Easy Spaghetti Marinara Sauce from Scratch

Spaghetti Marinara sauce, a very simple, cheap and quick-to-make recipe: the authentic Italian recipe wants only 4 ingredients: tomatoes, (preferably San Marzano quality but even cherry, grape or cluster or quality), extra virgin olive oil, garlic and oregano.

In Italian the word “Marinara” recalls the sea (“mare”) and the sailors (“marinai”), so you can think of a dish mainly made of fish. In reality, the sauce is prepared in the same way as the famous Neapolitan pizza called “alla marinara” or pizza marinara, seasoned with the exact same ingredients (read the paragraph “Why is it Called Marinara Sauce if There is no Fish in the Recipe?”)

Spaghetti marinara sauce is a famous Italian spaghetti recipe, dating back at least to the mid-1900s; a simple and aromatic sauce, which can be used to season any type of pasta, in special way spaghetti.

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How to make Marinara Sauce from Scratch

  • Prep Time: 10 Min
  • Cook Time: 20 Min
  • Yields : 4



marinara sauce step 1

Step 1) – Wash the tomatoes thoroughly then bring plenty of water to a boil in a large pot. When the water boils, dip the tomatoes for a few seconds.

marinara sauce step 2

Step 2) – Drain the tomatoes and, after putting them on a plate, remove their skin.

marinara sauce step 3

Step 3) – Now with the help of a fork, mash and pulp the tomatoes. If you prefer a seedless sauce, you must use a food mill, as for the tomato passata recipe.

marinara sauce step 4

Step 4) – Now cut the garlic into slices then sautè it in a large pan with extra virgin olive oil. If you don’t like garlic or don’t digest it, you can leave it whole and remove it before adding the pasta to the sauce.

marinara sauce step 5

Step 5) – Add the tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cook over high heat for 5 minutes.

marinara sauce step 6

Step 6) – In the meantime, crumble the oregano with your fingers then add it to the sauce.

marinara sauce step 7

Step 7) – Stir and turn off the heat. The marinara sauce must not be too dry. If so, add 1/2 tablespoons of cooking water.

In the meantime, cook the spaghetti in plenty salted water, respecting the cooking times written on their packaging (usually from 6 to 12 minutes, it depends on the thickness of the spaghetti). We used rather thick spaghetti, cooking time 12 minutes.

Possibly, don’t break the spaghetti. 

marinara sauce step 8

Step 8) – So dip the spaghetti in the boiling salted water as shown in the picture in step 7 (pretend to play mikado sticks game) then with the help of a fork, fold them and press them down until they are completely submerged.

Stir frequently so that they do not stick to each other. When spaghetti are cooked, drain them with a pasta server spoon and place them in the pan with the hot marinara sauce.

marinara sauce step 9

Step 9) – Mix and season the spaghetti with this delicious marinara sauce. Serve immediately.

How to Store Marinara Sauce

Once cooked, the marinara sauce can be kept for 2/3 days in the refrigerator. It is important in this case to store the sauce in carefully closed containers: the glass jars are excellent but alternatively you can use a special plastic or glass container with the hermetic seal for food.

You can even freeze it, using glass jars (taking care not to fill them completely) or the airtight closure containers for food.

The only precautions: do not put the sauce in the freezer as soon as it has finished cooking, but wait rather that it has reached room temperature; it’s better to leave it in the freezer two or three months but not more.

Marinara Sauce: Some Tips

In order for the recipe to be the best spaghetti marinara sauce, the ingredients must be of the highest quality. So let’s see:


Tomatoes must be red and well ripe. If it’s not season for tomatoes or you can’t find flavorful tomatoes, then rather use San Marzano quality canned peeled tomatoes. or canned cherry tomatoes.


Use fresh garlic cloves (please, NO dehydrated garlic …): it has a unique flavor.


Use fresh oregano, possibly still attached to the twigs, which you will crumble just before adding it to the sauce; you will feel the difference in flavor and aroma.


Last but not least, extra virgin olive oil. It’s important that is of superior quality.

Variants of the Marinara Sauce Recipe

There are many variants of the marinara sauce recipe. What we have shown you is the simplest and most famous Italian recipe. This doesn’t mean that you can’t modify the recipe as you wish. Let’s see some variants together:


In addition to the garlic, you can add a little onion to the sauté or replace the garlic, if it’s not to your liking, with the onion.


The marinara sauce can be made with fresh tomatoes – as in this recipe – or with canned peeled tomatoes. The consistency of the tomato can vary according to the taste: if you don’t like tomatos in pieces you can use a food mill and make it more like a puree.

Aromatic Herbs

In addition to oregano, you can add chopped basil or parsley (you can also choose just one of these herbs or add all three together, to your taste).

Capers and Olives

In many marinara sauce recipes you will find the addition of capers and/or olives that give this dish a particular taste of Mediterranean flavors.

Shellfish and Seafood

If you add shrimp, mussels or clams to this sauce, you will get an excellent fish sauce to season your pasta.

Pizza & C.

You can use this sauce, as well as to flavor the pasta, also to season the pizza (pizza alla marinara), on bread bruschetta, you can even add homemade meatballs or match it with fried fish.

Why is it Called Marinara Sauce if There is no Fish in the Recipe?

You may have noticed that THERE IS NO FISH in the recipe for Spaghetti alla Marinara, not even a few anchovies.

The name Marinara (from Mare = Sea) has nothing to do with the products of the sea, but everything to do with the ingredients that sailors (Marinai) used to bring on board to season pasta or pizza during the long sea voyages.

They were poor ingredients, not very heavy, they took up little space and were easy to find.

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