How to/ Basics,  Recipes,  Sauces

How to Make Basic Marinara Sauce

Marinara Sauce
Marinara Sauce

There are as many recipes for tomato pasta sauce as there are Italian grandmothers. My Sicilian grandmother used to make her sauce every year from the tomatoes in her garden. Much of the time the sauce had meat in it but I don’t think it was ever exactly the same twice.  A child of the depression, my grandmother would throw into the pot whatever she had on hand; scraps of a roast, pieces of cooked pork, sausages, rinds of parmesan cheese. You never knew what you’d find in the sauce, but it was always good.

This is really a base pasta sauce recipe, meant to adapt to whatever you want it to be. Like meat in your sauce? Add a tough cut and let it cook down to make a Bolognese. Want to keep it vegetarian? Enjoy the recipe as it is or add some diced up vegetables. Like Pasta alla Norma? Add red chili flakes and diced eggplant to the sauce. Mushrooms or meatballs, it’s all up to you.

While the photo shows the sauce in a jar, I didn’t can this sauce. There are only so many ways to photograph tomato sauce, and stacks of tupperware just don’t make that pretty of a picture. But the sauce does freeze well, so you can enjoy the taste of freshly made sauce a few months from now, once the weather turns cold.

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How to Make Marinara Sauce Using Fresh Tomatoes

Simple recipe for making homemade marinara sauce from scratch using fresh tomatoes.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time3 hours
Total Time3 hours 15 minutes
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: marinara, sauce, Tomatoes
Servings: 2 quarts


  • 2 each yellow onions peeled and diced (about 2 cups diced)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic minced (about 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp dried herbs basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc* mixed, total
  • 1/2 cup red wine***
  • 12 cups peeled and seeded fresh ripe tomatoes**
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • In a large soup pot, heat up the olive oil. Add the onions and cook slowly, on medium heat until they start to caramelize. They should be evenly brown and soft. Cooking them this way brings out the natural sweetness in the onions. Add the garlic and dried herbs and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Deglaze the pan with the 1/2 cup of red wine and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the tomatoes and their juice and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook on low, stirring occasionally for at least 2 hours, or longer depending on the water content of the tomatoes. The sauce should be thick with much of the water evaporated to concentrate the flavor (sometimes I let it cook 4-5 hours over a very low flame). Add salt and pepper to taste.


*Dried herbs hold their flavor much longer than fresh herbs so when slow cooking. If you want to use fresh herbs, add them at then end of the cooking process, just before serving. Use which ever of those herbs you prefer for a total of 2 Tablespoons.
**Start with 4-5 lbs of fresh, ripe, tomatoes. If you don’t have fresh tomatoes, you can use 2 (28 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes, 1 (28 oz) can of whole tomatoes and 1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste. When I use canned tomatoes, I always add a couple tablespoons of sugar to counteract the acidity of the canned tomatoes. I find I don’t have to add any sugar with the ripe tomatoes from my garden.
***Many of the comments below have asked “Do I have to use red wine?” The answer is no, but it does add to the flavor and if you’re going to have wine with dinner anyway, or have an open bottle, throw some in!
Cooking marinara sauce
Onions and Sauce.

Other ideas for the end-of summer-glut of tomatoes:

How to Peel and Seed Fresh Tomatoes
Fresh Tomato Soup
Slow Roasted Tomato and Fennel Soup
Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Parmesan

I’ve had a few people comment (some of them not posted here because they were not nice) that the name “Marinara” refers to a tomato sauce with seafood in it. Just about every definition I could find disputes this. I hope the information below clears up any confusion.

The New Food Lover’s Companion defines Marinara as “A highly seasoned Italian tomato sauce made with onions, garlic, and oregano. It’s used with pasta and some meats.” Epicurious uses this same definition.

Even more interesting from a historical perspective was this one from
“Marinara sauce originated with sailors in Naples in the 16th century, after the Spaniards introduced the tomato to their neighboring countries. The word marinara is derived from marinaro, which is Italian for “of the sea.” Because of this, many people mistakenly believe marinara sauce includes some type of fish or seafood.
However, marinara sauce loosely translates as “the sauce of the sailors,” because it was a meatless sauce extensively used on sailing ships before modern refrigeration techniques were invented. The lack of meat and the sheer simplicity of making tasty marinara sauce were particularly appealing to the cooks on board sailing ships, because the high acid content of the tomatoes and the absence of any type of meat fat resulted in a sauce which would not easily spoil.”

Finally, defines it as:
Main Entry: mar·i·na·ra Pronunciation: ˌmer-ə-ˈner-ə, –ˈnär-
Etymology: Italian (alla) marinara, literally, in sailor style. Date: 1948.
: made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, and spices <marinara sauce>; also : served with marinara sauce <spaghetti marinara>


  • Michele

    We had an old Italian guy come by one day when we were making sauce, and he said we should put some of our fresh brown figs (from our huge tree) in the sauce. so we did, breaking them up as they heated through. They gave a real
    meaty texture to the sauce, and an intriguing depth of flavor,

      • Pita

        Wow Tommy?! Really, why even say that? Who are YOU to ask? Cooking is an art a gift… Not something a person has a right to question 😉 to an extent. It is a great recipe! So what it doesn’t have a long process or 18 ingredients. That is not what is about.

  • nauri

    This sounds like a recipe that might work for me. I have canned gallons of tomato juice simply because I haven’t found a good tomato sauce or marinara that sounded good. This one sounds like my hubby will like it very much! Thanks!

    • formerchef

      Is it just juice or have you canned whole tomatoes? You really need whole or chopped tomatoes for the right texture. If it’s already pureed, you might try making my tomato soup recipe with it.

      • nauri

        I’ve always resorted to juice because I could never find a sauce-type recipe I thought I’d want to try. Now, I am going to try this recipe. If it’s a hit with hubby, I’ll be making this and seeing how well it cans. We use a lot of the juice, but he wishes I’d make marinara sauce – now, I can =)

  • patsy

    I love making pasta sauce to keep in the freezer. The one I usually make uses canned tomatoes since I end up making it in the winter months. I really do need to use some of the fabulous tomatoes that are available this time of year for sauce. Great recipe and love your blog.

    • Barbara

      Try this easy way to save your fresh tomatoes: freeze them whole! Take out whatever amount you need for your sauce and put them in whole and still frozen. The skins will slip off in a couple minutes (just as if you’d blanched them) and float to the top, and you’re left with only the core and the skins to fish out of the sauce.

  • Marissa

    I’m in the process of simmering down my sauce so I jumped online to find a recipe to double check if what I was doing (without a recipe) was correct. . . oh goodie I’m doing it right and now I’ll print this out so I’ll remember for next time. I appreciate the star note about dried herbs vs. fresh. Ciao

  • D Maddox

    From your basic marina sauce, you get so many ways to use it. I was one of the first things I taught my kids to make. With that tool in their belt they can make just about anything. This version is very close to mine.


  • Velva

    This is a great marinara sauce recipe! We all know that everyone should have a great recipe for sauce in their recipe file. 🙂

    I smiled when I read your blogpost about wanting your food blog to be successful and watching every comment, every hit, etc. I can totally relate!

    You have a great blog. I will be back.

  • lo

    Glad to see that someone else sees the absolute value in caramelizing the onions for a good marinara — totally worth the effort. And so timely… with all those great tomatoes out there on the vine!

  • Wings

    I love cooking and experimenting, rarely follow recipes and people always rave about my cooking. In all that time, however, I have never made marinara sauce from scratch…for some reason, I found the thought intimidating. I would instead buy something like a 5-cheese jarred sauce and dress it up the way I wanted. I’m going to use your recipe this weekend, however – not only does this sound simple, but your matter-of-fact approach in your writing gave me just the boost I needed to get off my duff and do this. So thanks! Btw, I arrived here through the StumbleUpon network, and I’ll definitely be thumbing this up and passing it on to others. Great site!

    • Barbara

      As I’ve aged, I have container gardens. Easy. Just remember, they’ll need watering every day, sometimes twice daily. Now you can have your fresh tomatoes. Smile.

  • Chef

    Please correct your post
    this is a Napoli or napolitana sauce (Italian tomato based sauce)
    Marinara refers to a sauce with seafood in it (usually tomato but not always. Often served as a pasta marinara)

    • formerchef

      I’ve put an addendum at the bottom of the post. I’ve never seen Marinara sauce served with seafood, but yours is the second such comment I’ve received so I thought I’d do a little research.

      • Chef

        The term marinara came to mean a tomato sauce (in America at least) quite some years ago
        hence your not having seen it served with seafood
        My self and many other chefs are trying to revert back to using the original meanings
        of the terms “Marinara: Seafood” and “Napoli/Napolitana: Italian Tomato based sauce”
        It kind of irks me when i order a Pasta Marinara, expecting seafood, and don’t get it

        I appreciate your help in re-educating the food industry

        • Tara

          formerchef – unfortunately it obviously irks some people… don’t let them bother you, this marinara recipe looks awesome! Personally I’d be totally disappointed if I ordered marinara and found seafood in it ’cause here in America when we order marinara the vast majority expects a tomato and herb based sauce. Keep on keeping on, formerchef, and I look forward to eating my marinara sauce tonight 🙂

          • Wil

            I’ve lived here in Europe for 14yrs, and what I’ve discovered is that Marinara is dependent upon the region in Italy. If you ask for Marinara in Naples, you get a light tomato sauce (my own description), which consists of cherry or olive tomatoes briefly braised in olive oil along with some herbs. In Sicily, there is no tomato paste or stewed tomatoes; there is aglio olio (olive oil and usually a lot of fresh garlic and herbs) along with sardines (or some sort of seafood).

        • Ali


          You don’t have to post this but I was curious on the comments about the word marinara. When I translated the word marinara from Italian to English here is what I got.

          adj. seafaring, seagoing

          I have worked in Italian restaurants and never knew this until this morning. Pretty interesting. The English language is always going to be the most difficult to grasp in my opinion.

          • formerchef

            Hi Ali-
            Yes, that’s right, it does mean seafaring. And it seems the sauce itself has come to mean different things in different places (ie either a sauce influenced by seafarers who had nothing more than tomatoes, or a sauce with seafood). I enjoy word entomology, and yes, English can be challenging!

  • mdilloway1

    De-lish! My mouth is watering.

    RE: Amendment: while studying abroad and visiting Venice with a large group of students, we hit a local restaurant and our vegetarian friend ordered marinara. Sure enough, it came loaded with seafood. “Sorry– I thought marinara was plain red sauce,” she said. “Why does it have seafood in it?”

    The proprietor scolded her. “Marinara! Mare means sea! Of course it has seafood in it!”

    So be forewarned if you ever go to Italy– order marinara, get seafood, like the other commenter Chef noted. Order Napoli.

    • formerchef

      Interesting! I’m actually going to Rome next month and had already planned on trying to resolve this debate while there. I’m still not sure there is a “right” answer. I have a feeling it just comes down to what it means to you in your experience.

  • Beth

    I read your comments. I was looking at this recipe to see how to make this sauce and leave out the seafood! So…thanks! I for one, am glad to see it! Thumbs up in Stumble upon!


  • Myra

    I made this Marinara this weekend using tomatoes from my garden and my family really enjoyed it — especially the kids, since they were eating sauce made from the tomatoes they planted by seed.

    Out of laziness, I didn’t peel them. Those little skins were a pain to eat — will not make that mistake twice.

    I’ve also enjoyed the historical perspective on the name “Marinara.” Food history is fascinating.


  • David

    I’ll be trying this recipe next time I can.

    Regarding the marinara debate, I don’t know where these guys are coming from, but Marinara does NOT refer to a seafood based dish. There was a sailor who’s name was Marinaro or something like that and he typically added shrimp and clams to his recipe, however those were addendum’s to the original recipe.

    Hope that clears up some of the drama that you’re receiving!

  • C Genteman

    Hello Former Chef,
    Your sauce looks and sounds delicious. Do you know if I need to modify the cooking time if I am planning on “canning” it (25 min @11lbs pressure)? I just finished picking my toms off the vine – another successful garden season!
    Cheers, CG of Washington

  • protogere

    You are spot on – authentic marinara is a meatless sauce – this includes sauce devoid of fish. It is purely vegetables and herbs.

  • Enzo

    You are right about this sauce, and people who thinks it must have seafood in it is wrong, cmon… just because of the name mar-inara?.

    As you note at the beginning of your post, this is the very basic foundation of a marinara sauce. From here people can enhance it in whatever direction desired and create their own versions depending on what it will be served on.

  • Dan W.

    Good ideas, glad to use them. To reduce the acid in my sauce, I use 1/4 tsp baking soda. Also, rather than white sugar, try brown sugar. I have also tossed in 1 whole large carrot (peeled).

  • cannjensen

    I am so glad i found your blog and recipe, it looks better than a lot of the other recipes I found. It’s cooking on my stove as I write this and will be used on pizza tomorrow night. Thanks for sharing.

  • John

    Wonderful stuff… Made over 1lb (enough for a lasagne dish I was trying to create), using canned chopped tomatoes and a small can of paste (or puree as we call it in

    I couldn’t help myself, I just had to add a teaspoon of chilli powder to the mix which certainly gave the lasagne a little bit of ‘bite’.

    Still used around 4 fl oz of good Italian wine though – and I must confess that considerably more ended-up inside me…. 🙂

    Will definitely make 2 maybe 3lbs next time, use some and freeze the rest….

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe.

    Best wishes, John

  • Elliott

    Just wondering – would this sauce be suitable for use as a pizza sauce too… maybe if blended to make it smoother? Thanks for the recipe – I’m planning on using it this week!

    • formerchef

      Yes, it would be great on pizza. I’ve used it myself before on home made pizzas. I don’t even puree it, just leave it a little chunky. 🙂

      • Zach

        I’m glad to hear that, I was reading this and wondering if it would be good as pizza sauce as well. I think I’m going to try this tomorrow afternoon and take it to my sister’s house (they make pizza practically every weekend). From the sound of it, it makes great marinara sauce. I hope it makes an equally wonderful pizza sauce.

  • Eric

    One more question – and maybe a dumb one. I’m not too familiar when it comes to cooking with alcohol – or alcohol in general. We have some Burgundy left over. Could I use that in place of the Red Wine????

    • formerchef

      In reality, you could use any kind of wine, but the Burgundy is red, no? Even if it’s a white burgundy, go ahead. Just don’t use anything labeled “cooking wine.” Those are loaded with salt and are horrible.

  • Vivek

    In the middle of pasta making I noticed I was completely out of Marinara – I followed these simple techniques as explained in this blog and to my suprise the final product come out fantastic. I will propabably never ‘buy’ a canned marinara product again!

  • Maria

    Thank you, Former Chef, for the great “How to Peel Tomatoes” process, as well as the Marinara recipe! My Mom was a wonderful cook and used to core and peel tomatoes, and cook a wonderful marinara sauce, but I couldn’t remember how she did it! My mother in law gave us a bunch of fresh tomatoes…some not so pretty, and a few nibbled on!…and I was worried about how to use them. Your photos of the very pretty and some not-so-pretty tomatoes from your garden, and how to core and peel them…and then use them in sauce was just what I needed! Thank you so much! Instead of dreading the process, now I am looking forward to the peeling, sqishy seeding, and making the sauce! Thank you! I plan to freeze the sauce in Ball Freezer containers. Should I refrigerate the sauce to cool it before putting it in the freezer containers? Thank you for a very helpful blog!

    • formerchef

      You are very welcome. Yes, you should always cool whatever you want to freeze before putting it in the freezer. I’m not sure about the Ball containers, but you might let the sauce cool just a bit (so it’s not boiling hot) and then put it in the containers and put them in the refrigerator. It will cool faster in smaller containers than in a large pot.

      • Maria

        Thank you for your helpful response!
        (I was going to attempt to can the sauce, but when I was at the store to buy the glass jars, etc., I saw the plastic (BPH-free!) Ball Freezer containers and thought they would be easier. They look like Tupperware, but are taller and round, like a tall cottage cheese/ricotta container, and I thought they might work well for sauce. )
        Again, thank you! I look forward to reading your blog as I continue to learn to cook!

  • Alicia

    I will be attempting to make this with fresh roma tomatoes from my garden and canning it to enjoy the freshness throughout the fall. I hope it turns out well, the recipe sounds easy enough.

  • Scott

    If I have a food mill, can I run the tomatoes through there to remove skin and seeds? I’ve always done that with the canned ones but, as you know, they are already cooked a little and peeled, so maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree here.

    • formerchef

      You can put it through a food mill, but if your tomatoes aren’t really ripe, yes, it might be harder to do. I prefer not to use the food mill because you end up with something more like tomato juice than sauce and I like my marinara to be chunky and have some texture to it.

      • Scott

        Good point. You’re right, it does wind up more like tomato juice. I am going to try it your way. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Might add some crushed red pepper but otherwise I’ll stay true. Thanks.

  • Shelby

    I wanted to use this sauce for a pizza, and ended up thickening it with some tomato paste. It was the very best pizza I and my boyfriend have ever had! I think caramelizing the onions really intensified the sweetness.

  • christine

    Hello! I found this blog in Foodista and followed it here. This is actually a cool Basic Marinara Sauce recipe. Keep it up and I may see you on Food Network one day. By the way you can place more Foodista widget in your past and future blogs so that other Foodista readers can follow and see your blog too. Just search for a related recipe or food in Foodista and use its widget. I hope to read more from you. Cheers!

  • Shannon

    Ok, I have this recipe simmering on the stove top right now. It was easy and I’ll let you know about taste later. Thanks. I enjoy your blog. I also used your “how to peel a tomato instructions”…very simple.

  • Kimberly

    I made this sauce today…. my house smells amazing right now! I’m not much for whole tomatoes (on a sandwich, salad, etc) but this is REALLY good. My 6 year old loves spaghetti, so thats what I am making tonite. This was very easy to do, especially after reading the “how to peel tomatoes” article. Thank you!!!

  • Nadine

    Hi there! I came across your site while searching for marinara sauce recipes. I loved reading about your Sicilian grandmother and what she threw into her sauce! I’m especially interested in the rinds of parmesan. Did she throw them in like a bay leaf to be removed later? And did it give a salty taste to the sauce?

    • formerchef

      Thanks. She left them in there. They would partially melt into the sauce and yes, I think they did add a small amount of salty flavor.

  • don siranni

    I’d appreciate opinions as to the best sauces to make for:1)meat filled raviolis 2)crab/cream cheese filled raviolis, 3)ricotta/spinich filled raviolis 4) lasagna with meat sauce filling thanks,don

    • formerchef

      I think when you have meat or seafood filled pastas, simples sauces are best. A meat sauce with a meat ravioli is overkill. With the seafood I would probably go with a cream sauce or a butter sauce. On the other hand, a meat sauce with the ricotta/spinach ravioli is wonderful. With lasagna, it’s a matter of taste. I prefer a marinara sauce but some people like a bechemel.

  • Courtney

    This is a bit off the topic of Marinara sauce but still in line with cooking . . . I see that you were using a stainless steel pot to make your sauce in. Can you talk about stainless vs. nonstick? Which do you prefer? Is there a particular line of pots and pans you love? Thanks so much for the recipe and advice! My sauce is currently simmering . . . Yum. Looking forward to trying it on pizza tonight!

    • formerchef

      For almost everything, I prefer stainless steel. I have a set of All Clad pots which I’ve had for over a decade and they are holding up beautifully to hard use. Yes, they are expensive, but I believe they are worth it. Look for sets on sale with bonus items around Christmas as they usually have really good deals then. I actually don’t have any non-stick pots or pans right now, but I’m thinking I need a good non-stick egg pan for omlettes and such. In general, I don’t like them because once they are scratched, they start to become useless. Plus you have to be careful not to get them too hot because the teflon will release toxins over a certain temperature. I used to have a non-stick wok I liked very much, but tossed it after it get too scratched up.
      Finally, I have a cast iron pan which belonged to my Grandmother which I’ve been cooking in a lot lately and I love it.

      • Barbara

        I agree with all this. I, too, have Grandma’s very old cast iron dutch oven. Be aware of two points when cooking in cast iron. First, it’s great for our bodies in that it releases iron into the cooked product. Second, it’s not so great when cooking acid-laden foods like tomatoes for the same reason. If you cook too long or leave the acidic foods in the cast iron, you will ruin your finished product, because there will be too much iron absorbed and you will definitely taste it. I ruined a whole batch of homemade black raspberry preserves this way once when I was a new bride. I’m still sorry about that learning experience…

  • LaDolceVita

    My question….if I use 3 (28oz) cans of WHOLE San Marzano tomatoes (instead of 2 crushed/1 whole) and the 6 oz paste…do I need to adjust any of the other ingredients ? In other words…is a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes equivalent to a 28 oz can of whole tomatoes- crushed????? FYI, I plan to use a food processor to address the texture issue….if “all things are equal”!!! Thanks for your help (and your site)!!!

    • formerchef

      I think it will be fine. The texture may be different, but once it cooks for a while the whole tomatoes will probably break down.

  • Terra

    First, thank u times 100! I made your sauce tonight and it was amazing. I have been searching for a simple, no fuss sauce that is delicious enough to take me back to Italy(my family is from Venecia and Milano.). I also should mention that I have not enjoyed red sauce in 4 years. I have Celiac Disease and didn’t realize it until a few months ago. With that has come many tummy issues and horrible acid reflux. I had given up red sauce completely and it was so hard for this Italian girl! Since going gluten free, though, I am slowly getting better and just began trying tomato soup again. With no bad results, I set out to find a red sauce recipe to tackle and founding that required too much fuss. After stumbling upon yours I was thrilled! I was not, however, completely prepared. I had bought a pack of vine ripe tomatoes that were small(about 15 of them.). I love tons of onions so I decided to keep ur recipe exaclt but only had 1/3 of the tomatoes. I used a great 2004 dry red wine and left the seeds in b/c I need to buy a strainer! No matter, it was still delicious! I used tarragon as my green spice and about 2 tspns of sugar… Perhaps a little extra garlic b/c it wasn’t fresh but pre diced. I made al dente angel hair and after I removed it from the heat and strained it, I folded in an egg and topped with 2 medium sized serving spoons of sauce and a large handful of spinach. I was so famished (especially after sharing the rest of my wine with my lovely other half) that I forgot the fresh Parmesan. It was so amazing that I wont complain a bit… Just something to look forward to nxt time; which will be very soon. I can’t wait to make it a meat sauce and to try it on pizza and to mix a bit with white sauce too! Sorry to be so lengthy but I adore food, love to cook, an am so happy rt now. Thank u so much for sharing!! : ). If u know a way to make gluten free gnocchi I wouldnlove to hear about it!

  • Theresa Schultz

    An absolutely delicious and authentic tasting recipe! I used it for the spaghetti I made for dinner tonight, using Roma tomatoes, and I added some ground turkey. Fabulous, and so simple… Thank you!

  • Lisa

    Hi Former Chef,
    I’ve been looking for a go-to marinara sauce and cannot wait to try this one this weekend! Just wondering if you can specify the dried herbs. What do you usually add? A combo? Would italian seasoning work? What do you prefer? Thanks!

  • Jon Hinkleman

    2 Tbsp dried herbs (basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, etc)*
    Do you mean 2 Tbsp each of these herbs?
    Recipe looks great and I can’t wait to try it tomorrow. thanks


  • John

    I am going to buy some Roma (or “Plum” as theyre called at my store) tomatoes to make this sauce. Your recipe calls for 12 cups of peeled and seeded tomatoes. About how many tomatoes would you estimate that as?

    • formerchef

      John- That is a tough question because tomatoes can vary a lot in size and weight, even Roma tomatoes. If I had to guess, I would get about 4 lbs of tomatoes, maybe 16-20 depending on their size.
      The other issue is making sure that they are nice and ripe. Tomatoes aren’t in season where I live now, so I would hesitate to make the sauce with any I could buy in the store right now because they are likely to have very little flavor.

      • John

        Thanks for your reply. I bit the bullet and tried out the recipe with Roma tomatoes I got from my local Shoprite. I tried to pick out the best 16 tomatoes I could find (bright, firmer to the touch). In the end, I feel like my sauce came out more salsa-like than marinara. There was too little liquid (I did keep the liquid after de-seeding the tomatoes). I think it boiled down to a couple factors – maybe since the Roma tomatoes werent in season, there wasn’t as much liquid in them. Also I think the two large yellow onions in my case were too large – they probably amounted to 4 cups easily after dicing.

        • formerchef

          John- If you can, please try again in summer with truly ripe tomatoes. I don’t think commercialy grown roma tomatoes are right for home made marinara unless they are very, very ripe. They’ve been grown to hold up to transport and picked unripe. They may look red, but they have very little flavor and an unpleasent texture. Try with ripe tomatoes in season and I think you will be more pleased with the outcome.

  • Elisha

    Just made it! Can’t wait to try it. It’s simmering on the stove. They aren’t quite garden fresh tomatoes that’s for sure, but we had a school cook out and had a ton of left over tomatoes from Sam’s. They certainly aren’t the best quality tomatoes, it’s hard to even call them a tomato really but I’m hoping this sauce will be the perfect thing to give these bland guys some flavor!

    • Elisha

      Oh Gosh, just read John’s comment, sounds exactly like what I did. Hmmm, all that trouble I just went through! I wonder if there is any way to salvage it? Maybe adding a jar of store bought marinara or tomato sauce to it?? Mine were not very juicy either. 🙁

  • Ke'Osha

    Well I Normally Dont Trust Stuff Ouff The Internet ,But I Tried The Marina Sauce It WAs So Good.! *:) LOl… I Will Be Tring This Website More Often.!

  • Aubrey

    I recently experimented with my own homemade marinara and used this as a guideline, it came out great! Although– dare I say it?– I think I actually used a little too much garlic. Anyway, I cited your article on our website so that others can use your recipe as a reference also. Keep up the good work, I love the beautiful photographs also

  • Allison

    The recipe was amazing. However, I was taught to do it a little differently. We, my family and I, follow an old italian recipe passed down by my grandfather. We put in about 2 cups sweet peppers, 1tsp cinnimon, and about 1/2tsp of chili powder. It gives the sauce a unique smooth taste and the cinnimon makes it smell sooooo good.

  • Jen

    Perfect marinara! I bought 15 pounds of tomatoes from my co-op group and was determined to make a good marinara. I looked high and low trying to get a basic fresh tomato recipe that matched what I had grown up on! I live in Idaho now and its safe to say there isn’t much Italian food to pick from. So unless I wanted to wait a few years to head home I had to figure it out at home. Thanks for a perfect recipe and thanks so much for walking me through peeling and seeding …I would have chopped the entire tomato up had I not viewed your directions. Wonderful website..will pass on to friends and family!

  • Keith (Upstate, NY)

    Another way to counteract the acidity is by sprinkling small amounts of baking soda (I just do a little bit at a time through the cooking process until I get it where I want it. I like my sauce quite tart anyway).

    This doesn’t just mask the acidity as the sugar does, it actually lowers the pH without the added carbohydrates or sweetness. It is a bit strange as you stir it in, however. It will bubble just like your grade school volcano science fair project.
    -After cooking and stirring however the bubbles disappear.

    My girlfriend is a sugar-o-holic however, so I typically only use this method when I’m cooking for myself. =)

  • Lynne Nacke

    Is there any particular type of wine that you would reccomend for this sauce? We tend to drink alot of French Reds. Would Italian wine be better for the sauce?

  • Kim

    This was the first time I made homemade sauce from my garden tomatoes. I only made half the recipe because that was all the ripe tomatoes I had. Turned out REALLY good, probably the best marinara I’ve ever tasted!!

  • Stacy

    This is a good spaghetti sauce recipe but it is not a marinara. A marinara is only cooked for about 20 minutes – the tomatoes are chunky, they are not mushy. It is typically used as a sauce for shrimp. My grandmother, a Sicilian, uses it as a sauce for everything, except pasta. Keep up the good work!

    • formerchef

      Stacy, thanks for the comment. There are as many “true marinara” sauces as there are Sicilian grandmothers. I had my own Sicilian grandmother and her sauce was very different from the one you describe and even different from mine.

  • Janet

    I made this recipe today with fresh tomatoes, basil, oregano and parsley from my local farmer’s market. It was the most amazing marinara I have ever eaten.

  • Crystal S.

    Just wondering if I there was a substitute for the red wine. Thanks for sharing, have fresh tomatoes and want to try your recipe.

  • john s.

    Thanks for the recipe. I have 7 nice sized tomato plants in my garden this year & i have to pick them when they’re not quite totally red, still red/orange because the bugs and wild life start to eat them if i let them ripen on the plant. I didn’t want to use pesticides this year and i probably should have. Anyway, i let them ripen on my counter & window sills until really nice & red. Peeled them & seeded them. I caramelized the onions plus fresh basil that came from the garden and just a few cloves of garlic as well. Then proceeded as per your instructions. I cooked the “batch” for a whole day! The whole house smelled great!
    In short, The best Sauce, or some say, “Gravy” I’ve ever had! Never attempted to cook my own from scratch. I have so many more tomato’s coming in and plan on making as much as i can & freezing to use all winter long!!
    Thanks Again!!!

  • Tom D

    Terrific recipe! I am a firm believer in less is more. When you are using fresh top quality ingredients (especially home grown San Marzano tomatoes) there is no need to over compensate a recipe with dozens of ingredients. The key here is to use locally grown tomatoes (organic if possible) or a top quality canned tomato with minimal processing and few ingredients. If your hesitant about adding red wine, try a shot of vodka. I was told by a chef friend of mine, a bit of alcohol added during the cooking process extracts certain flavor profiles from the tomato not normally realized. Anyway, this recipe is wonderful in its simplicity and the absolute best I’ve come across! Thanks former chef for bringing it down to earth.

  • Tiffany

    I am so glad I found your website. I’m a bit of a foodie and search the internet high and low for great recipes and “how to’s”. Your website is not only informative and well written, but beautiful. Thank you for posting your blog. I’m currently in the process of making my own marinara and can’t wait to try your recipe.

  • Ray

    Do you know roughly how much sauce this recipe makes? And when you say 2 Tbs of dried herbs, do you mean 2 Tbs of each of the dried herbs?

  • Savanna

    Perfect. Exactly what I was looking for and now my kitchen doesn’t look like a farmers market anymore. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jennifer

    I had about 20lbs of tomatoes from my garden waiting to made into sauce! This will be my first attempt o make spaghetti sauce…ever! Wish me luck.

  • Rhnee

    I’m looking forward to trying this recipe. I do have a question, would it be alright to combine different types of tomatoes? I don’t have enough of any one variety from my garden right now, but combining the romas and other varieties I probably have what the recipe calls for.

    • formerchef

      Rhnee-Absolutely! You can use any kind of tomato from your garden. That’s not to say that different tomatoes might not yield different results (depending on water content for example), but I’m sure if they are ripe it will be fine.

  • Gina Marie

    I just loved the simplicity of this marinara recipe. I had so many tomatoes from my garden, and was tired of making salsa. So I used this recipe, and to my surprise it was fantastic. I did add one very tiny habenero pepper, which I know is really hot for most people. But the amount of tomatoes (about 13 big ones), some sugar, a pinch of baking soda here and there, and a generous amount of romano offset the heat. It took me about 2 1/2 hours to boil down, but it was all worth it. I added some meatballs. Simply awesome over a bed of capellini. Thanks, Former Chef.

  • Janet

    I used your peel and seed fresh tomatoes to make this marinara sauce. This was absolutely delicious! I will definitely plant more tomatoes next year so I can make more of this sauce. Thank you

  • Nicole

    Hi! Made a small batch of this yesterday, and it tasted so good that I decided to make several batches today! I do have a question.. When you say “salt and pepper to taste”.. Any suggestions on where a good starting point would be? 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • formerchef

      Nicole-First, I always cook with kosher salt which isn’t as harsh tasting as regular iodized table salt. There’s a big difference between a teaspoon of one or the other; a teaspoon of iodized salt with make something taste much saltier than kosher salt.
      I would start by adding about half a teaspoon of kosher salt (less if using iodized), stir it in and then taste the sauce. Does it taste good to you? Could it use a little more? When in doubt, stop. You can always add more salt later, but it’s realy hard to fix something which has been over-salted!

  • Geri

    I have been making marinara sauce like this my whole life. Having been lucky enough to have a first generation Sicilian mother there was not another option. Like your grandmother we always ” clean out the fridge ” , putting leftover meat in the pot and we always save the rind from the parmesan cheese for the sauce. Many people put pork in and we do as well…..but my mother always used smoked pork neck bones or smoked ham hocks. Put them in as soon as you put the tomatoes in, they add a wonderful smokey flavor. Just remember to cut back on the salt until the end when you can taste it. Also, hocks can take 3 to 4 hours to cook. Just another example of the many ways to personalize this sauce.

  • Katy

    Made this tonight and it was fantastic! Added shrimp at the end and served over angel hair pasta. Oh man, I am so glad there’s leftovers… Thanks so much for this recipe – it’s a keeper for sure!

  • Joss

    After searching for days for a website with a marinara sauce that didn’t look like a chemistry experiment, I found your page – so glad I did! It was my first try at making marinara, and I was fortunate to be able to use delicious tomatoes, onions, and garlic from our garden. I love how versatile the recipe is and can see in the future different variations I’d like to try. Thank you for an excellent recipe – the whole house smelled just amazing for the 4-5 hours I was simmering that pot of sauce. I am always very appreciative for those who are willing to share their ideas and expertise.

  • Wendi

    YUM!! I was looking for an easy but delicious recipe using fresh tomatoes and a friend told me your about site. I’m so glad she did! This sauce is simmering on my stove right now–it’s only 11 am but I’m ready for dinner! 🙂 I look forward to making more of your delicious recipes!

  • Spencer

    It probably also helped prevent scurvy on ships. Much preferable to chowing down on lemons and limes like the British did; probably kept longer than citrus fruit too.

  • Don

    Thanks for your recipe for marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes. Just picked 8 lbs off our vines today and will make a batch and freeze cartons for the winter use as we have in the past. Our recipe is basically the same as yours in content but the pulp treatment is different. Will try it. Along with the red tomatoes we have a couple of pounds of the small gold marble sized fruit and want to make a gold marinara sauce. The small size does not lend well to hot water bath and peeling. Plus a lot of the flavor of these tough skinned little guys is in the skin!!! Will try cooking them down with carmelized onion and garlic, Itaslian herbs and pinot grigio. Then the hand blender will chop up the gold tomatoes, seeds, skin and all, and simmer for the flavor. Any thoughts on this? Other than the batch will end up like thick gold tomato juice .

      • Don

        Thanks for the response. The small gold tomato marinara sauce turned out fine – smooth and thick and the flavor is wonderful. Used varigated basil to keep the color neutral and followed your suggestion on the Italian herb seasoning and pinot grigio. Thanks for your advice.


  • sandy

    I had chopped and seeded some ripe tomatoes from my garden thinking about cooking some salsa today, but then changed my mind to marinara. I had to think of a way to get the skins off now without a blender or strainer! I used my egg beaters and a potato masher. Then used my salad crisper to separate. I think it worked! I liked you marinara recipe because of it’s simplicity. Funny, I always thought that Marinara was a sweeter type sauce than the regular spaghetti sauce in the stores. I thought it had something to do with sugar content! I did take a suggestion of another guest and put a spash of really good balsamic vinegar. I did notice thought between the wine and the balsalmic it turned to a darker red, than the bright red tomato sauce. I am cooking it down now, and it has wonderful flavor. Thank you for your posting on this, and help. The reader comments are very helpful too.

  • MamaBelle

    I love your recipe! No more store bought sauce for us! I was wondering though, what would you suggest I add when the sauce comes out with too much liquid? I prefer it not to roll off the plate. Thanks

    • formerchef

      MamaBelle- if it’s too watery (and sometimes fresh tomatoes can be, the best thing is to let it cook down more, with no lid on the pot. That way some of the water will evaporate.

      • Barbara

        Also, ladle off the liquid — and drink or can it. I must admit that tomatoes are my favorite food, and I’m happy to have stumbled across this posting. Smile.

  • panacapat

    I’m making your recipe at this moment. I had so many extra tomatoes from my garden and wanted to make something really yummy with them. This smells awesome!! Whatever we don’t eat tonight will be frozen for other meals. Thanks! By the way, I put a hot pepper in the sauce. We like a little kick!

  • julie

    I am so thrilled to find your recipe….. I always looked for sauc recipes…no matter what I did, it tasted like jar spaghetti sauce… I can NOT wait to make your recipe….I have so many tomatoes (despite all the rain)…. I didn’t know what to do with them..thanks so much…. I will go out and pick my tomatoes right now! :0)

  • katie

    Wow, people really have too much time on their hands if they find it necessary to belittle over the use of a word such as marinara. Your recipe sounds fab and I will be keeping it in mind when creating my own.

  • Chris Tompkins

    I love ANY recipe that promotes making your own sauce. I great up in the kitchen watching my grandma (from Naples) making her own sauce and pasta. Thanks for this recipe, it has given me the motivation to make some homemade sauce this weekend!

  • Mrs E.

    I tried the recipe my family loves it. I simmered it for 6 hrs on low and the texture was perfect. Thanks for sharing ( even the seeding and skinning was a breeze )!!

  • Robert Mayer

    I tried this recipe recently because it looked simple enough and didn’t require any unusual ingredients (I did have to substitute rice cooking wine for the red wine). Anyway, I was perfectly satisfied with the taste, but wasn’t satisfied with the texture. Instead of being sauce-like, it came out chunky and watery, so should I just let it simmer longer? Also, a chef friend of mine said I might have better luck with Roma tomatoes, but I’m little skeptical about that making much of a difference since this recipe didn’t even indicate any preference for tomato variety.

    • formerchef

      Yes, you probably would want to cook it longer if the texture is not to your liking. A lot does depend on the ripeness of the tomatoes. Roma tomatoes would work ok, as long as they are the home grown type and not store bought ones which are often picked green and only red in color, not ripeness.

  • faye

    Hi,I made a marinara sauce after finding a recipe on the net last week.It had a bitter taste to it and all recipe’s I saw said do not add sugar.Well,I found your recipe so I just made it tonight and it is good.I did add the sugar and am happy with the results.Why would they all say no sugar when it obviously needs it?I used brown sugar and it even gave a better color to it. Thanks so much,I will trust a former chef any day.LOL How can you be a former chef?Once a cook always a cook.Joking,I do get it and will check out your other recipe’s.

  • Bunny

    I am the of this recipe, and i just thought of something. Many of my family members wont eat onions, however if you disguise them they love the flavor…Would it be ok to run the onion and herbs through a blender before I add the tomatoes in?

  • R.Doering

    just curious…this is the basic recipe I use, my grandmother also put some kind of smoked meat in as well, but if you were a “chef”….I can’t believe you wouldn’t know how to can, or at least have the basic knowledge of the process (which, by the way you don’t need a pressure cooker for) that doesn’t make any sense at all.

    • formerchef

      It’s not that I don’t know how to can, it’s that I choose not to can my sauce and choose not to get into the instructions on how to do so on my blog. As for canning a meat sauce, to ensure food safety, foods with a pH above 4.6 (meats, vegetables, dairy, fish, eggs) MUST be processed in a pressure canner (not a pressure cooker) as opposed to the water bath canning method. A lot of information on canning safely at home can be found here

  • John S.

    Just saying, I just had a batch a had frozen 4 months ago. It’s better now than it was then!
    Nothing better than a nice plate piled high with pasta and “gravy” on a cold December night!

  • Debbie

    AHMAZING!!! Scream from the mountain tops… THIS IS DELICIOUS!!! You gave me a very simple recipe with some nice deep flavors! I love recipes like this that make it so easy for home chefs like me to make amazing dishes for my family! I made this for the sauce to my calzones. The only thing I did do was add just a little splash of Worstershire sauce ( I like the beffy flavor) and I added some diced up carrots (trying to incorporate more veggies into the children’s diet). Now I don’t drink wine but I cook a lot of recipes that call for it so I use “cooking wine” and it seemed to do the trick also. I did down size it just incase I wasnt going to like it ( you never know) but it did not disappoint!!!! On my way to the store to get more ingredients! Way to go Former Chef!!!

    • formerchef

      Debbie- I’m so glad you like it! I have one request; please, please, please don’t buy anything labeled “cooking wine” at the grocery store. Those wines are very poor quality, over priced and over salted. You’d do much better to buy an inexpensive bottle of red wine (under $5) and use that for your cooking. It will even keep, opened, in the refrigerator (for use in cooking) for a few weeks.

  • Allison

    If you’re using canned tomatoes instead of fresh, does that shorten the cooking time? Or is it one of those situations where the longer it cooks, the better it tastes?

  • PatB

    I am a vegetarian so was looking for flavorful Marinara. When I make vegetable soup , I use about a third cup of canned tomatoes (I prefer organic like Muir Glen) then freeze the rest of the can in a Tupperware container. Having found a few of these while cleaning out the freezer, I am making your sauce. It is still cooking and already delicious. Caramelizing the onions seems to make a big difference.

  • Darleen P.

    This is so good. I used this last fall to use up huge quantities of fresh tomatoes. Just did a quick boil and cold bath to remove the skins. I froze batches and batches of it and we have been enjoying it all winter. Today I actually made a fresh batch with more tomatoes that I had frozen from the garden! Love it!!! We also add meat to it sometimes and mushrooms and chunks of zucchini..Thanks for sharing.

  • Martha S.

    I made marinara sauce for the first time yesterday and the flavors were awesome!! Thank you!! I just have one question….it seemed a little watery and not that saucy. It was some what chunky but still watery. I let it simmer for the full 2 hours but with a lid and just removing the lid when I would go to stir it. Should I have simmered without the lid to let some of the juices evaporate? And then it would have been more saucy?
    Kind Regards!!!

  • NateW

    One question I do have is that is there a reason tomato paste isn’t needed if you are using fresh tomatoes? Do fresh tomatoes have the paste in them that the canned tomatoes don’t? Actually seems like a dumb question on its face, but I don’t know enough about the properties of tomatoes and tomato paste to know. Thanks for any answers.

  • Dawn

    I made this yesterday and it ended up pretty good but, I was wondering when you would suggest I add things like bell peppers and mushrooms? It was my first attempt at making marinara from fresh tomatoes.

    • formerchef

      I think if I were to add those things I would saute them separately and add them in the last hour of cooking. Otherwise, they might get so over cooked they will just disintegrate into the sauce.

  • Stella

    This is the best marinara sauce I have come across so far but I was wondering if the tomatoes must be seeded. I find the sedded middle the most delicious part and I wouldn’t mind a thinner sauce either, but not sure how it would affect the taste. Also since I am not a fan of the freezer, how long can I keep the sauce in the fridge? Any suggestions would be awesome! Thanks 🙂

    • formerchef

      Stella, mostly the tomatoes are seeded for texture and because sometimes the seeds can taste bitter. As far as how long in the fridge, maybe 5 days or so, as long as you cool it properly after it’s been cooked. But it does freeze well…

  • Mary Rojas

    Thank you for the marinara sauce recipe. We’ve had a good crop of tomatoes this season and we can’t wait to try the recipe. I love the idea of freezing a batch for later…. nice quick dinner for busy nights 🙂

    • formerchef

      In this case, just about any halfway palatable red table wine will do. It does not matter if it’s Merlot, Pinot or Cabernet for example. Please don’t use anything called “cooking wine”, it’s usually loaded with salt.

  • Dilissa Milburn

    You have revived my interest in Italian sauce cooking. I have been trying to make the perfect marinara for years. Thank you for doing it for me. I love your recipe and your suggestions. You rock!

  • Gracie

    I am using your recipe to make for freezer (abundance of tomatoes from garden). Should I leave wine out until I reheat?

  • Lacey

    Tomatoes seem to be the only thing actually bearing fruit in my garden this year…and they are being very prolific!! I look forward to making some of your sauce this weekend!! Not sure if we’ll use it over pasta or on pizza but I’m sure it’ll go over well. My husband tends to not like really chunky sauces though so I may toss about half of it in the blender and puree it to make him happy!!

  • faye

    Hi formerchef,This has been my go to place for anything maranara-ish,as I am still with my big Italian guy.I made chicken marsala for 1st time last night and it was gone so fast.My little dog ate a breast all by himself.Anyway,I came back to brush up on your maranara sauce for tonight.I have some small steaks to smother in the sauce and put over whole wheat spaghetti.
    But,saw your pork ragu’.Think I will ragu’ them You don’t know how much I appreciate your site and great recipe’s.Please keep it up.

  • Nicole

    Chef! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have always made my gramma’s sauce (using canned purée and paste)- a meat sauce to be accurate! As I am not a lover of tomatoes, but a lover of gardening, I have always grown tomatoes (just cause I can!) I only grow cherry tomatoes to throw whole in a green salad. Can I use the cherry tomatoes for the marinara?? Thanks!!!

    • formerchef

      Nicole- Yes, you can use cherry tomatoes, but the results may not be what you want or expect. Cherry tomatoes just don’t have as much pulp to them as larger tomatoes, and you certainly don’t want to stand there peeling them all day, so you may want to strain the sauce which will change the texture.

  • Kelly

    i am making this now and the only thing i hate about the recipe is the 2tbsp of spices that u can pick whatever u want, that never works for me I am not the kind of person that has magic fingers whenever i guess my recipe turns out awful and i have to throw it away I need an EXACT measure measurement of each spice NO GUESSWORK. *sighs* we’ll see in a few hours how its gonna turn out but I bet its not gonna be good since i had to guess 🙁 we’ll see.

  • Liz

    Hi! I searched the internet over for the perfect marinara sauce using my garden tomatoes, and I happily chose your website for my inspiration. The site is so user friendly, directions perfect to follow, and now I hope to share a delicious new sauce with my family. HOWEVER, I have a question! My husband and I worked hard together on the process, from blanching, shocking, peeling, straining, etc…With the number of tomatoes I used, it turned out about a gallon plus of sauce. Which leaves me to add all the fun stuff and cook it down today. BUT, we stopped after finally straining all the seeds out and called it a day. I left the kitchen to shower and prepare to ride out for dinner. He said he’d take care of the kitchen clean up. This morning I found the large metal bowl we poured all of the strained juice into, still sitting on my counter. I thought he had refrigerated it, and never checked behind him last night. The bowl sat on the counter all night, covered, in my central air conditioned house which is set at about 70 degrees. PLEASE OH PLEASE, tell me it’s not ruined. It looks and smells ok, but I am worried. Could you shed some light? Thanks!

    • formerchef

      Liz- Because I don’t really know all the variables of your situation, if you are at all concerned, leave it out of the sauce. The fresh tomatoes you peeled probably still have enough liquid in them and will break down as they cook, releasing more liquid. Just cook on low in the beginning so that the tomatoes don’t stick or burn in the beginning. Having the extra juice in there just allows you to cook the sauce longer without fear of over-reducing it too fast.
      That said, keep in mind the juice from the tomatoes will be cooked too. You could even bring it to a simmer a cook it for a few minutes separately before adding it to the sauce. But again, I don’t know everything about the situation to tell you 100%.

      • Liz

        ALL of the juice that was left on the counter overnight, is a gallon plus of the tomatoes we processed in the blender, then seeded through a strainer. IT (the juice) IS the sauce base. I decided to process in the blender which is a variation from your directions, because I have 3 kids that will like it better if the chunks of tomatoes are left out. Plus, I have made a lot of chunky salsa this summer, leaving the tomatoes bite sized. So, my plan was to take the “juice” and add all the rest of your suggested ingredients to it, with the addition of meat.

        Sorry if I wasn’t clear earlier. Thank you much for any advice (:

        • formerchef

          Liz- Ok, now I get it. I can’t tell you what to do in this situation, I hope you understand why. I can only know what’s good in my own kitchen. For what it’s worth, if it were my kitchen, I would be confident of the cleanliness of my hands, the bowl, etc. Then, I’d consider that I’d be cooking it for a long time which should (in most cases) kill any potential bacteria which might be there. But that’s just me. You have to decide what’s best for you.

  • Anne

    Had a large tomato harvest this year and thought I try your sauce. Simmering now. Tastes heavenly. Thank you got sharing your gift with us novices.

  • amber

    Just made the sauce and it is a big hit with the kids. It turned out kinda sweet i didnt and any sugar to it. Is it from my tomatoes? The tomatoes are from garden and i blanched and removed the seeds like it said.

    • formerchef

      Amber- If the tomatoes are from your garden, then yes, it’s probably sweet because of the natural sugars which come out in vine ripe tomatoes. That’s a GOOD thing! Store bought tomatoes are often picked green, and bred for hardiness, not flavor, so they often don’t have the same sugar content home grown do.

  • Sizwizz

    This recipe looks delicious. I noticed some of the people commented that they froze the sauce. Can you also can the sauce using a water-bath method?

  • Chuck

    Wanting to make my own marinara sauce and not being an experianced cook, let me get this straight. Are you saying it is OK to skin the fresh tomatoes, deseed them, freeze them, and later, perhaps when you have enough for a large batch, thaw them out, make your sauce, and refreeze it.

  • Shrick

    I’m so excited about this recipe…we have a small garden that over produces tomatoes…we have tons of volunteers. That being said we bought a freezer last year. I have frozen tons of tomatoes…seasoned toms for chili, for pasta, for soup…I can hardly wait to get started on this recipe…you know you can only inundate you family and friends with so many tomatoes. Thanks so much

  • Alee

    Just made this recipe. I added and subtracted a few things. I had an abundance of cherry tomatoes although they were a little annoying since they were so small, they worked great. I substituted a dry white wine for the red and added a little extra (I love the taste wine gives sauces). I also fried up sliced mushrooms and Italian sausage to add. All that together plus a rind I have been looking for an excuse to use made an AMAZING sauce. Even my boyfriend who is a known chef here in Ohio said it was pretty great (he may be a bit biased). Thanks so much for the simple and clear instructions! Will be making again and experimenting more!

  • Amy

    Hi, I couldn’t find this question in the comments. I am wondering how to measure 12 cups of ripe tomatoes. Do you simply smash as many as you can get into a measuring cup?

    • formerchef

      Once you peel and seed them there will be a lot of liquid and the tomatoes will be soft. You shouldn’t have to “smash” them too much to measure them, but yes, just put them in a measuring cup. By the way, 12 cups is just a loose guide. If you have a little more or less that’s fine too. You can also adjust the ratio of the other ingredients if you are concerned.

  • Terry

    I have used your recipe twice now, once with canned tomatos and since they are in season here, fresh tomatos. We have really enjoyed it. We have used it on pizza, in spaghetti, dipped garlic bread in it and I made goulash with it. My problem is I forgot to freeze it and was wondering how long it can be refrigerated. I hate to throw it out! It has been six days. Thanks

    • formerchef

      I would say it can probably be refrigerated up to a week, assuming it was properly cooled and maintained the whole time. Like anything else though, you need to use your best judgement regarding the status of what’s in your refrigerator. 🙂

  • Kaitlin

    I am also wondering if this recipe is suitable for canning. A lot of canning recipes seem to use bottled lemon juice for safety purposes. Would it be possible substitute the wine for lemon juice?

  • Kristak

    I love your blog and was so excited to find this recipe. I made a batch today and it did not come out right! I don’t know what to do to fix it! I need your help! I didn’t know if I should chop the tomatoes small before I added them so I did half chopped small and half in 8ths. (whole tomato cut in 4’s to de-seed, then each 1/4 into another half) I also had to leave the house so I let it sit longer than you said, with the heat off. I assumed this was ok bc it has to cool to freeze anyways. My result is very runny/watery and flavorless. I am sure the cook is the problem, not the recipe! Can you help me save this?

    • formerchef

      Kristak- You should not have to cut the tomatoes at all if they are ripe enough and you cook the sauce for long enough. I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that you may not have let the sauce cook for long enough if it’s “watery”. Tomatoes have a lot of water and the sauce needs to cook down so that some of that water evaporates, the sauce thickens and the flavors concentrate. Sometimes you might need more than 2 hours (and I’ll adjust the recipe to say that). Also if you used store bought commercially grown tomatoes (which may look nice but have no flavor), you’re not going to get a full flavored sauce. I would try cooking it a little longer over very low heat, allowing some of the water to evaporate. Also, make sure you add some kosher salt, and depending on the sweetness of the tomatoes, maybe a spoonful of sugar too.

      • Kristak

        Thanks for the reply! Yes, I bought store tomatoes, and I simmered with the lid on. It sounds like I should have left the lid off?? To reduce the liquid is what I think you are saying. I am attempting to fix it tonight and my next batch I won’t cute the tomatoes. Thanks so much!

  • Eric

    OK, so be honest here. Is this your most commented on recipe???? LOL!

    The wife and I make this recipe all the time and actually found one that is very similar that is safe for canning – since so many on this thread have asked you about it. Here’s the link:

    Thanks for posting this recipe. The wife and I plant 60 or so tomato plants every summer and can quarts upon quarts of this along with homemade salsa that lasts us all year!

    • formerchef

      Eric- Yes, most commented (263 comments so far) and most viewed (500,000 page views and counting). Thanks for the link to the canning recipe. Have you used it? The amounts and yields look a little off to me (30 lbs of tomatoes for 6 quarts of sauce?).

      • Eric

        Yes, we’ve used the canning recipe quite a bit (as well as yours but not for canning obviously). I can’t say that I notice too much of a difference in taste, etc. Unfortunately, I never really took note of how many quarts, etc. I get because we typically do multiple batches at a time.

  • IMF64

    What if you leave the seeds in – does it ruin the taste of the sauce? If you do leave them in – should they be strained out after the sauce has been made? Thank you for your help!

    • formerchef

      If you leave the seeds in and try to strain them out later, you will end up with a sauce which is very pureed and you will also end up straining out the onions and everything else. If you leave the seeds in, then you have seeds. Some people (like me) don’t like them and think they taste bitter. Some people don’t mind. It’s a matter of personal taste.

      • IMF64

        Thank you so much for your response – an overabundance of tomatoes brought me to your website and blog. It will not be the last time I visit. Your help is very much appreciated.

  • Nicole @ Just Live It

    I just made this the other day, and it was AMAZING! I’m reviewing it on my blog (and giving you credit for the recipe, as well as adding a link to your blog). Check it out, if you’d like! I have nothing but good things to say about your recipe!! 🙂

  • Kristak

    I left a comment the other day bc my batch was a fail. I didn’t see a response and there are so many comments to search thru that appear to be in no specific order! Can you pls help me! I threw the batch in the freezer to deal with later, but all my ingredients for stuffed shells are waiting for gravy! Thanks!

    • formerchef

      Hi Kristak-
      Your comment and my reply and numbers 246 and 247. Scroll up from the bottom about 6 comments and you’ll see it. Comments show in order of the date they were posted.

  • Susy García

    Hi Kristina –

    My husband and I started a small garden this year, we planted some tomatoes and we have had a very good harvest so far! I’m Mexican, so I use them a lot for… petty much everything! I want to do some marinara sauce (my husband loves it!), and found this recipe.
    Quick question… do I absolutely need to “seed” the tomatoes? why?


    Susy G.

    • Susy García

      ooops! Never mind!! 😛
      I saw someone else asked the same question, and you answered it!!!
      Thank you, anyway!!

      Susy G.

    • formerchef

      I wish I could tell you, but I can’t. She never measured anything when she cooked. It’s really up to you. Like basil? Add more. Hate thyme? Leave it out. It’s all about what you like.

  • Laurie

    I made this recipe yesterday with over twenty pounds of fresh picked garden tomatoes, and it is amazing! We ate it last night with pasta, and this morning my son poured it all over his omelette. This is definitely going to become a staple for our family.

    I have a few suggestions to address some of the concerns expressed in the comments:
    1) Cook the onions until they look like the picture. This gives the sauce such a rich taste.
    2) The red wine also adds a great deal of flavor.
    3) I made a small batch with no salt for my sister who has high blood pressure. It tasted like herbed water. I added a small amount of salt and was able to rescue the sauce.
    4) I live at 3500 feet elevation and have juicy tomatoes, so I had to simmer my sauce uncovered for seven hours before it lost its watery consistency. The flavor is still great. Don’t worry about leaving the sauce simmering until the excess water evaporates.

    Thank you for this tasty recipe, Former Chef! Next, I’m going to try your tomatillo salsa.

  • Matt

    I have a pot of sauce on now! I came for a quick recipe and the link to the peeling instructions was very convenient. It’s my first time doing it all alone so I was a little nervous but this was quite reassuring. I used about forty tomatoes from my garden, and it took about an hour to peel and seed them all, haha. I should have taken it to the table & had a seat!

    I used rendered bacon fat to fry up some green peppers with my onion, & threw in a couple of bay leaves once it was all together.

  • melissa childers

    can you give me a ballpark amount of salt and pepper to use? I am using the canned tomatoes, not fresh. Thanks, I never know how much to put in

    • formerchef

      First, if you can, start with Kosher salt rather than iodized table salt. It’s much easier to control. Add a teaspoon at a time, stir and taste. Then add pepper, in smaller amounts. I can’t really tell you how much to use because it really depends on your tomatoes and your personal taste.

  • Dawn Yeager

    Hi….I just wanted to thank you for your help. Today was my sons first day of preschool and I needed to find a way to stay busy and use up tomatoes. I had Romas and Heirlooms. I made your recipe and it turned out to be perfection. I did a red pepper and fresh basil. Thank you for your recipe. Cheers!

  • Debbie

    With a lot of tomatos in my garden, I thought I would finally try my hand at an easy marinara recipe. This recipe looked like it would be perfect-and it was! The only thing I did differently, was to puree/pulse it at the end since I don’t care for even small ‘chunky’ pieces of cooked tomato. It came out perfectly and there was not a drop of leftovers! My family loved it-even the picky eatters! Thanks for that simple yet delicious recipe!

  • Eugene

    I made this recipe and it turned out really good. I didn’t have any fresh tomatoes and I only had two 28oz cans crushed tomatoes so I just used those. However, I noticed that the recipe specified to substitute two 28oz cans crushed tomatoes AND one 28oz can whole tomatoes AND one can tomato paste.
    1) Could you tell me the purpose of the three different tomato products? I think I read on a subsequent post that the purpose of the tomato paste was as a thickener and it reduced cooking time.
    2) Do you put the whole tomatoes in without cutting them up any?
    3) Would it alter the recipe substantially if you only used crushed tomatoes?

    I noticed on your Sept 1 2012 blog that you had some problems with blossom end rot on your tomatoes this year. You might try adding 1 cup epsom salts around each plant and working that into the soil. This would add the need calcium for your tomato plants.

    • formerchef

      1. I specified the different types of canned tomatoes to give the sauce a similar texture to that of using whole fresh tomatoes. Yes, the tomato paste will thicken the sauce so you don’t have to reduce it as much.
      2. Yes, I’d put the whole ones in without cutting them as they will break apart during the cooking process.
      3. It will only alter the texture. It won’t be as chunky, but some people like that.

      Thanks for the epsom salts tip on the tomato plants. I might give that a try next year.

  • Molly

    I am making Chicken Parmesan and I am wondering if it is possible to cook this in my crock pot at the same time I cook the chicken? Trying to save some time.

  • Deborah

    This recipe is almost exactly the same as my grandmother’s sauce recipe. My grandfather was Italian and my grandmother learned how to make this very simple sauce with carmalized onions from her mother-in-law (incidently, she never learned to speak English).
    Your recipe is the same, except she never added wine or herbs, just alot of garlic, carmelized onions and a pinch of sugar, then simmer all day.
    Thank you,

  • Doddie

    I just made your awesome marinara with fresh tomatoes. it is simply delicious! However, it is very liquid. I tried cooking it down, but it is still very loose. How can I thicken it up without messing with the flavor?

    • formerchef

      Doddie- I think the best think you could do would be to cook it longer. Your tomatoes probably had a high water content (nothing wrong with that, they just take longer to cook). The only other option would be to add a little tomato paste, but you’ll still have to cook that a while longer too.

    • Robert M.

      I had a similar experience the first couple of times I tried making the recipe… watery with chunks. On my third attempt, I followed this same advice to cook it longer; this time I left it in the pot for at least four hours instead of two. The result was not watery; it was thicker, but not saucy, just more sludge-like. So, I’m afraid I’m going to have to give up on this. The flavor was great, but I just don’t see how you can achieve a true sauce-like consistency using fresh tomatoes unless there are some other critical steps that aren’t included in this recipe.

        • Robert M.

          They’re not homegrown, just from the supermarket. On my second attempt I tried roma tomatoes at the advice of a chef friend of mine, but didn’t notice any real difference in the end result. I’m pretty sure using tomato paste would make it much easier to achieve the desired consistency, but that almost feels like cheating. If I’m going to do it from scratch, I really want to do it from scratch. Otherwise, I’ll just stick with the $1.59/jar product in my favorite supermarket which I actually like very much.

          • formerchef

            Robert-I do think the type of tomato makes a difference. Commercially grown tomatoes are picked green so that they hold up to transport. Even if they look red, they typically have very little flavor and the texture is nothing like homegrown. This sauce is best made with homegrown or farmer’s market tomatoes which have been allowed to ripen on the vine. But if you are happy with jarred sauce (sometimes I buy it myself), there’s nothing wrong with that too.

  • senior gorilla

    Do you know the origin of the tomato? Many of your readers might be surprised to know it is not from Italy, but from Peru! But the ancient Peruvians did NOT have pasta.

  • Steve

    Always use some sort of wine/booze when cooking marinaria, there are flavor components in tomatoes that can only be released when cooked with alcohol.

  • Lyman

    Your marinara recipe is a favorite of ours! I like to play with it; this week I increased garlic to nine cloves, added a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, a lb of ground beef and a lb or so of mild Italian sausages cut up. Took it to work for a lunch potluck, got complements, and they ate it of course. Some queso dip on my plate mixed in with the sauce and it was good. So I built a serving of pasta, marinara sauce, and queso; kind of a quick Tex-Mex-Italian lasagna. It was wonderful! I was so full, I think I slept at my desk the rest of the afternoon.

  • Tom Welch

    I have studied at a very expensive culinary school. I went to Italy and saw. I have never attempted anything fresh before. I made two batches. I will never buy a bottle of sauce again. Best day I’ve spent in a long time. Best dinner I’ve had in a long time. It is an amazing sauce. Thank you for sharing.

  • Tom Welch

    I used Roma for my first batch and pealed and seeded and set to simmer and then . I liquified with blender and returned to cooktop to simmer. Was beautiful. Second batch I made with store bought beefsteak tomato and threw in pound of lean ground beef left seeds but pealed did not remove seeds. It broke down so well. It is truly a great sauce. I am going to play with this one. Roma is less acidic than other tomatoes there is your difference. Regular beefsteak will breakdown quicker and not need to be liquified in blender.

  • Eva

    Hmm it looks like your website ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I submitted and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog.

    I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to everything. Do you have any recommendations for beginner blog writers? I’d genuinely appreciate it.

  • John

    I come from a traditional Italian family where cooking is a way of life. Unfortunately my grandmother’s reciepe was lost when she pasted away as all best reciepes were kept in her head. I have been looking for a receipe that was like hers but have not found it. I once made a sauce that was close but not the same. I do remember her saying that tha process of making the sauce was as important as the ingredience. One thing I would like to point out in your receipe is that the addition of sugar does not counteract acid in the tomatoes it just sweetens the sauce. However I find that a very small pinch of baking soda works wonders and should be put into the sauce first then tasted before the addition of any sugar as you will find that the sauce having the acid neutalized naturally becomes sweeter and therefore will need little or no sugar. My grandmother had three basic sauces, plain tomatoe, meat sauce which she always used three kinds of meat and always insisted on one of them being a fatty chicked leg and the third was Marinara which ussually included sardines, mussels and shrimp. Oh and there will never be anything as good as freash vine rippened tomatoes right from the garden. I would also point out that the tomatoes should be peeled, cored and seeded. As the cores are ussually bitter where alot of the acid comes from. Growing up on a farm has its advantages and there is nothing like freash grown herbs. Last just a comment on the wine addition I did notice she always added Chianti it came in a straw basket from the Tusscany region of Italy I think the brand name was Rosso. My mother used to use the empty bottles as candle holders for on the table. After having several candles burned of different colors they made interesting decorative pieces.

  • Jackie

    I followed this recipe last night. I had to use can tomatoes but it turned out wonderful! I fed it to the family and even the picky eaters ate it up! Thank you for sharing! I don’t think I can feed them jar sauce again! Wonderful!

  • Jenni

    Thank you for the easy recipe! I am a member of Bountiful Baskets Co-op and I ordered a 24 lb box of tomatoes just for sauces and now I am VERY excited for them to come in this afternoon so I can make this Marinara sauce. I do not drink but am wanting to add at least 1/4 cup of red wine to the sauce. Do you have a wine recommendation?

      • Jenni

        This is by far better than anything I could have bought in a store! It has been a HUGE hit and I am currently making 2 large batches to accomodate the requests. Thank you Former Chef for helping me make a great Marinara.

    • formerchef

      Age, exposure to air, and sunlight will cause olive oil to go rancid, not high heat.
      Olive oil, especially extra virgin, shouldn’t be used with high heat because it has a lower burn point than say, canola oil. This is why extra virgin olive oil not often used for frying. High heat will not make it go rancid and my recipe does not specify high heat. In fact, it needs to be medium heat (as specified) or lower to caramelize the onions.

  • Krysti

    My family loves Lasagna but we never make sauce from scratch looking at this recipe it look’s easy follow especially after reading your method of removing the skin. I look forward to trying this recipe next week 🙂

  • Amber

    Just gotta tell you how much I love your recipe. I have made it several times already and I can the left over for pizza, lasagna or whatever, later. I don’t drink wine personally but I do enjoy cooking with it, and your are right, it adds that extra wonderful flavor with it. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Crystal

    I have searched and searched for a marinara recipe that I like. I love your recipe! I use it for the basic marinara in spaghetti and pizza and my family loves it. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Eugene

    I made this marinara sauce and it was very good and I would like to make it again. However, I did notice one variation when I made it compared to the directions. When I went to deglaze the pan with the wine, there was really nothing to deglaze. I did not use a nonstick pan – I actually used a very nice sauté pan from Gourmet Standard that was stainless steel with aluminum core.
    I suspect that I didn’t cook the onions long enough to form a fond on the bottom of the pan and that I should cook them longer. I wouldn’t think you would want to increase the cooking time after adding the minced garlic and herbs because the garlic may burn if you do that.
    Or maybe I did not have the heat high enough?
    Any advice on this would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Carol Cannon

    LOL!!! 12 tomatoes?????? Last week I used 40 pounds of tomatoes to make my homemade sauce. Though I don’t use wine… in anything. I’ve got 8 quarts in the freezer now. Would have had more but my son made sure he got his 2 quarts. I have a fantastic produce market down the street that I can buy 25 pound boxes of tomatoes for $10.00 if I’m there when the truck comes in. There I sit….. at 5:30 a.m. in my power chair with my grand-daughters little red wagon to haul the boxes home. I may be old and crippled up, but I still love to do it all from scratch. Love your site. {:0)

  • Loulag13

    Made it and turned out delicious! Had a pile of tomatoes from my garden, didnt measure them, probably had less than 12 cups tho. Cooked per directions and then ran it thru a food mill, canned it with the neat little attachment for my food saver. Only got one quart, but what a sense of accomplishment! ( since I have never made something like this before). Thank you Chef!

    • formerchef

      Great to hear!
      Note about the food saver attachment for canning jars (I have one too); keep in mind that anything in it will not be shelf stable. Anything perishable must me refrigerated or frozen.

  • Ann

    Hi! Love the recipe. I have a 1/2 acre vegetable garden this year. Downsized from last year. Fresh tomatoes are all over my kitchen. I just bought a dehydrator and dried some but am really looking forward to making this recipe. I am going to can some, adding 1 TBLS of lemon juice to jar before canning. So thanks, I know what my family is having for dinner tomorrow. Thanks for posting! AND KEEP IT COMING.

  • Anita

    I used your recipe last summer to make sauce when we were over ran with tomatoes from our garden. I froze it in bags and used it all winter. I used my last bag yesterday for a stuffed zucchini recipe. I pulled up your site to review the recipe in preparation for this years crop of tomatoes. I will start cooking it earlier and cook more than this year since I know how delicious and adaptable the sauce is. Thank you for a great recipe and clear directions. Here’s to the best batch ever!

  • Heather

    I was looking for a marinara sauce to make from scratch in an effort to control the salt and sugar levels that you usually find in unknown quantities from jarred sauces. Unfortunately, I killed my garden this summer by not watering enough and then going away on vacation! The equivalents for fresh tomatoes vs canned really came in handy (I was surprised, though, that some brands of canned tomatoes had sugar added to them). My family has been salivating at the smells from the kitchen all afternoon, sneaking “tastes”! The water is just about to boil on the stove, so we will be eating soon. Definitely a grat recipe, I’m glad that I found your site and I will be reading more.

  • Lesley

    I found your recipe while looking for things to do with fresh tomatoes. It’s now my go-to recipe for marinara sauce–absolutely delicious! Thank you for your recipe and your whole website!

  • Joanna

    Loved how simple and easy this recipe was! I didn’t have any red wine, but I added fresh mushrooms and fresh basil, it came out divine! I live close to a city market where I purchases all of the fresh ingredients and my total cost was about $3.50. This was even more amazing! Better tasting than any sauce I could have purchased at the store and it’s about 3x the quantity with no preservatives!

  • Gudrun krause

    Thank you for this wonderful recipe.
    After reading the comments I have to say this
    I spent years in Italy. I have friends there. A marinara sauce is a tomato sauce. It is a basic sauce.
    Not a seafood sauce!!!
    You can make it into a seafood sauce or meat sauce. Or whatever sauce you like.
    But the basic marinara sauce is a tomato sauce!!!
    This is a wonderful recipe. If you don’t like it don’t make it. If you have no clue about sauces , even as a “chef” don’t comment and get your money back from culinary school.
    I made this sauce to a meat sauce for a lasagne and it was the bomb!!!
    Thanks again!!

  • Ange

    Thanks for this. I live in China where the cheapest sauces are over $3 per can but a can of peeled tomatoes is $1. I just made this and it’s great! It’s slightly cheaper and much tastier.

    • formerchef

      Any kind of wine? No, never use anything lebeled as “cooking wine”. It has too much salt. Add the wine of your choice when instructed in the recipe. I would choose red over white.

  • judy

    I love this recipe! I have an excess of yellow summer crookneck squash and wonder if that couldn’t be added. It would add a little sweetness and thickening I think.

  • Radeana Wilson

    I made this recipe last year and canned it using a water bath method. I added a little finely shredded carrot because I read that tip in another blog, but I liked your recipe best so I went with it. Turned out wonderful. Had lots of compliments on it. Getting ready to make some more. Thank you for an easy and delicious recipe.

    • formerchef

      Thanks for letting me know! I’ve made gallons of this sauce this summer and it’s practically foolproof. In fact, we had some last night to which I added Italian sausage and it was delicious.

  • Mary

    Well thank you so much, I decided to look up how to peel and seed (especially) tomatoes after I finished doing it for a marinara sauce (very similar). Boy I would have saved a lot of time and effort if I had read your methods first. Probably would have had more juice to cook down as well. I have grown several varieties of tomatoes especially for making sauces this year and will try your recipe and methods next. So far the Oplaka is by far the largest and most substantial tomato that I have trialed. Thank you again, excellent photos and step by step techniques.

  • Chuck

    I have enjoyed using your marinara sauce recipe for 3 or 4 years. I love good meatless marinara for dipping bread sticks and such. It’s a great way to utilize my garden tomatoes. I follow your recipe pretty much to a T. The only difference is I peel my fresh tomatoes and then run them through a hand cranked food strainer to remove the seeds. The sauce comes out OK my wife loves it but, I feel it is lacking something in flavor. There is little Italian restaurant near me and I believe there sauce has a much better flavor. Would running the tomatoes through a food trainer make that much difference in flavor. The texture is just fine after cooking it down, or should I just try some different spices.

    • formerchef

      I don’t think it’s the food strainer that does it. More likely it’s the tomatoes or something else the restaurant puts in their sauce (like extra salt or sugar). If the fresh tomatoes you use are not 100% ripe, then it’s going to impact the flavor. The variety of tomato can change the flavor. Something else to consider is that most likely the restaurant is using canned tomatoes, not fresh.

  • Daina

    Hi, I’m wondering if you’ve got a type of tomato to recommend using when making marinera sauce? Also, I can’t find your tomato peeling technique alluded to by another commenter. Help! And thanks for the great post.

  • Angelina

    Hi! I have an over-abundance of tomatoes in our garden, so I was looking for how to make Marinara Sauce. I was happy to come across your blog, and I liked that your directions are very clear. I can’t wait to make it! I’m also signing-up for your blog.

  • Judy

    This recipe is the first and only marinara sauce I use. My husband loves it too!! I usually put in the crockpot on low and it turns out great. Thank you for sharing it. I love your recipes.

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