Basic marinara sauce

A bowl of tomato sauce and a bowl of cherry tomatoes
Recipe credit

University of Minnesota Extension Department of Family, Health and Wellbeing

About this recipe

Serving size
1/2 cup
Time to make
20 minutes preparation; 20 minutes cook time
Special criteria


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 28-ounce or 2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (or 4 cups fresh, chopped)
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried basil or 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water as needed to thin the sauce


  1. In a large pan on the stovetop, sauté onion and garlic in oil until translucent.
  2. Add diced tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, basil, bay leaf, salt, and pepper to the pan.
  3. Let simmer for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Stir occasionally.

Tips and variations

  • Use marinara sauce with pasta, as pizza sauce, in Italian style soup, or in baked dishes.
  • Use fresh tomatoes in season for lower sodium and a fresher flavor.
  • Refrigerate leftover sauce for up to 3 days.
  • Freeze sauce in 1-quart freezer bags. Thaw in warm water for 10 minutes before using.

Nutritional info

Total fat
0.7 g
Saturated fat
0.1 g
0 mg
423 mg
Total carbohydrates
11 g
Dietary fiber
2.9 g
2 g
Total sugar
5.7 g