Our best homemade marinara sauce is full of tangy flavor and takes under 30 minutes to make, using high quality tomatoes and olive oil!
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 marinara sauce recipes over the years: so 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 under 30 minutes to make. Meet our new best ever 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. Keep reading for the recipe!
How to make 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. Here are some of our secrets:
- Use high quality tomatoes, fire-roasted if possible. 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 amount of simmer time, use fire-roasted tomatoes: their flavor is sweet and mild. Fire-roasted tomatoes are becoming common in US grocery stores. If you can’t find them, use the highest quality tomatoes you can find. It’s worth it, trust us!
- Use onion and garlic. Some marinara sauces skip adding sauteed onion and garlic, but we find it adds a body to the flavor that is necessary. See below for some shortcuts on how to cut onion and garlic!
- Use olive oil and oregano. Of course, olive oil and herbs make everything taste incredible! The oregano is the key to this marinara sauce flavoring.
- Add a hint of balsamic at the end. After simmering for only 15 minutes, we’ve added balsamic vinegar to the marinara sauce to round out the flavor. Taste it before and after, and you’ll be surprised at the subtle yet important difference!
How to cut an onion (with video tutorial)
Now, another key to making this a quick and easy marinara sauce is knowing how to cut two standard vegetables: onion and garlic! When I first starting my cooking career, I would always be annoyed when I’d see a recipe where I had to cut onion and garlic. Can’t you just use onion powder and garlic powder? I’d ask. Now of course there’s a place for the powdered version, but for this marinara sauce recipe, fresh onion and garlic are key. Alex and I have a great method for how to cut an onion that’s even easier than the traditional way! It avoids the horizontal cut towards yourself and instead leverages the natural layers of the onion. Here’s a video of me cutting an onion in our kitchen.
How to mince garlic (with video)
Now, the other place that you can lose time in this marinara sauce recipe is with mincing the garlic! So many of our recipes use garlic here at A Couple Cooks that it was one of the first knife skills we mastered in the kitchen. Garlic literally makes the world go round in our kitchen, so we hope this method gives you confidence to use it often in yours! Here’s our step by step guide for how to mince garlic, including a video of me mincing garlic in our kitchen.
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And that’s how to make marinara sauce!
After you chop the onion and mince the garlic, it’s all downhill from there on this marinara sauce! Just saute them in olive oil for 5 minutes, then add those beautiful fire-roasted tomatoes. Simmer it all for 15 minutes, add your balsamic vinegar, and you’re done!
Of course you know how to serve marinara sauce, but here are some suggestions:
- Over spaghetti, penne, rigatoni, or gemelli
- As a dipping sauce for calzones or grilled cheese dippers
- As a homemade pizza sauce
- With our best vegan meatballs & spaghetti
- In eggplant marinara or grilled Eggplant Parmesan
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This recipe is…
This recipe is vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based, and dairy-free.Print
Our best homemade marinara sauce is full of tangy flavor and takes only 30 minutes to make, using high quality tomatoes and olive oil!
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Mince the onion. Mince the garlic.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, then stir in the dried oregano.
- Turn down the heat slightly and immediately add the tomatoes (taking care as they will sizzle when poured into the hot oil), then stir to combine. Stir in the kosher salt and pepper.
- Cover and bring to a gentle simmer, then simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar, then remove from the heat.
- Category: Sauce
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Italian
Keywords: Marinara Sauce, Classic Marinara Sauce, Homemade Marinara Sauce, Homemade Marinara, Best Red Sauce
About the Authors
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.