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A close up ladleful of rich red marinara sauce being pulled out of a pot of sauce.

Rich Red Italian Marinara Sauce Recipe

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 8 people
Author: Tracy Halasz


  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup garlic, chopped (~12 cloves)
  • 10-12 medium-large basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1, 26 oz San Marzano whole, peeled canned tomatoes
  • 42 oz 6n1 ground canned tomatoes*
  • hot pepper flakes (optional)


  • In a large pot, heat the olive oil until shiny. Add the garlic and cook over medium-low until golden. 
    Be careful not to burn. If the garlic is cooking too fast, remove from heat and let the oil cool down.
  • Add the basil, parsley, S&P to taste.  
  • Add the San Marzano tomatoes and ground tomatoes. Turn the heat up to high and break the tomatoes up as you stir by gently pressing them with the back of your spoon on the side of the pan. Let the sauce come up to a boil.
  • Substitution Tip: If you don't have ground tomatoes, use 3, 26 oz tins of San Marzano whole tomatoes or sub for good quality crushed tomatoes.
  • Reduce to simmer for about 30 minutes while the tomatoes break down and the sauce starts to thicken. I place the lid on halfway during the simmer.
  • Add a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes, taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.
    Remove from heat and set aside.


Tomatoes - use San Marzano tomatoes or some other flavourful whole, unpeeled tomato if available.
Tomatoes - the 6N1 ground tomatoes are really spectacular, but if you can't get a hold of them, use 3 tins of San Marzano tomatoes or a good quality crushed tomato.
Storage - the marinara sauce can be frozen for up to 3 months in a freezer-friendly bag or container. I recommend freezing in 2 -3 cup portions for convenience.