Basic Marinara Sauce

homemade marinara sauce
Marinara sauce on homemade ravioli. Diana Rattray
    40 min
Ratings

This basic marinara sauce has great flavor and a nice texture. Use this sauce with any pasta dish. It's an excellent sauce to serve over a meat or cheese ravioli or stuffed shells, or use it with a vegetable lasagna dish.

I like a little heat, so I add some crushed red pepper but feel free to leave that out or use a small amount of ground cayenne pepper instead.

Use a food processor to chop the vegetables or chop them by hand.

What You'll Need

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 rib celery, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, optional
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
  • 3/4 cup water

How to Make It

Put the garlic, onion, carrot, and celery in a food processor; process until finely chopped. Or, finely chop the vegetables by hand.

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables and saute, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender and translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper if using, basil if using, bay leaf, tomatoes, and water. Stir to blend. Bring to a simmer. Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low; simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the cover and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

If you prefer a smooth sauce, puree it in batches in the blender. Make sure you never fill the blender more than one-third to one-half full with the hot sauce mixture and hold the lid down firmly with a folded kitchen towel in hand. Steam from hot liquids can blow the lid off of a blender if it's too full. Don't take any chances!

Use the finished marinara sauce immediately or store in the refrigerator or freezer. Bring the sauce to a simmer before serving.

Serve this marinara over your favorite spaghetti or ravioli, or use it as a sauce for vegetable lasagna or manicotti.

 Double the marinara sauce recipe to make a big batch and freeze the extra sauce in 2-cup or single-serve containers.

Expert Tips

The chopped carrot helps sweeten the sauce, but if it still tastes a bit acidic, add a small amount of granulated sugar.

A small amount — 1/2 teaspoon of so — of anchovy paste can add richness to a marinara sauce. 

If the sauce is too thick, add a small amount of vegetable broth or tomato juice.

Use leftover marinara sauce as a dip for spinach balls or breadsticks, or drizzle some over an omelet. Spread some over a meatloaf instead of the usual ketchup or barbecue sauce.

You Might Also Like

Sausage and Eggplant Sauce for Pasta

Slow Cooker Bolognese Sauce

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Big Batch Crock Pot Tomato Sauce for Pasta (Vegetarian)