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Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 129
homemade marinara sauce on egg noodles in a bowl with basil

Rich with olive oil and garlic, homemade marinara sauce is meant to come together quickly, making it an everyday pleasure that’s well within reach.

Surprise! The Best Marinara Sauce Recipe Is One That Comes Together Quickly.

You know we love to keep jarred marinara in the pantry. Without it, many of our favorite 10-minute dinner recipes would not be possible. But when we’re craving a bowl of pasta with marinara sauce, we actually prefer to make the sauce from scratch. Quick—start to finish, this sauce only takes about 30 minutes—and oh, so deeply flavored, our homemade marinara sauce recipe is one of those simple recipes that can really make a person feel accomplished in the kitchen because it is just so darn restaurant-quality. There’s no real trick to it, no real secret—just a few classic Italian ingredients and about 20 minutes on the stove, and you’ve got yourself a simple supper that really satisfies. Plus! This marinara sauce can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge for at least a few days, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

ingredients to make homemade marinara sauce. basil, crushed tomatoes, salt, sugar, Italian seasoning, garlic and olive oil

What Is Marinara Sauce?

And while we’re at it, what is the difference between marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce? Is there one? Yes! Fresh, classic marinara sauce is not to be confused with spaghetti sauce (also known as Sunday sauce or Sunday gravy), which is defined by and requires a long, slow cooking time. In contrast, classic southern Italian marinara sauce doesn’t need a laundry list of ingredients or an all-day cook time. Rather, true marinara should be the very definition of tomato-forward simplicity—most agree that it shouldn’t even have onions in it, and definitely not butter or meat. Marinara should vibrate with the fresh, sweetness of tomatoes at their peak (more on that in a minute), and that freshness means that you don’t want to cook it for a long time—just long enough to let the flavors meld.

olive oil and roughly chopped garlic in a cooking pot
canned crushed tomatoes, basil, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic and olive oil in a cooking pot
canned crushed tomatoes, basil, salt, Italian seasoning, garlic and olive oil mixed together in a cooking pot
Homemade Marinara Sauce in a pot with a wooden spoon

You Only Need 6 Simple Marinara Sauce Ingredients, So Make ‘Em Count!

While you might think that the best marinara sauce would be made from fresh tomatoes (and maybe at the very very peak of tomato season that’s true) our marinara recipe calls for canned because they’re reliably good, easy to keep on hand, and using canned tomatoes means you can make this sauce anytime you want! Plus, canned tomatoes are picked and preserved at the very peak of their ripeness, so they’re sweet and acidic and all of the good things that we want the tomatoes for our marinara to be. Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make this easy pasta sauce:

  • Extra virgin olive oil. Homemade marinara sauce is one of the few examples of a recipe where, even though the oil is cooked, you want to use good-quality extra virgin olive oil. Because the sauce only cooks for about 20 minutes, and because it calls for quite a lot of oil, the flavor of the olive oil really defines this simple sauce.

  • Fresh garlic. And lots of it!

  • Canned, crushed tomatoes. Use a good-quality canned, crushed tomato—there’s a lot of variation brand-to-brand, and in a recipe like this where the tomatoes are thes star, quality really matters. While we’re usually big fans of the fire-roasted varieties, marinara sauce is not the place for those. Just get a big can (or jar) of classic, plain, crushed tomatoes.

  • Fresh basil.

  • Dry herbs. Either Italian seasoning or a blend of dry thyme and oregano.

Homemade Marinara Sauce being stirred in a pot with basil
Homemade Marinara Sauce

How to Make Marinara Sauce

If you’re new to making tomato sauce from scratch, you might be surprised to learn just how incredibly easy it can be. Most of the ingredients come right from the pantry, and you won’t need any special equipment—in other words, this is a nearly-effortless marinara sauce recipe you can make just about anytime, anyday. Here’s how to make pasta sauce magic!

  1. Quickly warm the fresh garlic in the olive oil—just for about 30 seconds until you can smell its beautiful scent.

  2. Carefully add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning and fresh basil.

  3. Simmer the sauce for about 20 minutes, just until the flavors have unified and it has thickened a bit. If you want to serve it immediately with pasta, this is the time to boil your pasta of choice.

  4. Take out the basil leaves—this is easiest to do if you’ve left them on the stalk—and adjust the salt to taste.

  5. Serve! Or cool and refrigerate or freeze.

Homemade Marinara Sauce in a bowl with a spoon and fresh basil
Homemade Marinara Sauce in a jar with fresh basil

Tools You’ll Need:

More Delicious Tomato Sauce Recipes to Try

Homemade Marinara Sauce in a bowl over egg noodles

We’re So Proud Of You!

Look at you, making marinara sauce from scratch! Who do you think you are? A real, actual Italian nonna?! This sauce is such an easy win (and you know we love those), and we’re dying to hear how you like it. If you make it, let us know how you like it! Share a photo and tag us on Instagram using @themodernproper and #themodernproper so that we can see your stuff! Happy eating!

Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Serves: 6
  • Prep Time:  5 min
  • Cook Time:  25 min
  • Calories: 129


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced or roughly chopped
  • 1 (28oz) can good quality crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning or 1/2 tsp thyme & 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil


  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet or soup pot set over medium heat, until glistening. Add the garlic and cook, stirring for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning and basil leaves, stir to combine.
  3. Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low or low and simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 20-30 minutes. Remove basil leaves, adjust seasoning to taste.

**Use immediately or cool down, place in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for 1 week or freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Info

  • Per Serving
  • Amount
  • Calories129
  • Protein3 g
  • Carbohydrates11 g
  • Total Fat10 g
  • Dietary Fiber3 g
  • Cholesterol0 mg
  • sodium274 mg
  • Total Sugars1 g

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Questions & Reviews

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  • Jenn

    This was AMAZING! I can't believe how fast and simple it was to make such a great sauce. The fresh basil was so good in it. I served it over penne noodles.

    Thanks Jenn, we are so happy you loved it!