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Homemade Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce, ia an Italian sauce from Naples, made with fresh tomatoes, onions, garlic, spices and herbs. Although the name “marinara” which means “sailor’s sauce”, may bring to your mind seafood, it has nothing to do with that but some legends say that the wives of sailmen prepared this sauce when their husbands returned back from their trips or when the Neapolitan sailors returned from their trips, they prepared a sauce which was named after the sailors making it.


Rome collages


After our recent trip to Rome , I am still dreaming of Rome and its food.


 I love a good marinara sauce!  I have been making this sauce for ages and as I will be recreating some recipes we tried, I have realized that I have never posted the recipe before.


Peeled tomatoes

This sauce is very easy and very versatile and it’s not worth buying the ready-made sauce as homemade tastes much better and costs less, when tomatoes are in season.

Collage Marinara New

During summer, tomatoes are abundant and cheap and I grow basil in a pot on my small balcony.  Even when tomatoes are out of season, I make marinara sauce with canned tomatoes, sometimes I use pummaro or tomato paste, depending on what I have at home.  


In summer Greek tomatoes are firm, sweet and juicy.  If your tomatoes are tart, you can add a couple of grated carrots to the sauce instead of adding sugar and depending on the season, add some fresh oregano and thyme as well. If you don’t have fresh herbs you can also add some dried oregano, thyme and basil.  Although this is not very traditional, I like to add a piece of cinnamon stick in the sauce but do not mention it in the recipe.  It’s up to you to add it if you also like the taste of cinnamon, as much as I do.

This sauce is so easy to make and tastes a million times better than the store bought one.  

I always make big batches during the summer, which I deep freeze in plastic cups, which are around 1 cup capacity, so this saves time and money.



Frozen marinara sauce

I use this sauce to make an easy vegan spaghetti dish, especially during lent, as you can see in the last photo with no cheese, but feel free to use grated cheese on top as well.  I also  serve it with meatballs, as a base for pizzas, in calzone, in lasagna etc.

Homemade Marinara Sauce

Preparation time:  10 minutes

Cooking time:  about 30 minutes

Makes:  4 cups


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 big onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 kilo fresh ripe tomatoes, peeled and grated or 1 can (500 grams) whole tomatoes with juice
  • 1 pummaro condensed tomato juice (500 grams)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • About 1/2 cup fresh broadleaf basil 
  • 1 sprig fresh oregano, only the leaves (optional)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • 1 tsp boukovo (sweet pepper flakes)
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick (optional)
  • 1 grated carrot (or 1 tbsp sugar or honey (optional), depending on the tartness of the tomatoes)


  1. Wash and make a cross section below each tomato and remove the green stalk, if any.  
  2. Heat a large pot with water and put the tomatoes in for 1 minute.  Cool under running water and then peel each tomato and remove the green and hard core.
  3. In a food processor add the tomatoes, basil leaves and carrot and puree.
  4. In another saucepan heat the olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and mix for a few seconds.
  5. Add the tomatoes, tomato juice and tomato paste.
  6. Add salt and pepper as well as boukovo and dried herbs and simmer, stirring often until the sauce is thick.  

spaghetti with sauce

Other relevant recipes:

Spicy Winter Tomato Sauce

Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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20 Responses

  1. hello,ivy!a very good sauce,easy to make and so good for pasta!thanks for your visits!:))

  2. It's so funny… I kept looking at your recipe and waiting for the sugar. Yup, that pinch of sugar seems necessary to me for marinara, but what do I know? 😉 This looks delicious, Ivy!

  3. Your sauce looks beautiful! I also always have homemade marinara sauce on hand. You can use it for so many things. I could spoon it right out of the pot and eat it as is!

  4. Looks delicious Ivy – everyone needs a good, simple pasta sauce recipe.

  5. I love a simple tomato sauce Ivy…thank you for sharing yours…looks delicious!

  6. Everyone should have their own "marinara sauce"…no reason to buy any of the stuff at the supermarket. Canned tomatoes are very good these days.

  7. Wow, this sounds amazing and easy to make. Now I want to get a basil plant.

  8. Your basil plant looks so prolific! wonderful! I love to make my own marinara sauce too. Yours looks delicious!

  9. I too love a good sauce and this just looks lip smacking delicous.

  10. I love the photo, very appetizing!

  11. I've never bought jarred marinara as I too believe it is such a great staple to make yourself. I also make large batches and store in airtight containers which I place in the freezer for future use. Great recipe Ivy. I too had a pot of basil in the yard all summer but it seems to be dwindling away. I wonder, should I bring the pot indoors?

  12. Homemade marinara sauce looks so good… delicious over the pasta! I liked your basil plant 🙂

    Please collect your awards from my blog, Ivy…

  13. Nadjibella

    Une vraie sauce tomate maison ne peut être que très bonne. Bravo!

  14. I agree 100% that buying this sauce at the store is not worth it. I love all the spices you use in yours.

  15. mmm… homemade marina sauce sounds just perfect! Excellent recipe!

  16. Homemade marinara sauce sounds fantastic, would love to try it ! I am sure this tastes way better than those store bought sauces….

  17. Sometimes it's good to be reminded of the simpler things. I just want to toss a little parmesan on that last picture and dig in with my fork!

  18. I love a good homemade Marinara! Looks delicious, Ivy!

  19. You can never go wrong with a good homemade marinara sauce. This looks absolutely delicious! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  20. This recipe is a keeper. I never buy my pasta sauce. Love the deep color of the sauce.