well worth the cost.

Beware of What You Buy:

  • These cans are actually called San Marzano but that’s nothing more than the brand name. Contrary to popular belief, they’re not imported from Italy and they’re arguably not even true San Marzano tomatoes. (But the packaging would fool you.)

Popular US Variety:

  • Cento plum tomatoes are easy to find on US shelves. Although they have the word “certified” on the can, they aren’t truly DOP certified.
  • Although they are suitable for a simple marinara sauce, the word “certified” usually comes with a higher price tag, which you may better off spending on true DOP certified tomatoes. In the end, it comes down to personal taste preference.

DOP Certified:

This is a certification to look for when trying to find specific and Authentic Italian foods. As described by Walks of Italy: DOP is a certification that “ensures that products are locally grown and packaged.”

Using Fresh Tomatoes

  • 28 oz. of fresh tomatoes can be used in this recipe. You can even make these easy roasted tomatoes or use my canned tomatoes for this recipe.
  •  To remove the skins: Cut the fresh tomatoes in half and place cut-side-down on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for just a few minutes, until you see the skins pucker up and loosen. Let cool enough to touch and the skins will slide right off!
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes = 3 cups undrained =  2.5 cups drained tomatoes.

Marinara Sauce vs. Spaghetti Sauce

  • Marinara Sauce is a simple mix of crushed tomatoes, garlic, and seasonings.
  • Spaghetti Sauce can contain chopped vegetables and meat.

Storing Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Marinara sauce freezes very well. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 months.

What to Serve this With

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A wooden spoon scooping up homemade marinara sauce from a pot.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

4.8 from 5 ratings
Use this simple homemade marinara sauce for pastas, meatballs, pizza, and as a dipping sauce! This is one of the easiest sauces to make from scratch and is perfect for the freezer.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 oz. plum tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  • Blend the plum tomatoes using an immersion blender, regular blender, or food mill.
  • Add the tomatoes and seasonings to the pot and stir to combine.
  • Simmer for 15 minutes or until ready to serve.

Notes

This recipe yields 28 oz. which is sufficient for 16 oz. (or 1 lb.) of pasta. The nutrition information is per serving and there are 6 servings in this recipe.

Optional Additions:
  • Salt Pork: (2 oz. sliced thin.) Sauté in the olive oil for 5 minutes to add flavor to the pan. Discard, then add garlic and proceed as outlined.
  • Finely Diced Onions: (3 Tbsp.) Heat with olive oil for 3 minutes before garlic is added.
  • Fresh Basil: 6 leaves, sliced into strips. Stir in at the end.

Using Fresh Tomatoes
  • 28 oz. of fresh tomatoes can be used in this recipe. You can even make these easy roasted tomatoes or use my canned tomatoes for this recipe.
  •  To remove the skins: Cut the fresh tomatoes in half and place cut-side-down on a rimmed baking sheet. Broil for just a few minutes, until you see the skins pucker up and loosen. Let cool enough to touch and the skins will slide right off!
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomatoes = 3 cups undrained =  2.5 cups drained tomatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 68kcal, Carbohydrates: 6g, Protein: 1g, Fat: 5g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 104mg, Potassium: 320mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 1102IU, Vitamin C: 19mg, Calcium: 21mg, Iron: 1mg

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20 comments on “Homemade Marinara Sauce”

  1. I made the spaghetti and meatballs with the sauce it was delicious

  2. It was my first time making sauce with fresh tomatoes. I was a little intimidated but this recipe was so easy to follow and tasty. I will be saving this to do again. Thank you!! 

    • I am so happy that you enjoyed it Jessica, what a great way to put fresh tomatoes to good use!! I bet that sauce is spectacular! 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to come leave this review, I really appreciate it! -Stephanie

  3. What can be done if the sauce tastes a bit sour. I used fresh tomatoes, also added little sugar.

  4. The sauce is tasty and very easy and quick to make; however, next time, I will add about 4 Tablespoons of Tomato Paste to thicken it up.

  5. How many plum tomatoes should I use?  I’m trying to get out of using anything in cans.  Thanks for this recipe! 

  6. Is this a smooth sauce? I’ve never really had chunky marinara sauce before to know if I like it, but I want to try to make my own.

    • Hi Kaitlyn, the texture is pretty smooth but if you check out the process shots in the recipe post you can see exactly how it transforms. You also have control of the texture in that you can blend it until it’s completely smooth, or leave some chunks if that is your preference.

  7. Just finished making this and my house smells incredible! Such a good flavor! I used tomatoes from my garden and followed your guide on how to boil, blanch, and peel them! I also added garden fresh basil. Thanks for the recipe this one is a keeper!

  8. Made this with some meatballs tonight and omggg this sauce was so easy to make and SO delicious ! Thanks for the great recipe! 

    • Hey Diane! That’s wonderful, I’m so happy that you enjoyed it!!! Thank you so much for taking the time to come back and leave your feedback, I really appreciate it! Take care! -Stephanie

  9. I was out of jarred marinara and stumbled across this recipe, I had everything I needed on hand and decided to give it a try. IT WAS AMAZING!!!!! I am going to make another batch and freeze it, I liked it better than the jarred stuff! Thank you STEPHANIE!

  10. I was wondering if you could can the marinara sauce versus freezing it? Thank you

    • Hi Mary! You absolutely can, I’ll integrate those instructions into the post! I just recommend sticking to the original/basic recipe without any additional add-ons. Here’s how to do it:

      Once the marinara is made:

      Place bottled lemon juice in the bottom of each sterilized canning jar. 1 TBS for pints, 2 TBS for quarts.

      Carefully ladle the hot sauce into the jars and leave 1/2 inch of space at the top of the jar.

      Screw on cleaned rims and place the jars in boiling water. 35 minutes for pints, 40 minutes for quarts.

      Turn the heat off and let them sit in the water for 5 minutes, remove and let them sit for 24 hours.

      Ensure the seals are tightly shut and store in a cool place. They’ll last for up to a year, but will taste the best within 6 months!

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