Southern Italian Classic Marinara Sauce

Marinara derives from the Italian word for sailor, marinaro. The origins of marinara sauce is from Naples where the sauce was made for the sailors when they returned from the sea. This versatile sauce can be used in most any dish that requires tomato sauce, from pasta dishes to seafood. This recipe will create a bright red, lively-tasting sauce, made just as it is in the south of Italy.  

Making your own is a lot less expensive than store bought and superior in taste and freshness.

Italian marinara sauce

Marinara – Classic Tomato Sauce

Using a skillet instead of a saucepan or pot keeps the tomatoes fresh and bright. Decent marinara sauce can be easily found in local markets but will never match this homemade version for flavor, fresh taste, and low cost. It also takes very little time and effort to make.
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Course: Sauce
Cuisine: Italian, Mediterranean, Southern Italy
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 3 cups
Author: My Hungry Traveler


  • Large heavy skillet
  • Large bowl


  • 28 oz Can of San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes
  • ¼ cup Extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 cloves Garlic, peeled and slivered thin
  • tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 large Sprig of basil (or ¼ tsp dried oregano)


  • Pour can of tomatoes and their juices into a large bowl. Crush tomatoes with your hands. Pour 1 cup water in can and swish around to get everything. Pour into bowl.
  • In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the olive oil. When hot, add the garlic and when it begins to sizzle (but not brown), add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, oregano (if using), and salt. Lay basil sprig on the surface to wilt before submerging.
  • Simmer sauce until it has thickened and the oil on the top becomes a deep orange, about 15 minutes. Discard basil and use, refrigerate, or freeze.


  • Marinara freeze well. Defrost in the refrigerator overnight
  • For recipes calling for a thicker tomato sauce, cook it down in a saucepan over medium heat to obtain desired thickness


Calories: 204kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Sodium: 1154mg | Potassium: 498mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 310IU | Vitamin C: 25mg | Calcium: 83mg | Iron: 3mg

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