This homemade Marinara Sauce is made with slowly caramelized onions, garlic, tomatoes and Italian seasoning. These simple ingredients are cooked low and slow for the most rich and flavorful sauce to use with all of your Italian favorites.
Ready to take your Italian cooking skills to the next level? Making your own marinara sauce is the perfect way to do just that. Whether you're a cooking enthusiast or just looking to impress your family and friends with a homemade meal, mastering the art of marinara sauce is a game-changer. I'll share my step-by-step guide to creating a flavorful marinara sauce using simple and fresh ingredients that you likely already have in your kitchen.
The Best Homemade Marinara Sauce
This authentic, homemade Marinara Sauce is based on the family recipe of a friend with an Italian Mama! It’s the absolute best sauce to use for spaghetti, but it also tastes great served with Spicy Meatballs, Baked Chicken Parmesan, Homemade Lasagna, Tortellini, Crockpot Lasagna, Cheese Stuffed Shells or as a dipping sauce for your favorite appetizers or Cheesy Breadsticks.
Just glancing at the ingredients, you might not expect for this recipe to be all that different from other marinara recipes but trust us - it is all about the process. Keep reading for a little lesson on caramelizing onions which is the very basis of this truly fabulous sauce.
Marinara Sauce From Scratch Video Tutorial
San Marzano tomatoes are often recommended for their sweet and rich flavor, but any ripe plum tomatoes will work well.
While fresh herbs will provide the best flavor, you can substitute dried herbs if that's what you have on hand. Just use a smaller amount, as dried herbs are more potent.
Simmer the sauce for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together. If you have more time, longer simmering will intensify the flavors.
Yes, marinara sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or frozen for up to 3 months. Just be sure to let it cool completely before storing.
Adding a pinch of sugar or a grated carrot can help balance out the acidity. Alternatively, you can also stir in a small amount of baking soda to neutralize the acidity.
Simmering the sauce uncovered for a longer period of time will help it reduce and thicken. You can also add a small amount of tomato paste to achieve the desired consistency.
Absolutely! You can add ingredients like red pepper flakes for heat, a splash of red wine for depth, or a Parmesan rind for richness. Get creative and tailor the sauce to your taste preferences.
Slice onions thinly. Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 30-45 minutes until golden brown and caramelized. Add a pinch of salt to help draw out the moisture from the onions. Use low to medium heat to prevent burning. Optional: add a small amount of sugar to aid in the caramelization process.
Ingredients in Marinara Sauce
- Onions - you can use white or yellow onions - they both have a high sugar content and caramelize nicely.
- Garlic - fresh tastes best but if you’re in a pinch, feel free to use the jarred minced garlic.
- Olive Oil - this helps to give your sauce a deep and rich flavor.
- Crushed Tomatoes - we strongly recommend using San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them. They have an excellent flavor.
- Diced Tomatoes - we add these for consistency. If you don’t like as many chunks in your sauce, feel free to use all crushed.
- Italian Seasoning - if you have an Italian blend of spices, use that. Otherwise, use equal parts of parsley, oregano and basil.
- Sugar - this helps to cut some of the acidity from all of the tomatoes.
- Garlic Salt - this adds great flavor.
- Garlic Powder - it may seem like garlic overload, but we promise it is not!
- Onion Powder - this adds a great sweet onion flavor.
- Salt and Pepper
- Baking Soda - this helps to slightly lower the acidity, as well as helps the onions caramelize.
How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce
- Caramelize the onions. Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the onions and baking soda. Stir so they are all coated in the oil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep, rich, golden hue - about 20 minutes.
- Add the garlic. Once the onions are caramelized, add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden, or about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and cook. Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Use or store. After the marinara sauce has cooked, taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired, then remove from the heat and let cool slightly before using immediately. Or, cool completely and store in jars or an airtight container. Enjoy!
Tips for Making the Most Amazing Homemade Marinara Sauce
- The secret to amazing marinara sauce is to make sure and take the time to caramelize the onions slowly before adding the rest of the ingredients. They should reach a golden brown, transparent and very soft consistency.
- The longer you cook the Marinara Sauce, the better the flavor will be. Cooking longer removes that raw, tinny flavor from the canned tomatoes and helps to develop all of the deep layers of flavor.
- In a pinch, frozen diced onions will work.
- San Marzano tomatoes are strongly recommended but not necessary. They just have such an amazing, rich flavor when cooked over a long period of time.
- Refrigerator: Marinara Sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 10 days.
- Canning: if you want a long-term solution, the best is to can your sauce in canning jars. You can find canning jars at more grocery stores or department stores. If you can them properly, they can sit out at room temperature for months!
- Freezing: transfer the cooled Marinara Sauce to freezer bags and freeze flat. It can be stored frozen for up to 6 months. Once you are ready to use, thaw out in the fridge overnight, or at room temperature for a few hours, then reheat in a saucepot.
Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 3 Large Onions white or yellow, diced
- ¼ Teaspoon Baking Soda
- 4 Cloves Garlic minced
- 2 28-oz Cans Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 14.5-oz Can Diced Tomatoes
- ¼ Cup Italian Seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
- 1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
- ½ Tablespoon Salt
- ½ Tablespoon Pepper
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering, then add the onions and baking soda.
- Stir so they are all coated in the oil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they turn a deep, rich, golden hue - about 20 minutes.
- Once the onions are caramelized, add the garlic. Saute until the garlic is golden, or about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer on low for for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- After the marinara sauce has cooked, taste and season with more salt and pepper if desired, then remove from the heat and let cool slightly before using immediately. Or, cool completely and store in jars or an airtight container. Enjoy!
Here are some of our favorite Italian recipes:
- Italian Mini Kabob Appetizers
- Roasted Parmesan Zucchini
- Toasted Ravioli
- Lasagna Soup
- Meat Sauce
- Crockpot Tuscan Chicken
- Viral Feta Pasta
- Chicken Spaghetti
- More Slow Cooker Recipes
- More Holiday Recipes
- More Pasta Sauces
This authentic, homemade Marinara Sauce is based on the family recipe of a friend with an Italian Mama! It's perfect to use for spaghetti, meatballs, ravioli or any of your other favorite Italian dishes.