Fresh Marinara Sauce

tomato sauce

This  recipe is my own take take on an America’s Test Kitchen recipe.  I LOVE making my own marinara sauce– it’s so simple and tasty that I doubt you’ll ever buy a jar of spaghetti sauce again!


  • In a large saucepan or pot, melt two tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat.
  • Once the butter is melted, but before it starts to bubble, add 1/3 cup of finely chopped or grated white onion. (The larger-sized grate is fine for this.)
  • As the onion cooks, add either fresh (chopped) oregano, or you can use dried oregano–to taste (You could also use marjoram).
  • Sometimes, I chop some fresh parsley and add it at this point– whatever you like.
  • Once the onion is cooked-through and soft, add minced garlic.  (You can use a couple of cloves, but since I love garlic, I would probably use 4 or 5!)
  • To this, now you can add a pinch or two of of salt (I use kosher salt).
  • You don’t need to cook the garlic much at all.  In fact, I would go ahead and have the other ingredients ready to throw in within a minute or so of adding the garlic to the onions.
  • After just a minute or so, add freshly cracked black pepper (or you can use dried red pepper flakes)–to taste.
  • Next, add 1-2 can(s) of crushed tomatoes. (I like Muir Glenn Fire Roasted crushed tomatoes!)muir glenn
  • Then, add about 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and about 1/2 cup of water (optional).
  • Stir together, then let the sauce simmer on low for at least 10 minutes, or until the sauce thickens to your liking.
  • After the sauce has simmered, add salt to taste, but be sure to taste the sauce before salting. (Remember, other ingredients in the sauce have already been salted, and using canned tomatoes, while tasty and convenient, often have some salt in them already.)  If you added water and have the time to let it simmer, you can let the sauce cook down for as long as you like– the longer it cooks, the more flavor develops! If the sauce ever gets too thick, just add a little more water and stir to incorporate.
  • Sometimes, I use an immersion blender to blend the sauce into a smooth consistency– it all depends on your taste and liking.
  • Once you’re done simmering the sauce, turn the heat off of your pan and stir in about 1/2 cup of freshly chopped basil.
  • If you have any other vegetables that you cooked prior to making the sauce, this is when you’d want to add them: sautéed mushrooms, roasted peppers, capers, etc.
  • Finally, add about 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stir in to incorporate. (Adding the olive oil at the end will give you that olive oil flavo while keeping your sauce from having a bitterness that can come from over-worked olive oil.)

* Special Hint: the pasta you serve will be all the more delicious if you cook it just until it’s al dente, and then combine the (cooked, un-rinsed) pasta and sauce together.  Let it sit for just a few a few minutes before serving.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese and a little fresh basil– to taste.

tomato sauce ingredients