An Easy Tomato Sauce Recipe: Homemade Marinara Sauce

by Pamela

marinara sauce, tomato sauce recipe, san marzano tomatoes, homemade pasta sauce

Having a really good tomato sauce recipe is the key to making your favorite Italian dishes taste great. You could use the jarred stuff, but with tomatoes nearing the end of their season, and that great tomatoey flavor being so concentrated, now is the perfect time for making homemade marinara sauce. This easy marinara sauce is the perfect base for making amazing pasta sauces (just add meat, seafood or veggies), slathering on pizza dough then topping with your favorite things, used as a dipping sauce for appetizer recipes or just using it as is.

I’ve been making homemade pasta sauce for a long time (I started making it with  my mom when I was a little). I’ve always made it from the tomatoes I grow in my garden, the San Marzano tomatoes being my favorite. But this year I had no tomatoes (sadness). The tomato crop in my garden has been pretty sad the past couple of years, so this year I gave the dirt a rest and didn’t plant any. Which meant any tomato sauce making would be determined on what I could find at the farmer’s market. Thankfully, I was able to find a market that had San Marzano tomatoes.

Marinara sauce made with san marzano tomatoes

I like the San Marzano tomatoes because they have a more ‘tomatoey’ flavor, if that makes any sense. Roma tomatoes (you’ve seen those oblong Roma’s at the grocery store) work too, but they don’t have quite the same flavor. Either way, these two types of tomatoes are best for sauce making because they are meatier. Did you ever notice when you cut into a San Marzano or Roma tomato that they aren’t as watery as those other round tomatoes? That’s what makes them better for sauce making…more tomato…less juice.

This tomato sauce recipe is very similar to the sauce used to make the meat ragu recipe I posted a couple of years ago.

If you’re into canning things, you could very easily can this marinara sauce and have plenty of jars of it available at your beck and call. Since I don’t can, I freeze the sauce. Freezing the sauce requires two things: a pot of the sauce and a 1 gallon freezer bag. Oh, and you’ll probably want to grab a permanent marker so you can write on the bag what it is and when you put it in the freezer.

Freezing the marinara sauce couldn’t be more simple. Once you’ve made the sauce and let it cool to room temperature, simply portion it out the way you would be using it and pour it into the bag. Remove as much air from the bag as you can, this helps to prevent freezer burn and makes it much easier to stack in your freezer, then seal it. (You’ll probably want to write on the bag before you fill it, but I never remember to do it until after it’s filled.) Lay it flat in your freezer until it’s frozen solid. Then, since it’s been frozen flat, you can store it vertically or horizontally depending on what works best in your freezer.

San Marzano tomatoes in an easy tomato sauce recipe

This marinara sauce recipe is easily doubled or tripled with fantastic results. In fact, I usually make a triple batch of this because by the time I’m done cooking it, and letting it cool, I find that a third of it is missing and Craig has marinara sauce on his chin and down his shirt. Hmmmm…I wonder where that sauce went? But who can blame him? That smell of caramelizing onions and garlic is a siren song that most people find really hard to resist.

And before you start busting my chops about the pictures….Yes, I am aware that the 2 photos of marinara sauce surrounding by ingredients do not show San Marzano tomatoes (the photo of the tomatoes in the colander are the San Marzano’s). I didn’t have enough extra, after making the sauce to put them in the pictures.

What would you make with this marinara sauce?

Relationship Advice

Some things really are directly proportional to one another.

Some things really are directly proportional to one another.


Recipe: Homemade Marinara Sauce

Summary: Makes 1 Quart


  • 2 Pounds San Marzano Tomatoes (or you could use Roma tomatoes)
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 Large Yellow Onion (diced)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 3/4 Cup Dry Red Wine (optional)
  • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Dried Basil
  • 2 Teaspoons Dried Oregano
  • Dash Ground Cloves
  • Kosher Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper


  1. Cut the tops off of the tomatoes and slice into 1/4″ – 1/2″ slices and toss into a 5 quart sauce pan.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onions and garlic.
  3. Continue to stir, and cook, the onions and garlic until they have started to caramelize (about 7-10 minutes).
  4. Once they are turning brown, remove them from the heat and put the pot of sliced tomatoes on that burner.
  5. Scrape the contents of the saute pan into the saucepan.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients to the saucepan and cook over medium high heat.
  7. You’ll need to occasionally stir the tomato mixture to make sure that nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  8. After 10 minutes, turn the heat to medium and continue cooking and occasionally stirring the tomato mixture.
  9. After another 10 minutes, turn the heat to medium low and continue cooking the tomato mixture.
  10. You’ll continue to cook the mixture until it has reduced by half.
  11. Once it has reduced, you can puree the ingredients using a stick blender or carefully pour everything into a regular blender and puree.
  12. If using a regular blender, make sure that you vent the lid so that the hot tomato sauce doesn’t explode all over you and your kitchen. (Hot mixtures in blenders violently expand, causing the hot contents to explode all over the place.)
  13. Now you’re ready to eat, or let the sauce cool to room temperature, then bag, tag and freeze.

Quick notes

If you want to make this even healthier, you can add a cup of shredded carrots to the sauce mixture. Once you cook them in the sauce and puree it, no one will know. And the carrots will give the sauce a nice extra bit of sweetness.


You can omit the wine if you don’t want/like to cook with alcohol and the sauce will taste just fine.

Preparation time: 10 minute(s)

Cooking time: 40 minute(s)

Diet tags: Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 1

Culinary tradition: Italian

My rating 5 stars:  ★★★★★ 1 review(s)

Recipe by Pamela Braun.[/print_this]

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Basil September 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Yum! You’re right – home made is nothing like jarred. Especially with fresh tomatoes. I’m sorry to hear that your plants haven’t yielded recently, that stinks. Great recipe, and good freezing tips!

Pamela September 17, 2012 at 9:56 pm

Basil, getting the ground prepped for putting them in next summer and keeping my fingers crossed. Glad you liked the freezer tips. I think a lot of people don’t make their own sauce because they either don’t know how to can foods, don’t have the room or just don’t want to. I like to let people know that if you’ve got a freezer, you can still make homemade stuff to use later. Check out my FaceBook page for some freezer tips for hatch chili’s –

Belinda @zomppa September 17, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Nothing like homemade sauce – looks so thick! Carmelizing the onions first is a great idea.

Pamela September 17, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Belinda, once you make your own sauce…you’ll be hard pressed to find any jarred stuff that tastes as good.

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