As I’ve grown older, there are two truths that always seem to be consistent in my life:
- I love pasta.
- I have a weakness for wholesale clubs.
On the surface, these two may not be related, but think about this:
If you’ve ever walked down the aisles at Costco, surely you’ve seen the giant boxes of delectable pasta and all the screaming-to-be-cooked canned vegetables (of which there is now a wide variety of organic options). They have the building blocks for all the good pasta dishes, and you can buy them in bulk.
I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
And now you see my problem. Or, as I like to think of it, my potential for an endless stream of tasty carb-loaded dinners.
So with a kitchen fully loaded to make tons of pasta, it’s probably no surprise that I do exactly that. Over the past few months I’ve come up with a quick homemade marinara sauce that I use for just about everything – dips, sauce, a bed for stuffed shells, you name it – and since I have even more plans for it in the future, it only seemed fitting to (finally) post a recipe of the sauce on its own.
Can you use fresh tomatoes?
Yes, you totally can! Just use the equivalent amount of canned tomatoes listed in the recipe. Just be sure to prepare the tomatoes for the consistency you want (smooth, chunky, etc).
This sauce looks chunky. Can it be made smooth?
I (clearly) tend to like a chunkier marinara sauce, so when I make it, I used a can of diced tomatoes. That’s what gives the sauce the look you see in the pictures here.
If you want a smoother sauce, you can either pulse the diced tomatoes in a food processor OR you can use a can of low-sodium, unflavored tomato sauce instead.
And if you’d like an ultra-smooth sauce (even without any visible minced garlic) you can make the sauce as directed, let it cool slightly, then pulse it in a food processor until it’s all a solid, creamy red.
How long is homemade marinara sauce good for?
Once made, this sauce can be stored in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to four to five days.
Can you freeze marinara sauce?
Yes! This sauce is great for freezing.
Once made, allow the sauce to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a sealable container (freezer bags are okay, too).
This sauce can be frozen for up to four months.
What can you make with marinara sauce?
Marinara is a simple sauce and not nearly complex as it’s cousin tomato sauce (also referred to as pasta sauce, spaghetti sauce, etc).
However, in a pinch, marinara can be used in a lot of the same recipes as tomato sauce. In fact, if you’re making a really complex dish, a simple marinara sauce might even be a better choice since there will be less competition for all of the other flavors.
Some of my favorite ways to use marinara:
- Ricotta Stuffed Shells
- Dipping sauce for Fried Tortellini
- Italian Baked Eggs
- Sausage and Spinach Stuffed Shells
- Lasagna Zucchini Boats
- Easy Cheesy Manicotti
Notes & tips for easy marinara sauce
- As mentioned above, you can change the consistency of the sauce depending on what type of tomatoes you use. Want an extra thick and chunky sauce like the one pictured? Use diced tomatoes. Want an ultra smooth sauce? Use tomato sauce (or pulse the tomatoes in a food processor). Want a sauce so smooth you can’t even see the garlic? Then pulse the sauce after you’ve made it.
More great sauce recipes
How to make quick marinara sauce
This next part is only a photo tutorial of the recipe steps. If you’re looking for the full recipe measurements and instructions, scroll down to Recipe Details.
Step 1 – In a large, deep skillet, warm up extra virgin olive oil. Toss in the garlic and cook until the garlic is golden and fragrant. Be sure to stir frequently so the olive oil and garlic don’t burn.
Step 2 – Pour in the tomatoes (either diced or sauce) and season with thyme, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir thoroughly, then cover.
Step 3 – Let the sauce cook, stirring occasionally.
Step 4 – Remove lid and give the sauce a final stir. If you feel the sauce still has too much water, keep the sauce simmering for another five to ten minutes, stirring occasionally, until the excess water has cooked off.
Step 5 – Serve and enjoy!
This recipe was originally published on May 6th, 2016. It was updated with new text and photos on July 24th, 2018.
15 Minute Flavorful Marinara Sauce
This quick and easy homemade marinara sauce recipe will make sure you always have some delicious and flavorful sauce on hand. Plus, it can be made with canned or fresh tomatoes and freezes well.
In a large skillet, warm the extra virgin olive oil over medium heat.
Add garlic to skillet and cook until golden brown and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
Pour in tomatoes (diced or sauce), thyme, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir sauce until thoroughly incorporated, especially along the sides where the olive oil may sit.
Bring sauce to a simmer, then cover skillet. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove cover and stir sauce. If sauce appears too watery, allow to simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until desired consistency is reached.