Basic Marinara Sauce with Canned Tomatoes

This Basic Marinara Sauce with canned tomatoes is an easy-to-make sauce that is perfect to top your favorite pasta or pizza recipes calling for jarred pasta sauce.

Marinara sauce is a staple in Italian cooking with a past as rich as its taste. Marinara (English: “sailor”) sauce is a tomato sauce usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions.

It first simmered to life in the kitchens of Naples, where it was whipped up by sailors’ wives using the few simple ingredients they had. This sauce has cruised through time, always versatile, mingling with pastas, and pizzas all over the world. It’s also an excellent dipping buddy for mozzarella sticks.

Today, we’ll take you through a cheerful journey of making a Basic Marinara Sauce using canned tomatoes. It’s quick, easy, and utterly delicious—a true lifesaver when you’re in a pinch but craving something hearty and home-cooked! Let’s dive into this culinary delight together, shall we?

Ingredients from the Pantry for Basic Marinara Sauce

ingredients for basic marinara sauce on countertop

First things first, let’s gather our ingredients. The beauty of this recipe is that most of the items are pantry staples.

  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) of crushed or fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

Quality canned tomatoes are the cornerstone of a good marinara. They bring the sauce’s flavor to life, and when you choose fire-roasted varieties, you get an added dimension of smokiness. If you have time, you can opt for fresh plum tomatoes—roast them in the oven, remove the skins, and blend to achieve the perfect consistency and freshness.

For a personal twist, play around with ingredients and their quantities. Try adding a pinch of red pepper flakes for heat, a splash of red wine for depth, or a teaspoon of sugar to balance acidity. These optional twists can make your marinara unique and tailor it to your taste. Dive into the world of flavor and make your marinara sauce stand out!

Essential Kitchen Tools for Homemade Marinara

Alright, let’s talk equipment! We’re keeping it nice and simple, just like our ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need to whip up this delightful sauce:

  • Large Pot or Dutch Oven: A heavy-bottomed pot is best for even heat distribution.
  • Wooden Spoon: For stirring up some love (and sauce) without scratching your pot.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: For prepping your onions, garlic, and basil.
  • Can Opener: To get to the good stuff inside those canned tomatoes.
  • Immersion Blender (optional): If you desire a smoother texture, this handy tool makes it quick and easy right in the pot!

With just a few kitchen basics, you’re already halfway to marinara magic. Get these tools ready, and you’re set to sail on this culinary voyage. Let’s make the marinara sauce that’ll be the talk of the table!

Step-by-Step Preparation

4 step process to make basic marinara sauce

Now, it’s time to turn these humble ingredients into a basic marinara sauce masterpiece! Follow these easy steps, and you’re on your way to a sauce that’ll have everyone asking for seconds.

Sautéing Aromatics with Pizzazz

  • Begin by drizzling 2 tablespoons of olive oil into your large pot or Dutch oven. Heat it over a medium flame until it sings with warmth.
  • Toss in your cup of chopped onion. Stir occasionally, let these bits transform into translucent nuggets of flavor—about 3 minutes should do it.
  • Now for the aromatic kick! Add 3 cloves of minced garlic and let the sizzle take over. You’re only a minute away from garlicky goodness, so keep stirring!

Simmering Up the Perfect Basic Marinara Sauce

  1. Introduce those canned tomatoes to the mix. If you’ve chosen fire-roasted, get ready for that extra smokiness! Pour in the 28 ounces of tomato sauce and sprinkle in a teaspoon of oregano to bring in the herby notes.
  2. Toss in those freshly chopped basil leaves and a teaspoon of kosher salt to balance and brighten.
  3. It’s time to let the flavors mingle. Turn the heat down low and let the sauce simmer gently. You’re looking for that sweet spot where the sauce thickens just right—about 30 minutes should do it.

Blending to Your Heart’s Content

  1. If you’re after a smoother texture, whip out that immersion blender and give the sauce a whirl—right there in the pot. Blend until you’re happy with how it feels on your palate.

Expert Tips:

  • When sautéing onions and garlic, keep them moving. You want them golden, not burnt!
  • Low and slow is the mantra for simmering. This nurtures the flavors and helps them soar.
  • Taste as you simmer. Personalize the sauce with extra seasoning, if that’s your whim.

Armed with these steps and tips, your homemade Marinara Sauce is ready to dazzle your dinner spread…GONE

Cooking Time and Flavor Techniques for Basic Marinara Sauce

a pot of basic marinara sauce

Understanding cooking times is crucial when crafting the perfect marinara sauce. A slow and low simmer lets the flavors deepen and merge harmoniously, creating a fuller taste. Cooking for about 30 minutes is ideal; it also allows the acidity of the tomatoes to mellow out, resulting in a sauce that is rich and not overly sharp on the tongue.

To enhance the depth of flavor, there are a few key techniques you can employ:

  • Layering Ingredients: Introduce the onions and garlic before the tomatoes. This creates a flavor foundation that enriches the overall profile of the sauce.
  • Deglazing: Add a splash of red wine after sautéing the aromatics. The alcohol will cook off, leaving behind a complex taste character.
  • Herb Infusion: Add whole sprigs of basil at the start of the simmering process to infuse the sauce with aromatic oils, pulling them out before blending or serving.
  • Seasoning Adjustment: Before serving, adjust the salt and seasoning levels to ensure that the flavor is just right, as it can change concentration during cooking.

By following these techniques, you will elevate your homemade marinara sauce from simple to sublime, making it not just a dish, but an experience.

Taste Adjustment and Seasoning Guidance

When your marinara sauce has simmered to perfection, it’s time for the all-important taste test. Adjusting seasonings at the end is crucial, as cooking can intensify some flavors while diminishing others. Here’s how you can balance and perfect your sauce:

  • Balancing Acidity: If the sauce tastes too acidic, a touch of sugar can work wonders. Start with a teaspoon, stir well, and taste. Repeat if necessary, but remember – a little goes a long way.
  • Enhancing Depth: A pinch of salt can bring all the flavors into sharper focus. Kosher salt or sea salt is preferred for its clean flavor. Be sure to sprinkle and stir in increments, tasting after each addition.
  • Adding Warmth: For an extra layer of flavor, consider a few dashes of freshly ground black pepper or a pinch of red pepper flakes if you’re inclined towards heat.
  • Herbal Notes: If the herby flavor of basil is too subtle for your liking, add more fresh basil leaves towards the end of the cooking process, allowing them to release their aroma without becoming overcooked.
  • Texture and Consistency: Lastly, the thickness of your sauce can greatly influence its taste. If it’s too thin, simmer it down a bit longer. If it’s too thick, a splash of pasta water or broth can lighten it to the desired consistency.

Always remember that the best seasoning is done to personal taste. Don’t hesitate to experiment with additional herbs, spices, or even a bit of parmesan cheese to tailor your marinara to your unique preference. Enjoy the process, and you’ll create a sauce that’s truly your own!

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Crafting the perfect marinara sauce can be as much about avoiding missteps as it is about following steps. Keep these pitfalls in mind to ensure your sauce is nothing short of spectacular.

  • Overcomplicating the Ingredients: Marinara sauce is a testament to simplicity. Resist the temptation to add too many ingredients; focus on the quality and flavor of each.
  • Rushing the Sauté: The sautéing of onions and garlic should not be hurried. Allow them to gently brown to avoid a raw or bitter taste.
  • Intense Heat: A common error is cooking the sauce on high heat. This can lead to burning and a reduction in the depth of flavor. Remember, slow and low is key.
  • Forgetting to Stir: While the sauce simmers, don’t neglect it. Occasional stirring prevents sticking and burning at the bottom of the pot.
  • Inconsistent Seasoning: Tasting and seasoning throughout cooking are crucial. Don’t leave all the seasoning until the end; build the flavor gradually.

Address these common mistakes with care, and you’ll be well on your way to a divine marinara sauce that honors the tradition of Italian cooking.

Serving Suggestions: Pairs Well with Basic Marinara Sauce

basic marinara sauce with canned tomatoes

Once your marinara sauce has reached its peak flavor, it’s time to think about how to serve it. This versatile sauce can be the star of numerous dishes. Below are some delightful ways to incorporate your homemade marinara sauce into your meals:

  • Classic Pasta: Toss it with al dente spaghetti or your pasta of choice for an instant classic. Garnish with grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves.
  • Pizza Night: Use it as a base for homemade pizza, topping with mozzarella, fresh toppings, and a drizzle of olive oil.
  • Eggplant Parmesan: Layer it with breaded eggplant slices and plentiful cheese for a comforting baked dish.
  • Meatball Subs: Smother hearty meatballs and a hoagie roll in marinara sauce for a satisfying sandwich.
  • Stuffed Peppers: Fill bell peppers with a mix of rice, ground meat, and marinara, then bake until bubbly.
  • Dipping Sauce: Perfect for garlic bread, cheese sticks, or fried zucchini, marinara makes an excellent dip.

Remember, good marinara sauce can transform a simple dish into a memorable meal, so don’t hesitate to get creative and try it with different recipes in your culinary repertoire.

Conclusion: The Essence of Homemade Marinara

Creating a basic marinara sauce is a rewarding endeavor that celebrates the art of Italian cooking. It’s an invitation to transform simple, fresh ingredients into a rich and flavorful concoction that enhances any dish. Keep the process uncomplicated, be patient with the simmer, and season with a keen palate to achieve basic marinara sauce perfection.

Whether it’s the heart of a comforting pasta dish, a vibrant pizza topping, or a zesty dip, your basic marinara sauce will undoubtedly bring warmth and joy to the table. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and let it be a testament to the beauty of home cooking.

Basic Marinera Sauce for Spaghetti, Pasta, Lasagna & Pizza

basic marinara sauce with canned tomatoes

Basic Marinara Sauce for Spaghetti, Pasta, Lasagna & Pizza
This is the perfect sauce for many uses. Topping pasta, rice, making pizza, lasagna and so much more! It's just as good with canned or fresh tomatoes.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 12


  • 1 stockpot
  • 1 large skillet


  • 2 28 ounce cans crushed or fire roasted tomatoes or (4 pounds plum tomatoes if fresh tomatoes are preferred.)
  • 1 28 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 fresh basil leaves chopped


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  • Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened; about 3 minutes.
  • Stir in minced garlic. Cook for about a minute then pour in the canned tomatoes, (or roasted tomatoes) basil, and salt.
  • Let sauce simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes.
  • Using an emersion blender, blend the sauce until desired consistency is reached.
  • Serve over hot pasta or use for any recipe needing marinara sauce.


Calories: 56kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 0.3g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 292mg | Potassium: 37mg | Fiber: 0.4g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 41IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 0.1mg
Keyword marinara sauce

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