This homemade slow simmered Hearty Marinara Sauce is the perfect cooking staple to batch prep and freeze. It is made with super simple ingredients, yet is full of flavor. It is delicious on pasta, in casseroles, as a dipping sauce, and everything in between. Loaded with whole San Marzano tomatoes, garlic, herbs, wine, and a parmesan rind, it is irresistible.
Love making pasta sauce at home? Try the best sauce for lobster ravioli.
Use this sauce to make my Easy Cheesy Baked Spaghetti.
- Easy to make
- Freezer & batch prep friendly
- Loaded with garlic & onion
- Balanced with a touch of sugar
- Great for pastas, casseroles, or sandwiches
- Made from San Marzano tomatoes
- Less expensive than other store bought sauces
- Extra flavor from red wine & parmesan rind
- Red Wine: Omit if you do not want to cook with alcohol.
- Parmesan Rind: You can find these in the specialty cheese section of the grocery store. There is normally a bin with small pieces of cheese and rinds. If you can’t find a rind by itself, you can buy a wedge of parmesan reggiano and cut off the rind.
- Sugar: Depending on your preference you might like a little more sweetness to round out the acidity of the tomatoes. Sugar creates a balanced sauce. While it can be omitted, it helps bring out the other flavors.
- Sauté the aromatics in olive oil until fragrant.
- Add the wine, tomatoes, parmesan rind, bay leaf, and sugar.
Step by Step
Step 1: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8-10 minutes.
Step 2: Add the oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until fragrant.
Step 3: Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parmesan rind, bay leaf, and sugar.
Step 4: Bring to a simmer and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 45 minutes or for up to 2 hours. Stir occasionally and use the back of the spoon to break up the tomatoes. Remove the bay leaf and rind before serving.
Make Ahead & Storage
- The sauce can be prepared ahead of time. It will last for 4 days in the refrigerator. Keep this in mind if you plan to use it in another dish that will make leftovers.
- Store it in an airtight container or jar.
- You can batch prep the sauce by doubling or tripling the recipe and then freeze it. This is preferred so that you have tomato sauce on hand whenever you need to cook with it.
- Let the sauce cool completely in the refrigerator. Pour the sauce in containers or freezer plastic baggies. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or pop the frozen sauce directly into a sauce pan on medium low heat. Stir frequently until thawed. Thawing food at room temperature is not recommended.
- Use high quality tomatoes. I highly recommend using whole San Marzano tomatoes. These are plum tomatoes which have a vibrant tomato flavor, without being too acidic. The whole tomatoes provide a nice texture when broken up.
- Slow cook the sauce. The flavors will continue to develop and deepen as the sauce is cooked. I recommend simmering it for at least 45 minutes, but if you have time you can simmer this sauce for a few hours. Just be sure to keep an eye on it and the heat on low.
- The sauce is chunky. The sauce has pieces of onion and tomato in it. I prefer this texture. If you want the marinara to be super smooth, you can always blend it after simmering.
- The red pepper flakes do not make the sauce spicy. These simply add balance and depth to the flavor of the sauce.
- For a creamy sauce, add heavy cream or greek yogurt. Add about ½ cup of heavy cream or greek yogurt to turn this into a creamy tomato sauce.
- For a spicy sauce, double or triple the amount of red pepper flakes. I recommend tasting as you go so it does not get too spicy.
- For a more herbaceous flavor, add pesto or fresh herbs. Add about 1-2 Tablespoons of pesto or freshly chopped herbs.
- For a cheesy sauce, add parmesan cheese. Stir in about ¼-1/2 cup of grated parmesan after the sauce has simmered.
- For a veggie loaded sauce, add diced mushrooms or carrots. When you add the onions, add ¼ cup of diced mushrooms or carrots as well.
- For a smooth sauce, blend. After you have removed the bay leaf & the rind, pour the sauce into a blender. Blend until smooth or the desired consistency.
Ways to Use
- Any recipe that calls for a 24 ounce jar of tomato sauce. Substitute this homemade sauce for even more flavor!
- Pasta. Use it in spaghetti, baked ziti, lasagna, bolognese, or any red sauce based pasta dish.
- Sandwiches. Try it on a chicken parmesan or italian sausage sandwich.
- Pizza. This sauce is the perfect base for any pizza.
- Dipping sauce. Grab a loaf of warm bread and get dipping!
Hearty Marinara Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ½ teaspoon salt
- fresh cracked pepper
- ¼ cup red wine*
- 1 28 ounce can San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes
- 1 small parmesan rind*
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ - 1 teaspoon sugar*
- Review all recipe notes and instructions before beginning.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 8-10 minutes.
- Add the oregano, basil, thyme, red pepper, salt, and pepper. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until fragrant.
- Deglaze the pan with the red wine. Simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parmesan rind, bay leaf, and sugar.
- Bring to a simmer and cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for at least 45 minutes or for up to 2 hours. Stir occasionally and use the back of the spoon to break up the tomatoes. Remove the bay leaf and rind before serving.