Easy Marinara Sauce with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs has a rich flavor perfect for your favorite weeknight Italian recipes.

You will love using homemade marinara sauce in baked chicken parmesan, one pot spaghetti, and simply to top spaghetti squash noodles for a quick, healthy meal.

Easy marinara sauce in black bowl garnished with fresh basil leaves.

I wanted an easy marinara sauce recipe for when I am out of jarred marinara. I kept this recipe simple using a can of crushed tomatoes and lots of fresh basil is the key.

I like to make my homemade marinara sauce with sweating onion and garlic in lots of quality olive oil. Then, for the best marinara sauce, add lots of basil for the most flavor!

I really love it on otherwise plain air fryer spaghetti squash, use as a sauce for almond flour pizza crust, or to serve alongside turkey meatballs.

What Is Marinara Sauce?

Marinara sauce has the taste and juice of real tomato. It is a meatless, moderately thin tomato sauce made with crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, and herbs. Incredibly versatile and a kitchen staple in my household that compliments any Italian recipe.

Ingredients for Easy Marinara Sauce

This recipe for marinara sauce comes together from simple pantry ingredients, you likely have most in your kitchen right now.

Crushed tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil, dried oregano, sugar, onion, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Crushed tomatoes. I find any brand is good. I used my local grocery store no salt added and no BPA lining in a can.
  • Onion and garlic: Minced onion and fresh garlic are the aromatic foundation for this easy marinara sauce recipe.
  • Olive oil: Quality olive oil is key! I always use extra virgin olive oil.
  • Cane sugar: Is a must to offset acidity in tomatoes.
  • Herbs and spices: Salt, pepper, and dried oregano add great flavor.
  • Fresh basil: Added at the end after cooking for the most flavor.

Recipe Tip

Of course, you can add whatever you like. I just wanted an easy marinara sauce. Add other pantry staples like red pepper flakes, fresh thyme, capers, wine, chicken broth, or beef broth. You can also add in heavy cream or sour cream along with Parmesan cheese for a creamy pasta sauce.

How to Make Easy Marinara Sauce

Here is a quick and easy photo overview of how to make marinara sauce at home.

Step by step process how to make marinara sauce from scratch.
  • Sauté aromatics: Preheat your pot on low-medium heat. I used my large Dutch oven, if you are making a single batch a medium saucepan will also work. Once hot, add olive oil, minced onion and garlic then cook for 8-10 minutes until clear.
  • Make the sauce: Stir in crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to low heat and simmer for 30 minutes stirring a few times.
  • Add basil and simmer: Turn off heat and add fresh basil. Stir then cover and rest for 30 minutes to allow flavors to mingle.
  • Taste and serve: Adjust any seasonings to taste and serve hot with your chosen dish.

Tips for Best Results

Here are my top tips how to make this easy marinara sauce amazingly flavorful!

  • Don’t skip fresh basil: It adds a lot of flavor, do not use dried basil.
  • Don’t burn garlic and onion: You want to sweat them in olive oil so they soften, allowing them to cook in their own juices.
  • Cook with closed lid: The sauce splatters a lot, even on simmer, and can burn you.
  • Do not burn marinara: Make sure to simmer, especially on electric stove. It can burn easily, so stir a few times.
  • Let marinara sit for 30 minutes: The longer it sits, the more the flavors develop and sauce tastes better.

Ways to Use Marinara Sauce

How to Store Homemade Marinara Sauce

Store: Once cooled, store in an airtight container and keep in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Freeze: This marinara sauce recipe is great for meal prep! You can double, even triple the recipe and freeze in separate airtight containers for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.


What are the best tomatoes for easy marinara sauce?

Canned tomatoes are inexpensive and easy to find. I like using canned crushed tomatoes for a smooth texture. Canned whole tomatoes will also work but you will need to break them down while cooking.

Can I make marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes?

Yes. They will take longer to break down so dice them before adding to the pot or use an immersion blender to make a puree first.

Is marinara sauce the same as spaghetti sauce?

Spaghetti sauce is a version of marinara sauce. Marinara sauce has the base ingredients for spaghetti sauce, then other spices, vegetables, and meat such as ground beef are added.

What can I add to make it taste better?

Use good quality olive oil, fresh garlic, and lots of fresh basil! You can add a variety of fresh herbs, spices, or wine. Or sauté veggies like diced celery and chopped carrot with the onion and garlic.

Why do you add sugar to marinara sauce?

Sugar is used to offset the acidity of the tomatoes and create a more balanced sauce.

More Sauce Recipes to Try

Browse all sauces and seasonings.

Easy homemade marinara sauce in white pot with fresh basil.
Marinara sauce in black bowl garnished with fresh basil leaves.

Easy Marinara Sauce Recipe

Easy Marinara Sauce with crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs has a rich flavor perfect for your favorite weeknight Italian recipes.
5 from 1 vote
Servings 8 servings
Calories 109
Diet Gluten Free
Prep Time 7 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 47 minutes



  • Preheat large dutch oven or heavy bottom pot on low-medium heat and add olive oil. Add onion and garlic, cook for 8-10 minutes or until translucsent, stirring occasionally.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, oregano, salt, pepper and stir. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer marinara sauce for 30 minutes. Stir a few times to avoid scorching.
  • Turn off heat, add fresh basil, stir, cover and let marinara sauce rest for 30 minutes to allow flavors develop.
  • Taste and adjust any seasonings, if you wish. Serve alongside meatballs, as a dip and use in your favorite dishes.


  • Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
  • Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the fridge.
This recipe makes about 4 cups of marinara sauce.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 109kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 292mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g
Course: Condiment
Cuisine: Italian
Author: Olena Osipov
Did you make this recipe?Mention @ifoodreal or tag #ifoodreal!

5 Secrets to Easy Healthy Dinners

Plus sign up for weekly emails with recipes to make your cooking stress free, delicious and healthy.

About Olena

Welcome! I grew up in Ukraine watching my grandma cook with simple ingredients. I have spent the last 11 years making it my mission to help you cook quick and easy meals for your family!

Pin this recipe now to save it for later

Pin Recipe

You may also like


  1. If you use premium quality tomatoes you don’t need sugar … that’s a no-no. A little paste is also needed or the sauce will be too watery. Also “marinara” is incorrectly used in the US as it Italy ” marinara” would contain fish…so misnomer there.

  2. This sounds delicious and so easy! However, you mention fresh bay leaves under the photo of the ingredients, not basil. I hope you mean basil instead of bay leaves, although they can add a flavor to the marinara. I’m going to make some very soon!

    1. Good catch, Sally. Yes, it’s fresh basil. It is everything for a marinara sauce. Bay leaves are more for soups and stews, you are right. I fixed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating

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