Nothing outshines a fresh batch of this homemade marinara sauce. Bonus — it’s super easy to make with just 5 simple ingredients!
This is a friendly reminder to make your own marinara sauce! Sure, it’s easy to grab a jar at the store, but making it at home really does make a difference. The flavor is just… fresher. And fresher always equals better.
In my homemade marinara sauce — tomatoes, onion, garlic, thyme, and basil meld together beautifully for an easy recipe that’s enormously flavorful and super versatile in the kitchen. Just check out my ways to use it below!
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
The reason why I love Italian recipes so much is that they prioritize a handful of fresh, ripe, simple ingredients. It’s about celebrating the deliciousness that Mother Nature serves up with no fuss but tons of flavor! Here’s what you’ll need.
- Crushed Tomatoes: Crushed tomatoes rather than whole tomatoes create a smoother marinara sauce (which I prefer). But I’ll share some variations in the next section below.
- Onion & Garlic: The ultimate aromatic duo to give your marinara sauce depth of flavor.
- Thyme & Basil: Fresh thyme and basil have a gentle yet pronounced flavor that give a nod to the Italian roots of this recipe, especially over a long simmer.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below
The Best Tomatoes for Marinara Sauce
I prefer canned organic crushed tomatoes as they’re easy to find and make for a smooth sauce. Can you use canned whole tomatoes? Of course. If you use canned whole tomatoes just squish them between your hands or use a spatula to break them down while they cook. The texture will be a bit chunkier, but if that’s what you prefer, go for it.
You can also make marinara sauce from fresh whole tomatoes, it just takes a bit longer. Dice the tomatoes up and add them to your pot. They’ll take a bit longer to break down and you might want to use an immersion blender to make them smoother, but it’s always fun to see which texture you prefer best.
How to Make Marinara Sauce
The great thing about this recipe is that after the chopping is done, you have time to enjoy a glass of wine or aperol spritz while the marinara sauce simmers. And if we’re going to be true Italians with this recipe, we must relax and enjoy the process, right?
Cook the aromatics. Cook the onion with a bit of olive oil. Then add the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds. Don’t cook for too long otherwise, the garlic can burn!
Add the tomatoes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, salt, and thyme, and let the sauce simmer for 20 minutes. The sauce will slowly start to thicken as you stir occasionally.
Stir in basil. Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the basil (you don’t want to add it earlier as basil is delicate and its flavor is most potent right after it hits the heat), and enjoy!
Ways To Use Marinara Sauce
- Toss with veggie pasta. My personal favorite is to make a batch of my baked meatballs with marinara sauce. Then toss with zucchini noodles for veggie-heavy pasta!
- Use as a base for pizza. You can never go wrong with a marinara pizza base, especially on my cauliflower pizza or these pizza zucchini boats.
- Serve as a dipping sauce. Yes, you can dip it with appetizers like baked zucchini fries!
- To store for the week: Make a batch to store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days. I like to use these glass jars, but any container will work!
- Freeze for later: If you plan to use this in the near future, you can freeze it for up to 3 months! When you’re ready to use, thaw it in the fridge overnight.
Marinara Sauce Recipe Video
For some visual guidance, watch how I make this marinara sauce in the video below!
More Classic Sauces
These homemade sauces are the key to elevating your meals!
- Basil Pesto
- Romesco Sauce
- Chimichurri Sauce
- Tzatziki (or try this Vegan tzatziki for a dairy-free option)
- Hollandaise Sauce (or this Béarnaise sauce)
Once you make this marinara sauce, you’ll never buy them again! Give this recipe a whirl and let me know your thoughts and how you used it in the comment box below.
Easy Marinara Sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes
- 1 small onion, finely diced (approx 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized pot on medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds more.
- Add the can of crushed tomatoes, salt and thyme. (Don't add the basil as it will overcook). Once the tomatoes have started to boil, reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the sauce has slightly thickened.
- Remove the sauce from the heat, stir in the basil and enjoy.
- This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of marinara sauce.
This recipe was originally posted November 2014, but updated to include new information.
Delicious. Easy recipe to make.
So happy you loved it, Mary!
I can’t wait to try this recipe.
Can it be frozen to have some on hand?
Yes, you can freeze this!
Nice recipe. Do you think it would taste good without onions? I’m allergic to onions.
Hi Deborah – I always recommend doing what’s best for your body, so if you need to omit the onions that’s what’s best!
This looks great but how many fresh tomatoes would you need instead of canned ones.
This marinara is delicious! I used 2 cans diced tomatoes and blended it (all i had) and used Italian seasoning instead of fresh thyme. I was afraid it was going to be too acidic so i added 1 tbsp sugar and will cut that in half next time. Another winner Lisa! Thank you!
Happy to hear this marinara sauce turned out to be a successs!
Can red bell peppers be substituted for the tomatoes to cut the potassium ?
Hi Laura – I’m actually working on a roasted bell pepper sauce in the future! But yes, you can sub them, but they’d need to be blended.
This recipe was simple and tasted great! I added fish pieces fir just a few minutes at the end and it was beautiful.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
Hello! I am wondering what the recipe is for whatever it is you’re using to dip in the marinara sauce. Is that zucchini? Could you please share the recipe? Btw this marinara sauce is astounding!
Hi Darian – Yes! Those are my baked zucchini fries, which you can search for on my website :)
Excellent flavor and simple to make. Red pack crushed tomatoes are the best
I’m glad you enjoyed the recipe!
Easy, delicious, and much healthier than store bought. Thank you.
Its looking Nice and so spicy. Thank you for sharing such an amazing things to us.
What is the best way to keep the sauce to use for different things in the future? Small mason jars in the freezer? Or can it or something and leave in the pantry or refrigerator? How long does it last in the refrigerator?
Hi Kristen – If you are to keep this for future use, I would store in an airtight jar or freezer safe bag and place it in the freezer. Otherwise, if you store it in the fridge, it will last for up to 3-4 days :)
Hi Lisa, this recipe is more a Neapolitan style tomato sauce (alla napoletana) as it has basil (the original one doesn’t have thyme). Sugo alla marinara is made with oregano.
Both are delicious!
This is super easy to make and soooo much better than a jarred version from the store!
I heard about this recipe for the first time and it seems interesting I am going to try this.
Great. I hope you enjoy it!
We grow a garden just for sauce making. This year the garden consists of plum tomatoes, basil, oregano, garlic, eggplant and onions. In NJ we harvest late summer/early fall and jar sauce for the year.
I agree, no sugar! Fresh herbs keep the sauce from going bitter.
Your recipe is just the way we enjoy fresh sauce.
Oh, I’m so jealous! I want a sauce garden, that sounds amazing! Agree on not needing sugar in this recipe. I’m all about letting those fresh flavors shine. Enjoy!
I always prefer home-made dips/sauce. The difference is pretty clear the moment it reaches ur mouth! Thanks for this pone!
I couldn’t agree more! Thanks Lola!
Thank you for sharing a simple and to the point sauce recipe, so glad to see that you have not added sugar to your sauce. Never in all of my Grandmother’s years did she use sugar to mask sour/bitter tomatoes. She used our homegrown tomatoes and they were always organic and right off the vine. In this day and age, there are some really good organic tomatoes that are so sweet and wonderful. Great recipe.
Agree! You definitely don’t need sugar in marinara sauce and it’s amazing to me how many recipes call for it. If you use fresh ingredients it’s best to let those flavors shine! :)
I love marinara sauce! Looks so delicious and perfect for having in the freezer!
Yes, it’s a great meal prep recipe and perfect to have on standby.
This marinara sauce sounds so good, and so easy too!
Thanks Kate! It really is an easy recipe packed with so much flavor.
I love this recipe for marinara sauce. So easy and with only a few ingredients. Perfect for dipping or over my pasta.
Thanks Stephanie! It really is a versatile recipe and a great way to get a dose of healthy tomatoes and herbs on a variety of recipes. Enjoy!
I love a good marinara sauce, it’s so simple and delicious to make! I’ll have to try your recipe soon, saved and pinned for later!
Awesome! That’s great you pinned it so you have it for the future. I hope you enjoy the recipe Michelle!
What brand of canned tomatoes do you use?