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How to Make Marinara Sauce

Updated on September 28, 2008

Do you love Italian food as much as I do? We usually have at least one meal every week that features marinara sauce in some form. Marinara sauce is a versatile dish that can be prepared a number of different ways. I never use an actual recipe for my sauce, and I rarely make it exactly the same way twice.

One of the reasons that I love marinara sauce is that I almost always have everything I need in my pantry to whip up a batch of delicious sauce.

Basic Ingredients

  • Tomato Sauce
  • Diced Tomatoes (fresh or canned, use Rotel or add fresh peppers if you like spicy marinara)
  • Garlic (fresh, minced, or powder)
  • Basil (fresh or dried)

Marinara sauce can be prepared on the stove top or in a Crock Pot. Simply place the basic ingredients in a stock pot or in your slow cooker, add the optional ingredients (listed below) of your choice, and simmer.

The quantity of each ingredient you will need of course depends on how much sauce you want to make. I find that mixing three parts tomato sauce to one part of diced tomatoes results in a good consistency. I generally use three cans of tomato sauce (standard size) and one can of diced tomatoes, or the equivalent in fresh tomatoes to create the base for my sauce. For this quantity of sauce, I used approximately one tablespoon of dried basil and the equivalent of two cloves of garlic.

If cooking on the stovetop, simmer over a medium low heat for at least an hour, to allow the flavors to blend properly. If using your Crock Pot, it will be ready after about 4 hours on low, but you can leave it on low all day while you are at work. Keep in mind that the sauce will be thinner if you use a slow cooker, so you may want to add tomato sauce.

Optional Ingredients

  • Tomato paste (if you like thicker sauce)
  • Cayenne Pepper (my Louisiana husband insists on this)
  • Oregano
  • Grated parmesan cheese
  • Sautéed diced bell peppers
  • Sautéed diced onions (or onion powder or minced onions)
  • Sautéed fresh mushrooms or canned mushrooms
  • Sautéed zucchini

Serving Suggestion

This sauce is great by itself over pasta or as a pizza sauce. It is also delicious served over spaghetti squash. Feel free to add browned ground beef to create meat sauce. Mix in meatballs if you enjoy meatball sandwiches or spaghetti with meatballs. It is also delicious over cooked chicken, especially when topped with melted mozzarella or parmesan cheese.

Fun Fact About Marinara Sauce:

When my husband and I first got married, I made a very spicy marinara sauce that contained a lot of cayenne pepper. I refrigerated the leftover sauce in a bowl covered with aluminum foil. The next evening, I opened the refrigerator and noticed that there was a huge hole in the foil. At the time, I thought that the sauce was so spicy that it caused the hold in the foil. I later learned that the acid in the tomatoes caused the hole. Moral of the story: Use a plastic lid when storing leftover marinara sauce!


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    8 years ago

    hi everyone lets cook some pasta

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    mmm. when should I come over...

  • johnr54 profile image

    Joanie Ruppel 

    9 years ago from Texas

    These look simple enough that I could even make them. I'll have to try it with the optional mushrooms, as that's one of my weaknesses.

  • marisuewrites profile image


    10 years ago from USA

    ummm I LOVE FRIED polenta. course, I love everything fried. I'm tryin' this recipe...thanks! Marisue

  • Sally's Trove profile image


    10 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

    Delicious! What a good, basic, easy, no-nonsense recipe. For another serving suggestion, try this home-made marinara sauce over fried polenta. Nice pictures, too.

  • Eileen Hughes profile image

    Eileen Hughes 

    10 years ago from Northam Western Australia

    This looks and sounds really great thanks for sharing

  • flexoman profile image


    11 years ago



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