Best-Ever Marinara


This delicious, all-purpose marinara sauce is useful in a variety of recipes. F&W editors love it on pizza, with pasta, and as a dipping sauce. 

Active Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
40 mins
3 cups

A good marinara recipe is worth its weight in gold. Unlike other tomato sauces that require a long simmer (think ragù and Sunday sauce), it comes together relatively quickly. Endlessly versatile, it can be used in any number of ways. Marinara sauce for pizza or a simple pasta dish is a classic choice; it's an essential component in favorites like eggplant Parmesan and is a wonderful dipping sauce for things such as crispy baked zucchini fries and cheese sticks. In a pinch, it can even be blended and transformed into a super-quick tomato soup.

Rather than buy jarred marinara, it's easy to make a big batch of this sauce, portion it out for individual meals, and stash it in the freezer to use as you please. Having it on hand will make dishes like homemade lasagna a breeze to prepare. The recipe is easy to scale up, and if you're already purchasing fresh basil for this purpose, it's a smart way to ensure the rest doesn't go to waste.

While we think this truly is the best marinara sauce recipe as it is, you can certainly customize it to your taste or for specific dishes. Feel free to add extra herbs or crushed red pepper for a little zing. If you'd like a smoother sauce, give it a whiz with an immersion blender to your desired texture. It's an excellent, nearly foolproof base for creating whatever Italian-inspired dish you can dream up.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled Italian tomatoes

  • Kosher salt

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Pinch of sugar

  • 2 basil sprigs


  1. In a large saucepan, heat the extra-virgin olive oil. Add the garlic cloves and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and crush them with the back of a spoon; season with salt and pepper. Stir in the sugar and basil sprigs and bring to a boil. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and reduced to 3 cups, about 30 minutes. Discard the basil sprigs and garlic.

Best-Ever Marinara
Aaron Kirk
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