15-Minute Italian Marinara Sauce

This 15-minute Italian Marinara Sauce is a simple yet flavourful sauce. With garlic, basil, and oregano, it has an earthy, hearty flavour that’s the perfect complement to your pasta, mozzarella sticks or other Italian favourites.

Have you ever had a recipe that you loved and made so frequently for a period that then you just…forgot about it? Then rediscovered it a few years later, so excited to make it again?

This 15-minute Italian Marinara Sauce is that recipe for me. I used to make this so frequently and then got distracted by new shiny recipes. I recently pulled this recipe out of the cupboard and wow, so simple and delicious!

I owe my readers an apology for not sharing this with you sooner because it is one of the easiest, most flavourful sauce recipes I’ve made. You likely have all of the ingredients already on hand and I promise this tastes so much better than any jar of marinara you can grab at the store!

Pair this simple marinara sauce with spaghetti noodles and you can have a tasty Italian dinner in just 20 minutes!

There are just a handful of ingredients – crushed tomatoes, olive oil, onion, garlic and a few dried herbs -so that each flavour is allowed to infuse and enrich the entire sauce. When you’re working with such wholesome and flavorful ingredients, less is often more.

This is a sugar free marinara sauce, with no added sugar. Serve over zoodles instead of pasta for an easy, healthy dinner.

If you’re looking for a quick and healthy Italian dinner, look no further than this easy marinara sauce!

Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Crushed tomatoes – The base of this deliciously easy marinara sauce.
  • Olive oil – Recommended for cooking the onions and garlic, I do not recommend substituting with other oils.
  • Onion – Make sure these are fully cooked before adding the tomatoes as the acidic base will keep them firm and from cooking further.
  • Garlic – Perhaps the most important seasoning, take care to not burn but rather allow the flavours to be released into the dish.
  • Bay leaves – These add an earthy flavour to this simple marinara sauce.
  • Dried oregano – Simming brings out the flours in dried oregano. Make sure to add it with the crushed tomatoes so it has time to simmer or else it may have a bitter taste.
  • Dried basil – One of the signature flavours of a traditional Italian marinara sauce.
  • Dried parsley – Add dried with the other herbs or substitute with fresh parsley at the end, if you choose.

How To Make This Easy Marinara Sauce

To make this sugar free marinara sauce, begin by sauteeing the garlic and onions in olive oil. Cook on medium heat until the onions are translucent.

Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, parsley, bay leaves and basil to the pan. Stir.

Let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent burning.

Remove the bay leave and serve with your favourite pasta. 

Top with hot peppers and some parmigiana if you want to add a kick to your dinner.

What is the difference between marinara sauce and pizza sauce?

Marinara sauce and pizza sauce are very similar, as they are often made with the same base ingredients. The main difference is that marinara sauce often tends thinner and a tad bit “chunkier” than pizza sauce but thicker than a typical pasta sauce. It isn’t necessarily chunky but not pureed smooth like a pizza sauce would be.

The flavour of a marinara sauce is also much more intense because it is the sauce that gives plain pasta flavour vs pizza which relies on toppings.

Pizza sauce uses raw tomatoes where marinara cooks the tomatoes with the herbs etc. The cooking process for pizza sauce takes place while cooking the pizza.

Marinara sauce can be used as pizza sauce but pizza sauce typically cannot be used as marinara sauce.

What to Serve With a Simple Marinara Sauce:

  • Pasta! Italian Marinara sauce makes an ideal pasta sauce
  • Mozzarella sticks or other versions of fried, breaded cheese
  • Breadsticks
  • Meatballs
  • Chicken parmesan
  • Eggplant
  • Ravioli
  • Lasagna

How to Store Italian Marinara Sauce

If you end up with leftover marinara sauce or even want to whip up a double batch of this simple marinara sauce to have extra on hand, you’re in luck because it’s easy to store.

Allow the Italian marinara sauce to cool completely and then put in tightly sealed containers. It can be frozen for up to 3 months and will last in the fridge for a week.

How To Thicken Marinara Sauce

If you feel your marinara sauce is too runny, you can thicken it by continuing to simmer with the lid off, until more of the water has evaporated. Be sure to stir frequently and keep an eye on it so it does not burn.

You May Like These Other Italian Recipes:

Marinara Sauce piled high on top of a bed of pasta.

15 Minute Italian Marinara Sauce

5 from 6 votes
Print Pin Rate
Author: Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon


  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried basil


  • Add olive oil, garlic and onions to a pan.
  • Sautee over medium heat until the onions are translucent.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, parsley, bay leaves and basil. Stir.
  • Simmer all ingredients over low heat for 10 minutes. Stir frequently so the sauce does not burn.
  • Remove the bay leaf.
  • Serve hot over your favorite pasta.
  • Top with hot peppers. (Optional)
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Please Note:The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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  1. 5 stars
    Our whole family loves marinara sauce and I love anything that comes together this quickly and easily.

  2. 5 stars
    This looks so delicious and yummy! I can’t wait to give this recipe a try! My family is going to love this!

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