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Homemade Marinara Sauce with a fresh robust flavor
The most versatile sauce you’ll ever make
Anybody can make this simple and flavorful marinara sauce. This robust and flavorful sauce is so much better than store-bought and only takes minutes to make.
If you can open a few cans of tomatoes and mince a bunch of garlic, you’re halfway there. It’s so easy you might wonder if you’ll ever open a jar of store-bought again.
But don’t get me wrong, I’m all about the easy shortcuts! I usually have a jar or two of my favorite store-bought marinara in the pantry for an immediate dinner solution.
However, when I crave authentic, real deal Italian flavor that’s not watered down, this is my go-to recipe!
This basic sauce always exceeds our expectations and may become your family favorite, too. All it needs is a hot bowl of pasta and a hunk of crusty bread to make a complete meal.
How to use homemade marinara
In addition to serving marinara over a hot bowl of pasta you can also use this in your favorite recipes. It’s perfect layered on our Eggplant Parmesan, spooned over Chicken Parmesan or in this meaty lasagna recipe.
Don’t forget to throw in a few homemade Italian meatballs from time to time. All you have to do is simmer the meatballs in the sauce until heated through and serve.
If you have extra be sure to make the best meatball sandwiches ever. Use plenty of cheese and toasted rolls for a hearty, quick and easy meal.
This sauce is so thick and rich you can use it as a dipping sauce for our fantastic cheesy garlic bread, buttery garlic knots or soft restaurant-style breadsticks.
Can you use marinara for pizza sauce?
Our homemade marinara is actually terrific on homemade pizza. It’s not watery and only slightly chunky making it great for spreading.
Overview: Ingredients for this marinara sauce recipe
- Olive oil – use good quality olive oil for this recipe. It makes all the difference!
- Minced fresh garlic cloves
- Crushed red pepper flakes – this is optional but highly recommended. The hint of warm heat adds some zip to this flavorful sauce. We usually double the amount of crushed red pepper flakes in our recipe.
- Tomato paste – we use two tablespoons of great quality no-salt added tomato paste. You can always add more salt at the end if needed.
- Crushed canned tomatoes – for this sauce we use two (28-ounce) cans of San Marzano crushed tomatoes. You can adjust the recipe if using a no-salt added canned tomato product. If you can only find whole tomatoes, that works well too. Simply crush the tomatoes by hand before adding to the sauce.
- Dried Italian seasoning – you’ll need one teaspoon of this pantry staple.
- Dried oregano
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper – as with any tomato based recipe, this sauce will need some salt. Feel free to adjust to your preference. As we try to limit the amount of sodium in our diet making homemade sauce with minimal salt added is a great solution.
- One large sprig of fresh basil, stem and leaves
Do you have to use San Marzano tomatoes?
This variety of tomatoes are grown in a specific region in Italy and revered around the world as one of the best for tomato centric pasta sauces like this marinara.
If you can find certified D.O.P. San Marzano tomatoes then you’ve got the best premium canned tomatoes money can buy. These canned gems taste like fresh tomatoes straight from the garden.
How to make homemade marinara sauce
1. First pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or wide saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat then add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté until fragrant taking care not to brown the garlic.
2. Next stir in all remaining olive oil and the tomato paste. Sauté for another minute or two then add all remaining ingredients.
3. Finally, simmer over medium heat for 15 minutes then remove the basil sprig and discard. Serve over your favorite pasta garnished with fresh basil or parsley and enjoy!
What’s the difference between spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce?
Our simple marinara is low in calories and made with only a few pantry ingredients like crushed tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. Spaghetti sauce often includes these ingredients plus ground meat, vegetables, tomato sauce and plenty of herbs.
This fast and easy marinara cooks in about 15 minutes. However, you’ll need to simmer homemade spaghetti sauce for a longer period of time to reduce the liquid, thicken and meld all the flavors together.
Can you add other ingredients?
I say make this sauce your own!
For instance, while it’s not necessarily “authentic” you can add some onion or a tablespoon of sugar to cut some of the acidity in the sauce. Personally I like it without sugar, but I know many that swear by a spoonful of sugar making the sauce a little more mellow.
If using San Marzano tomatoes you don’t really need sugar as they are some of the least acidic canned tomatoes you can buy.
For a thinner sauce add a splash of red wine or pasta cooking water at the end. You can also blitz the sauce with an immersion blender for a smooth consistency.
If you’re in the mood for a meatier Italian experience, feel free to add cooked ground beef or Italian sausage to the pot. There’s no right or wrong here, it’s all good.
How long does marinara sauce last in the fridge?
Refrigerate leftover sauce in glass jars for up to 5 days safely. However, after 5 days the sauce will need to be checked carefully for mold and discarded if starting to turn.
Can you freeze homemade marinara?
Marinara sauce should be completely cool before freezing in airtight containers. Once sealed, you can store in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Finally if freezing in a glass jar be sure to leave some extra head space at the top for the sauce to expand. Reheat frozen sauce gently in a saucepan or thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Serve and enjoy!
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- ¼ cup olive oil divided
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste unsalted
- 56 ounces crushed San Marzano tomatoes (two 28oz cans)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or ½ teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 large sprig of fresh basil leaves and stem
- Pour 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet or saucepan. Warm over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the remaining olive oil and tomato paste and stir constantly for another minute or two. Don’t let the garlic brown or burn.
- Immediately pour in the crushed tomatoes and the Italian seasoning, oregano, salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Submerge the basil sprig into the sauce. Simmer, uncovered, over medium to medium-low heat until thickened, about 15 minutes.
- Check the seasoning and add more salt if needed. Discard the wilted basil stem and serve.
- Store in airtight containers or glass jars for up to 5 days.
- Cool completely before freezing. Frozen marinara will keep for 6 months
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