Everybody’s gotta have a basic red sauce recipe in their back pocket. It’s like THE easiest go-to dinner ever. I always, always have crushed tomatoes in my pantry, I always have onions, and I obvi always have garlic (garlic is life – peep the blog title, yo). And that’s basically all you need for this! I personally prefer adding meat at the very beginning and making it a meaty red sauce, but we’re going FULL OUT basic right here for the most easy simplicity.
You can serve this goodness over pasta or spiralized veggies, use it in casseroles like lasagna or baked ziti, ladle it over some chicken for chicken parmesan – the possibilities are endless!
Here’s the thing about marinara sauce – it is SO easy to make at home, there is just no reason to buy it at the store. Not to mention the store’s versions are loaded with sugar and other unpronounceable ingredients. You know exactly what’s going into a from-scratch version, and you know it’s made with whole, unprocessed ingredients. And you can control the sugar. If you like a little bit of sweetness in your marinara, you can add 1/2 teaspoon of sugar at the end to take the edge off that acidity from the tomatoes. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t – it depends on what I’m feelin’ that day.
But 1/2 teaspoon of sugar is still a lot less than you’re going to find in the store bought versions. Trust me – once you get used to homemade, you won’t want to eat the jarred stuff anymore!
Check out the video below to watch how to make this basic marinara:
Basic Marinara Sauce
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 25 mins
- Total Time: 30 minutes
- A few teaspoons olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- A few pinches red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar (totally optional – some people like their red sauces a little sweeter. I taste at the end and decide)
- Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add your olive oil. When hot, add your onions and garlic, season with salt, pepper, and your Italian seasoning. Stir to combine and cook until the onions have softened
- Add your crushed tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, and add your red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and bring to a simmer
- Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
- When the 20 minutes are up, season to taste with salt and pepper and decide whether you want to add a little bit of sweetness with the 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t – it just depends on the day!
Italian seasoning is just a pre-made mix of dried herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, and thyme. If you have all these things and don’t want to purchase the pre-made mix, you can just combine these spices to make about a teaspoon of “Italian mix!”