basic marinara sauce in saucepan with wood spoon

Basic Marinara Sauce

Are you anything like me, always on the hunt for recipes with minimal ingredients that still pack a punch? Well, let me tell you about my go-to basic marinara sauce recipe that has saved countless pasta nights at my house! This simple yet divine tomato sauce will elevate any dish you drizzle it over, and the best part is, it lets the ingredients truly be the stars of the show.

Picture this: San Marzano tomatoes, onion, garlic, and oregano all coming together in harmony. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes for a playful kick and a drizzle of olive oil for that velvety finish. Oh, my taste buds are dancing just thinking about it!

Give this recipe a try, and I guarantee you’ll have happy faces all around the dinner table. So, come along on this culinary adventure and let’s inspire each other towards healthy eating with a whole lot of flavor!

Is marinara sauce healthy?

Marinara sauce is often considered a healthier option compared to other pasta sauces! It’s typically made with simple, wholesome ingredients like tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs – all of which provide fantastic nutrients and antioxidants. Plus, it’s usually lower in calories and fat than creamy or cheesy sauces – making it a great choice for a guilt-free pasta night!

This Marinara sauce is a true health champion, filled with heart-loving monounsaturated fats from olive oil, immune-boosting vitamins A and C from San Marzano tomatoes, and antioxidant-rich oregano – all while delivering a flavor explosion to your meal! The lycopene in the tomatoes adds an extra perk, offering a potent antioxidant that supports heart health and may even help shield your skin from sun damage – what a delicious and nourishing treat! Some studies even hint that lycopene could play a role in defending against certain cancers, like prostate and breast cancer – so savoring those tomatoes in your marinara sauce might just be doing wonders for your body!

Let’s get cooking!

The ingredients

basic marinara sauce ingredients

Canned San Marzano tomatoes: These Italian wonders truly transform any marinara sauce, thanks to their unique sweetness and low acidity. Grown near Mount Vesuvius, they’re like a flavor explosion in every bite! But hey, if you can’t find or afford San Marzano tomatoes, don’t worry! You can still create a mouthwatering marinara using canned plum tomatoes or fresh Roma tomatoes as a substitute. You might come across some brands selling “San Marzano style” tomatoes, and although they’re not quite the genuine article, they still taste pretty amazing and are nearly as delightful as the real thing! Just remember, the key to an amazing sauce is putting your heart into it, using the best ingredients you can find, and enjoying the process!

Onion and garlic: bring depth and aromatic warmth to the recipe, creating a flavorful foundation.

Oregano: adds a delightful, earthy note to the recipe, infusing your marinara sauce with that quintessential Italian flair!

Red pepper flakes: bring a lively kick to the recipe, adding a touch of heat. You can omit it if you prefer no heat.

Fresh ground pepper: adds a subtle zesty bite.

Extra virgin olive oil: brings a rich, velvety smoothness to the recipe, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.

How to make a simple Marinara sauce

Making an authentic marinara sauce from scratch is a lot easier than you might think. Using canned tomatoes guarantees you can make this sauce any time of the year with consistent results. It also freezes very well, and if you are into canning, feel free to preserve a jar or two (just remember to add acid)!

Tip: if you buy canned whole tomatoes (San Marzano or other), I recommend two methods to crush them. My favorite one is to open the can, pour the tomatoes into a large bowl, and use your clean hands or a potato masher to gently crush them until you reach your desired consistency. The second method uses scissors: open the can, grab a pair of clean kitchen scissors, and carefully snip away at the tomatoes right inside the can. It’s quick, mess-free, and so satisfying! One final recommendation: don’t wear a white shirt!

For full details, see recipe below.

Other delicious recipes to try

Heirloom Tomato Bruschetta

Basil Pesto

Sun-dried tomato pesto

Baked shrimp in tomato sauce

Baked fish in tomato sauce

Cauliflower Gnocchi

Mediterranean Turkey Meatballs

Healthy Eggplant Parmesan

basic marinara sauce in saucepan with wood spoon
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5 from 5 votes

Basic Marinara Sauce

Deliciously simple and authentic Basic Marinara Sauce using canned San Marzano tomatoes. Elevate your pasta dishes with this rich and flavorful sauce. Quick and easy homemade goodness!
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Total Time45 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Author: Veronique Eichler



  • Open the tomato can, pour the tomatoes into a large bowl, and use your clean hands or a potato masher to gently crush them until you no longer feel any large chunks. Alternatively, grab a pair of clean kitchen scissors, and carefully snip away at the tomatoes right inside the can.
  • Heat a saucepan or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and a pinch of salt.
  • Cook about 3 minutes, stirring often, until onions become translucent.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes and fresh ground pepper.
  • Bring to a low boil. Reduce and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.


Nutrition facts are for 1 cup of sauce.


Nutrition Facts
Basic Marinara Sauce
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Total Carbohydrate
Dietary Fiber
Total Sugars
Includes Added Sugar
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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  1. 5 stars
    As good as any fine Italian restaurant! Thoroughly enjoyed it!

  2. Anonymous

    5 stars
    The Marcella Hazan recipe has been my Go To for years… This one adds a bit of garlic, which I will adopt forthwith 😉

  3. 5 stars
    Wonderful and very healthy recipe Veronique, thank you.
    And I appreciate also the fact that it is freezable, I guess I am going to prepare a big batch since my mouth was watering already while reading the ingredients!

    • Veronique Eichler

      Thank you so much! The secret for a superior sauce is really the San Marzano tomatoes! Enjoy!

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