Delicious Homemade Italian Marinara Sauce – Red Sauce Recipe

by Sugar on January 20, 2012 · 34 comments

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A simple Marinara sauce or red sauce is a staple in Italian cooking. It’s easy to make, freezes well, and can be used in so many recipes. It’s perfect over pasta or to make pizza, Parmesan dishes and most tomato based Italian recipes.

There is no reason to buy store bought when you can make a big pot of sauce and use some and freeze the rest. I like to freeze small and large containers so I have different sizes to use no matter what I’m making.

I made a video to show you how I make it and to include some additional tips on the tomatoes to use and more. You can find the recipe just below my video.

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 -28 oz cans crushed tomatoes or whole plum tomatoes in sauce
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 of a medium size onion, chopped or 1 whole small onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, torn or cut into long strips
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 can of water
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • Pinch of sugar (optional)

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large pot. Add onions and garlic and a good sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes until onions are transparent but making sure the onions and garlic don’t burn.
Add the crushed tomatoes along with a can of water and the fresh basil. If you are using the whole tomatoes, blend them in the bender or use an immersion blender to chop them right in the pot. You can also do what I do and give them a good squeeze with your hands.

Allow sauce to simmer uncovered over medium high heat for about 30 -45 minutes until thickened. Be sure the sauce is simmering but not boiling and give it a good stir now and then so it doesn’t stick or burn on the bottom.
Once sauce is done remove it from the heat, taste to see if it needs any more salt and pepper.

Tips:
If using the whole tomatoes the best ones to buy are the San Marzano plum tomatoes. They come whole so you will need to crush them before using. You can put them in the blender or just give them a good squeeze with your hands and crush them.

A pinch of red pepper flakes adds a nice spice to the sauce.

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Jam says:

Thanks Sugar, can’t wait to try and see how I go with few of your recipes. Like your energy! keep up the good cooking going.

Sugar says:

Thanks do try it and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Tony D says:

Just made your sauce for dinner! Outstanding and so simple. Thanks Sugar

Sugar says:

So happy you liked it. :)

ariana says:

hey sugar,
with this tomato sauce you have seriously proven a life saver.
my pasta recipe has changed from the usual to an unforgettable meal.
please update more recipes. they’re a big hit in my family.

Sugar says:

Oh I am so happy to hear that. Thank you for the feedback. :)

Teresa says:

Hi Sugar,

I am making lasagna and spaghetti dinner for my sons Varsity football team. There will be 50 hungry boys and about 5 coaches. How much will the recipe feed? I am trying to figure out how much I will need as I am making 3 large pans of lasagna and a huge pot of spaghetti.
Thank you for your recipes. They are great!!!

Teresa

Sugar says:

If I were you I would make 3 batches and if you have left overs just freeze it for another day. :) Enjoy

Dina says:

Hi Sugar,

I really love this recipe, but I am confused a little bit.

If I want the same thick tomato sauce that you have in the video, I have to use tomato paste. When i first tried to do it with crushed tomatoes (from can) it was too liquid. (Maybe it was the wrong crushed tomato can?)

So now I don’t know which one is the good one?

Thank you!

Sugar says:

Dina,

Make sure you are using crushed and not diced. I have had people make that mistake before.

Doreen says:

This is the first time I haver ever left a comment or such but your app for iPad is just fantastic. Just downloaded it today and I already cannot wait to try so many of your recipes. Question, my kids hate onions and anything chunky in sauce so do you have a totally smooth pasta sauce that tastes great?

Sugar says:

Doreen,

Hi,

I’m so glad you like my site. You can make the sauce and puree it in the blender. This way you will have all the flavor in a smooth sauce that the kids will love.

Enjoy!

Nadine says:

Hi Sugar,

I tried this recipe also, it was delicious.

Thanks again

Sugar says:

This is just a simple classic. Glad you liked it. :)

Tom says:

Will this sauce be good for lasagna too?

Thanks!

Sugar says:

Yes Tom this is the basic sauce I use for that too. Enjoy!

Sugar

Tom says:

Thanks! Getting it together now!

Sugar says:

Hope it turned out well.

Sugar

Linda says:

Sugar

Thank you so much for inspiring me to cook. I am a 25 year old mom with two boys and never have time to cook so we always eat out. I made this recipe for my family and we LOVE this sauce, it’s so easy to make and devour :) . I made this recipe as a spaghetti sauce and added pasta with a little bit of cheese on top (like your recipe). The next day I wanted to make something different and had plenty of sauce left over so I added a little bit of milk and Romano cheese and made Tomato Soup. Turnned out to taste like a soup I always buy at a restaurant called Jason’s Deli lol. Anyway keep doing what you do so we can keep watching. Thanx again

Ruth says:

You’re the patron saint of new cooks :)

Sugar says:

Oh bless you Ruth! That is so sweet.

Hugs,

Sugar

Lisa says:

We see your cans!!!!!!

Sugar says:

Lisa,

Who knew food could be so silly. Cans!!! LOL!!

Sugar ;)

Lisa says:

I love your show Sugar!!!!! I made your sauce and pizza last night! Delicioso!

Sugar says:

Lisa,

Thanks for the feedback honey. I’m so glad it turned out well.

Sugar :)

Sonji says:

I can’t believe it’s this easy. Thanks, Sugar. You’re the best!

Sugar says:

Yep it’s so easy and so yummy! Give it a try.

Sugar :)

Redds says:

That was simple fast and looked so good. I am going to make it and save some for my homemade pizza next week. Thanks Suger

Sugar says:

Redds,

Thanks for the feedback. I wish you could send me some of that pizza. I’m sure it is going to be amazing.

Sugar

Hi Sugar, this is a nice quick recipe. I have several of my own some of which you sauté diced prosciutto or pancetta when putting in the onion and garlic. It really makes the sauce very tasty. My favorite tomatoes are Sclafani but not sure it you have them in Florida. Even my mom used Sclafani. I will definitely give yours a try when I want to make a quick bath of sauce. I don’t know how anyone can used the bottled sauce.

I was wondering, if you happen to have a recipe for braciole. I have my own from my mom would wouldn’t mind something new. Also do you have any salad dressing recipes that use lemon instead of vinegar? I’m developed an allergy to vinegar (how sad) and I miss making my home made balsamic dressings terribly. I won’t eat anything in a bottle so that would be out of the question. These are a few things I’m interested in.

Sugar says:

Bonnie,

Yes those are some yummy additions and I love to get creative with my sauce too. I just wanted to show how simple the basic recipe is. We do have Sclafani here and I love them, I also love Nina from Costco. They come in a huge can. I even buy the Hunts when they are on sale because they are great too.

I do make braciole. I sometimes put golden raisins in mine. I will get to that and some simple salad dressings too. Thanks so much for your nice feedback.

Sugar

diane says:

how about some homemade Italian spaghetti with Italian size meatballs >> here we go with the balls again lol love your videos my hubby loves your smile
thks diane

Sugar says:

Diane,

You are so funny. Who knew food could be this silly. LOL!! I do have a meatball video here so go check it out. The homemade pasta video will be out in a few weeks.http://www.cookingwithsugar.com/meatballs-homemade-italian-meatball-recipe-for-spaghetti-and-meatballs-video/

Thanks for your feedback.

Sugar :)