Easy Marinara Sauce

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Quick Summary

Learn how to make the best homemade marinara sauce with basic ingredients. Serve with your favorite pasta, meatballs, lasagna, vegetables, and more! It goes great with so many meals and freezes well too!

easy marinara sauce in jars

My homemade marinara sauce is one of my all-time favorite recipes. I make this recipe ALL of the time, it is a staple in our kitchen. It’s a family recipe, that could be a secret family recipe, but since we don’t keep any secrets from you guys, I am sharing the recipe. You are our family, our recipes are your recipes:)

I love this marinara sauce recipe because it is EASY, but the flavors are so good. It is made with basic ingredients that I always have on hand: olive oil, onion, garlic, carrot, celery, tomatoes, fennel, bay leaves, crushed red pepper, and basil.

I promise it is WAY better than any marinara sauce you can buy at the store. I know it’s easy to buy a jar of pasta sauce, but I promise my recipe is just as easy and it freezes well. I ALWAYS have this sauce in the fridge or freezer. It has saved dinnertime SO many times!

The sauce is gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, and vegetarian!

marinara sauce in pot

How to Make Marinara Sauce

Get out your aprons and let’s get to work. It’s going to get saucy in here!

  • Start with a large pot. I like to use a Dutch oven.
  • Cook the vegetables in olive oil until they are softened. If you prefer to use butter, go for it!
  • Add the garlic after you cook the vegetables so it doesn’t burn.
  • My special touch includes a pinch of fennel seed. I learned this trick from my dad. Make sure you just add a pinch because a little fennel goes a long way.
  • I also add a bay leaf for flavor. Let the bay leaf simmer in the sauce and remove it before serving.
  • I use canned tomatoes because I always have them in my pantry. This is a great recipe to make any time of the year. My favorite tomatoes are San Marzano tomatoes. They are a little more expensive, but they are SO worth the splurge. A good marinara sauce starts with GOOD tomatoes.
  • Use fresh basil. Fresh basil adds a ton of flavor to the marinara sauce.
  • Let the sauce simmer on the stove for about 30 minutes so all of the flavors can meld together.
  • If you want to add a little sugar to cut the acidity in the tomatoes, you can. If I am using San Marzano tomatoes, I don’t add the sugar because they are lower in acidity, but if I am using regular tomatoes, I usually add a little sugar to cut the acidity. Taste and decide.
  • If you want a kick of heat, you can add crushed red pepper flakes too.
  • If you are feeling cheesy, stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The boys love it when I do this:)
  • I use crushed tomatoes and like the consistency, but if you want a super smooth sauce, you can blend the sauce with an immersion blender or carefully transfer it to a blender and blend.
homemade marinara sauce

How to Use Marinara Sauce

I make this homemade marinara sauce all of the time. It is a staple in our kitchen and is great to serve with:

SO many things! I could go on and on! It is one of those sauces you will make and use over and over again!

How to Store

The marinara will keep in the refrigerator, in a jar or airtight container, for up to 5 days.

This sauce freezes well and I am sure it can be canned, but I am not a canner, so you will have to figure out those instructions on your own. Sorry!

You can easily double the recipe so you can have leftovers. I love having this sauce in the freezer at all times.

To freeze, let the sauce cool completely and put it in a freezer bag or container and freeze for up to 3 months. Label the sauce and date it so you know what it is in your freezer. Defrost and use!

how to make marinara sauce

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Easy Marinara Sauce

This is my favorite marinara sauce. We make it all of the time! It goes great with pasta, lasagna, polenta, and any other Italian dish you can think of!
4.62 from 21 votes


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • Pinch of fennel seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 (28 oz) cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar, optional


  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery, and sauté until the onions are translucent and the vegetables are tender, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add in the fennel seed, crushed red pepper, and bay leaf.
  • Stir in the tomatoes. Add the basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and sugar, If using. Simmer uncovered for about 30 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Taste the sauce and season with more salt and pepper, if necessary.


Makes about 4 cups marinara sauce
You can easily double this recipe. I like to make big batches of this sauce and freeze it. You can also can this sauce. 


Calories: 150kcal, Carbohydrates: 20g, Protein: 4g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Sodium: 276mg, Potassium: 682mg, Fiber: 5g, Sugar: 11g, Vitamin A: 2993IU, Vitamin C: 22mg, Calcium: 84mg, Iron: 3mg
Keywords marinara sauce

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Photos by Dishing Out Health

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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  1. Have you been watching the the CNN “Stanley Tucci : Searching for Italy” series? The first episode takes place in the Campania region including Naples and the Amalfi Coast. One segment includes a visit to the farm that produces the original, genuine San Marzano tomatoes. The special flavor comes form a combination of the effects of the volcanic soil and sea coast influence. According to these farmers, all other San Marzano tomatoes are “faux”. I will not be traveling to Italy to pick some up so I too will continue to use the San Marzano tomatoes I purchase at my local grocery store.
    All that said, the series is wonderful. I have recommended it to so many friends, My brother and SIL told me they watch and salivate for the entire hour as the food is so amazing.

    1. Absolutely! Feel free to stir in some cheese. I like to use Parmesan or Pecorino.

  2. 5 stars
    In your “Notes” section, you commented that this recipe makes about 4 cups. In the ingredient list, it says 2 (28oz) cans of crushed tomatoes. Should it only be 1 can or does it make close to 2qts?

  3. Exact information you have shared! Well, we supply indian spices at wholesale price in south africa. Order your batch of whole or ground spices from one of the leading wholesale spices suppliers South Africa…

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