Simple Marinara Sauce

Thursday, September 10, 2020
Growing up in Central New York, we always had a huge garden, dad, mom, always made marinara sauce fresh all summer long.

Grandma would even pour this over her freshly made Polenta or use it during the week poured over Zucchini Rollatini or in her Eggplant Casserole.

There was never any meat added to the sauce, it was just a basic simple all tomato sauce that smelled fabulous while simmering.

The fresh garlic and basil made it heavenly as you walked through the door.

If you want a simple homemade sauce made with the freshest plum tomatoes from the farmer's market or homegrown tomatoes, this is the best recipe to use them up with.

We literally had bushels of them and back then and used a handheld stainless steel mill to crush the tomatoes.

Now with modern technology, we can save some time using a food processor (I still use the old-fashioned mill).

Seriously one of my favorite Italian sauces as it was my dad's also.

Marinara is rich in plum tomatoes and made much quicker than Traditional  Sunday Meat Sauce.

Dad made this sauce often and the smell was so fragrant with that fresh garlic sizzling in oil when you walked in the kitchen.

Scroll to the bottom for this simple marinara printable recipe.

homemade simple tomato sauce called marinara with all fresh ingredients over spaghetti sprinkled with cheese on a white plate some garlic herbs in a white plate with a fork

Quick Sauce

Several folk stories about the origin of this quick sauce.

One version states that cooks aboard Neapolitan ships returning from the Americas invented marinara sauce in the mid-16th century after Spaniards introduced the tomato (to central Mexican " New World " fruit) to Europe.

Another theory was prepared by the wives of the Neapolitan sailors upon their return from the sea.

A sauce similar to the Italian-American marinara sauce is known of some zones of Central Italy as "fake sauce".

Our family loves this quick marinara-style sauce, give it a try, you will love the fresh taste of these tomatoes.

In Italy, the marinara is properly referred to as tomato, basil, and used for spaghetti and vermicelli, but also for meat or fish.

Best Pasta to Use

  • Vermicelli
  • Angel Hair
  • Linguine
  • Thin Spaghetti
  • Fresh egg noodles homemade

This is a plate of Spaghetti with fresh plum tomato sauce that has bits of fresh tomato, basil and sliced garlic in a quick Italian sauce.

Ingredients You Will Need To Make Marinara Sauce

  • plum ripe tomatoes
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • pecorino romano grated cheese
  • dried oregano
  • fresh parsley sprigs 3 or 4
  • olive oil
  • Optional additions: dry red wine and red pepper flakes for heat
  • pasta of your choice cooked to package instructions

This is a plate of Spaghetti with fresh plum tomato sauce that has bits of fresh tomato, basil and sliced garlic in a quick Italian sauce.

Try Our Other Favorite Sauce Recipes

Traditional Sunday Sauce

White Clam Sauce

Red Clam Sauce

Meat Sauce

Christmas Eve Baccala Salted Cod

this is a pot of marinara sauce made with fresh plum tomato in a big saucepot

Tips for best results:

  • Use very ripe plum tomatoes
  • If plum fresh ripe tomatoes are not available use peeled whole tomatoes
  • Always use the best olive oil
  • Do not over saute the garlic
  • Use only fresh basil
  • Do not add meat to the sauce
  • The sauce freezes up to 8 months 
  • Any pasta you prefer is fine traditionally it's a thin or fine spaghetti
  • Freshly grate the cheese
  • Remove skins or leave them on using the boil and cold water method
  • Do not rinse pasta
  • although oregano is normally not in tomato sauce we like it so it's your preference

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Basic Tools You Will Need

  • Food Processor or Stainless Steel Food Hand Mill
  • Big 6 to 8 quart Saucepot
  • Knife
  • Cutting Board
  • Containers for storing or freezer bags

this is rigatoni pasta with marinara sauce on top

Great On Everything

Marinara can be used as a dipping sauce for Mozzarella or Fried Provolone Sticks, and perfect for dipping Garlic Knots,  or on any pasta you choose.

As I said before, fresh tomatoes make the best sauce, it's easy and there is tradition but no right and wrong.

Enjoy the authentic flavor of this tomato sauce on anything you like.

It even makes a great pizza sauce!

Simple Marinara Sauce

Simple Marinara Sauce

Yield: 6
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Prep time: 15 MinCook time: 35 MinTotal time: 50 Min
This is a delicious fresh homemade tomato sauce with fresh herbs and spices over any pasta you prefer, however, the traditional way is to have this marinara over angel hair or thin spaghetti in our family. This is summers freshest sauce and takes around 35 minutes.


  • 4 pounds plum ripe tomatoes place whole tomatoes with stems removed crushed using a handheld tomato press or into a food processor and pulse till fine chunks, (yes skins and all) you can remove skins if you like by submerging them into hot boiling water then into cold then peels skins.
  • If you can't get all fresh plum tomatoes then you can substitute 2- 28-ounce cans of high-quality whole tomatoes, ( they are the closest to fresh)
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 4 large cloves thinly sliced garlic
  • pecorino romano grated cheese
  • fresh parsley sprigs 3 or 4
  • olive oil
  • optional to taste: dried oregano (not normally in fresh tomato sauce but we love it!)
  • Optional additions: 1/2 cup dry red wine and red pepper flakes for heat, extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb pasta of your choice cooked to package instructions


  1. In a large saucepan around 6 to 8 quarts, saute sliced garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil over very low heat for about 2 minutes do not brown or scorch or garlic,
  2. Note: garlic becomes bitter when over-sauteed and will ruin the sauce.
  3. Add tomatoes spice, salt, pepper to taste, and herbs, stir over medium heat for around 35 minutes. 
  4. After 15 minutes add the wine and pepper flakes if using.
  5. Cook the pasta to package instructions, drain do not rinse.
  6. Pour the fresh tomato marinara over the pasta and top with freshly grated cheese and torn pieces of fresh basil. Drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on top of the sauce.
marinara sauce, simple tomato sauce, no meat tomato sauce, fresh tomato sauce
tomato recipes, sauce recipes, quick sauce recipes
Created using The Recipes Generator

Simple Marinara Sauce Pin for Later

Try My Stuffed Calamari in Sauce Recipe

Also Here is How To Use Up Those Fresh Tomato Tips and Tricks

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2012. It was edited and re-published in 2020


  1. Great ^_^ I love this dish. Bye bye, have a good week end my dear

  2. Having been MIA lately has made me miss a few of your lovely dishes lately...but no worry...a few quick visits has made me hungry for so much more from your kitchen Claudia.
    I specifically picked up your honey OJ chicken recipe...yum!

    Simple tomato sauce can only be appreciated when ingredients are as fresh as the ones you've picked up...Buon lucky gal.

    Have a great weekend,

  3. This is so easy and will taste fantastic. When it comes to Italian I always think less is better. Use fewer ingredients but make them quality ingredients, just like this sauce.

  4. I love, love, love this sauce. And if I lived in Florida, I would have this tonight. But I wait.

  5. Bravo to making a rich hearty marinara sauce. It does look tasty enough to stand alone with out any meat add ins. I always feel that watery sauce is so lacking when served without add ins. Adding this one to my collection to try-yum!

  6. Dear Claudia, This is a dish that is always perfect. It looks delicious. Blessings, Catherine xo

  7. I'm making this tonight with a few prawns on top. Looks delicious!

  8. There's nothing like a simple sauce to let the fresh flavors shine through! Perfect in my eyes!

  9. A homemade simple Marinara sauce, goes a long way! Forget the fancy jarred gourmet sauce, which are good...but nothing compares to home made, with love! Your sauce is super delicious, Claudia!

  10. What a beautiful sauce! I always consider myself lucky to be in CA as well, the produce is so great :)

  11. This recipe is perfect. I love those Roma tomatoes, I trim them and use the skin and seeds. A great sauce.

  12. Such a tasty recipe and a real staple dish that can be used with so many different meals. The tomotoes look wonderful.

  13. Looks so delicious and perfect for a quick dinner!

  14. This marinara sauce may give my Sicilian mother in law a run for her money! ;) I love how simple this is to prepare. The possibilities of what to serve it with our practically endless! Thanks for sharing! :)

  15. I love simple sauces and use a similar one in my Shrimp Primavera. I think all the flavor of the tomatoes would come through with this sauce. Love the little history lesson too. I think I see a quick & easy dinner in my future.

  16. I have a confession - I'm a lover of food and everything baking and cooking, but I have never attempted to make my own marinara sauce. I have an Italian friend who makes the BEST sauce, and she keeps me in good supply. :) Maybe I should surprise her and make a batch of your sauce to give to her. I think she would faint. LOL

  17. I agree with your dad! I think the simplicity of the sauce and the fresh ingredients are what make it such a fantastic and loved sauce. The fresh tomatoes shine through when you make the sauce like this. Great recipe, Claudia.

  18. So simple, fresh and delicious. Yum!

  19. One of my favorite sauces. Simple and perfect over pasta with a little cheese is my favorite way to enjoy pasta like this one!

  20. My favourite sauce! Homemade is always the best.


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