Homemade Marinara Sauce

homemade vegan marinara sauce

Simple Marinara Sauce. I love a fresh and simple marinara sauce. Marinara sauce is different than tomato sauce. Tomato sauce in general is a smooth pasty sauce whereas marinara is a fresh chunky sauce – the Italians version of salsa. Marinara can be used on any pasta, incorporated into lasagna, used as a pizza sauce, dip breadsticks into or for bruschetta. A good marinara should taste like fresh tomatoes and be very light. In my opinion, it is hard to find a good marinara sauce. They are usually doused in heavy amounts of oil or so garlicky that I have dragon breathe for a week. I created a very simple marinara recipe that you can easily adapt to your preference. The most important part to ensure success is using only the best tasting ingredients. I know a lot of people who love garlic and cannot get enough so in that case, add extra garlic if you prefer. If adding wine to a sauce makes you sleep better at night, then by all means add some wine to the recipe when you make it. Do what suits you and your cooking style. This recipe is very adaptable. I usually double the recipe to make a large batch and freeze half for later.

Basic Marinara Sauce


2 – 28 oz. cans of whole San Marzano Tomatoes D.O.P.** 
 1 c filtered water
¼ c Really good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
7-10 garlic cloves
Small dried whole chile or a pinch of crushed red pepper
2 tsp dried oregano
2 large fresh basil sprigs (approx.. 8-10 leaves)


1. In a large bowl add the tomatoes and water, use hands to crush up tomatoes and mix together. 
2. Peel garlic, leave cloves whole. 
3. Add oil and garlic to a large skillet, heat on medium. Skillet is the best because it provides a larger surface area. 
4. Cook for 5-7 minutes just until garlic starts to soften. Do not let garlic brown. Browned garlic releases a bitter taste which we want to avoid. 
5. Add tomato and water mixture. Stir. 
6. Add in whole chile (or flakes) and oregano, stir. 
7. Lay basil sprigs on top of sauce. 
8. Adjust heat till the sauce is on a low simmer, uncovered. 
9. Once the basil has wilted down, stir to incorporate into the sauce.
10. Stir every 15-20 minutes. 
11. Let simmer over medium to low heat for at least an hour. I usually aim for 2 hours. 
12. Before serving, remove garlic, basil, and chile. If you used red pepper flakes there is no need to remove.

Bonus: I use a fork to mash the garlic and lightly blend with 1/3 c plus EVOO. I serve the garlic oil with bread as part of the Italian feast.

** I prefer Cento brand in the yellow and red can. San Marzano tomatoes are sweeter than most tomato varieties grown elsewhere in the world. San Marzano is a region in Italy where the tomatoes are grown. It is also a variety of tomato so it can be confusing. Look for D.O.P. which specifies:
• What strain of tomato they are
• Where in Italy they can be grown
• How they are to be grown
• The size, shape, and color when harvested
• That they be harvested by hand
• That they are peeled when packed

Bon Appetito!