Homemade marinara sauce is easier than you think! Made with juicy tomatoes, red wine, garlic, and herbs — once you try this recipe you’ll never buy the jarred stuff again.
I’m not big on jarred pasta sauces. That’s not to say that I never buy them, but when I do, I don’t tend to feel very good about it.
My family was pretty serious about their tomato sauce when I was growing up — I don’t think I ever even ate the jarred stuff before college. Also, marinara sauce was one of my favorite things to cook when I was a kid. I was totally grossed out by the idea of cooking meat, even before going vegetarian, and a homemade pasta dinner was something I could handle that my family and I would both enjoy.
Marinara Sauce Ingredients
Traditional marinara sauce is pretty simple and consists just tomatoes, olive oil, garlic and basil.
My version isn’t exactly traditional. I add a few extras to kick the flavor up a notch. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Olive oil. Just like in traditional versions.
- Onion. Not so traditional, but I like the depth of flavor that it adds.
- Garlic. Don’t be stingy here. I use four cloves, but feel free to add more if you’re a serious garlic fiend!
- Red wine. This makes for an extra rich and intensely flavored sauce.
- Tomatoes. Duh.
- Sugar. Just a tiny bit, to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.
- Spices. Dried oregano, fresh basil, and some red pepper flakes for kick, if you like.
How to Make Marinara Sauce
Homemade marinara sauce is super easy!
Start by sweating some onion in olive oil. Give it about five minutes to soften up before adding your garlic. Cook the garlic for just about a minute, until the aroma begins to hit you.
Next, add your wine. Bring it to a simmer and let it cook until it reduces by about half.
Stir in your tomatoes — both crushed and diced, along with the sugar, oregano and red pepper flakes if you’re using them. Bring everything to a simmer and let it cook for about 30 minutes, until it thickens up nicely.
When the sauce has finished cooking, take the pot off of the heat and stir in your basil, along with salt and pepper to taste.
Marinara Sauce FAQ & Tips
- Your marinara sauce will keep in the fridge for about 5 days.
- Homemade marinara sauce is super freezer-friendly. Just portion it out into storage containers or mason jars (leaving some room for expansion) before freezing.
- Is this marinara sauce gluten-free? It sure is!
- I don’t cook with refined sugar. Can I leave it out? You can, but you might find the sauce to be a bit too tart. Feel free to substitute your favorite natural sweetener, such as maple syrup. You can also experiment with adding a touch of pureed sweet veggies like carrots or sweet potatoes.
- I don’t cook with alcohol? Is there a substitute for the wine? Just leave it out and skip right over step 4 of the recipe.
- Assuming you do include the wine, check with Barnivore to ensure the variety you choose is vegan.
- Need some serving ideas? Use your sauce in a batch of eggplant Parm, for dipping, or just ladle it over some pasta.
Homemade marinara sauce is easier than you think! Made with juicy tomatoes, red wine, garlic, and herbs — once you try this recipe you'll never buy the jarred stuff again.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 2 (14 ounce or 400 ml) cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 (14 ounce or 400 ml) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon organic granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Pinch red pepper flakes, or to taste
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
- Salt and pepper to taste
Coat the bottom of a large pot with the oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook it for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic and continue to cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the wine and bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat and allow the wine to simmer for about 5 minutes, until reduced by about half.
Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, oregano and red pepper flakes. Raise the heat and bring the sauce to a simmer.
Lower the heat and allow the sauce to cook at a low simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it reaches your desired level of thickness.
Remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the basil and season with salt and pepper to taste.