Homemade Marinara Sauce


 This Homemade Marinara Sauce is so easy to make and it’s so much better than the bottled stuff! It includes San Marzano tomatoes, onion, garlic and basil, as well as olive oil and a dab of butter. Serve over spaghetti or tortellini with Parmesan for a simple, tasty dinner.

Homemade Marinara Sauce served over a bed of tortellini in a matte black bowl. It's garnished with parmesan and fresh basil.

Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe

What does summer really mean? If you’re lucky, it means you have an abundance of fresh basil growing in your garden so you need to find lots and lots of different things to do with it. I finally have a garden — er, well it’s more of a little box garden but it’s a garden all the same.

So I’ve grown peas, tomatoes, pumpkins, basil, cilantro, oregano, and thyme and I’m still waiting on the green onions and rosemary (those two haven’t thrived like everything else. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I tried to grow way too much in a fairly small space. At least I kept the tomatoes and pumpkins growing elsewhere on their own).

I’ve grown herbs in my windowsill for many years, but they’ve just never thrived the way they do in a garden. I’m loving being able to go out and just snip what I need as it keeps growing!

One of my favorite things to do with fresh basil is make homemade marinara sauce. I fall head of heals for a good marinara sauce and it’s so easy to make a good batch at home from scratch!

I used to go all out and make the fresh tomato marinara sauce. I’d have to boil and peel the fresh tomatoes, then seed them, and then crush them — it was a lengthy, tedious process.

Then I realized the canned San Marzano tomatoes are just as good for marinara sauce, and life got a whole lot easier. Really though, canned tomatoes are where it’s at in my opinion. It’s like how it goes with canned pumpkin — you just get consistent results with the canned San Marzano tomatoes.

This marinara sauce recipe is very easy to prepare, yet the end results are truly so delicious! You’d think with its fairly short list of ingredients it couldn’t be this tasty but oh how it is!

Toss it with pasta, add a fair sprinkling of shredded Parmesan and final touch of fresh basil ribbons and you’ve just reached dinner goals!

Just don’t forget the fresh crusty Italian bread of some kind (even if it’s store bought) and some good olive oil and freshly cracked pepper to dip it in. Good carby meals like so are some of my favorite!

Homemade Marinara Sauce in a white saucepan set over a marble surface. It's garnished with a sprig of basil in the center.

Homemade Marinara Sauce Ingredients

This marinara sauce recipe calls for:

  • Canned San Marzano tomatoes
  • Butter
  • Yellow onion
  • Garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan or Romano, for serving

How Make Marinara Sauce From Scratch

  • Pour tomatoes into mixing bowl, then crush with your hands.
  • Melt butter in saucepan, then add diced onions and sauté until softened.
  • Add garlic and sauté for a minute.
  • Pour in tomatoes and olive oil, then season with salt and add in fresh basil.
  • Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thickened.
  • Remove basil with tongs, then serve marinara sauce.

Can I Add Meat?

You can definitely add ground beef or Italian sausage to this recipe (about 1 lb total. Brown it first, then simmer with the sauce). If I do add meat, I usually cut the fats in half (1.5 Tbsp butter and 2 Tbsp olive oil).

Can I Freeze Marinara Sauce?

Yes, homemade marinara sauce freezes incredibly well. I prefer freezing it in smaller jars so I can thaw exactly what I need in the future. To thaw marinara sauce, simply place it in your fridge overnight.

Homemade Marinara Sauce served over tortellini on black plate

What Should I Serve Marinara Sauce With?

  • Pasta! (Any kind)
  • Cheese tortellini
  • Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles
  • Chicken parmesan
  • Use it as a dip

Tips for the Best Marinara Sauce

  • Use only fresh garlic, not bottled, for best flavor.
  • Use San Marzano tomatoes for best flavor. If you can’t find them, Romas work too.
  • Fresh basil is highly recommended here. Dried basil has quite a different flavor and it won’t be as good.
  • Don’t skip the butter, just a few dabs adds a delicious light richness.
  • For more flavor, simmer it with a parmesan rind.
  • Add red pepper flakes if you like a little heat.
  • If you like a smooth sauce, puree with an immersion blender after simmering.

More Italian Recipes You’ll Love:

Remember to subscribe to the Cooking Classy newsletter to receive new recipe notifications delivered to your inbox!

Follow Cooking Classy on Facebook | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter for all of the latest updates, recipes and content.


Homemade Marinara Sauce

The best marinara sauce! It's so easy to make and it's so much better than the bottled stuff! Don't be tempted to omit the butter, it adds a delicious light richness to the sauce. Serve over spaghetti or tortellini for a simple, tasty dinner. Makes about 7 cups.

Servings: 8
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes


  • 2 (28 oz) cans San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped yellow onions
  • 10 cloves garlic minced (3 1/2 Tbsp)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt, then more to taste
  • 4 sprigs (20g) fresh basil
  • Shredded Parmesan or Romano cheese and chopped basil, for serving


  1. Pour tomatoes into a medium mixing bowl then crush all of the tomatoes well with your hands, set aside.
  2. Melt butter in a large pot slightly over medium heat. Add onions and saute until softened, about 8 minutes. 
  3. Move onions over to one side of the pan, add garlic to opposite side and saute 1 minute, or until lightly golden and fragrant. 
  4. Pour in tomatoes and olive oil. Season with salt, add basil and submerge. 

  5. Bring just to a light boil then reduce heat to low and simmer until sauce has reduced and thickened slightly, stirring occasionally, abou 15 - 25 minutes. 

  6. Using tongs, remove basil and discard. Serve sauce warm with pasta and top with Parmesan or Romano cheese and basil.

Recipe Notes

  • Homemade marinara sauce freezes incredibly well. I prefer freezing it in smaller jars so I can thaw exactly what I need in the future. To thaw marinara sauce, simply place it in your fridge overnight. 
Nutrition Facts
Homemade Marinara Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 154 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 11g 17%
Saturated Fat 3g 15%
Cholesterol 11mg 4%
Sodium 471mg 20%
Potassium 469mg 13%
Total Carbohydrates 13g 4%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 6g
Protein 1g 2%
Vitamin A 14.8%
Vitamin C 32.1%
Calcium 8.8%
Iron 13.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Marinara Sauce
Calories: 154 kcal
Author: Jaclyn


  • Kate: can you make this then store it in a can for later? thank you!! in love with your blog :) August 6, 2016 at 4:52am Reply

    • Jaclyn: You could definitely freeze it in an airtight container. Thanks for letting me know you love my blog Kate! August 6, 2016 at 10:27am Reply

  • Jasmine: Is the pasta in the picture homemade, too? With the pretty scalloped edges. Can’t wait to try to make the sauce! July 26, 2016 at 10:23pm Reply

  • Nupur Mehra: I make this sauce quite often and have tried to photograph it a few times, but it has never come out to be so amazing as yours. Your photos look like they are from a different planet altogether. I am stuck in your world Jaclyn. July 14, 2016 at 1:48pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much Nupur! July 18, 2016 at 11:12am Reply

  • Donna Morgan: what if I wanted to use fresh San Marzano tomatoes, as I have them currently growing in my garden? what amount and what kind of prep would they need? I plan on pressure canning the marinara sauce once I have it all made. June 28, 2016 at 6:57pm Reply

  • Cathleen @ A Taste of Madness: This sauce looks perfect. Also, I am so jealous of your garden!! June 28, 2016 at 5:45pm Reply

  • isha: hi! I just made a food blog and it would be amazing If you could check it out and maybe leave a comment on how to improve it! your blog always has the best recipes and it would be great if you could look at mine. thanks!! also, how do you make a food blog popular?

    is the website thank you! June 28, 2016 at 11:23am Reply

  • zouhair fiorino najjar: awesome recipe . posted to all my social media accounts June 28, 2016 at 4:31am Reply

Add your comment:

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Copyright 2011-2019 Cooking Classy | Privacy Policy
Design by cre8d