Homemade Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a classic sauce known all over the world.  It is believed to be the one of the world’s great sauces.  It is a very easy sauce to make, using only a few simple ingredients.  But don’t let the simplicity of the sauce fool you.  Marinara sauce is probably one of the most popular sauces used all across the globe.  It is made from fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, olive oil and herbs.  There are many, many different variations of marinara sauce, and there is no one specific way to make it or to enjoy it either.  If you add meat to it, obviously you have a meat sauce, also known as a Bolognese sauce.  To make an arrabbiata sauce, all you have to do is add some red pepper flakes.  By adding anchovies to the basic marinara sauce, you have created a puttanesca sauce.  All of these sauces are eaten with pasta and various other ingredients to make a quick, easy, filling and delicious meal.   Originally it was believed that pasta was brought to Europe in the 13th century, by Marco Polo on his return from China.  But is has since been proven that pasta was actually introduced to Europe about one century earlier, by the Arab traders who made a spaghetti-like pasta from African wheat.

Marinara sauce was created in Southern Italy, and both Naples and Sicily claim to be the birthplace of this great sauce.  Tomatoes were first introduced to Europe in the mid 1600’s and the first recorded recipe for marinara sauce was in 1692, in the cookbook L’Apicio Moderno, By Roman Chef Francesco.   The word marinara comes from the Italian word marinai, which means sailor.  There are two possible explanations that explain why a sauce made with tomatoes and olive oil has a reference to sailors.  The first explanation is that because all the ingredients travel well and do not spoil easily, it was easy for the seaman to transport and it made a quick, filling and inexpensive meal for the sailors to eat.  The second theory is a more romantic one.  This theory is based on the idea that as soon as the sailors’ wives would sea the homeward bound ships coming into port, they could easily make a marinara sauce so the returning sailors could have a quick, hot meal waiting for them as soon as they walked through the doors of their homes.

Basic Marinara Sauce



6-8 ripe Roma tomatoes, diced  (you can use any kind of tomatoes.  I also used some yellow sun tomatoes, and grape tomatoes to add more depth to the flavor)

1-2 large shallots, diced fine

1-2 TBSP garlic

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 cup dry red wine

2-3 TBSP Balsamic vinegar

3 TBSP olive oil

2-3 tsp each basil, oregano, thyme, and marjoram – fresh is best, but dried works too.


Saute the garlic and shallots in the olive oil for about 2-3 minutes.


Once the garlic and shallots have cooked and are translucent, add the tomatoes and the rest of the ingredients.  Mix everything together and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  The longer you cook the sauce, the thicker it will become.



I served my marinara sauce with sausage and peppers, Sausage & Peppers along with my famous garlic-herb cheese bread.  When cooking with wine, use the same wine in the sauce as you are serving with the meal.  Mangia!




Author: ajeanneinthekitchen

I have worked in the restaurant and catering industry for 35 years. I attended 2 culinary schools in Southern California, and have a degree in culinary arts from the Southern California School of Culinary Arts, as well as a few other degrees in other areas. I love to cook and I love to feed people.

26 thoughts on “Homemade Marinara Sauce”

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