pan with marinara sauce and basil leaves
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4.67 from 9 votes

Homemade Marinara Sauce

It's so easy to make Homemade Marinara Sauce! Make a big batch and freeze the extras!
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: homemade tomato sauce, marinara from scratch
Servings: 5
Calories: 148kcal
Author: Cooking with Mamma C


  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil regular, not extra virgin
  • 2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 fresh basil leaves


  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet (or large sauce pan if making more than one batch) on medium high.
  • Add onion, if using, and cook until soft, around four minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add garlic to pan and cook for a minute, stirring a couple of times.
  • Add crushed tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper flakes; stir.
  • When sauce starts to boil, lower the temperature and loosely cover the pan with a lid, using a wooden spoon resting on the rim of the pan to keep the lid propped open.
  • Cook on low, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes. Because the tomatoes you use are a factor, taste along the way to see if any extra salt is needed. If you detect any bitterness, add a little more olive oil.
  • When the sauce is cooked, add basil leaves and stir in before serving.



Tips for a marinara sauce that's not bitter
    • Start with good-tasting tomatoes. Use crushed tomatoes from the San Marzano region of Italy, if possible. Tuttorosso tomatoes (affiliate link) also work well.
    • Use regular olive oil, which has a mild flavor compared to extra-virgin olive oil.
    • Use fresh garlic cloves without green shoots. The green garlic will be bitter.
    • Don’t use oregano, which is bitter.
    • Add a little chopped onion, which provides savory sweetness. This is an optional step, and I sometimes skip it if I'm in a hurry or want a less sweet sauce.
    • If you still detect some bitterness or acidity in your sauce, try adding a little more olive oil and a bit more salt. Keep in mind that different brands of tomatoes will contain different amounts of salt, so you'll need to season accordingly.
    • As a last resort, Mom's tip is to add a half teaspoon of baking soda to the sauce to cut down the acidity.
Tips for making more than one batch of sauce
  • If you are making a larger quantity of sauce, you will need to increase the cooking time. If doubling the quantity, a minimum of 30 minutes is needed for cooking.
  • For triple and quadruple batches, cook the sauce for an hour.
  • If making a huge batch for a party, cook it for 90 minutes.
  • Also, you can just use one bay leaf for up to a triple batch. If you are making quadruple or more, use two bay leaves.


Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 327mg | Potassium: 465mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 370IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 56mg | Iron: 2.1mg