Twenty Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce

Twenty Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce tastes so much better than store bought and is packed with natural ingredients and no added sugar.

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Twenty Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce couldn't be easier to make and is leaps and bounds better than what you can buy in the local grocery store. Plus it's made with all natural ingredients and has no added sugar, something that's hard to find in a store bought sauce.

While I appreciate the convenience of jarred pasta sauces as much as the next girl, I really prefer to make my own, at home, from scratch. When you prepare your food at home, you have a lot more control over what goes into it. Store bought pasta sauces can be packed with sugar and preservatives, which I try to keep out of our diet as much as possible. Plus, doesn’t everything taste just a little bit better when you make it yourself?

I know making sauce from scratch might sound intimidating to some, but let me assure you, if I can do it, you can definitely do it. I’m sharing with you today an incredibly simple and tasty marinara sauce that you can make at home in about 20 minutes or less. And the hardest part of this entire recipe is mincing the garlic, so you’ve totally got this!

Twenty Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce and all the ingredients to make it.

One tip for making this sauce turn out as flavorful and delicious as possible: use fresh basil! Okay, you don’t have to, but it sure adds a lot of delicious flavor. I usually pick up a basil plant in the produce section of my grocery store. Generally, a fresh basil plant will cost around $2, which is a great deal compared to buying a little package of fresh basil. I put the plant on my windowsill (which reminds me to water it) and get to enjoy using fresh basil for months at a time. It’s fantastic!

Another suggestion is to use the highest quality tomatoes you can find. I prefer the San Marzano tomatoes, which I can usually find at Costco, or in my local grocery store (sometimes they are tricky to find, check the bottom shelf!). For those who aren't familiar, San Marzano tomatoes are a variety of tomato grown in Italy. They are known to be sweeter and less acidic than standard tomatoes and are known to be some of the best when it comes to canned tomatoes. 

Twenty Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce made with basil from a fresh plant.

Whether you are a novice chef or a seasoned professional, this Homemade Marinara Sauce will win you over. It comes together quickly, is low in sugar, and packed with delicious Italian flavor. Be sure to double the batch and keep some in your freezer for later!

Tips and Ideas for Making Homemade Marinara Sauce

  • Although it may seem like marinara sauce would taste better with fresh tomatoes, it's almost always better with canned San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them. They are typically much less acidic than a standard tomato and are naturally sweet, which is perfect since we aren't adding sugar to this sauce.
  • This sauce is terrific with pasta but also can be used in all kinds of ways. I use it with homemade meatloaf, minestrone soup, stuffed peppers, pizza, and for all kinds of pizza inspired dishes. One of my favorites is a quick chicken skillet topped with marinara sauce, cheese, and turkey pepperoni.
  • If you like lots of herbs in your sauce, don't be afraid to add in your favorites. Oregano works really well in the sauce as does marjoram, rosemary, and thyme. You can also kick up the red pepper flakes if you like things spicy.
  • This sauce keeps great in the freezer for up to six months. Consider packing in containers that will work for one meal so it is easy to grab and use.
  • You can definitely add meat to this sauce. Consider browning some ground turkey, beef, chicken, or pork. Turkey or chicken sausage is also a great, lean option.

How to Freeze Homemade Marinara Sauce

Before freezing any kind of sauce, you want to make sure to let it cool to room temperature. Next, portion it into containers in a size that makes sense for your needs. For example, we generally need about 3 cups of sauce when having pasta, so I like to freeze our sauce in 3 cups containers. Then make sure your sauce is sealed in an airtight container before freezing. It will keep for up to 6 months in the freezer.

Another option for freezing if you tend to need smaller portions is to use ice cube trays. This is great for kids. Simply pour the sauce into an ice cube tray and then pop the marinara sauce cubes into a Ziploc bag once frozen. Then you can pull out a couple of sauce cubes anytime you need them for pasta, pizza, chicken, or other dishes.

The Recipe
Homemade marinara sauce in a white bowl with a spoon.

Twenty Minute Homemade Marinara Sauce

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  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/16 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 28 oz. canned San Marzano tomatoes (whole or crushed)
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt and pepper to taste

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Nutritional Facts
Serving Size: 1 cup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 86
Calories from Fat 31
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 4g
Saturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 34mg
Total Carbohydrate 12g
Dietary Fiber 4g
Sugars 8g
Protein 2g

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.


Can be frozen and will store in the fridge for about a week.
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