How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce in 20 Minutes

April 4, 2018   17 Comments

Do you know how to make homemade marinara sauce in 20 minutes? It is pretty easy but it does involve mincing garlic.

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce in 20 Minutes

I have written about purchasing jarred tomato sauce – low sugar tomato sauce and best and worst pasta sauce. Honestly, if you can make your own you are going to be able to cut the sugar to almost nothing and have a fresher and more delicious product.

This is a great addition to your "no sugar added" recipes that are far better than anything you can buy. All the sugar in this recipe is due to the tomatoes. You can freeze this, serve it on eggs, mix it in your coffee - whatever!

There are two important ingredients for this recipe that make it work. The first is San Marzano tomatoes. I know that these retail for $3 or more per can but they are so much better than regular canned tomatoes. Something about the soil of Mt. Vesuvius makes them taste very rich.

I found these at Costco but they are usually at the bottom of the shelf in the grocery store. Give them a try and tell me if you think they are worth it.

The other key ingredient is fresh basil. This time of year, I can buy a plant in the produce section of my store for $1.79. I keep this plant on my windowsill where I don’t forget to water it and add basil to all sorts of recipes throughout the summer until the plant dies. This is a very affordable way to use a great flavoring agent.

This recipe asks you to grate an onion which can be painful (as I found out). Go ahead and break out your food processor so the people in your family won’t wonder if you watched Titanic again. Use the food processor to mince the garlic and you have a win-win.

You can't really miss with this sauce. It will make your life easy. Trust me!

Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe

2.0 from 28 reviews

Makes 4 cups

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1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, grated
3 garlic cloves, minced
pinch crushed red pepper
1-28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (whole or crushed)
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste


Heat olive oil to medium in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic, and red pepper and sauté until softened about 4 minutes. Add tomatoes, basil, bay leaf, and salt and pepper. Crush the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon. Cover the pot and simmer on low for 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

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

Nutrition Facts

For one cup = 66 calories, 3.6 g fat, 0.5 g saturated fat, 7.5 g carbohydrates, 4.7 g sugar, 1.3 g protein, 2.5 g fiber, 300 mg sodium, 1 Freestyle SmartPts

Points values are calculated by Snack Girl and are provided for information only. See all Snack Girl Recipes

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Love your humor and your recipe,I will be trying it ASAP


My husband said :no one would ever know I was Italian by my spaghetti sauce,,LOL",

I cannot make a sauce[gravy] to save my life.

So I am going to try this one for tonight and hope I can say HAH to him tonight...Lisa keep the recipes coming...

Do you use fresh Bay leaves? I've only seen the dried ones that my mother taught me I need to remove before serving. If fresh, where do you find, and do you cut it up like Basil?

Lisa! Your singing my song today :) Thass Amore! I use San Marzanos too, whole, which I blend myself, something about the ratio of tomato solids to juice is perfecto. Most times I start with lots of minced garlic, extra virgin cold pressed olive oil, a healthy pinch of dried oregano, quickly rubbed in my palm to release the flavor, a shake of red pepper flakes, then at the sound and scent of the sizzle, dump in tomatoes with just enough water to rinse can and blender [about half cup]. Before long the greatest aroma known to man overtakes the senses and I start humming songs like ''Hey mambo, mambo italiano''! I'll often double it to freeze a pint or 2. I don't always add onion but when I do, I chop it myself not wanting to wash my food processor for uno onion. Ciao Bella!

@Colleen -I used a dry bay leaf. I found them in the spice section. I did use fresh basil. Thanks for your question!

If you have a metallic taste to your sauce a pinch of baking soda will neutralize it instead of using sugar

153 Cal.? Why So High?
1 Tblspn. Oil 120 Cal./4 = 30
1 28 Oz. Can Tomato 100 Cal./4 = 25
30+25 = 55.

Made this sauce. ( gravy in Philadelphia)

Delicious! I am not Italian and usually get the jarred stuff which is ok.

I added two things: chopped mushrooms for flavor and a pinch of sugar.

Would recommend this recipe to anyone.

@RC - I made a bunch of mistakes on my calculation. Now it looks like the recipe is 66 calories for a cup of sauce. Thank you for pointing out my error!

Can I used frozen chopped onions and minced garlic for the same flavor?

I can hardly wait to try this! Thank you so much!!

Cooks -- remove and discard the bay leaf before serving. When I purchase basil in a harvested clump, I trim the bottom of the bunch off by about 1/2 inch, then place it in water, like a bouquet of flowers. Change the water every day, and the herb could last two weeks or more.

This is a terrific recipe full of Vit. A, lutein and zeaxanthin which is critical in protecting eyesight from macular degeneration and blindness. All the red fruits and veg have copious amounts of this protect.

Here is the nutrition chart:…

More info:

Do you really need the olive oil. I'm trying to go SOS (no salt oil or sugar) as much as possible.

Yes, you need oil or other fats in your diet. Olive oil is one of the best. Fats are needed for the body to assimilate various vitamins and minerals. Fats in moderation do not make us fat, carbs do. I would lay off the pasta, rice and bread not this sauce or olive oil. You need it for hair, eyes, and weight loss, to prevent stroke, osteoporosis, and preventing skin cancer. The body benefits from good fats like olive oil. You also need some carbs for energy in your muscles. I recommend a balanced diet and talk with your doctor about nutrition.…

I use kidney beans often as they have less fat than some other beans.

One thing worth cost is Dan Marzano tomatoes! I also use for homemade tomato soup. Similar recipe although I use immersive blender and add ff dairy to give it body and creaminess. I hv a little army of herb pots on my window sill. Be sure to report into a container slightly larger so they will thrive. I actually wintered oregano and thyme, a first. While foods had been sale last week so have myriad new plants. Happy spring from Boston!

In the West Coast of Fla., it is very difficult to get San Marzano tomatoes in any form! I use Aldi brand crushed tomatoes which is very good! I make homemade spaghetti sauce (Sunday gravy) w/ it, but cooking ground beef w/Ragu (onion, garlic & tomatoes)is also good. Need a little sugar to cut the acid in the tomatoes for sauce. Was brought up in the "projects" so we learned to cook a lot of different recipes. I am known for my sauce (ps-Am Jewish)!

Thanks for your website! Puts a smile on my face!!!!!

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