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Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

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Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce uses simple, quality ingredients. It takes about an hour to prepare, and you’ll be well rewarded with a rich, bold and incredibly flavorful sauce. This versatile sauce is the perfect base for many of your favorite recipes.

This post and recipe card updated October 23, 2019
overhead shot of marinara sauce in a Dutch oven

It’s no secret that I never learned to cook until I was an adult. When I did learn, I used store-bought sauces because I thought homemade sauces were difficult to make. And since pre-made sauces were so readily available at the grocery, there was no need to tempt fate.

One of the very first sauces I learned to make mastered was for my Asian Quinoa Meatballs. Last year I made a mushroom cream sauce for my Skillet Green Bean Casseroleand homemade sauce is the key to my Tuna Tettrazini.

As much as I love Italian food, I’m still a little gun-shy about dishes from scratch. I’ve made homemade pasta and pizza dough several times, but my technique needs a lot of work.

A couple of weeks ago I decided it was time to delve more into Italian dishes, so I decided to start with sauces. Of course, it makes sense to start with the classic Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce 

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
  • It’s incredibly easy to make, and most of the process is simmering on the stove
  • You can easily customize the sauce to your preference
  • This recipe makes 1/2 gallon, and you can easily make more and store/freeze for later
overhead shot of marinara sauce in a Dutch oven

This Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce is outstanding. It is rich and flavorful and uses simple quality ingredients. There are a lot of store-bought sauce brands, and some are really delicious. In my opinion, this Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce is right up there with the best.

TIPS FOR EASY HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE

I recommend using a Dutch oven, but a heavy-bottomed pot works as well. The Dutch oven cooks more evenly than a regular pot, and everything cooks on medium or low heat.

Use the best quality tomatoes you can find. I use San Marzano Crushed Tomatoes because those are the best quality canned tomatoes you can find.

Tomatoes are quite acidic, so you need something to counteract that. You can use sugar, but I prefer to use carrots. It’s a great way to add vegetables to the sauce and to eliminate added sugar. 

You only need 3 vegetables: carrots, yellow onion, and garlic. The most important first step is to saute them in Avocado Oil or Olive Oil. This softens the vegetables and develops the crucial flavor base.

Don’t skip the wine! I’ve tried it both ways, and it’s just not the same without wine. I like to use Cabernet or a red blend because that’s what I always have on hand. A good chianti will work as well.

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS

Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add carrots and onion and saute for 5 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.

You will have brown bits stuck to the pot, and that is good!

Add wine and use a silicone or wooden spoon to scrape up the brown bits. Cook for 2 minutes

process shots: vegetables sauteed in oil on left; red wine added on right

Add dried oregano, dried thyme, salt, black pepper, and a bay leaf. Add entire can of tomatoes, plus 2 ounces of water.

process shots: seasonings and bay leaf added on left, crushed tomatoes added on right

Bring sauce to a low boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and oregano immediately before serving.

STORAGE TIPS

Let the sauce cool to room temperature before storing.

FRIDGE: Portion the sauce into mason jars with lids. Seal tightly, and the sauce will last about 2 weeks.

FREEZER: Ladle the sauce into freezer-safe zip-top bags or plastic containers. 1-cup portions are perfect for smaller households, and 3-cup portions will yield 6 servings. The sauce will last up to 4 months.

close up shot of marinara sauce in a jar, with fresh tomatoes, basil and garlic on the side
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you use fresh tomatoes instead of canned? Yes, but then you have to blend them. And that’s an extra step. And I don’t have an immersion blender. Plus, you can keep canned tomatoes in the pantry for a long time.

Can you reduce the cooking time? In a pinch, you could do 20-30 minutes, but you won’t get nearly the same depth of flavor. Trust me, it’s worth the time investment.

WHAT TO MAKE WITH EASY HOMEMADE MARINARA SAUCE
MORE HOMEMADE DRESSINGS & SAUCES
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Easy Homemade Marinara-Sauce - Karyl's Kulinary Krusade

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

Yield: 2 Quarts
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 55 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce uses simple, quality ingredients. It takes about an hour to prepare, and you’ll be well rewarded with a rich, bold and incredibly flavorful sauceThis versatile sauce is the perfect base for many of your favorite recipes.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and carrots and saute, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until soft. Add garlic add cook for 1 minute. You should have some brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot, and that is okay
  3. Add red wine, scraping up brown bits with a silicone or wooden spoon. Cook the wine for 2 minutes.
  4. Add dried oregano, dried thyme, sea salt, and black pepper. 
  5. Add the entire can of tomatoes, plus 2 ounces of water. Mix ingredients together well, and add bay leaf
  6. Bring to a low boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook on low for 45 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and oregano immediately before serving

Notes

I recommend using a Dutch oven because cooks more evenly than a regular pot, and everything cooks on medium or low heat.

Don’t skip the wine! The sauce just doesn't taste the same without it. And use a wine you like to drink! I use Cabernet or a red blend, and a nice Chianti works as well.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you use fresh tomatoes instead of canned? Yes, but then you have to blend them. And that’s an extra step. And I don’t have an immersion blender. Plus, you can keep canned tomatoes in the pantry for a long time.

Can you reduce the cooking time? In a pinch, you could do 20-30 minutes, but you won’t get nearly the same depth of flavor. Trust me, it’s worth the time investment.

STORAGE TIPS

Let the sauce cool to room temperature before storing.

FRIDGE: Portion the sauce into mason jars with lids, and it will last about 2 weeks

FREEZER: Ladle into freezer-safe zip-top bags or plastic containers. 1-cup portions are perfect for smaller households, and 3-cup portions will yield 6 servings. The sauce will last up to 4 months.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 16 Serving Size: 1/2 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 92Total Fat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 462mgCarbohydrates: 17gFiber: 4gSugar: 10gProtein: 4g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, etc

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