Simple Weeknight Marinara Sauce

Weeknight marinara sauce is a simple classic you can make from scratch with six ingredients and just 20 minutes. Plus, with a fairly big batch, odds are you’ll be able to recruit it for double duty – pizza one night, spaghetti soon? That’s meal prep done right!

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Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more!

Well, another weekend in the books, and here we are back at Monday. The circle of life! Our weekend was lovely and extended a bit thanks to a local holiday, Whit Monday, so we got an extra day to hang out and relax. The weather has been much nicer here in Brussels the past few weeks – sunny and downright HOT several days – making it much more desirable to spend time outside than in. Hello, grilling season! And hello to all the quick, easy meals!

As usual, we got the weekend started off right with Friday night pizza, made even better than usual by this fantastic weeknight marinara sauce. Have you ever tried making marinara sauce from scratch? If not, you are in for a major treat when you realize how incredibly fast and easy it is – six ingredients, 20 minutes – and how much more delicious it is than store-bought.

Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more!

Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more!

Even better, most of those 20 minutes are inactive, so once you get everything simmering nicely, you can turn your attention to other food prep, toddler maintenance, and/or wine sipping, just popping in to give the sauce a quick stir now and again.

Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more!Click To Tweet

The speediness here is thanks to the miracle of canned tomatoes, specifically the crushed variety. With so few other ingredients, the tomatoes really shine, so I do think it’s worthwhile to seek out a high-quality brand if you’re shopping with this sauce in mind. I know many people swear by San Marzano tomatoes, so I scoop those up whenever I see them, but they can be a little hard to find, at least for me. So in their absence, I will generally look for any genuinely Italian brand. 🙂

There are so many great options with a classic marinara sauce like this – pizza, pasta, dipping for garlic bread, cheese sticks, you name it. In fact, the pizza we made with it Friday night was so amazing, easily one of our top three favorite at-home pizzas, that that is the next recipe I plan to share. Think this delicious marinara sauce, plus bacon, cherry tomatoes, and a little arugula sprinkled on top. Oh, how I wish I had another slice right now! I can’t wait to share it with you! (Update–here it is!)

More Quick Dinner Ideas:

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Spaghetti
Weeknight Spaghetti Bolognese
Spicy Black Bean and Corn Tacos
Lemon Thyme Chicken
Curry Spiced Cashew Chicken and Rice

And then, because this recipe yields far more sauce than is necessary to top one pizza, we popped the leftovers in the fridge for a couple of days and enjoyed it again tonight with spaghetti and meatballs and an easy breezy green salad. Delicious and easy!

Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more!

Simple Weeknight Marinara Sauce




Yield about 3 cups

Simple marinara sauce is a hero for busy weeknights. Six ingredients, 20 minutes, and you'll feel like a kitchen champion for making this classic seasoned tomato sauce from scratch.


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 28 ounce (800 grams) can crushed or “pulped” tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • kosher salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Place oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes in a cold medium saucepan and warm over medium heat until the garlic becomes fragrant and just starts to sizzle, about 1 minute. Be careful not to let the garlic brown.
  2. Pour the tomatoes into the pan, then add oregano, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. (If sauce begins to bubble rapidly, reduce heat further.) Remove from heat, and remove bay leaves before serving.


Sauce can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days, or frozen.

Lightly adapted from Fox and Briar.

Nutrition Facts

Serving Size 1/2 cup

Amount Per Serving

Calories 50

% Daily Value

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

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Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more!

Simple weeknight marinara sauce is a quick dinner hero. Perfect for pizza, pasta, and more! #marinara #easyrecipes


  • Reply
    June 19, 2017 at 9:05 pm

    Does this recipe can well?

    • Reply
      June 19, 2017 at 9:07 pm

      That’s a great question! I have no experience canning, so I’m really not sure, but this page might be a good resource if you’re looking to learn more – If you try it, please come back and let us know in the comments how it goes, I’m sure others would be interested, as well!

  • Reply
    Christina Nesbitt Shoemaker
    June 19, 2017 at 12:52 am

    I love the addition of red pepper flakes! I can just imagine how good this must be on noodles or zoodles!

  • Reply
    June 19, 2017 at 12:40 am

    A good marinara sauce always comes in handy. I wonder if I can duplicate this with fresh tomatoes that are currently ripening in my backyard… 🙂

  • Reply
    Liz @ I Heart Vegetables
    June 18, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    This looks delicious! Pasta happens a lot over here so it’s nice to have an easy sauce recipe!

  • Reply
    Thanh | Eat, Little Bird
    June 18, 2017 at 10:32 pm

    I also love to make a marinara sauce from scratch. It’s so easy and tastes so much better than shop-bought. Yours looks so smooth and delicious!

  • Reply
    June 18, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Love the fact that it could be ready in just 20 mins! Surely this would be the best sauce that I could use for most of my cooking.

  • Reply
    Brandi Crawford
    June 5, 2017 at 10:46 pm

    You had me at weeknight! I love weeknight hacks. Looks delish!

  • Reply
    Lynn | The Road to Honey
    June 5, 2017 at 10:31 pm

    The hubby is training for two Spartan races so we go trailing running on the weekends and I am finding that he tends to crave pasta afterwards. This would be the perfect, little sauce to quickly satisfy those cravings.

    • Reply
      June 5, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      It definitely would! And light enough to be satisfying without undo-ing all your hard work!

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    Even I can make this if it only takes 20 minutes! And the fact I have the ingredients too must be a sign right? ~m

    • Reply
      June 5, 2017 at 10:06 pm

      Absolutely! You were MEANT to have delicious marinara tonight! 🙂

  • Reply
    June 5, 2017 at 9:40 pm

    A good marinara is always a necessity! I have a few in my back pocket but I don’t think you can ever have too many! This looks delicious!

    • Reply
      June 5, 2017 at 10:07 pm

      Absolutely – a good sauce recipe is always good to have! Thanks for the kind words.

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