Marinara Sauce

Updated: Oct 13

This is a basic but very tasty tomato sauce. It’s great as is, over some penne or chicken parmesan, in a lasagna, or as the base of a meat sauce or a cream sauce.

*See Cook’s Notes for variations. 


  • 5 TBSP olive oil

  • ¼ cup grated carrot

  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 cup diced onion

  • ½ teaspoon salt

  • ½ pepper

  • 2 28-ounce cans crushed tomato sauce


  • In a heavy-bottom saucepot or dutch oven, add 5 TBSP of olive oil and heat on medium-high heat.

  • Add grated carrot, minced garlic, and diced onion and stir.

  • Lower heat to medium (you don’t want the veggies to burn so adjust the heat as needed and stir).

  • Sauté carrots, garlic, and onion until soft and tender (about 5 minutes).

  • Add ½ teaspoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper and stir.

  • Add 2 quarts of tomato sauce and stir.

  • Raise the heat until the sauce comes to a gentle boil and then lower heat to simmer.

  • At this point, you can add dried basil if that’s what you are using.

  • Let the sauce simmer for 45 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

  • Tear fresh basil with your hands and add it to the sauce.

  • Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

Cook’s Notes:

This sauce is great on its own, however, here's a couple of ways to add to this already flavorful sauce:

Sunday Gravy: My grandfather always added meatballs, thin pork chops to his Sunday sauce. He would add some oil to the bottom of a dutch oven and brown the pork on both sides. Once browned, he removed the meat and set it aside.

At this point, you can start your marinara sauce in the same pot or add your already-made marinara sauce. Add the meat back into the sauce and add some meatballs. I add pork, meatballs, and about a cup of thickly-sliced pepperoni (it gives the sauce a little kick and tang). Simmer for two to three hours (or longer) and serve over your favorite pasta.

Tomato-Cream Sauce: To one recipe of marinara sauce and 1 cup heavy cream, ½ cup grated parmesan or grated Romano cheese, a pinch of pepper, and stir. Add it to your favorite pasta and serve.


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