Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

This simple marinara sauce recipe is so full of flavor and so much better than jarred tomato sauce. Not only does it taste amazing, but you made it and you know what simple ingredients are in it! It’s a great way to use up fresh whole tomatoes from your garden, but it’s also easily made with canned tomatoes if gardening isn’t your thing. Bonus: This great recipe is also naturally vegan and gluten-free.


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Are you a jarred marinara or homemade marinara type of person?

For the majority of my life, I was 100% a jarred marinara person. Quite honestly, I was convinced the only people who had the skills to make homemade marinara sauce were gourmet chefs and Italian grandmothers. You know, people who really knew what they were doing. Certainly not someone like me!

But for T, making marinara sauce from scratch comes second nature. He specifically grows almost all the ingredients in his garden every year just so can have fresh spaghetti sauce! So it didn’t take long for him to show me how wrong I had been all those years. 

Easy, fool-proof homemade marinara sauce is 10 times more delicious and while not quite as easy as opening a jar of pasta sauce, it’s definitely more satisfying. Welcome to Team Homemade, friends. It’s good to have you here.

Oh, and if you’ve never made your own marinara sauce, don’t fret. The easy homemade marinara sauce recipe we’re sharing with you today is 100% beginner-friendly!

Why We Love This Easy Homemade Marinara

  • The sauce is so simple to make.
  • It is absolutely bursting with fresh garlic & herb flavor
  • It’s both freeze-able and totally meal prep-able. Because who doesn’t need a giant midweek bowl of pasta and sauce, right?
  • You can use fresh tomatoes or canned ingredients to adapt this recipe to the changing seasons. Our small vegetable garden is filled with tomatoes well into fall, so I used a little of each!
Overhead photo of all the ingredients you need to make marinara sauce from fresh tomatoes and canned tomatoes

Ingredients for Healthy Marinara Sauce

Here are the ingredients you’ll need to make healthy marinara with a few notes:

  • Fresh tomatoes – roughly chopped / cores removed
  • Tomato paste
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Onions – small diced
  • Garlic cloves – minced
  • Spice Cabinet: sea salt, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes (omit this if you want less spice)
  • Fresh basil – roughly chopped
  • Canned diced tomatoes
  • Vegan chicken-style bouillon powder – We used our homemade vegan bouillon powder!
  • Dry white wine – I like to use an Italian Pinot Grigio! You can also use a dry Italian red wine, such as Chianti for a different but equally delicious vibe.
  • Coconut sugar – This balances out the acidity in the tomatoes! Brown sugar or date sugar can also be used.

Find the full recipe with amounts in the recipe card below!

Substitution Options

Sometimes, you need a substitute! Here are our best substitution tips for this easy marinara sauce.

For the vegan bouillon powder: 2-3 bouillon cubes can be used instead. Bouillon paste also can be used. Around 2 Tbsp should work. You can always taste and adjust this at the end.

For the white wine: You can also use a dry Italian red wine like a Chianti or sangiovese for a slightly bolder flavor. Or try a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar!

For the fresh basil: The suggested sub for fresh and dry basil is 1 teaspoon of dry basil for every 2 teaspoons of fresh basil. So for this particular recipe you would sub 1/4 cup of dry basil for the 1/2 cup of fresh basil called for in the recipe. Fresh herbs like oregano would also be a nice touch.

For the fresh cloves of garlic: Minced garlic can be used with a slightly different flavor – use 1 teaspoon for each clove of garlic.

To replace the coconut sugar: Light brown sugar, dark brown sugar, raw sugar, cane sugar or a dash of maple syrup can also be used.

For the onions: Yellow or white onions are fine for this recipe. Red onions have a much more pungent flavor than their milder counterparts and should be avoided in the sauce.

For the olive oil: Feel free to omit the olive oil if you’re oil-free and just saute the veggies in water or vegetable broth. Other oil options include: avocado oil, vegan butter, sunflower oil, or refined coconut oil.

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce Using All Fresh Tomatoes

If you want to use all fresh tomatoes instead of canned, I’d suggest using deep red tomatoes like Roma, Plum, or San Marzano Tomatoes and adding another 1.5 to just under 2 pounds. 

We’ve also found a 28-oz can of diced tomatoes can be replaced with 3-3.5 cups of diced fresh tomatoes if you prefer to dice and measure.

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce Using All Canned Tomatoes

According to various internet sources, the contents of a 28-oz can of tomatoes – whole, diced, or crushed – is equivalent to almost two pounds of tomatoes. 

So if you want to use all canned tomatoes, I’d recommend subbing out the 3.5 pounds of fresh tomatoes with two 28-oz cans, drained of liquid. 

Be advised that altering to all one way or the other will affect cooking time slightly.

A grid with 5 photos showing the process of making easy homemade tomato sauce

How to Make Vegan Marinara Sauce

It’s so simple to make your own homemade marinara sauce!

Step 1: Blend the fresh tomato base.

Add the fresh tomatoes and the tomato paste to a high-powered blender or food processor and blend on high until the mixture is smooth and the seeds and skins have been pulverized. Set this aside until it’s needed.

Step 2: Saute the onion and garlic.

In a large 6 quart saucepot, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and salt. Stir to mix and saute for 5-7 minutes until fragrant and the onions are translucent.

Step 3: Bring to a boil.

Next, stir in the basil. Add the tomato mix from the blender, the can of diced tomatoes, wine, bouillon, and water. Stir well, cover, and bring to a boil.

Step 4: Simmer the fresh tomato sauce.

Once it’s boiling, remove the cover and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and lower heat to simmer. On low heat, allow the sauce to simmer uncovered for 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.

Use a long-handled spoon to stir the sauce every so often, pulling from the bottom to avoid scorching the sauce as the heavier portion settles on the bottom.

Use caution: I recommend the long-handled spoon because when you pull the heavier sauce from the bottom an occurrence called “quick boil” or “flash boil” can occur. The rush of introduced heat to the liquid can cause the sauce to splatter, and if it hits your skin can cause a severe burn.

To Make a Smooth Fresh Tomato Sauce:

If you would like a very smooth or slightly smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients to your desired liking after the first 45 minutes – 1 hour of cooking. I like to use mine just a little to get a nice mix of creamy and chunky.

After blending, stir the sauce again and continue to simmer until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. 

Step 5: Taste and adjust seasonings.

Before serving, taste and adjust the seasonings as you see fit. If it seems too tart, you can add another Tbsp or two of coconut sugar. I know it seems weird, but this totally balances the sauce out!

A ladle pulls a cup of marinara sauce out of a large pot

Vegan Recipes Using Marinara Sauce

Serve this easy marinara sauce over pasta dishes topped with some vegan parmesan cheese. Use it in any recipe that calls for marinara, or as a dipping sauce for breadsticks, vegan mozzarella sticks and the like! It also makes a great pizza sauce!

Here are some of our favorite vegan recipes using marinara sauce:

How to Store Leftover Tomato Sauce

This homemade marinara sauce is one of my favorite ways to use up any excess of tomatoes and basil that may be growing in the garden. It freezes excellently, so you can have fresh, homemade tomato sauce all year long!

In the fridge: Store leftover marinara sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure you let the sauce cool entirely before transferring to the fridge. Reheat carefully and slowly on the stove or in the microwave before using.

In the freezer: You can freeze marinara sauce in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag for up to 4 months. Make sure you allow the sauce to cool completely before freezing and leave an inch or two of space at the top of the container to allow the sauce to expand while it freezes. We love freezing marinara sauce in our 1-cup or 2-cup Souper Cubes, so we can defrost only what we need and keep the rest fresh in the freezer! 

To defrost: Transfer the marinara sauce to the fridge until completely thawed through, about 24 hours, depending on the serving size you froze.

Overhead photo of a large pot of marinara sauce topped with fresh basil leaves and surrounded by fresh tomatoes and bowls of pasta

More Vegan Sauce Recipes

If you do give this easy recipe for homemade marinara sauce a try, we totally want to celebrate your awesomeness with you! 

When you make it, please leave a star rating and review below. It really helps more people find our recipes, and we love hearing what you think!

A ladle pulls a cup of marinara sauce out of a large pot

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Brittany Roche
This easy homemade healthy marinara sauce recipe is so full of flavor and so much better than jarred tomato sauce because you made it and you know what’s in it! It’s a great way to use up fresh tomatoes from your garden, but it’s also easily made with canned tomatoes if gardening isn’t your thing. Bonus – the recipe is also naturally vegan and gluten-free.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Course Sauces
Cuisine Italian
Calories 78 kcal

Ingredients
  

Instructions
 

  • To a high-powered blender or food processor, add the fresh tomatoes and tomato paste. Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and tomato seeds / skins are pulverized. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan on medium high heat. Add your onions, garlic, and salt. Stir to coat and saute for 5-7 minutes, until the onions are translucent.
  • Stir in the basil to coat. Then, add your tomato mix from the blender, can of crushed tomatoes, wine, bouillon, and water. Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.
  • When boiling, remove the cover and stir in the remainder of the ingredients. Turn heat to medium low and allow the sauce to simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 40 minutes. 
  • At this point, if you'd like the sauce to be smoother, use an immersion blender to blend all the ingredients together now! I like to use mine just a little, so the marinara is a nice mix of creamy and chunky. Stir again after you blend and continue to cook, stirring and scraping the bottom periodically, for 2-4 hours or until the sauce reaches your desired consistency.
  • Before serving, taste and adjust the seasonings as you see fit. If it's too tart, you can add another Tbsp or two of coconut sugar. I know it seems weird, but this totally balances the sauce out!
  • Serve this sauce over pasta dishes, in any recipe that calls for marinara, or as a dipping sauce for breadsticks and the like! See leftover instructions in the notes section below. Enjoy!

Notes

Storage Instructions

  • In the fridge: Store leftover marinara sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Make sure you let the sauce cool entirely before transferring to the fridge. 
  • To reheat: Reheat carefully and slowly on the stove or in the microwave before using.
  • In the freezer: You can freeze marinara sauce in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag for up to 4 months. Make sure you allow the sauce to cool completely before freezing and leave an inch or two of space at the top of the container to allow the sauce to expand while it freezes.
  • Souper Cubes: We love freezing marinara sauce in our 1-cup or 2-cup Souper Cubes, so we can defrost only what we need and keep the rest fresh in the freezer! 
  • To Defrost: Transfer the marinara sauce to the fridge until completely thawed through, about 24 hours, depending on the serving size you froze.

Wine Options

We love using Ziobaffa Pinot Grigio for this recipe. You can also use a dry red wine for a different vibe. For that, we love Ziobaffa’s Toscana or any Chianti / Sangiovese.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 78kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 2gFat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gSodium: 702mgFiber: 2gSugar: 7g
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