Marinara Sauce

Do you call marinara a sauce or a gravy?  You may know it as only one or the other depending on where you live.  I call it sauce.  Gravy is the stuff you put on turkey at Thanksgiving time.     😉

I am half Italian and my Italian grandmother made the best sauce and meatballs.  Of course everyone’s grandma made the best, right?  During summer, my grandpa would grow tons of tomato plants and my grandma would use some of the tomatoes to make her marinara sauce.  It was simply divine.  I tried to get her recipe but sadly I was never able to translate her “just a little bit of this and a tad of that” into measurements before she passed away.

A couple of years ago I stumbled onto a lasagna recipe on line.  It is an amazing recipe (keep an eye out for it because it will no doubt make an appearance here).  Part of that lasagna recipe requires making a meat sauce. For my vegetarian and kosher observant friends, I removed the meat and now have this delicious basic marinara sauce.


Marinara Sauce Recipe
(Makes about 12 servings)


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 (6 ounce) cans tomato paste
  • 2 (6.5 ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons dried basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons parsley


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over Medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they are tender, about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, tomato sauce, and water.
  4. Season with sugar, basil leaves, fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, and parsley.
  5. Simmer, covered, for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Store in an air tight container in the refrigerator or in the freezer.


Aside from taking a few minutes to brown the onions and garlic, all you need to do is put the ingredients into a pot and let it simmer for 90 minutes.  How easy is that?  I’m always multi-tasking so I did some house chores while the sauce was cooking.  In fact, I set my timer to remind me when it is done because I am easily distracted.       😉


My kitchen smells amazing with all the wonderful spices.  You can see that the sauce starts out a tad thin, but when it’s done cooking you end up with a gorgeous thick marinara sauce.


My husband likes his sauce in the middle of his pasta.  I like it mixed up with the pasta before I plate it.  To each their own.     🙂

Of course a marinara has a tomato base, but the spices you use are key to making it outstanding marinara.  This sauce is full of rich flavors from the combination of spices in this recipe.

The texture is spot on.  It’s not chunky and not soupy, but somewhere in the middle.


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made this marinara sauce for me and my husband.  It’s nice making something homemade versus buying a store brand because I know every single ingredient I used and there are no ingredients that I can’t pronounce.  I will admit that I don’t always have time to make homemade marinara sauce but this recipe makes a lot of sauce so I can freeze portions of it for future meals.  Then I have sauce ready to be used at any moment.  I can have a weekday dinner ready in 15 minutes with a quick defrost in the microwave and a side of pasta.

Plus it’s always a huge hit when I make this for friends and family.  Aside from the obvious pasta companion, I use this classic meatless marinara sauce in a variety of dishes, like pizza, ziti, eggplant Parmesan, and lasagna (of course because that is where this recipe originated from).


This may not be my grandma’s recipe but it sure is a great runner up!


Source: All Recipes



  1. I 100% call it sauce, gravy is what I put on my mashed potatoes. 🙂

    I love checking out new sauce recipes so once our tomato harvest begins, I’m going to be all over this!

    1. Tina says:

      With garden tomatoes I bet this will taste even more amazing than how mine came out!

  2. In the center of my pasta, thats exactly how I like it too. This sauce looks amazing and I’ll definitely have to try it

    1. Tina says:

      Nice! Thanks so much. 🙂 Let me know how it turns out.

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