Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce from Scratch!

Homemade Marinara Sauce From Scratch

Delicious Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce from scratch that is so easy, you’ll never need to buy a jar of Marinara Sauce again! Just like my Nana used to make! Whether you want to make homemade marinara sauce from fresh tomatoes or canned, we’ve got you covered!

What is Marinara Sauce? In simple terms, traditional Marinara Sauce, one of the quintessential sauces of Italian cuisine, is Tomato Sauce, or what Americans sometimes call Spaghetti Sauce, and Italian-Americans sometimes call “gravy.” This is what my family called it when I was a kid. Well, my mom’s side of the family, anyway—the ones who actually made Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce. However, it wasn’t that simple, sometimes gravy meant the traditional sauce from Emilia-Romagna, which of course, is Bolognese Sauce.

Homemade Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce from scratch.

Italian food, and particularly marinara sauce from scratch, is near and dear to my heart. I was raised on homemade Italian spaghetti sauce and all sorts of traditional Italian dishes. And I still have a hard time going to an Italian restaurant (Italy excepted, especially in Rome) because my Nana made the best Italian marinara sauce (and meatballs)!

I remember being quite surprised that Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce is actually quite quick and easy to make, and requires just a few ingredients. Growing up there was always a mystery behind Nana’s scratch marinara sauce, and the one thing I knew early on as a little girl, was that we would never ever have store-bought marinara sauce!

Part of the mystery was that there was no actual authentic Italian tomato sauce recipe, or I should say written recipe. Everything was in my Nana’s head and before that, it was in her mother’s head. Which means it really is an Authentic Marinara Sauce from Italy!

Marinara sauce from scratch.

Marinara Sauce From Fresh Tomatoes or Canned

And to be clear, you can make marinara sauce from scratch with canned tomatoes. In fact, you can make Authentic Marinara Sauce from canned tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, or even from tomato puree. It’s all real Italian marinara sauce!

Do not assume fresh tomatoes will make the best marinara sauce. It depends on the tomatoes. If you don’t have in season, low-acidic tomatoes like San Marzano, Roma, or cherry tomatoes, a high-quality canned tomato will probably taste more like a true Italian marinara sauce.  

First, you should decide if you want your homemade marinara sauce to be chunky or smooth. If you don’t have a strong preference one way or the other, it may depend on what you’re using it for.

Marinara sauce for lasagna, I prefer chunky. Most other pasta with marinara, I prefer smooth. Meatballs, I prefer smooth. Marinara sauce for pizza, I prefer chunky. These are my preferences for when I prefer smooth marinara sauce vs chunky, not Italian “laws.”

Pizza with marinara sauce from scratch.

Both chunky and smooth style Authentic Italian Marinara Sauces are discussed below. Whichever you prefer, the key to the sauce is the tomatoes. With so few ingredients, use the highest quality tomatoes you can find.

Whether fresh or canned, taste your tomatoes. If they don’t taste good and sweet before you put them in the pot, they will not magically transform while cooking, and your marinara sauce from scratch may turn out to be bitter and too acidic.

If this happens, you can add a little sugar to balance out the bitterness, and no one will be the wiser.

Authentic Italian marinara sauce from scratch over ravioli.

Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce Recipe

How to make Authentic Marinara Sauce from canned tomatoes. This version of our homemade marinara sauce from scratch makes a delicious chunky--style sauce.

Servings: 12-16


½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 small onion, diced small
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
2 28-32 ounce cans San Marzano or high quality canned crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped


  1. In a deep pan or sauce pot, heat extra virgin olive oil.

  2. Sautee garlic and onion until onion is translucent.

  3. Add salt, pepper, and dried oregano.

  4. Add tomatoes, and bring to a boil.

  5. Lower heat, and simmer for 5-10 minutes. The longer you simmer, the thicker it will be.

  6. Stir in basil and you’re done! I told you it was an easy marinara sauce!

How to make smooth Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce

To make a smooth marinara sauce, you have 2 choices. You don’t need a separate smooth marinara sauce recipe. It just takes a couple of adjustments to the authentic Italian marinara recipe above.
1. Blend the onions before sautéing.
2. Blend the tomatoes before adding them to the sauce, or substitute tomato puree for crushes tomatoes.

Ingredients to make marinara sauce from scratch with fresh tomatoes.

How to make Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce with fresh tomatoes

Use the recipe above and substitute 2 quarts of fresh, diced, seeded tomatoes. I prefer not to take the skin off, so I usually blend the tomatoes before adding them to the pot. I also find this version needs an additional 10 minutes of simmering time.

How to use Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce

This Authentic marinara sauce recipe can be used for any recipe that calls for classic Italian marinara sauce or tomato sauce. Use it on our Chicken Parm Panini (your new favorite sandwich) or Best-Ever Italian Turkey Meatballs as well as on any pasta or pizza!

Storing Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce From Scratch

This authentic Italian spaghetti sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. It also stores well in the freezer, so don’t be afraid to make a big pot! If you have a good freezer, this Italian Marinara Sauce recipe can store up to 6 months! Just defrost the sauce overnight in the refrigerator.

If you need to defrost traditional marinara sauce quickly, you can microwave it on low for short intervals, or put it on the stove top frozen. For both of these methods, defrost slowly and stir often.

Meatballs with Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce

Meatballs with Authentic Italian Marinara Sauce

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