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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This 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.)
Here’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
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1½ 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.