This super flavorful Easy Marinara Sauce calls for only 6 ingredients and is the perfect homemade alternative to purchased pasta sauces!

clear jar filled with Easy Marinara Sauce

People often ask me where my inspiration comes from when creating new recipes. Often it comes out of necessity, which was the case with this Easy Marinara Sauce.

Recipe inspiration

One evening, Robert and I were at our mountain house and there was a major snow storm going on, so I needed to make dinner from what we had on hand in the house – no special trips to the store in this weather! I had everything I needed to make my Parmesan Polenta with Mushroom Marinara Sauce (recipe in “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®”) except for one key ingredient – purchased marinara sauce. I did find in my pantry two jars of my favorite Italian peeled tomatoes with basil – Masseria Mirogallo brand. (If you live in the Denver area, you can buy them at Marczyk’s Fine Foods).

So, I decided to whip up my own Marinara Sauce using these scrumptious Italian tomatoes as the base. Since these tomatoes on their own are already full of flavor, I chose to keep it simple, adding only sautéed onion and garlic, a few glugs of red wine, and some dashes of Italian Seasoning. After letting the mixture cook at a low boil for awhile, I cooled it and pulsed it a few times in my food processor to get the right consistency.

Top view of Easy Marinara Sauce showing consistency

Last, I seasoned it with a fair amount of kosher salt and some ground pepper. That’s it! And, it came out delicious. Even my half-Italian husband Robert (who does most of the Italian cooking in our house) loved it. And, it worked perfectly in my Parmesan Polenta with Mushroom Marinara recipe!

Keys to success with this recipe

I think there are two keys to this recipe:

1. Good quality Italian peeled tomatoes. See note at the bottom of the recipe for my recommended brands.
2. Lots of salt! Salt balances out the tangy acidic taste of the tomatoes. Add it slowly, tasting as you go, until you get the right flavor. That way, you’re less likely to add too much.

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Easy Marinara Sauce

  • Author: (By Lee Clayton Roper)
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes (includes cooling time)
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 cups 1x
  • Category: sauces, gluten free, Italian


This super flavorful Easy Marinara Sauce calls for only 6 ingredients and is the perfect homemade alternative to purchased pasta sauces! Easy to prepare, it only takes around 35 to 40 minutes total. So fresh tasting, and it can be made up to 5 days in advance.



  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped or pressed
  • 32 to 36 ounces jarred Italian tomatoes with basil, undrained – see Note below
  • A few glugs of red wine, to taste
  • Dried Italian seasoning, to taste
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground pepper, to taste


  1. In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, around 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in tomatoes, wine and Italian seasoning. Bring to a low boil and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat to cool a bit.
  3. Place in a food processor and pulse 4 to 5 times; don’t purée. Season to taste with salt and pepper (takes a fair amount of salt).


Make ahead: Marinara Sauce can be stored in a closed container in the refrigerator for up to five days.

Note on tomatoes: 2 (18.7 ounce) jars Masseria Mirogallo Pomodori Pelati work perfectly. If you can’t find them, try to use other jarred or canned Italian peeled tomatoes. Another brand I recommend is Cento San Marzano, which can be found in many grocery stores. Add a few large fresh basil leaves if there aren’t any in your tomatoes.

Lee Clayton Roper


I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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4 Responses to “Easy Marinara Sauce”

  1. Leslie Francisco

    I know you said it takes a fair amount of salt. I am on salt restriction can I make it without the salt. Are usually make my tomato sauce without salt. Love your recipes.

    • Lee Roper

      Leslie – yes you can make it without salt. If it’s too tangy, add a pinch or two of sugar. Glad you are enjoying my recipes!

  2. Ginger Stookesberry

    Hi Lee – I went to Marczyk’s on Colfax and the only tomatoes they had were canned Carmelina San Marzano. I am making the sauce right now and these tomatoes seem to be just fine. Wonderful aromas!
    Hope all is well!


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