Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce

Photo: Gayle McLeod

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! 

Storage Tips

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 PestoRomesco SauceChimichurri SauceTzatziki (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

5 from 16 votes Prep: 5 minutes Cook: 25 minutes Total: 30 minutes Servings: 8 servings Author: Lisa BryanPrintPinReviewSaveSaved


Nothing outshines a fresh batch of this homemade marinara sauce. Bonus — it’s super easy to make with just 5 simple ingredients!



1 tbsp olive oil1 (28-ounce can) crushed tomatoes1 small onion, finely diced (approx 1 cup)4 cloves garlic, minced¼ teaspoon kosher salt1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped1 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.

Lisa’s Tips

This recipe makes approximately 4 cups of marinara sauce. 


Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 205mg | Potassium: 323mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 268IU | Vitamin C: 12mg | Calcium: 44mg | Iron: 2mg Course: sauce Cuisine: Italian Keyword: Best Marinara Sauce, How to Make Marinara Sauce, Marinara Sauce, Marinara Sauce Recipe

Did you make this recipe?Mention @downshiftology or tag #downshiftology!

This recipe was originally posted November 2014, but updated to include new information. 

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *