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How to Make Marinara Sauce

It's easy, and ensures you’ll never have to rely on a jar of the bottled stuff.

Feel Good Foodie

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bright red sauce in a pot garnished with a green leaf

Learn how to make easy, three-ingredient marinara sauce. Tomatoes, an onion, and garlic are all you need to cook a flavorful, healthy homemade marinara!

Learning how to make your own marinara sauce is easy and ensures you’ll never have to rely on a jar of the bottled stuff with added sugar. My homemade marinara sauce calls for only three ingredients but you can make a multitude of additions for a sauce as simple or fancy as you want. Let’s get started.

Why is homemade marinara better? Well, it turns out that even if you’re buying organic, there may be extra unnecessary ingredients (like sugar or milk), which can translate to unnecessary extra calories and fat. And, instead of using extra virgin olive oil, some use oils like soybean oil, which are full of unhealthy fats like omega-6s.

What I Love About this Marinara Sauce Recipe

  • Vegan
  • Only three ingredients
  • Makes your kitchen smell great
  • Tastes way fresher than supermarket sauces
  • Its sweet, fresh tomato-forward taste shines through

How to Make Basic Marinara Sauce

  • Start with a small saucepan over low-medium heat, sweat the diced onions for about 4 minutes. Keeping the heat at medium-low is crucial so the onions release their sweet juice without burning. You can add olive oil here for extra flavor, but it’s not necessary.
  • Next, add garlic.
onions and garlic in a pot

  • Cook until garlic is lightly golden brown, about 4 more minutes.
  • Then add crushed tomatoes, stir well to combine, and simmer on low for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
onions in a pot with red sauce

  • You’ll have beautiful vibrant homemade marinara sauce that yields about two cups

Marinara Sauce Recipe Variations

While this recipe provides a base for an easy, simple marinara sauce, feel free to customize by

  • Add fresh tomatoes: Throw some chopped fresh tomatoes alongside the crushed or use whole canned tomatoes for a more textured sauce. Break up the whole tomatoes as the sauce cooks.
  • Add more heat: Add regular black pepper, hot red pepper flakes, or whatever type of heat you like – more garlic at the start of cooking or a squirt of Sriracha at the end.
  • Add spices: Salt to taste. Fresh or dried – basil, oregano, marjoram, and Italian parsley are all traditional marinara flavorings.
  • Add olive oil or butter: Bump up the richness by sweating your onions in a few tablespoons of olive oil or butter.
  • Add cream: Some heavy cream (or even plain Greek yogurt) will give your sauce a more opulent silkiness.
  • Add cheese: Grated Parmesan, Romano, or dollops of ricotta all work.
  • Add additional vegetables: Finely minced carrots, some mushrooms, diced red peppers may not make it a traditional marinara, but they will be good.

Tips for Making Homemade Marinara

  1. Use pasta water to thicken the sauce. If you’re making fresh pasta with your homemade marinara, be sure to scoop out a little water before draining your pasta a stand by. If your sauce gets too thick, thin it out with pasta water.
  2. Don’t rush cooking the onions. A slow heat makes a difference bringing out their sweetness and building a tastier, more flavorful base.
  3. Experiment until you find the flavors and tomato texture (chunky v. smooth) you like best. This a great base recipe that is very easy to build on as suggested above to personalize it.
  4. Check out my post on how to cook pasta. That way you can top your homemade marinara with perfectly cooked pasta every time.

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This post originally appeared on Feel Good Foodie and was published July 10, 2020. This article is republished here with permission.

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