Best Italian Marinara Sauce Recipe
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How to make the best, authentic Italian Marinara Sauce recipe from scratch, with organic San Marzano tomatoes, garlic and fresh basil. Video below!
Easy, chunky, creamy, rustic, hearty, flavorful marinara sauce or as known in America “Sunday Gravy”, is made at home with a few ingredients and a little patience. This is so good you’ll never be able to buy it in a jar. Gotta make your own kids!
The secret to the classic Italian sauce, lies in slowly simmering the tomatoes with onion, basil and garlic until thick and reduced and the natural sugars have concentrated their flavors. So thick you can literally use it as a pizza sauce as I do of course.
There’s no heavy cream, no wine and no anchovies in an authentic marinara sauce.
It’s a simple vegan and pure vegetarian sauce that you can serve with bucatini, spaghetti and ricotta meatballs, clams and mussels frutti di mare, shrimp, chicken parmesan, ricotta gnocchi, peppercorn steak, fried mushrooms, eggplant, ravioli, this incredible vegan lasagna or whatever your favorite pasta is. Perfect for dipping your cheese sticks or garlic knots.
How to thicken marinara sauce?
Continue cooking on low flame until most of the water evaporated and the sauce /gravy has thickened to your liking. Careful not to let those sugars burn though so stir often.
Best Italian Marinara Sauce Recipe
- 2 X 28 oz cans San Marzano Tomatoes
- 1/2 yellow onion -diced
- 8 cloves garlic -minced
- 1 leaf bay
- 4 sprigs basil
- 1/3 c fresh basil leaves - sliced or torn
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pinch sea salt ( or to your taste)
- Heat a heavy bottom large pot on medium low flame. Add a lug of olive oil and the diced onion with a pinch of sea salt. Cook for about 10 minutes until traslucent taking good care not to burn it.4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 yellow onion
- Stir in the minced garlic and let it infuse the oil for about 30 seconds.8 cloves garlic
- Use your hands and crush the tomatoes as you add them to the pot with the onion and garlic. Rustic chunks are what we are after.2 X 28 oz cans San Marzano Tomatoes
- Add the bay leaf and the 4 sprigs of basil then bring everything to a gentle simmer. Partially cover with a lid and cook down until reduced and thick to your liking (about an hour or so). Stir a few times making sure the sugars from the tomatoes don’t stick to the bottom.1 leaf bay, 4 sprigs basil
- After the sauce has reduced season to taste with the sea salt. Discard the bay leaf and basil sprigs.1 pinch sea salt
- Finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the reserved fresh basil. Serve with your favorite pasta to transfer to jars and refrigerate up to one week.1/3 c fresh basil leaves
How to Thicken Marinara sauce? - Continue cooking on low flame until most of the water evaporated and the sauce /gravy has thickened to your liking. Careful not to let those sugars burn though so stir often.
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What can I add to the marinara recipe to reduce acidity – made exactly as noted with exact ingredients and a little too acidic for my taste.
Hmmm… I am really surprised that San Marzano tomatoes turned out acidic for you..The only thing you can do is keep cooking down the sauce to concentrate the natural sugars or add a sweetener.
This looks amazing!! Can I jar / can this? I don’t want to freeze.
You sure can! Enjoy!
Hi, I’m making this today for a party on Friday. I love this recipe and I haven’t even tasted it yet! At the end, I’ll add the sliced basil and refrigerate, right? Also, I love that you don’t salt until the flavors of the tomatoes and herbs are released. So perfect, thanks!
Yes that’s correct + you can add more fresh basil when serving. Enjoy! ~ Florentina Xo’s
Imagine the finest sauce you’ve ever had in an Italian restaurant and this is better. There’s definitely something about using San Marzano tomatoes. It makes an amazing pizza sauce if you cook it down to a thicker consistency and might want to purée if you prefer a smooth consistency. We love the rustic texture and the flavor is absolutely wonderful. Thanks for sharing!
Can I use red onions?
Can I use fresh San Marzano instead of canned?
You sure can, make sure to blanch and peel them first! ~ Florentina Xo’s
The only thing I changed about this was that I had to use dried spices since I didn’t have fresh and it still tasted SO good while I was first cooking it. Reminded me of Demos’ marinara sauce which I’ve been trying to replicate for a long time! Sadly though I cooked meatballs and added the m to the sauce while I let it cook and it completely dulled the flavor of the marinara for me. So next time I will definitely cook those separately and just top the meatballs with the sauce instead of adding them during cooking.
753 Calories for what portion? That sounds like a lot of calories! This sounds wonderful. It’s so good to see a Marinara sauce that does not have Oregano, which is what every American cook puts in theirs. Italians use a lot or Oregano, but not in their pasta sauces.
That seems like an error in the recipe card I’ll have to correct, it’s most likely for the entire batch.
Currently letting my sauce thicken up, thought I’d see if maybe you can answer this before it’s done, my husband says it’s a little on the sweet side, anything I can do to make it less sweet? I dont want to keep adding too much salt
Hi Anna, is the sauce sweet because the tomatoes were sweet or did you add sugar by any chance ? In any case for the future you can correct that with a little bit of vinegar and bring back some of the acidity.
Your recipe is FANTASTIC! My entire family loved it and will add it to our traditional Christmas Eve dinner. For many years I have made our Christmas Eve dinner, Seafood Marinara. I have tried several different recipes over the years, however your recipe is by far the best. Thank you for sharing!!
Thank you so much, i am beyond happy that you all loved and enjoyed it! ~ Florentina
Produces a lovely mellow Tuscan Marinara. I am going to use some to make Neopolitan Pizza Margherita using Vegan Mozzarella from Miyoko’s and fresh Basil. Dough is rising now which I made using Spelt (farro) flour and Biga. I am hungry just typing this and ready to open the Brunello. Thank you Florentina!
Hey! This is a really nice recipe and i would like to try it out, but can i use fresh tomatoes instead? And if i do, do i only have to chop them or do i have to do something else?
Hey Gaby, you could use fresh tomatoes if you have the sweet San Marzano variety. Make sure to blanch them first before making the sauce.
Can I use the crushed San Marzano tomatoes if they make them? Can Ricotta meatballs be frozen?
Yes you can!
Finally an amazing homemade sauce that my whole family likes. My 11 year old is requesting this every week. He did ask for me to puree it since he didn’t like that it separates (which I don’t mind)… so I did it with my immersion blender and it was delicious!!! Thank you for this one!!
It doesn’t look like we add the liquid from the canned tomatoes. Is there something else the liquid can be used for instead of throwing it away?
Yes I added all the liquid and reduced it all down into a thick sauce.
Just made this sauce and it was great when I tried it before adding the extra olive oil and the basil at the end. Personally I felt the drizzle of olive oil ruined the flavor of the sauce. Be careful or leave it out!
Is this sauce not got chilli in it as all the sauces I’ve had in the UK are medium hot ?????
The arrabiata sauce has chili, so if you add it to this you’ll make an arrabiata 🙂
So easy and so tasty! I freeze it into ice cubes to serve with my pasta for a couple of months a la Trader Joe’s frozen pastas. Thank you!
Making this now…it looks like you used crushed red pepper flakes too? I’m assuming this also is measured to taste? Looks delish! I’m rating it before eating dinner because I’ve been tasting
Soooo great! I added about 1.5 cups amaranth in the last 20 minutes to help thicken (had some in my cupboard I’ve been trying to use up).
Also, added the basil leaves at the beginning tather than at the end and in place of the sprigs (got confused) but I love how it turned out.
Absolutely loved this sauce. The certified San Marzanio tomatoes do bring the game to this sauce.. I made this with your recipe of ricotta meatballs. They melt I need your mouth. Excellent thank you.
Hi! I’m trying this now for the first time. I’m a little confused on what to do with the 1/3 cup torn basil. Please advise and thank you.
Just add it in at the very end of cooking.
I’d like to substitute fresh Roma tomatoes. How many should I add?
Hi Peggy, this recipe needs those San Marzano canned tomatoes, using a fresh Roma tomato variety will give you a different result. You’ll probably need about 4 lb or so.
Tried this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it turned out great! I froze most of it in 350ml glass clip jars to bring out as needed and each time the family love it. Just making up my second batch!
This was delicious thank you