This scratch made Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara Sauce) is so much better than a jar of store-bought and so easy to make! My version is a savory, meatless tomato based sauce using crushed tomatoes simmered with garlic, herbs and spices.
Quick to make, versatile and incredibly delicious, this spaghetti sauce is my go to for a dinner in mere minutes. Here in the States, spaghetti sauce is essentially any red sauce put on spaghetti, while marinara, which is a meatless, tomato-based sauce, is truly the name that should be used. For the sake of this recipe I will be using both Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara Sauce) as terms.
What the difference between spaghetti sauce and marinara sauce?
Marinara Sauce is known the world over and used to top pasta and other dishes, while in the United States it also goes by the term Spaghetti sauce. On the East coast, where it’s known as Gravy or Red Sauce.
In Italy a plain tomato sauce is know as Al Pomodoro, while a marinara includes the use and essence of garlic, either crushed, used then discarded, or minced so small it dissolves into the sauce.
Many of the recipes I see out there called Spaghetti Sauce have ground beef or sausage in them! While that may be an American thing, it is not a true marinara sauce. As a result, it’s a meat sauce or bolognese.
What ingredients do I need?
- canned San Marzano Italian tomatoes
- olive oil
- garlic cloves
- tomato paste
- dried oregano
- red pepper flakes
- kosher salt
- fresh basil
- dry red wine (optional)
How to make spaghetti sauce
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high flame and add the minced garlic and sauté for 3 minutes
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the tomato paste, dried oregano, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes and dry red wine (optional), sauté for 2 minutes
- Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer until reduced slightly, about 20 minutes. Season sauce with salt to taste
- At this point you could leave it chunky or for a smoother sauce, use a hand blender and puree or put in a blender and blend until smooth
- Use over any pasta dish or meatballs and top with fresh chopped parsley and grated or shaved parmesan cheese
Other famous tomato sauces
Bolognese Sauce is a delicious meaty tomato based sauce using a great blend of spices, and let me just say, in my recipe this is one super meaty sauce. We’re talkin’ ground beef, pork sausage and pancetta.
Arrabbiata Sauce is a wonderfully rich, zesty and spicy tomato sauce made from crushed tomatoes, red wine, garlic and red pepper flakes that is slowly simmered with herbs and onion.
Do I have to cook this all day?
For a richer, more intense tomato flavor simmer this for 3-4 hours or put it in your slow cooker and let it do it’s thing without having to stand over the stove stirring every so often.
I sometimes will put this in my Instant Pot uncovered on the Sauté setting for a period of time to reduce, too.
As this recipe is written, the flavors are amazing, although if cooking this low and slow, I would omit the tomato paste as this will thicken on it’s own. I only use it for when time is tight.
This is perfect for any quick dinner, over any pasta and it easily doubles to feed a crowd. It also is one of my go to sauces when I make my Classic Beef Meatballs. Enjoy!
Watch how to make this Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara Sauce)!
Spaghetti Sauce (Marinara Sauce)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (See Note 1)
- 1/2 cup dry red wine (optional)
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 28 oz crushed San Marzano tomatoes (See Note 2)
- 6 basil leaves roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley chopped garnish
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over a medium-high flame and add the minced garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the wine (optional), tomato paste, sugar, dried oregano and salt and red pepper flakes, sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, stir and simmer until reduced slightly, about 20 minutes. In last 10 minutes of simmering, add the basil and stir. Season the sauce with more salt to taste.
- At this point you could leave it chunky or for a smooth sauce you could use a hand blender and puree or put in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Use over any pasta dish or meatballs and top with fresh chopped parsley and grated or shaved parmesan cheese.
- As this recipe is written, the flavors are amazing, although if cooking this low and slow (3-4 hour simmer stovetop), I would omit the tomato paste as this will thicken on it's own. I use the tomato paste when time is tight.
- Per The Kitchn, San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the rich volcanic soil at the base of Mount Vesuvius, which gives them a sweet flavor and low acidity and they are coveted for their firm pulp, deep red color, easy to remove skin and low seed count. Feel free to use whatever brand you prefer. This recipe is good for 1 pound of cooked pasta.