If you have a glut of tomatoes, why not make a batch of this easy Marinara sauce? It’s a great standby to keep in the freezer, and you can use it to whip up delicious meals in no time.
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Best spaghetti sauce
I don’t normally go to the bother of making Marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes. I tend to use boxes of passata as I’ve done in these recipes for crispy chicken parmesan with marinara sauce and steak strips in marinara sauce. But hubby has been busy down on the allotment and he’s been bringing me more tomatoes than I can cope with.
I’ve already made umpteen tomato quiches and huge batches of chilli tomato and onion sauce and arrabbiata sauce with marrow which are safely in the freezer. But when hubby came home yesterday bearing yet another bagful of tomatoes, I realised that I needed to up my game and come up with something else to do with them.
And to be perfectly honest, I’m so glad I did. This marinara sauce is so tasty you could put it in a dish by itself and eat it by the spoonful. It’s absolutely the best sauce poured over spaghetti, and makes your Meatless Monday meal a breeze.
I may never buy a box of passata again!
This marinara sauce is such an easy recipe to make too. I used my food processor to chop onions as small as I could get them, and then blitzed up the tomatoes until they were liquid. I added a couple of spoonfuls of Italian herbs for extra flavour, sugar to enhance the flavour of the tomatoes, and salt for seasoning, and let the whole lot simmer for about an hour until it thickened.
I didn’t add garlic because I wanted to be able to use the marinara sauce in various dishes that may or may not need garlic, but there’s absolutely nothing stopping you from adding a couple of garlic cloves when you make it.
What you will need
This recipe makes about one litre, or 2 pints of sauce, but you can easily double the ingredients to make a larger batch.
Tomatoes – you can use whatever tomatoes you prefer. I had a mixture of beef tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and salad tomatoes. Plum tomatoes would also be good to use because they tend to have less pips or seeds.
Onions – by weight you will need half the amount of onions as tomatoes, so a 2: 1 ratio of tomatoes to onions.
Olive oil – for frying the onions.
Italian herbs – you could use mixed herbs instead. This is simply a mixture of oregano, basil and marjoram.
Sugar – I always add a teaspoon of sugar when cooking with tomatoes, just to bring out the flavour.
Salt – this is to your own taste.
Water – the amount of water you will need will depend on how much water is in your tomatoes. The addition of the water helps the onions to soften while the sauce is cooking, and the water should all have evapourated once the sauce is ready. I normally add about a quarter of a cup.
What to do
This recipe will make about 1 litre or 2 pints of marinara sauce.
**You can get the complete recipe for marinara sauce on the printable recipe card at the end of this post**
Peel the onions and cut them into chunks. Whizz them in a food processor until they are very finely chopped.
If you don’t have a food processor, you can chop them finely with a sharp knife, or grate them on a box grater.
Transfer the onions to a saucepan with a tablespoon of olive oil and leave them to sweat gently while you prepare the tomatoes.
If you are adding garlic, you can add your crushed garlic to the pan with the onions.
Keep the pan on a very low heat so the onions do not brown.
Remove the skin from the tomatoes and cut any of the larger tomatoes into smaller pieces.
Transfer the tomatoes to a food processor and whizz them around until they are liquidised.
If you don’t have a food processor, use a box grater over a large plate, or chop the tomatoes finely with a knife.
Transfer the liquidised tomatoes to the onions in the saucepan and add the sugar, salt, water and Italian herbs.
Cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to a simmer and leave for about one hour until the sauce has thickened.
If there is still a lot of liquid in the sauce, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and add more salt or sugar as needed.
This is the consistency you are looking for. Most of the liquid will have evapourated and the sauce should be very thick.
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Ideas for using Marinara sauce
With a few packets of this sauce in your freezer, you can whip up delicious meals in minutes.
- Serve marinara sauce over a bowl of spaghetti just by itself for a delicious Meatless Monday meal
- Use it as a dipping sauce for these sesame chicken strips.
- Make meatball wellingtons and serve them on a bed of marinara sauce.
- If you enjoy fish, why not try this recipe for Mediterranean oven-baked cod
Tips and FAQ
Absolutely. Just portion it into meal-sized packs (I use plastic freezer bags) and you can freeze it for up to 6 months.
To use, let it defrost in the refrigerator (or use the microwave if you are in a hurry) and use the marinara sauce in place of tomato passata in whatever recipe you are making.
I wouldn’t store it longer than 4 days in the refrigerator.
I find that adding a small amount of water to the sauce helps the onions to soften.
Yes, if you prefer a smoother sauce you can blend the sauce once it has cooled. Use an electric blender or a stick blender.
The easiest way to peel tomatoes is to put them in a bowl and cover them with boiling water. Leave them for 2 minutes, then pour off the boiling water and cover them with cold water.
If you prefer, you can cut a small cross on the bottom of each tomato before pouring on the boiling water, but I don’t bother doing this. I find the skins slip off easily enough without the extra step.
The Marinara sauce will thicken naturally as the liquid evapourates. If the sauce still has too much liquid after the cooking time has expired, remove the lid and turn the heat up slightly. Leave it to continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the liquid has evapourated and the sauce has thickened. Keep your eye on it once you have turned up the heat so that it does not burn.
Save for later
If you would like to make this Marinara sauce, why not save the recipe to one of your Pinterest boards so you can find it easily. Just click on the image below.
Alternatively, you can save the recipe by clicking on the floating heart icon on the right-hand side of the screen.
You may also like to try some of my other sauce recipes:
- Best barbeque sauce
- Jack Daniels dipping sauce
- Cherry sauce (perfect with roast duck)
- Hunter’s sauce (creamy mushroom sauce)
- Cheesy honey mustard sauce
Easy Marinara sauce
(Click the stars to rate this recipe)
- 2¼ pounds / 1 kg grams fresh tomatoes
- 1 pount / 500 grams onions
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- 2 teaspoons Italian herbs or mixed herbs
- 2 teaspoons sugar or to taste
- ¼ cup water approximately
- 1 – 2 cloves garlic optional and to taste
- Peel the onions (and garlic if using). Cut the onions into quarters and process them in a food processor until they are very finely chopped.1 pount / 500 grams onions, 1 – 2 cloves garlic
- Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and add the processed onions.2 tablespoons olive oil
- Turn the heat to low and leave the onions to cook while you prepare the tomatoes.
- Remove the skin from the tomatoes and cut any of the larger tomatoes into smaller pieces.2¼ pounds / 1 kg grams fresh tomatoes
- Transfer the tomatoes to the food process and process them until they are liquidised.
- Transfer the tomatoes to the onions in the saucepan and add the remaining ingredients.1 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons Italian herbs, 2 teaspoons sugar, ¼ cup water
- Cover the pan with a lid, turn the heat down to a simmer and leave for about one hour until the sauce has thickened. Stir occasionally.
- If the sauce is still very liquid, remove the lid for the last 10 minutes.
- Taste for seasoning and add more salt or sugar as needed.
- To serve, pour over spaghetti, or freeze for later use as a substitute for passata.
To use, let it defrost in the refrigerator (or use the microwave if you are in a hurry) and use the marinara sauce in place of tomato passata in whatever recipe you are making. Nutrition has been calculated on a serving size of 1 cup.
I am not a nutritionist. The nutrition information has been calculated using an on-line calculator, and is intended for information and guidance purposes only. If the nutrition information is important to you, you should consider calculating it yourself, using your preferred tool.
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