easy marinara sauce recipe topped with fresh basil

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Why I love this easy marinara sauce

If I had to claim one meal as my go-to dinner recipe, this 2 minute marinara sauce would be it. Whenever I’ve failed to prep a recipe for dinner, or forgotten to take something out of the freezer for the night, I almost always make this. It’s been a life saver and a belly filler for many years.

I can even remember the first time I made it. I had just moved to Texas to be with Marc (almost ten years ago now), and I had no idea how to make my own pasta sauce so I called my mom to ask her what to do. Her recipe wasn’t as exact, and it was basically just her saying, “Cook some garlic in oil and then add tomatoes and basil.”

homemade marinara sauce

How to make the best marinara sauce

We all start somewhere, right? Since then, I’ve nailed down an actual recipe for making this simple marinara sauce, and it turns out perfect every single time – as opposed to the overly garlicky accidents I used to make. It goes like this: 1 can of tomatoes + 2 garlic cloves + 2 teaspoons dried basil + 1 teaspoon dried parsley = miracle marinara sauce.

A pinch of salt is optional, but since we’ve been dairy free, we usually opt for the extra salt because without the added cheese we like a little extra flavor-enhancer. I’ve even started using pre-minced garlic, and you should do the same. It will save you about 5 minutes, which could be the difference between you actually making the recipe instead of choosing to order takeout.

tomato basil sauce

Here’s what you’ll need to make it

how to make marinara sauce

And, yes. We choose this meal over takeout all the time. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve begged Marc to get takeout because I was tired, or lazy, or just didn’t want to cook, and by the time we sit down to order it, I change my mind.

Because, you can literally have this meal on the table in half the amount of time for a fraction of the cost of that takeout. If you make a pound of pasta with this marinara sauce, you can actually feed a family of four for under five dollars. Five dollars. You can probably even stretch the sauce to cover 1.5 pounds of pasta if you’re really hungry.

If you’re feeling fancy or trying to impress someone, try adding fresh basil when you serve your pasta. It’s a game changer, I promise. Or try it with some giant baked meatballs.

overhead image of marinara sauce recipe on rigatoni topped with basil

FAQs and tips for making the best marinara sauce

What is the difference between marinara and spaghetti sauce?

There really isn’t any difference. Marinara is a type of spaghetti sauce, but spaghetti sauce could also refer to sauces like a ragu or meat sauce.

How long should I cook marinara sauce?

You just need to cook it long enough to infuse your tomatoes with the flavors of your other ingredients (like basil and garlic). I recommend at least 2 minutes, but if you have more time, feel free to simmer the sauce on low.


Easy Marinara Sauce

Learn how to make homemade marinara sauce in only 2 minutes with just a few simple ingredients. This simple, healthy recipe tastes way better than any Italian sauce you can buy in a jar, and it’s totally vegan.

  • Author: Melissa Belanger
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 minutes
  • Total Time: 7 minutes
  • Yield: 7 1x
  • Category: Condiments
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian
  • Diet: Vegan


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic (2 cloves)
  • 1 28- ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley


  1. In a saucepan, heat olive oil and minced garlic over medium heat.
  2. Once garlic is fragrant, allow it to cook for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to combine.
  4. Continue cooking until tomatoes are heated through. Simmer until ready to use.

Last Updated on November 4, 2021 by Melissa Belanger

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