Here’s my go-to recipe for authentic, Italian, Homemade Marinara Sauce, with no added sugar! It’s so quick and easy, you can forget jarred sauce! Vegan and gluten free.
Did you know that jarred tomato sauce can contain more sugar per serving than a candy bar? A half-cup serving of Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce has 10 grams of sugar, while a fun size Snicker’s Bar has 8 grams. And who only uses half a cup of sauce?
Fortunately, homemade marinara sauce happens to be one of the easiest (and most delicious) things to cook. My family calls it “quick sauce,” and it has no added sugar. I’ve been making this for decades, often in big batches so that I can keep an extra quart or two in my freezer at all times. I serve it over pasta, on pizza, mixed with spaghetti squash, and ladled over eggplant or chicken Parmigiana.
And let me tell you, it is perfect for cast parties involving 50+ teenagers. Just make a huge pot of sauce, keep a big pan of boiling water on the stove, and cook three pounds of pasta at a time until everyone is fed. (We went through nine pounds of rigatoni the year my son was in Beauty & the Beast!)
As quick and easy as this sauce is, my kids’ friends always tell me it’s the best they’ve ever had. Why is that? What could be so different?
I’m guessing it’s because I not only skip the sugar; I also don’t use oregano in my sauce. Neither does my family, my husband’s family, nor any of our friends from Italy.
Oregano, especially dried, is just bitter. (My personal theory on why jarred tomato sauce contains so much sugar is that it needs to compensate for the oregano.) I also like to add a bay leaf for flavor.
So, try making your sauce without oregano and sugar. If you buy the right canned tomatoes, you can avoid bitterness altogether. I like Tuttorosso or Cento San Marzano.
If you still taste bitterness, try adding a little more olive oil (not extra-virgin — you need regular olive oil for this, since it has a more mild taste). If that doesn’t work, my Mom’s tip is to add a half teaspoon of baking soda to the sauce.
Recipe source: Adapted from my Nonna’s method