A delightfully rich and flavorful Marinara Sauce Recipe that can be made with pantry staples. You will love how easy this is to make and how much depth of flavor it adds to so many pasta dishes. I especially love this as the foundation to this Stuffed Shells Recipe.
Marinara sauce is a very simple recipe made from canned whole tomatoes, garlic, and a few herbs and spices. They key in simmering in a skillet, not in in saucepan or deep pot. The skillet allows the moisture to evaporate more quickly and the sauce thickens nicely just as the tomatoes are cooked.
The main difference between marinara sauce and spaghetti sauce is in their complexity. Marinara is a thick, seasoned tomato sauce. It goes especially well in Super Easy Baked Ziti, Instant Pot Pasta, or a simple bowl of spaghetti. On the other hand, spaghetti sauce can include cooked ground beef or sausage, chopped onions, mushrooms, and other ingredients that can be added to the sauce.
The key to the best marinara sauce is in the type of canned tomatoes. Good cooks and recipe developers have preferred San Marzano tomatoes. While these are still good, I think you will be surprised at recent test results included in the recipe notes for the best canned tomatoes of 2020!
Marinara Sauce Recipe
- In a large bowl, add the can of tomatoes. Add 1 cup water to the can and slosh it around to get the juices. Set aside. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes in the bowl. Set aside.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic as sizzling and before it browns.
- Stir in the tomatoes, reserved tomato water, pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon salt and oregano.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until sauce is thickened and oil on surface is a deep orange color. After 10 minutes cooking, carefully taste sauce and season to taste with salt and oregano.