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15-Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce

This quick and easy 15-Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce is made with just 6 ingredients (all pantry staples) and is so simple yet so delicious, you may never buy jarred sauce again!

Pour it over pasta, spread it on pizza crust, serve it as a dipping sauce, and use it in your favorite Italian dishes or any recipe that calls for marinara sauce. It’s perfect for them all!

Friends, this recipe will make you forget all about those trendy (and, yes, tasty) but very expensive marinara sauces in the grocery store.

Because in 15 minutes, you can make your own marinara that’s just as good, if not better, and you’ll save money too!

So, around here, we really love Italian food for dinner as well as appetizers and snacks that cry out to be dipped in some kind of tomato sauce…and so we go through lots of it.

For me, spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce are not the same thing. And depending on what I’m making or what I’m in the mood for, I’ll choose to use one or the other.

Spaghetti sauce will usually include ingredients like basil, oregano or other herbs, onions, maybe some stock, broth, or wine, and it is usually thicker and could even be chunky, especially if you add meat and/or veggies (if you’re looking for that kind of sauce, try my Quick and Easy Homemade Spaghetti Sauce).

Marinara sauce, on the other hand, is made with minimal ingredients – here we’re just using olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper – and it’s usually smoother and a bit thinner.

But that is what’s so awesome about a good marinara. It’s simplicity lets the flavor of the tomatoes really shine through!

homemade marinara sauce in a pot with a ladle full of sauce being lifted out

Ingredients You Need

  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh garlic
  • Canned crushed tomatoes
  • Sugar
  • Salt
  • Black pepper

Note: Ingredient amounts are in the recipe card at the end of the post.

For those of you who would rather photos instead of a video, here’s a quick look at the steps:

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for about 1 minute.
  2. Add garlic; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute (don’t let the garlic brown).
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper; stir to combine.
  4. Increase the heat and bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then immediately reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer for 10 minutes (stir occasionally).
  5. Taste and adjust the sugar, salt and/or pepper if needed.
  6. Your homemade marinara sauce is ready to enjoy!
3 numbered images, number 1 is of olive oil in a saucepan on the stove, number 2 is of garlic cooking in the olive oil in the pot, and number 3 is of tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper added to the pot
3 numbered images, number 4 is of the sauce simmering in the pot on the stove, number 5 is of a spoonful of sauce being lifted out of the pot, and number 6 is of the finished sauce in the pot with a ladle

Note: The above video and photos are just a brief overview of the steps. Scroll down to the recipe card at the end of the post for the full printable recipe with ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.

Recipe Tips & Tidbits:

  • Extra-virgin olive oil adds great flavor to this sauce; don’t skip it! Regular or light-tasting olive oils are more bland (which is good for lots of other dishes, but not this one).
  • When cooking the garlic, keep it moving and keep an eye on the heat. You don’t want the garlic to brown, as this can cause it to taste bitter, so reduce the heat if needed.
  • Since this sauce is pretty much all about the tomatoes, it’s important that you use a brand of crushed tomatoes that tastes good to you. Some will be more acidic or salty than others, so adjust the amount of sugar and salt in the recipe accordingly and to suit your own personal tastes.
    • Personally, I love using Italian San Marzano crushed tomatoes in this recipe because they tend to be sweeter and less acidic (they’re also more expensive).
    • BUT I have also used lots of other kinds of tomatoes, from low-cost store brands on up, and I have always ended up with a great marinara sauce simply by adjusting the amount of sugar and salt.
    • I use kosher salt in my recipes, which is generally less salty than table salt. If using regular iodized table salt, use half the amount called for in the recipe and adjust from there.

Substitutions & Variations

  • Instead of crushed tomatoes, you can use canned whole tomatoes and crush them yourself. The sauce may be a little more chunky; you can purée it if you want it smoother.
  • Feel free to add herbs like basil or oregano (fresh or dried).
  • You could also sauté some finely diced onions in the olive oil before adding the garlic.
  • If you like things spicy, add some crushed red pepper flakes to make an arrabbiata-style sauce.
a bowl of spaghetti topped with 15 minute homemade marinara sauce

Make Ahead, Storing Leftovers, Freezing & Reheating

Make Ahead

Even though it’s super quick to make, you can absolutely make this homemade marinara sauce ahead of time. Keep it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Storing Leftovers

Once the sauce has cooled to room temperature, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 to 4 days.

Remember: If you made the sauce ahead of time, you need to count the days starting from the day you made the sauce and not from the day you first use it.

Freezing

Once cooled, transfer the marinara sauce to an airtight freezer-safe container or a freezer bag, remove as much air as possible (to prevent freezer burn), and freeze for up to 2 to 3 months.

Thaw completely in the refrigerator before reheating.

Reheating

Reheat marinara sauce in a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until heated though.

Or you can reheat it in the microwave in a microwave-safe bowl (it will easily splatter, so cover the bowl with a microwave-safe lid, microwave-safe plastic wrap or a paper towel to avoid a mess).

zucchini balls on a plate with a small bowl of marinara sauce on the side for dipping

How to Serve 15-Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce

I hope you try this 15-Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce recipe and love it as much as I do. Thanks for visiting today!

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More Tomato Sauce Recipes To Try

If you make this recipe, I’d love to know how it went! Please leave a star rating and comment below. Thanks!

marinara sauce in a pot with a ladle

15-Minute Marinara Sauce

This quick and easy 15-Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce is made with just 6 ingredients (all pantry staples) and is so simple yet so delicious, you may never buy jarred sauce again!
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Author: Michelle / Now Cook This!
Prep Time: 1 minute
Cook Time: 14 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Servings: 4 (about ¾ cup each; recipe makes about 3 cups total)
Estimated Calories: 120

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 3 teaspoons)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon sugar, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (if using regular table salt, which is saltier, use half the amount)
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste

Instructions

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat for 1 minute (I use a 3-quart saucepan).
  • Add the garlic; cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.
    Keep an eye on the heat and keep the garlic moving. You don't want it to brown, as this can cause it to taste bitter; reduce the heat if needed.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, sugar, salt, and pepper; stir to combine.
  • Increase the heat and bring the sauce to a gentle boil, then immediately reduce the heat and let the sauce simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes (the sauce should thicken up slightly during this time).
  • Taste and adjust the sugar, salt and/or pepper if needed.
  • Your homemade marinara sauce is ready to enjoy!

Notes

  • Pour over pasta, use as a dipping sauce for appetizers and snacks, spread on pizza crust when making homemade pizza, and use in any recipe that calls for marinara sauce.
  • Since this sauce is pretty much all about the tomatoes, it’s important that you use a brand of crushed tomatoes that tastes good to you. Some will be more acidic or salty than others, so adjust the amount of sugar and salt in the recipe accordingly and to suit your own personal tastes.
    • Personally, I love using Italian San Marzano crushed tomatoes in this recipe (they tend to be sweeter and less acidic but are also more expensive).
    • BUT I have also used lots of other kinds, from low-cost store brands on up, and I have always ended up with a great marinara sauce simply by adjusting the amount of sugar and salt.
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