Simple Marinara Sauce

A delicious sauce that takes little time to throw together.

Marinara sauce is probably the first thing I not only learned to cook, but also made my own. As a teenager, I must have made a variation of this sauce hundreds of times for my brother and me! It is simple enough for weekday nights, but comforting and delicious for weekends, too.


  • Olive oil

  • Garlic to taste (2-3 cloves minced is a good place to start)

  • Yellow onion to taste (1/2 finely chopped is also a good place to start)

  • Dried basil, thyme, oregano

  • Wine (I prefer one that is full-bodied with some spice to add depth to the sauce, Tempranillo or Chianti work well)

  • Tomato paste

  • Tomato puree (I like Pomi or any pureed/strained tomatoes in glass jars, at least from New Seasons; San Marzano tomatoes are an excellent choice)

  • Salt & pepper

Step One: Finely mince your garlic, add some salt to it, and set aside. Letting garlic sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking helps release enzymes beneficial for your health!
Step Two: Finely chop your onion, then heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a saucepan.
Step Three: After the oil has heated for about two minutes, add onion, salt, and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, it only needs about 30-60 seconds. Add your herbs while it cooks, and more salt and pepper to taste.
Step Four: Add a decent splash of wine and let it cook down for 3-4 minutes, making sure the garlic doesn’t start to brown (lower the heat if needed).
Step Five: Add tomato paste – I usually do about 2tsp. Let it sweat by waiting a couple of seconds before stirring it in. Once it’s stirred in, add your tomato puree and let cook for however long you have – anywhere from 20 minutes to hours is great. Just remember that longer cooking times allow for more alcohol to cook out of the wine.
Step Six: To finish, boil your salted water and cook pasta according to directions. Save some of that pasta water! Drain the pasta and toss with sauce, adding the reserved pasta water as needed. Plate into bowls (I love shallow, wider bowls for pasta), add parmesan, flaky salt, and freshly ground pepper. Enjoy!

Make it your own:

  • I can’t eat garlic and onions (sad!), so I leave those out and just cook the herbs in the warm oil to release their flavor before continuing with the recipe.

  • Add veggies if you’d like – finely chopped carrots and celery can be added along with the onion. Just allow for more cooking time to let them soften.

  • Skip the wine or play around with the herbs! I sometimes add cinnamon in the winter for some warmth.

  • Add sugar to cut the acidity of the tomatoes – I prefer brown sugar for more depth.

  • Play around with the fat (a mix of olive oil and butter is delicious, and I also love adding a knob of butter at the end for some silkiness – before adding pasta or after… or both!)

  • You can use diced tomatoes, or whole tomatoes (squeeze these in your hands while adding or break them down with a wooden spoon) I’ll probably add a fresh tomato sauce recipe come summer.

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