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Classic Marinara Sauce

Classic Marinara Sauce, marinara sauce recipe, authentic marinara

This classic marinara sauce is the best you’ll find! And I don’t say that lightly! The simplicity of the recipe leaves you with authentic flavors making this a recipe worth passing down! You can use this marinara sauce as a simple sauce with pasta, a dipping sauce or even a pizza sauce.

Classic Marinara Sauce, marinara sauce recipe, authentic marinara

Ingredients in marinara sauce:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • Chili flakes (optional)
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Oregano
  • Basil

These ingredients are all you need for a classic marinara sauce. It’s a simple recipe that doesn’t take much and is so worth making at home instead of buying it pre-made!

What is the difference between marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce?

Marinara is typically a much simpler sauce. It’s a thinner sauce with less ingredients. Spaghetti sauce tends to have more ingredients, sometimes including meat, and it’s also usually a much chunkier, thicker sauce. I will say though, this marinara sauce is quite delicious on spaghetti…so don’t let the name or the “rules” deter you from doing what you want!

How to make marinara sauce:

The first step is is to sauté garlic and onion in olive oil. I also add just half a teaspoon of red chili flakes for a hint of spice if I’m making this for my husband and I. I leave those out if my kids will be eating the marinara. These 3 simple ingredients are what will add so much flavor to your sauce!

When you’re cooking the garlic and the onions, you want to keep everything on medium low. You just want the onions to slightly soften. Make sure the garlic does not brown. Browned garlic tends to get bitter and we don’t want that!

Next comes the tomatoes and a bit of water. I use a can of crushed san marzano tomatoes. You could also use whole tomatoes and crush them yourself if you want a chunkier sauce but I like the texture of the already-crushed tomatoes.

Adding crushed tomatoes for marinara sauce

For the seasonings in this classic marinara sauce, I like to keep it simple. Just a bit of salt, oregano, and a fresh sprig of basil are all you need. You could also chop the basil if you like but I like to infuse the sauce then remove the leaves when ready to serve.

Classic Marinara Sauce, marinara sauce recipe, authentic marinara

Let the marinara sauce simmer for just about 10 minutes and it’s ready to serve!

What to use homemade marinara for:

  • Homemade pizza
  • Pasta sauce
  • Dipping sauce for bread

How long does marinara sauce last in the fridge?

You can keep this marinara sauce in the fridge for up to 5 days. Just make sure to let it cool before storing and adding to an airtight container. You can also freeze it for future use.

Classic Marinara Sauce, marinara sauce recipe, authentic marinara

Classic Marinara Sauce

Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: dinner, Side Dish
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 4 cups
Author: Coco and Ash


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion (finely diced)
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional for a hint of spice)
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves


  • Heat the olive oil over medium/low heat in a large skillet.
  • Add the minced garlic, diced onion, and chili flakes (if using them) to the olive oil. Cook until the oil sizzles and the onions soften but do not let the garlic turn brown. This should only take about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add in the crushed tomatoes, water, salt, oregano, and basil leaves. Stir together and allow to simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes.
  • Serve immediately or allow to cool and store in an airtight container and either refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze.


Tip: If using this as a pasta sauce, boil your pasta for 2 minutes less than the package directions. Then add the pasta to the marinara and allow to finish cooking for the final 2 minutes in the sauce. 

Classic Marinara sauce pin

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