Aggie's Kitchen

Simple Marinara Sauce

Before I posted one of my most asked for recipes, I had to do a little research on what to call it first. This is what I learned (from Wikipedia):

Marinara sauce is an Italian-American term for a simple tomato sauce with herbs—mostly parsley and basil—but, contrary to its name (which is Italian for “sailor-style”) without anchovies, fish, or seafood. In Italy, marinara refers to a seafood-based sauce or food and does not imply that tomato is either included or excluded.

I have always assumed marinara sauce to be simple, chunky tomato sauce but I never looked up it’s actual definition. My family is from Sicily and to be honest, I don’t really remember referring to our sauce as “marinara” until we opened up our second restaurant in Florida over 20 something years ago. Our sauce was always “sauce” (not gravy either…just sauce).

My sauce, apparently, is a perfect example of what marinara is. It’s simple that’s for sure, and that’s just the way I like it. I’ve always loved tomato-ey sauces, and I have always asked for an extra scoop over the top while my mom or grandpa set up the plates. That little extra sauce made a nice companion to the extra bread I like to consume during our weekly Sunday pasta lunches. Total perfection I tell you. Nothing better than cleaning up your pasta plate with a chunk of bread.

I put together this quick marinara sauce yesterday for our Sunday lunch, served over whole wheat rotini pasta and accompanied with sun-dried tomato chicken sausages, roasted broccoli and some roasted eggplant. Oh, and don’t forget the Parmesan and red pepper flakes.

Print Recipe

Simple Marinara Sauce


  • 1 32 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can diced tomatoes (Italian style or regular is fine)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • good pinch salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 small handful of fresh basil torn


  1. In a medium sauce pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add garlic and onion. Saute for a few minutes until onion starts to soften and all becomes fragrant. Add both cans of tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Season with dried oregano, salt and pepper and stir. Let sauce simmer on low for about 20-25 minutes. Taste for salt along the way and adjust. Add fresh torn basil towards end of cooking time. Serve over warm pasta and enjoy.

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30 comments on “Simple Marinara Sauce”

  1. Pingback: Simple Marinara Sauce Recipe | Aggie's Kitchen – Fine Food Recipes

  2. Can’t beat a simple sauce over hot pasta. Total comfort food for me and I could put a bowl of this in front of my kids 97 times and they’d happily gobble it up 97 times!

    • I’m with you! My kids can eat pasta day after day, meal after meal. Though my son tries to get crazy on me and tell me he doesn’t like “sauce” . Ludicrous!

  3. Looks so good, a perfect easy comfort food!

  4. I love a simple marinara sauce and this one is just loverly! xoxo

  5. One of my most favorite things to eat! Yours looks fabulous

  6. i kind of like that you put that definition in there…i never would have thought about it meaning sailor-style!

  7. Hello! Looks delicious.. could I freeze it for another meal, and if so, how long would it stay good for? Thanks!

    • Hi Jenn! Yes, you can definitely freeze for another meal! I would say 3-6 months is probably a safe amount of freezer time. Just make sure it’s sealed tight to avoid freezer burn. Enjoy! 🙂

  8. We are thinking alike! I just made sauce over the weekend, meatless too, unlike my bolognese sauce because I needed it smooth for a recipe! Love it! We have similar tastes I think and my son also says he doesn’t like sauce, Crazy I tell ya! Oh My dad is from Rome! 😉

    • doesn’t it make you crazy to hear that about not liking sauce?? LOL. I remind him how much he looooooved it as a baby. That kid ate pasta and sauce all the time!

    • oh and I love that your dad is from Rome! Have you ever been to visit? I agree, we do have similar tastes in food! 🙂

  9. Simple is the best. This sounds so good, Aggie! Anything with basil is A-OK in my book!

  10. Ohhhhh man, I love a simple sauce! GORG.

  11. Oh, the best! And I always love hearing about your family history!

  12. Looks so fresh and yummy!

  13. This is similar to the way I make it. I can eat it every night. Yours looks delish!

  14. Pingback: Marinara receipts | Framers

  15. It looks perfect, and I love reading more about your background. Your family has a restaurant? I love that! I have always wanted to open a little cafe. 🙂

  16. You’re killing me! 🙂 The minute my eating plan allows it, I’m so making this over pasta. FOr now…. I’m going to try it to pour over chicken with cheese on top. I’ll add it to the menu plan for this week!!!!

  17. Pingback: Weigh~In Wednesday…. is BACK!

  18. Aggie! This is perfect! I needed a recipe and I came straight here. 🙂 Don’t you feel good being my first stop?

  19. for authentic italian sauce, always use extra-virgin olive oil..