Food
Fact Checked

How do I Make Marinara Sauce?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Marinara sauce is an Italian tomato sauce which is designed to be served with pasta. As the name suggests, it traditionally includes seafood, although in the United States, marinara is typically made with just tomatoes and vegetables. This simple tomato sauce is very easy to make, and to build on; once you master a basic recipe, you can experiment with additional ingredients to make it more interesting and tailor it to your needs. Once you make marinara sauce, you can also freeze it to have a ready stock available.

To make marinara sauce in the American style, assemble around four cups of fresh tomatoes, olive oil, several cloves of garlic, and fresh basil, thyme, and oregano, along with salt and pepper. The recipe is very easy to scale up; remember that tomatoes boil down, so if you want to make a large stock for freezing, multiply this recipe by at least three. You can also use additional ingredients like onions, celery, and carrots.

Olive oil, which is used to make marinara sauce.
Olive oil, which is used to make marinara sauce.

Start by blanching your tomatoes in boiling water so that their skins slip off, and then finely chop them and crush them in a small bowl. Once the tomatoes are prepared, heat the olive oil in a heavy saucepan, and saute the garlic until it softens. If you want to add carrots, celery, and similar ingredients, saute them with the garlic. Once the vegetables are sauteed, add the tomatoes, along with water or wine to simmer them in. Adjust the heat so that the sauce simmers gently, and add your fresh herbs.

Basil is a common ingredient in marinara sauce.
Basil is a common ingredient in marinara sauce.

Simmer the sauce for 20-40 minutes, allowing the tomatoes to completely break up and encouraging the flavors of the sauce to fully mix. When the sauce is done, remove it from the heat and add salt and pepper to taste before serving it or packaging it for storage. The sauce will keep for around a week in the fridge, or it can be frozen. In addition to being served on pasta, this marinara sauce can also be spread on pizza.

Tomatoes are a key ingredient in marinara sauce.
Tomatoes are a key ingredient in marinara sauce.

If you want to make an Italian-style traditional marinara sauce, add ingredients like anchovies, mussels, and/or oysters to the vegetables as they saute in the pan. You can add additional seafood such as chunks of fish, scallops, shrimp, or crab at the very end of the cooking process, allowing them to cook through before serving. Seafood marinara is a very hearty sauce, and it should be served with big, bold pasta shapes which can support it.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

recapitulate

I personally like spinach in marinara sauce. It adds iron and other vitamins and minerals while also adding a nice flavor and some green color to the sauce. I usually just use frozen spinach and throw in a few chunks. Once they melt, the spinach will mix through the sauce evenly without actually being chopped; if I use fresh, I typically use baby spinach and do the same thing, throwing it in without chopping.

ivanka

Parsley, sage and bay leaf can all be added to the marinara sauce. I also like to saute mushrooms with the onion.

As good as fresh tomatoes are, I prefer to use crushed canned tomatoes. The process is faster, and the end result is just as good.

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    • Olive oil, which is used to make marinara sauce.
      By: grekoff
      Olive oil, which is used to make marinara sauce.
    • Basil is a common ingredient in marinara sauce.
      By: Barbara Pheby
      Basil is a common ingredient in marinara sauce.
    • Tomatoes are a key ingredient in marinara sauce.
      By: volff
      Tomatoes are a key ingredient in marinara sauce.
    • Large quantities of fresh tomatoes can often be purchased for a relatively low price at a farmer's market.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      Large quantities of fresh tomatoes can often be purchased for a relatively low price at a farmer's market.
    • Marinara sauce is often served on pasta.
      By: Shawn Hempel
      Marinara sauce is often served on pasta.
    • American-made marinara often uses just tomatoes and vegetables.
      By: juliedeshaies
      American-made marinara often uses just tomatoes and vegetables.
    • Oregano is a basic ingredient of marinara sauce.
      By: Taiga
      Oregano is a basic ingredient of marinara sauce.
    • Celery is often added to marinara sauces.
      By: andersphoto
      Celery is often added to marinara sauces.
    • Traditional Italian marinara sauce features red tomatoes, fresh basil, and olive oil.
      By: hitdelight
      Traditional Italian marinara sauce features red tomatoes, fresh basil, and olive oil.
    • Several cloves of garlic may be necessary to make marinara sauce.
      By: natalyka
      Several cloves of garlic may be necessary to make marinara sauce.