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This homemade easy marinara sauce is full of tangy tomato flavor and takes just over 15 minutes to make: no chopping required!

Easy marinara sauce
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The other day, my best friend told me: “I want to learn how to make marinara sauce. Like a really, really good marinara sauce.” Because a really good red sauce is hard to come by, right? Alex and I have tried a lot of recipes over the years: many of them take hours to simmer on the stove, and they don’t turn out that great. We wanted to make one that was tangy, super flavorful, and also takes about minutes to make. Meet our new best ever easy marinara sauce! It’s heavy on the tangy sweet tomato flavor, a little garlicky, and perfect for a simple pasta or dipping grilled cheese or calzones.

Also try: Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Easy marinara suace

The secrets to this truly easy marinara sauce

There are lots of people who claim they have the best marinara sauce recipe. Or even the most traditional marinara sauce. Here, we’ve used some time-tested techniques and some “shortcuts” to make this easy marinara sauce that is both delicious and doesn’t take an hour to simmer. (Speaking of, if you’d like a long-simmered sauce, try our Best Vodka Sauce.)

Here are some of our secrets to an easy marinara sauce that doesn’t even require chopping:

  1. Use fire roasted tomatoes. First rule of a good marinara sauce: if the tomatoes don’t taste good, the sauce won’t taste good! To make our marinara sauce taste amazing in a very short time frame, use fire-roasted tomatoes: their flavor is sweet and mild. These tomatoes are becoming common in US grocery stores. If you can’t find them, see below.
  2. No chopping required: garlic powder instead! Most of our tomato-based sauces use fresh garlic. But as a shortcut for this easy marinara sauce, we’ve used garlic powder. It melds in perfectly and adds great flavor.
  3. Fresh basil. Of course, fresh basil makes everything taste incredible! Basil is the key to this marinara sauce flavoring. If it’s not summer, it’s worth seeking out the fresh herbs in the grocery (you’ll thank us later).
  4. A hint of balsamic. Balsamic vinegar rounds out the flavor here. It makes a subtle yet important difference!
Easy marinara sauce

What if I can’t find fire roasted tomatoes?

Fire roasted tomatoes are key in this recipe, because of their sweet flavor right out of the can. These tomatoes have been charred over an open fire, then canned. Other tomato varieties can taste bitter out of the can, and need to be cooked for longer.

Want to order them online? If you love online shopping like we do, here’s a link to buy Fire Roasted Tomatoes on Amazon.

If you can’t find fire roasted tomatoes for this recipe, you can substitute any high quality variety of canned tomatoes. You may find you have to cook the sauce a little longer to remove the bitterness. Take a taste at the end, and see if it needs a little extra love.

Best ways to serve marinara sauce

Of course you know how to serve marinara sauce, but here are some suggestions:

  1. Pasta: Over spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, or gemelli
  2. Dipping sauce: As a dipping sauce for calzones or grilled cheese dippers
  3. Pizza: As a homemade pizza sauce
  4. Meatballs: With our best vegan meatballs.
  5. Eggplant Marinara: In eggplant marinara or grilled Eggplant Parmesan
  6. Spaghetti Squash: Topping our Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti
  7. Mussels: This recipe features in our easy Mussels Marinara
Spaghetti with easy marinara sauce

Want more easy Italian recipes?

Here at A Couple Cooks, we love Italian recipes. We’ve mastered the art of artisan pizza with our Pizza Margherita and fluffy Pizza Dough Master Recipe. We’ve got a totally authentic Cacio e Pepe and an Italian-grandmother style Vodka Sauce.

Here are a few more easy Italian recipes that we love:

Marinara sauce

This easy marinara sauce recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, and dairy-free.

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Easy marinara sauce

Easy Marinara Sauce

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.4 from 7 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes
  • Cook Time: 15 minutes
  • Total Time: 17 minutes
  • Yield: About 4 cups 1x
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This homemade easy marinara sauce is full of tangy tomato flavor and takes just over 15 minutes to make: no chopping required!


  • 28 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or best quality crushed tomatoes)*
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 8 fresh basil leaves


  1. In a large saucepan, place the crushed tomatoes, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic powder, oregano, kosher salt, and whole basil leaves.
  2. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer 15 minutes.
  3. If desired, pulse with a blender: All crushed tomato brands are different, and some may be chunkier than other. If you’d like, pulse the sauce a bit in a blender or immersion blend to get to the desired texture (we like ours a little chunky, but you could make it fully smooth too).


*If you can’t find fire roasted tomatoes, use the best quality tomatoes you can find. Taste the tomatoes before you start. If they taste bitter, you may need to simmer the sauce a little longer than the stated timing. Fire roasted tomatoes taste sweet right out of the can so they can simmer less time, whereas other brands taste bitter and need longer to simmer.

  • Category: Sauce
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. Tracey says:

    This was super simple and delicious!!! Thank you!
    I’ll always make this recipe!!

  2. Sally says:

    This was really flavorful. Perfect when I forgot to buy Mariana sauce. I’ll be buying fired roasted tomatoes and making my own from now on! Thanks

  3. Jan says:

    Do you crush the basil leaves before adding them? Or I’m guessing that if you choose to use an immersion blender, they get chopped up at that point? I would like to make this to avoid all the added salt and sugar in store-bought marinara.

  4. Veganessa says:

    I don’t even understand how this can be so good when the ingredients are so simple. I’m moving and trying to use up what is in my pantry. I’m out of balsamic so I used raspberry vinegar. It’s frickin amazing sauce! I would have never imagined that a few dried seasonings and a can of tomatoes could taste like this. Thanks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed!

  5. Colleen says:

    So excited to make this!! Can I have it simmer longer? We have a baby and he keeps me so busy and husband works late, so when I have small moments of time I like to get anything ready that I can!

  6. Nita says:

    Thank you so much. I have been looking for a recipe for our home grown Egg plants. This is the best. Cheers Nita🌹🦘🦘🦘

  7. Amos G says:

    1.Garlic powder–big mistake. Go fresh.
    2. Only use canned tomatoes that are grown and canned in Italy. HUGE difference in flavor for several reasons. And whole! Never crushed or diced. That processing removes a LOT of flavor. Crush them yourself.
    3. Otherwise–good recipe.

    1. Amber Zonca says:

      I added fresh garlic and onions. I like the use of balsamic in this. Easy to make and delicious


    This is now my go to sauce so simple and delicious!! My kids Love it so thats Major points. I Have made this many Times Now and usually add mushrooms and roasted eggplant.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Thanks for making it! So glad you enjoy :)

  9. ANITA FARRAR says:

    This was, by far, the best tasting marinara sauce ever —-way beyond fantastic! So easy, quick and did I mention delicious?
    Served this over spinach ravioli but found myself eating the sauce by the spoonsful!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed!

      1. Peter Pellerin says:

        Made it today and my girlfriend said it’s better then the fancy restaurant we used to get it from. I used fresh garlic and fresh oregano, I have them in my garden. Thank you for the recipe.

        1. Alex Overhiser says:

          Love this! Thanks for making :)

  10. Anne Murphy says:

    This was surprisingly delicious! I usually make Ina Garten’s marinara but wow – I’ll be making this one instead.

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it! :)

    2. Tiffany says:

      This recipe was so easy and delicious! My family sometimes has a bad reaction to store brand pasta and marinara sauce. No belly aches with this one and they all enjoyed it! Can this be canned?

      1. Alex Overhiser says:

        I’m not familiar with canning recipes for tomato sauces, sorry!