homemade marinara

homemade marinara

dinner pasta recipes sauces & seasonings

First of all, what do you call marinara? My family calls it gravy. Some call it Sunday sauce. Others call it tomato sauce. Whatever you call it, this recipe is a staple that is totally worth cooking over and over until you have the recipe down without having to look it up.

Marinara, or gravy is the very first thing I learned how to cook. The recipe that I used was my mother’s, which was a version of her mother’s. I have updated it a bit since she taught her marinara recipe to me.

Gravy… err… marinara is now a staple in my tiny Hoboken kitchen. You will never catch us with less than a couple of quarts frozen in the freezer!

canned tomatoes

This recipe makes an enormous amount of marinara. I encourage you to make the whole thing and freeze some for later. Your future pizza nights, calzone plans, and mozzarella stick snacking will make it all worth it. So… take out your biggest pot and get ready to make some fabulous gravy!

homemade marinara

homemade marinara

course Main Course
cuisine Italian
total time 2 hours


  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 head garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup wine, I usually use Pinot Grigio
  • 2 large sweet onions, peeled and quartered
  • 4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes, I use Tuttorosso
  • 4 28 oz cans peeled plum tomatoes, or replace with 4 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes if not using an immersion blender / blender
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 t fresh chopped oregano/ 1 t dried oregano
  • 2 t fresh chopped basil / 1 t dried basil
  • 2 t fresh chopped parsley / 1 t dried parsley
  • 1 T crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 1/8 – 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2-4 T butter


  1. Heat extra virgin olive oil in large stock pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute until translucent.
  2. Add wine and raise heat to medium-high.  Cook until the smell of alcohol completely disappears.
  3. Add quartered onions to the pot.  Pour in all 8 cans of tomatoes.  Stir in salt, pepper, oregano, basil, parsley, and crushed red pepper.  Continue to cook over medium-high heat.  Once the sauce begins to bubble, lower heat to medium-low, and cook for at least 45 minutes, and up to 90 minutes.  The extra 45 minutes lets flavors develop better, but if you don’t have the time, 45 minutes will do!  Turn your stove off.
  4. Remove quartered onions with a slotted spoon.  Be careful to not remove the tomatoes! If you end up taking some garlic out of the sauce too, that’s okay. We have gotten most of the flavor out of the garlic at this point.
  5. Now is time to blend the sauce if you are blending. If you are not blending, continue to step 6. If you have an immersion blender, great! If not, use a blender in batches. 
With an immersion blender, insert the blender into the stock pot.  Blend until smooth. 

For a blender, ladle marinara out in batches into blender.  Return sauce to pot.
  6. Taste the sauce. Add butter and sugar to taste if your sauce is too acidic/tangy.  Stir sauce and add extra salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste.