Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Homemade marinara sauce is easier than you think!  This Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce is a classic, and it freezes quite nicely, too!

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Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce | Spicedblog.comI’m a huge fan of everything Italy.  I love Italy’s history (I majored in Classical Studies in college) and Italy’s culture.  I’ve had several awesome opportunities to visit, and I’ve loved each and every minute I spent there. My wife and I even went on our honeymoon to Italy.  My wife is also part-Italian, so I can always count on a huge pot of ravioli and meatballs amid the Thanksgiving and Christmas buffets.  Speaking of food, Italian cuisine is arguably one of the best things about Italy!  I’d have a very difficult time picking my favorite Italian meal, but you can be sure that this Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce would be one of the finalists.

Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce | Spicedblog.comThis Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce features simple, classic ingredients…and together they are transformed into a delicious homemade sauce that easily tops the store-bought stuff.  In fact, I typically make a double batch of this sauce and then freeze a couple of jars of it.  This sauce is so flavorful that I usually just serve it over plain pasta, but you could certainly use it in lasagna or any other favorite Italian meal.  This is my go-to sauce when I need a classic, easy Italian red sauce!

The key to this sauce is using San Marzano tomatoes.  San Marzano tomatoes are considered by many to be the best tomatoes in the world, and fortunately cans of these tomatoes can typically be found in your local grocery store.  Yes, they will cost a little more than other canned tomatoes, but trust me when I say that the difference is worth the extra cost!  (True San Marzano tomatoes should have an official label on the can…so keep an eye out for it when picking up the cans at the store.)

Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce | Spicedblog.comHere’s another tip about Italian food that I learned from a chef several years ago.  Always finish cooking the pasta in the pan with the sauce.  Don’t just cook the pasta, put it on a plate and then pour the marinara sauce on top.  Instead, drain your pasta when it’s about 2-3 minutes from being done.  Then transfer it into the pot with the sauce to finish cooking.  That way, the pasta absorbs the flavor of the sauce…and it also helps the sauce cling to the pasta better.  Oh, and one other tip: Reserve a little bit of the pasta water when you strain out the pasta.  That way, if the sauce gets too thick after you add the pasta, then you can thin it back out by adding a little bit of the leftover pasta water.  I suspect it’s simple, little tricks like these that help the Italians turn everyday ingredients into the mouth-watering feasts that we all know and love!

Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce |

Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce

Homemade marinara sauce is easier than you think!  This Tomato Basil Marinara Sauce is a classic, and it freezes quite nicely, too!
Print Pin Rate
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 332kcal


  • cup olive oil
  • tsp minced garlic
  • ½ medium white onion coarsely chopped into large pieces
  • 1 large carrot peeled and chopped into 3/4" pieces
  • 1 celery stalk chopped into 3/4" pieces
  • 2 28 oz cans peeled plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste


  • In a large saucepan or stockpot, add the olive oil, garlic, onion, carrot, and celery. Saute over medium heat for 18-20 minutes, or until onion begins to turn soft and translucent in color.
  • Reduce heat to low and add cans of tomatoes (do not drain cans) and tomato paste. Stir well and simmer on low, stirring occasionally, for 2-3 hours or until carrots are soft to the touch.
  • Add basil leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir well and continue simmering on low for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Using an immersion blender, process the sauce until completely smooth.

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  1. This sauce is making my mouth water. I think that spaghetti… or something Italian is going to be on the dinner menu tonight. Thanks for the tip of adding the sauce and then cooking noodles a little longer. I grew up with the sauce added to the spaghetti before serving. The hubbies family did noodles with sauce on top on the plate. We always debated which was better.

    1. Hey Laura! I think I could eat Italian every night and not get sick of it. 🙂 Who really knows what’s the best way to serve noodles/sauce, but I do know that I’ve talked to several chefs who all recommend serving it that way. I started doing that, and I haven’t gone back!

  2. Hey David, I don’t always take the time to comment, but I just have to say I love Spiced. Your recipes are so tasty and easy to make! What is it with you Dial siblings??? 🙂 I love Courtney’s blog and I love yours too. This particular recipe will make my husband very very happy. Keep ’em coming!

    1. Hey Wendy! Thank you so much for commenting. 🙂 My goal is to feature tasty and easy recipes…so I’m really glad to hear that I’m on that mark! I really, really appreciate you reading Spiced as well as Courtney’s blog, too. And if you ever have questions/comments, don’t be shy!!

  3. Can’t wait to try this!!
    You mind if i feature it on my blog and give you a shout out? I’m new to food blogging as in a couple weeks. Have a look at my page if you get any time and any feedback would be amazing. Thanks x

    1. Hey James! You absolutely may feature this on your blog (just please leave the actual recipe itself here on Spiced). I just took a look at your site and it’s a great start! The best thing about food blogging is there is always something new to learn…both in the kitchen as well as on the site itself. I would say look into getting a plugin to display your recipes (I use ZipList). Feel free to shoot me an email ( if you ever have other questions, too. Cheers!

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