Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe

There are a few foodstuffs out there that just make the world a happier, better place. Examples include peanut butter, chocolate, cheddar cheese, fresh strawberries, and — of course — marinara sauce. Far from being a sauce relegated to use only with spaghetti and meatballs, a classic Italian red sauce (which yes, some folks may call "gravy") is essential for a pizza, a lasagna, or meatball sandwiches. It also makes a great dip, it's used in chicken parm, it can spice up meatloaf, and on the list goes.

And contrary to the belief you may have about sauce needing to simmer away for hours on end, this one is ready (and a delight) in less than a half hour, and that's including the prep! Chef and recipe developer Miriam Hahn of Youcare-Selfcare says: "This is such a great easy sauce. I have been making it for years. I started making my own in an effort to reduce additives [as] many pre-jarred sauces have added oil, sugar, and salt that I don't want. Once I realized how absolutely easy it is, I decided it was so much healthier to make mine at home. Plus I always have the ingredients on hand so can make it at a moment's notice."

She adds, "Once people make this and see how fresh and delicious it is, they never go back to pre-jarred sauces. It's that good!" 

Got a half hour free? Then let's get cooking!

Gather your ingredients for the easy marinara sauce

This sauce calls for 10 ingredients in total, seven of which are herbs and spices, if you include nutritional yeast in that category. All told, you'll need cans of whole, peeled tomatoes, olive oil, minced garlic, thyme, oregano, basil, salt, bay leaf, that nutritional yeast, and some red pepper flakes for a bit of a kick. (Don't worry, just a bit!)

"A thing to note is I always buy organic canned tomatoes," says Hahn. "Tomatoes are heavily sprayed and on the 'dirty dozen' list. There are always organic varieties available so it is easy to find without much price difference."

Blend the tomatoes and cook the garlic

Most of this recipe involves simply letting the sauce simmer, but first there are a few hands-on steps. Start by adding both 28-ounce cans of tomatoes to a blender with all the juices from the cans included. Run the blender until the mixture is fully pureed.

Now pour the oil into a large pot and heat it up over a medium-high flame (or heat setting, as the case may be). Then add the garlic and sauté it for about one minute, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn. "The only thing to keep your eye on in [this recipe] is the garlic," says Hahn. "If you walk away from the stove, chances are it will burn."

Add the spices and let the sauce simmer

Now reduce heat to medium-low and add the blended tomatoes, thyme, oregano, basil, salt, bay leaf, nutritional yeast, and the red pepper flakes. Stir to combine everything well.

Then it's time to reduce the heat and back off for a bit. Cook the sauce for 20 minutes on a simmer, covered, stirring it once or twice during the cooking time. Want a bit more concentration of flavor? The secret is time. While 20 minutes is all you need, Hahn says, "It can simmer longer. You can keep it on simmer on the stove for hours before you need it if you are home. It smells amazing! If you do keep it simmering, just make sure it is not bubbling too much. The lowest setting possible is good."

Serve and enjoy (or store the sauce for later)

Your work is done! Well, save for one little step: Remove the bay leaf. Now you're really done, and your sauce is ready to serve or store. "I store it in two 32-ounce mason jars," Hahn says, and note her reminder to "let it cool before transferring [it to] these."

"If you aren't using it all in one meal," she adds, "it is ready to go for something later in the week. And it freezes well, too, for up to two months." Just don't freeze it in the mason jars, which can shatter.

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe
4.9 from 22 ratings
Once you see how fresh and delicious this easy homemade marinara sauce recipe is, you'll never go back to pre-jarred sauces. It's also quick and healthy.
Prep Time
Cook Time
pasta with red sauce
Total time: 23 minutes
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  1. Add the cans of tomatoes with their juices to a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Add the oil to a soup pot and warm it to medium-high heat.
  3. Add the garlic and sauté it for about 1 minute, stirring constantly to make sure it doesn't burn.
  4. Reduce the heat to medium and add the blended tomatoes, thyme, oregano, basil, salt, bay leaf, nutritional yeast, and red pepper flakes, and stir to combine.
  5. Cook for 20 minutes at a simmer, covered.
  6. Remove the bay leaf.
  7. The sauce is now ready to serve or store.
Calories per Serving 45
Total Fat 2.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.2 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 5.2 g
Dietary Fiber 2.8 g
Total Sugars 3.1 g
Sodium 277.2 mg
Protein 2.1 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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