Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

Classic Marinara SauceNeed a 20-minute weeknight meal that you can make from the pantry?

Look no further. The freshness of this marinara sauce makes any pasta dish deceptively fancy. Once you make it, you’ll never go back to the jarred pasta sauce again.

Classic Marinara Sauce

Recipe from the story Dolce

Yield: 3 1/4 cups       Prep time: 5 minutes       Cook Time: 15 minutes


1 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes*
5-6 garlic cloves (depending on size), slivered
1 whole dried red chili pepper**
Dried oregano (and a few fresh sprigs for garnish if you have it on hand)
Sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of pasta (or fresh Pizza Dough if making a Pizza Marinara)


  1. In a large bowl, crush the tomatoes with your hands. Fill the empty can with 1 cup of water and add it to the bowl. Set the tomatoes aside and sliver six garlic cloves.
  2. Heat a large skillet on the stove. Drizzle a little over 1/8 cup of olive oil in the skillet until the bottom of the pan is evenly coated. Sauté the garlic over medium heat until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes in water, a whole dried chili, a few generous pinches of dried oregano and a dash of sea salt to the skillet. Give the sauce a stir.
  4. Simmer, mindful of the heat, until the oil forms on the surface and is a dark orange. Use this time to boil the pasta according to the package. The sauce is usually ready in 15 minutes depending on the size of skillet you use. Take out the chili. Add a little more oregano or salt depending on taste.
  5. Mix the sauce with fresh spaghetti in a pre-warmed bowl immediately after the pasta is cooked and drained. Serve with a side salad tossed in a light vinaigrette. Enjoy!


* San Marzano tomatoes are the all-stars in this marinara sauce. In fact, in Italy, they strictly label the tomato cans with its authentic region much like the French brand a bottle of champagne. So, in an attempt to be a gourmet sleuth, I drove all the way into the city, paid $8 for parking, found the tomatoes at a little Italian market, was stuck in an hour of traffic and made it just in time before my family of test tasters arrived. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Then a friend told me that Trader Joe’s sells San Marzano tomatoes. I should have known.

** Through trial and error, I learned that crushed red pepper flakes make the sauce bitter. Dried pepperoncini (not the pickled yellow peppers) work best. If you can’t find them, a whole dried ancho pepper will work in a pinch. Just take the ancho pepper out of the sauce a few minutes earlier than you would the pepperoncini.

7 thoughts on “Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce”

  1. Excellent recipe from the looks! My wife and I will most definitely record this for use. Marinara is so versitile and a good “red sauce” is invaluable. I’ve done marinara from scratch many times but overlooked the quality of canned tomatoes as you’ve suggested searching out specifics… great advice!

    What I’d add to readers is the importance of experimentation (pardon if it’s mentioned in other posts). The fact you mention red pepper flakes being bitter is absolutely true, but some folks adore the taste, so it’s okay. There are no rules, it’s subjective. I happen to like the taste of onion powder in Italian cooking and might add a little to my liking.

    I’ve done a few red sauces with a red wine reduction and it’s time consuming, this recipe “quick and easy” looks to accomplish a good marinara in a timely manner, also a nice quality.


    1. Hi Andy. You’re completely right. It’s all about finding what works best for you and your family. After all, what’s the fun of cooking if you have to play by a set of rules? Hope you enjoy the marinara!


      1. Hi,
        Thank you for getting back to me so fast. 🙂

        Yay, I am linking your recipe now.

        Yes between my vegan meatball recipe, and your marinara recipe that makes a delicious meal!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s