Recipes > Sauce/Dressing > Classic Marinara Sauce

Classic Marinara Sauce

This classic marinara sauce will not only leave your kitchen smelling fantastic, but it will take your Italian recipes to another level!
classic marinara sauce with onions, garlic, tomato, and pasta

There are plenty of store-bought marinara sauces out there, but there’s nothing quite like the delicious smell of simmering tomatoes and spices on the stove top. This classic marinara sauce will not only leave your kitchen smelling fantastic, but it will take your Italian recipes to another level! 

Three Must-Know Cooking Skills

For recipe success, learn how to:

Hold a Chef’s Knife
Dice an Onion
Chop Garlic

Culinary Tips for the Best Marinara Sauce from Scratch

If you plan to puree the sauce, don’t worry about chopping the vegetables finely. If you intend to leave the sauce as is, think about biting into the sauce – how big do you want the vegetable pieces to be? We recommend using a small dice size.  

Fight food waste! Don’t waste any of the tomato stuck in the cans; swirl a small amount of water in them and add to the pot!

Simmering with the lid partially covering the pan allows the sauce to reduce slightly – allowing it to thicken and develop flavor flavors. As it reduces, a thick rim of tomatoes will remain around the edge of the pot. Scrape it down periodically to not lose any of that delicious flavor. If you want to get fancy, dip a pastry brush into a bowl of water and brush the edge to slide it back into the pot.

You might be tempted to leave out the sugar, and while you are certainly welcome to, but be aware that its role is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes, providing a more balanced flavor.

Ingredient Substitutions

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Substitute regular olive oil, canola oil, or avocado oil. Extra virgin or regular olive oil are best for flavor.
  • Onion: Substitute yellow or red onion.
  • Garlic Cloves: Substitute ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ¾ teaspoon granulated garlic, or 1 ½ teaspoons pre-minced garlic.
  • Marsala or Red Wine: Substitute cooking wine, but cut back on the salt (it contains sodium). Water can be used if alcohol is not an option.
  • Crushed San Marzano Tomatoes: Substitute regular tomatoes, crushed, puree, or whole.
  • Italian Seasoning: Substitute equal parts dried basil leaves.

Recipe Variations

To make a spicy marinara sauce from scratch, add more red pepper flakes to taste.

If you want to sneak more vegetables into the sauce for a picky eater, add some shredded zucchini or more carrots and celery.

Equipment Recommendations

Use these pieces of kitchen equipment for guaranteed culinary success!

Is Marinara Sauce Healthy?

Yes! Marinara is a nutritious sauce full of anti-inflammatory benefits, not to mention great flavor. This marinara sauce from scratch features tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and dried herbs.


Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, a phytochemical that helps protect against heart disease and prostate cancer (1, 2). Canned and/or cooked tomatoes are higher in lycopene than their fresh counterparts (3).

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a key component of the Mediterranean Diet. It contains high amounts of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids and polyphenols which may reduce inflammation. (4, 5)

Dried Herbs

Herbs of all varieties contain phytochemicals which may reduce disease risk. Additionally, herbs add flavor without adding salt. This may be helpful for individuals working to reduce their overall salt intake for heart and kidney health. 

Serving Suggestions for Classic Marinara Sauce

Serve this classic marinara sauce for pizza on our homemade dough, with pasta, as a dip, or in any other application you can think of! Chef V’s 2-year-old eats it by the spoonful!

How to Store Homemade Marinara Sauce

The flavors in this sauce continue to develop over time, so it tastes even better the next day! Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 7 days.

This batch of sauce is fairly large, so you most likely won’t use it all in one recipe. Don’t worry though because it freezes great! Cook the sauce, let it cool completely, then place it in several freezer-safe containers to help build easy Italian dinners when you need it. Consider freezing the sauce in 1-2 cup quantities – whatever makes sense for your household. 

Looking for Recipes to Use Your Sauce?

Serve this marinara over our homemade pizza dough, or serve it with whole grain pasta.

Watch this video to learn how to make pizza dough from scratch!

classic marinara sauce with onions, garlic, tomato, and pasta

Classic Marinara Sauce

This classic marinara sauce will not only leave your kitchen smelling fantastic, but it will take your Italian recipes to another level!
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Side
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 ½ cups


  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small white onion, diced ¼” (~1 cup)
  • 1 medium stalk celery, diced ¼” (~½ cup)
  • 1 medium carrot, diced ¼” (~½ cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped (~1 Tablespoon)
  • ¼ cup Marsala or red wine
  • 2, 28-ounce cans crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt to taste (~2 teaspoons kosher salt recommended)


  • Heat a 4 quart saucepan over medium low heat. Add olive oil. Once shimmering, add onion, celery, and carrots and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Sauté for ~8 minutes or until onions turn translucent. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.
  • Add wine to the pan and scrape up any brown bits that are stuck to the pan. Simmer 2-3 minutes or until wine is mostly evaporated.
  • Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, sugar, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Use ¼ cup of water to rinse out the tomato cans and add to pan. Bring to a boil, then partially cover and simmer for 45-60 minutes.
  • Season with additional salt to taste. Blend for a smooth sauce or leave as is, and use for pizza, pasta, and more. Enjoy!
Keyword Classic Marinara Sauce

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