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Quick Marinara Sauce with San Marzano Tomatoes

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This quick homemade Italian Pomodoro marinara sauce contains just 5 ingredients and it is ready in minutes! I like to use the San Marzano tomato for this recipe. Any type of plum tomato, like Roma tomatoes, will work in this tomato sauce recipe. This easy pasta sauce is so versatile. Use it on spaghetti, ravioli, lasagna, pizza, or as a dip for sourdough bread and French bread. Everyone will love the rich tomato flavor of this traditional marinara recipe, that’s naturally gluten-free and vegan.

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a skillet of quick marinara sauce

What are San Marzano Tomatoes?

Originally named for the region of Italy they are grown in, San Marzano tomatoes are now grown in the US, too. You can even grow them in your vegetable garden. Then make this Italian marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes.

San Marzano tomatoes are long and elongated with few seeds. When ripe, they almost resemble a red bell pepper or chile more than the classic round tomato.

San Marzano plum tomatoes on the vine

When it comes to Italian tomatoes, San Marzano is my favorite tomato. Roma tomatoes are a close second. Both have few seeds, perfect for making sauces.

Both tomatoes are varieties of plum tomato, the classic sauce-making tomatoes. In fact, plum tomatoes are also called processing tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, and paste tomatoes for this reason.

According to marthastewart.com, “They’re considered the Ferrari or Prada of canned tomato varieties, and loyalists say they are well worth the higher price tag compared to other canned Italian tomatoes or domestically produced canned tomatoes.”

This makes San Marzano tomatoes the ideal tomato for a rich, smooth, classic marinara sauce.

Why are San Marzano Tomatoes the best for Marinara?

green San Marzano tomatoes growing on the vine

San Marzano tomatoes are known for their sweet flavor and mild acidity. That makes them perfect for rich and hearty Pomodoro sauces.

Since they are firm in appearance, it is easy to chop or crush the canned whole tomatoes.

This traditional marinara recipe is the ideal light vegan dinner or pasta side dish.

Quick Marinara Sauce Ingredients

  • San Marzano tomatoes (or any Italian-style tomato), canned or fresh
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • oregano

I like to season this quick marinara sauce with kosher salt and garnish with a sprig of fresh basil.

Once you’ve made this quick marinara sauce, San Marzano tomato recipes will become your favorites, too!

cans of Cento San Marzano tomatoes and Pomidori Pelati tomatoes with garlic and red spatula

How to make a Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce

  • Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands or a potato masher.
  • Heat the oil over medium heat and saute garlic until its sizzling.
  • Add the tomatoes, then the reserved 1 cup of tomato water to the garlic, then pepper flakes, and oregano and stir.
a spoonful of tomato sauce
  • Simmer sauce until thickened, about 10-15 minutes. This gives you time to work on the rest of dinner, while the sauce simmers on the stove.  
  • Garnish with basil and salt to taste. Aerve over pasta, on pizza, meatballs, or as a dipping sauce for freshly baked artisan bread.

Ways to use Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is the staple for many casseroles and pasta dishes. As a topping on pizzas, sourdough and French bread, as a dip. There are countless ways to use this quick traditional marinara recipe.

Other ideas for this marinara sauce is on spaghetti, pizza, in classic lasagna, for lasagna soup or marinara meatballs, and poultry.

a bowl of San Marzano sauce with rigatoni pasta
San Marzano sauce with rigatoni pasta

Tips for storing and freezing this homemade San Marzano Marinara

Leftovers preserve perfectly in the freezer or refrigerator for later use.

Store homemade marinara sauce for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure to use freezer-safe, air tight containers in the freezer to preserve the freshness.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I avoid an acidic sauce?

Slow simmering helps prevent an acidic taste in tomato sauces. The variety of tomato you use can also affect the acidity of your marinara sauce. If your tomato sauce tastes too acidic, add a teaspoon or two of sugar to cut the bitterness. A pat of butter can also provide a creamier taste in to an acidic sauce.

Can I use other canned tomatoes in this quick marinara recipe?

Yes, any canned tomatoes can be used in this pasta sauce recipe. See above if your sauce tastes bitter or acidic. A little sugar goes a long way to giving a smoother taste to any tomato or Pomodoro sauces.

quick marinara sauce in a skillet

Get the Quick and Easy Pomodoro (Tomato) Marinara Sauce recipe here

a skillet of marinara tomato sauce
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5 from 1 vote

Quick Traditional Marinara Sauce

This quick marinara sauce contains simple ingredients. Use San Marzano tomatoes for a traditional sauce, though any plum tomato will work for this tomato sauce. Serve it over pasta, pizza, lasagna, or for dipping crusty bread into.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian, Mediterranean
Keyword Pasta, Make Ahead, gluten-free, marinara sauce, San Marzano marinara sauce, pasta sauce, tomato sauce
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 110kcal


  • skillet


  • 1 can (28 oz.) whole San Marzano tomatoes (or any plum tomato like Roma tomatoes)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 7 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano, dried
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Pour tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands or a potato masher. Pour 1 cup of water into the can to get all of the tomato juice from the can. Reserve.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When it is shimmering hot, add the garlic.
  • As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes, then the reserved tomato water. Stir in the red pepper flakes, oregano. Salt and pepper the marinara sauce to taste.
  • Simmer tomato sauce until it is rich and thickened, about 15 minutes. Check seasonings and adjust if needed. Serve over pasta, as a pizza sauce, or in lasagna recipes. Garnish with basil before serving.


Store San Marzano marinara sauce for up to 4 days in the refrigerator or in the freezer for up to 6 months. 


Calories: 110kcal | Carbohydrates: 7g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Sodium: 13mg | Potassium: 335mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 1203IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 22mg | Iron: 1mg
quick marinara sauce in a skillet

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