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Get ready to make the best homemade marinara sauce without fresh tomatoes! You need just 10 simple ingredients and 30 minutes to make this Italian classic at home. Perfect for homemade pastas, lasagna, stuffed shells, dipping mozzarella sticks, and more.

Homemade marinara sauce in jars with the ingredients and white background

Marinara sauce is a staple in our house. We go through a large jar almost weekly because it makes for quick and easy pasta dinners with little to no thought. We sauté whatever leftover veggies we need to use up, toss it with some marinara sauce, pour over fresh pasta and boom, dinner is ready in less than 20 minutes!

Since we eat marinara sauce so often, I decided that it was time to finally make my own Homemade Pasta Sauce. Of course, making it from scratch isn’t as quick and easy as opening up a jar from the store, but let me tell you, this recipe is well worth it. It’s rich in flavor, plus you can make a ton and freeze any leftovers for future weeknight dinners.

Marinara Sauce vs. Tomato Sauce. What’s the difference?

In simple terms, all marinara sauces are tomato sauces, but not all tomato sauces are marinara sauces. 

While both are Italian, tomato-based sauces, the two differ slightly in preparation, ingredients, and traditional uses. For starters, tomato sauce is more simple, often made with just tomato puree, olive oil, onions, and sometimes basil. It’s typically cooked for a much longer time, yielding a thicker, deeper flavored sauce. 

A classic marinara sauce recipe, on the other hand, typically has a shorter simmer time, yielding a sauce with a thinner consistency. Marinara sauce is also typically made with additional spices and a chunkier texture.

Both have their use in Italian cuisine – just pay attention to what type of tomato sauce a recipe calls for! 

Ingredients for vegan marinara sauce, tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, basil, olive oil, spices

Ingredients You’ll Need 

  • Oil: Sautéing the onions and garlic in 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil helps to release their flavors and infuses the sauce with their aroma. The added fat also helps to make the final marinara sauce silky smooth in texture. If you’d like to make your own marinara sauce oil-free, sauté the onion and garlic in 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth instead. 
  • Garlic: For the best marinara sauce, you want to use fresh garlic cloves. Jarred minced garlic and/or garlic powder will not yield the same rich flavor. 
  • Onion: Yellow onion is the most popular choice in marinara sauce recipes, but if you find homemade sauces to be too acidic, a sweet onion can help balance the acidity from the tomatoes. 
  • Whole peeled tomatoes: To make this marinara sauce easy to make year-round, we opted for canned whole peeled tomatoes (preferably sweet San Marzano tomatoes!). We love the chunky texture whole tomatoes add. For a less chunky sauce, opt for diced tomatoes. If you prefer to make a recipe with fresh tomatoes, try our Easy Roasted Tomato Sauce recipe. 
  • Tomato paste: Adds a concentrated tomato flavor that also helps deepen the color of the sauce and adds a nice rich, umami depth of flavor. 
  • Spices: We’re keeping it simple with dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, kosher salt, black pepper, and a bay leaf.   
  • Fresh basil: Fresh herbs work much better in this recipe than dried basil as it yields a fresher flavor. if you have to use dried basil, substitute 3 teaspoons of dried basil in place of 20 fresh basil leaves. 

Equipment Needed

Mixing homemade chunky marinara sauce in a stainless steel pan

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce 

  1. Sauté the onions and garlic. In a large pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Once warm, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional 30-60 seconds, stirring constantly to prevent burning. 
  2. Add the canned tomatoes. Next, add the canned tomatoes with juice to the pan. Gently break them apart using a wooden spoon or potato masher. Be careful as the tomato juice may splatter. 
  3. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until uniform. Simmer, uncovered, on low for 20 minutes or until the marinara sauce reaches your desired consistency. Stir often to prevent sticking. 
  4. Adjust the seasonings. Remove the marinara sauce from the heat and remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. 
  5. Serve. Enjoy immediately over your favorite pasta or Italian recipe, or let cool, jar, and refrigerate! 
Homemade Marinara sauce on Fusilli pasta with fresh basil

Ways to Use Homemade Marinara Sauce 

This homemade marinara sauce recipe can be used in any recipe that calls for a jarred sauce. We use it most often to make our favorite pasta dishes, like this Vegan Baked ZitiVegan Eggplant ParmesanClassic LasagnaChicken Parmesan, and Stuffed Shells

It’s also delicious in less traditional recipes, like these Stuffed PeppersVegan Hot PocketsMeatball Subs, and this Ratatouille Parmesan Sandwich!

Finally, we use it as a savory dipping sauce with appetizers like our Vegan Mozzarella SticksVegan Wonton CupsOyster Mushroom Calamari, and as a pizza sauce in our French Bread Pizza.

The sky is really the limit when it comes to homemade marinara sauce! 

Storage and freezing Instructions

This easy recipe yields 4 cups of delicious marinara sauce. If you’d like to make a smaller serving, you can halve the recipe. Or, make the whole recipe and freeze half! This homemade sauce will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight jar in the refrigerator or up to 4 months in the freezer. This sauce will freeze well in wide-mouth mason jars or freezer-safe bags, such as Stasher bags. 

Homemade marinara sauce in jars with the ingredients and white background

More Homemade Sauces You May Enjoy:

Make sure you tag us on Instagram @sweetsimplevegan and @consciouschris and hashtag #sweetsimplevegan if you make this recipe. We love to see your photos! 

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Homemade marinara sauce in jars with the ingredients and white background

Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Jasmine @ Sweet Simple Vegan
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 cups


Get ready for the best homemade marinara sauce! Plus it requires 30 minutes, just 10 simple ingredients to make, and it is so dang good.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil*
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 large onion, finely chopped (1 1/4 cups)
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes* (see notes)
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 20 fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped* (see notes)
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red peppers
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Black pepper, as desired


  1. In a large pan over medium heat, add in the olive oil. Once warmed, add the onion and garlic. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant, about 4 minutes.
  2. Next, add in the canned tomatoes (with juice), and gently break them apart using either a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Be careful as they may splatter.
  3. Add in all of the remaining ingredients and mix until uniform. Simmer uncovered on low for 20 minutes, or the sauce reaches your desired consistency, stirring often. Remove from heat and remove the bay leaf. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired
  4. Serve over your favorite pasta or even with some homemade mozzarella sticks.


  • We prefer using olive oil as it adds a great flavor to the sauce, but if you would like to make this oil-free, feel free to use vegetable broth the sauté the onions and garlic. For this, I would start with just 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth and add more as needed, 2 tablespoons at a time, to prevent burning.
  • Canned diced tomatoes will work as well, we just use whole for an extra chunky sauce.
  • Fresh basil works much better in this recipe than dried as it yields a fresher flavor. If you would like to use dried basil, use 3 teaspoons of dried basil in for the 20 basil leaves.
  • Store the sauce in an airtight container (we used mason jars) in the refrigerator for up to two weeks..
  • This sauce can be frozen as well. Cool the sauce completely to room temperature and then transfer it into freezer-safe bags. Store in freezer up to 4 months. When you are ready to use it, thaw sauce in refrigerator overnight.
  • If you would like a smoother sauce, you can blend half or all of the sauce in a high-speed blender or with an immersion blender.
  • Prep Time: 6 minutes
  • Cook Time: 24 minutes
  • Category: Sauces, Sides
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Vegan, Italian

Nutrition facts label provided by Nutri Fox.

Disclaimer: The nutritional information shown is an estimate provided by an online calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional’s advice. This page may contain affiliate links, which simply means that we earn a commission if you purchase through those links, but your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting Sweet Simple Vegan!

Meet The Bloggers

hey there! we’re jasmine & chris.

Hi, we’re Jasmine and Chris! We share fresh and fun recipes to show you that vegan cooking is easy, approachable and delicious. When we’re not blogging, you will probably find us enjoying live music, tending to our backyard garden or playing with our dogs Berry and Louie

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  1. I love your recipe and method. Sincevi always have the ingredients on hand, red sauce is just 30 minutes away any time we want it!

    A friend from Italy taught me to add a sprinkle of nutmeg, rather than adding sugar. It offsets the acidity of the tomatoes, but still lets the flavor shine through.

  2. When I was a nanny I loved cook with kids-and them too…so this could be a great activitiy to do :D…cooking is so relaxing-at least for me!!!

  3. This looks so good! I’ve resolved become less of a junk food vegan, and this recipe is PERFECT to prep and put in the freezer so I can make myself some healthy pasta rather than veggies sausages and chips. Thank you ????