Marinara sauce (Σάλτσα μαρινάρα)

Marinara sauce

A tomato sauce so easy and delicious that you’ll always make homemade from now on.

If you’ve been following our stories over on Instagram lately, you may have noticed that we just wrapped up a weekend of tomato sauce making. An annual ritual, this many day affair is one that the whole family gets involved in. That’s helpful because the work is plenty, and many hands make the job easier, quicker and a whole lot more fun.

At the same time, we know that not everyone has the time or energy or inclination to can their own tomato sauce, and that even when we do, by the time next spring rolls around sometimes the shelves are bare.

Marinara sauce

Thankfully, there are also other ways to enjoy the rich flavour of tomatoes. This marinara sauce recipe is a great one to have on hand. Use it over pasta, in lasagna, over veal scallopini or over fried and roasted eggplants. Intrigued about that last one? Stay tuned for a recipe coming up in a few days!

Helpful hints

What is the difference between marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce?

Marinara sauce is much simpler that spaghetti sauce in that it is typically only tomatoes, onion and or garlic and seasonings. Spaghetti sauce on the other hand often includes things like vegetables and meat.

What are San Marzano tomatoes?

The San Marzano tomato is a variety of plum tomato that is longer and thinner than the typical plum tomatoes you may find in the grocery store. Our dad grows them in his garden, and they do very well.

Often considered the cream of the crop in terms of tomato flavour, canned San Marzano tomatoes are usually our preferred variety when we make marinara sauce. Fortunately, these days they are easier to find than they used to be, as more and more people have learned of their intense tomato taste and delicate sweetness. At the same time, keep in mind that there are other great canned tomato products out there, and sometimes the San Marzano does not come out on top! Moral of the story, use the canned tomato variety that you love, regardless of what we say.

Why is sugar sometimes added to tomato based sauces?

The reason is that tomatoes are acidic by nature, and the level of acidity depends on a number of factors, most notably the brand of tomato that you use. The sugar is added not to add sweetness to the marinara sauce (or other tomato based sauce) but to cut the acidity. For this reason, in this recipe, we leave the sugar as optional. Taste your sauce mid-way through cooking. If it tastes great, leave the sugar out. If it is a bit too acidic, sprinkle it in, and stir.

Pin this recipe if you like it!

Marinara sauce

What some more tomato goodness? Check out these recipes:

Chunky tomato sauce

Cream of tomato soup

Chicken kokkinisto with pasta

Marinara sauce
Marinara sauce
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Marinara sauce
Marinara sauce

Marinara sauce (Σάλτσα μαρινάρα)

A tomato sauce so easy and delicious that you'll always make homemade from now on.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Sauce
Cuisine: American, Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Mia Kouppa


  • 1/4 cup olive oil or 60 ml
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes preferably San Marzano tomatoes or 796 ml
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sugar optional
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped


  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the chopped onion and saute for a 3 - 5 minutes, until the onion is soft
  • Add the garlic, and saute for an additional 2 minutes, stirring regularly being careful not to burn the garlic.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients, (except for the sugar and the fresh basil) and cook on low heat for about 30 minutes. Cook uncovered, stirring occasionally. While your sauce is cooking, break down your tomatoes as much as you'd like with a wooden spoon.
  • Mid-way through the cooking time, taste your marinara sauce; if it tastes too acidic, add the sugar.
  • When your sauce is done, turn off the heat and add the fresh basil. Stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  • Enjoy.


Once your marinara sauce has cooled it can be kept in the refrigerator for 3-4 days in a sealed container.  You can also freeze it up for up to 6 months.

Thanks for sharing!


  1. This look so yum! 😊

    1. miakouppa says:

      Thank you! It’s simple and delicious 🙂

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