Total Time

Prep: 20 min. Cook: 1 hour


5 cups

Updated: Nov. 29, 2023
My mother, who was Italian American, called marinara sauce "gravy." She made this sauce in big batches several times a month, so it was a staple on our dinner table. A mouthwatering aroma filled the house each time she cooked it. —James Grimes, Frenchtown, New Jersey


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) whole tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions; cook and stir until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic; cook and stir 1 minute longer. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until thickened and flavors are blended, 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Marinara Sauce Tips

Are there benefits to making your own marinara sauce?

There are quite a few benefits to making your own marinara sauce. First off, homemade marinara is free of sugars and preservatives. You know everything that is inside it. Plus, you're able to customize the flavors to your liking.

What are the best tomatoes to use for this marinara sauce recipe?

We think that canned San Marzano tomatoes are the best type of tomato to use for this recipe. Roma tomatoes are a good replacement if you can't find fresh San Marzanos. They are bright in flavor and don't have a ton of moisture inside like beefsteak or heirloom.

What are some variations of this marinara sauce recipe?

There are plenty of ways to switch up this sauce! Try adding roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, roasted red peppers and fresh oregano (instead of dried). You could also add tomato paste to thicken your sauce and add a deeper tomato flavor.

How can I use marinara sauce?

Marinara sauce works well in many Italian recipes. Like you probably know, marinara tastes wonderful on pizza and in pasta recipes. But there are plenty of other ways to use up a jar of marinara sauce. Here are a few variations you may have not tried before: muffin-tin lasagna, Sicilian nachos and chicken parmesan burgers.

Research contributed by Sarah Tramonte, Taste of Home Associate Culinary Producer and Christina Herbst, Taste of Home Assistant Digital Editor

Nutrition Facts

1/2 cup: 44 calories, 4g fat (1g saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 178mg sodium, 2g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 0 fiber), 0 protein.