Homemade Marinara Sauce

A pot of marinara sauce.

Everyone should have a good marinara sauce in their culinary arsenal and this one is mine.  It’s chock full of veggies, slow simmered and a blended into a delicious topping for pastas, baked vegetables and your favorite parmigiana.  Homemade marinara sauce is also a great base for a meaty bolognese.

Carrots, fennel, celery and onions.
Chopped vegetables, scraps and a knife.

Start with a standard mix of vegetables, celery, carrots and onions, plus fresh fennel to sweeten and balance out the flavors.

Two cans of San Marzano tomatoes open on a wooden counter.

Get the best canned tomatoes you can find.  I like Italian San Marzano for richest, most flavorful sauce.

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Tomatoes and vegetables in a pot with a spoon.

Add the tomatoes and their liquid to the vegetables and break the tomatoes apart with the back of a wooden spoon.

The marinara sauce in a pot with a spoon.

Then just simmer, simmer,  simmer with the lid on or askew, stirring every once in a while.

Homemade Marinara Sauce in a food processor.

After a few hours scoop the sauce into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth sauce.

Pureed Sauce in a food processor.
Marinara Sauce in a skillet with tomato and spoon.
A jar of the sauce.

If you’re a canner — this sauce works well for that.  Canning is not my thing, so I generally package it in plastic storage containers to freeze.

Marinara sauce on top of pasta.

More tips and recipes for homemade marinara sauce:

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4.70 from 13 votes

Homemade Marinara Sauce

This sauce is a great starting point for your favorite bolognese, lasagna, or pasta dishes.
Author: Lisa Lotts
Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword marinara
Dietary Restrictions Dairy-Free, Egg Free, Gluten-Free, Low-Carb, Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 14


  • 3 large carrots peeled and diced
  • 4 stalks celery diced
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 6 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 bulbs fennel diced
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3- 32 oz cans best quality whole tomatoes in puree preferably San Marzano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper


  • In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add vegetables and salt, stir, cover with the lid, reduce heat slightly and let the vegetables cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and they take on a translucent quality, about 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.
  • With clean hands, remove tomatoes 1 at a time from the can(s). Carefully (so they don’t squirt on you or the kitchen) squeeze them over your pot of vegetables, releasing their seeds and juice and squishing the tomato. Add the remaining tomato puree to the vegetables and stir.
  • Add bay leaves, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  • Return the pot to medium high heat, with the cover offset. When the mixture starts to bubble, reduce heat to medium low. Cover and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Remove from heat.
  • Using a food processor or a blender and working in batches, process the sauce until smooth.
  • It’s ready for your favorite recipe, or can be canned or frozen in batches as needed.


Many recipes call for using the back of a spoon to push on whole tomatoes to crush them. I happen to find it easier to use my hands — and frankly, more fun!


Calories: 31kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Fat: 2g | Sodium: 268mg | Potassium: 92mg | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 2245IU | Vitamin C: 2.3mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 0.1mg


Don’t Forget To “Pin It” For Later!

Here's how to make a homemade marinara sauce instead of buying jarred sauces. No fillers or preservatives, just healthy vegetables and lots of flavor!

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  1. 5 stars
    not one person who commented even made the sauce. lame. looks like the best recipe i could find on the internet so im actually going to try it…….
    then ill comment so all the people who look at the comments have one comment to judge the recipe by.
    gonna rate it a five and ill change it if i need to.

    super sarcastic, sorry everyone

  2. 5 stars
    I don’t even need the pasta, I could eat this luscious sauce all by itself! ~ But those mushroom and kale stuffed shells look pretty awesome πŸ™‚

  3. 5 stars
    Now you have me craving pasta πŸ™‚ This sauce looks delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    I love how you’ve added some veggies in there! My boyfriend loves marinara sauce and runs out the door as soon as any veggies come out, but I bet he’d eat this!

  5. 5 stars
    love love love all the veggies you’ve got in this sauce! I bet the fennel adds a real pop of flavor!

  6. 5 stars
    Neat thank you, how would you store, fridge or freezer and for how long?

  7. JoAnn Behr says:

    I see an onion in the picture but not in the recipe. Should onion be included?

    1. You’re right! Thanks for the heads up! Yes, definitely include one large onion, diced. I added it to the recipe!

  8. Thanks for the recipe – now I no longer live in America I’ve been missing this; it is not really a thing you can get in jars in Europe!

    1. Glad you liked it! BTW – your blog is beautiful! Love your photography!

  9. Gabrielle Glatt says:

    5 stars
    I LOVE your photos and the “mise en place” you show for each recipe. It makes it look so easy. The step-by-step of how you prepare the recipes is missing from other online recipes. So you go girl! You rock!!!

    1. You are too kind! Thanks — tell your friends!