Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes

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Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes– Indulge in the essence of summer with this tantalizing Italian tomato sauce, bursting with the vibrant flavors of sun-ripened summer tomatoes, good olive oil, and fragrant basil. This fresh and easy-to-make recipe will elevate dishes to a whole new level of deliciousness!

For a variation with canned tomatoes, try- Italian Sugo Al Pomodoro Recipe.

Finished sauce in a white bowl.
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Best Homemade Marinara Sauce Fresh Tomatoes

The best part about making homemade tomato sauce is the incredible burst of flavor from ripe, sun-kissed tomatoes, providing a level of freshness unmatched by store-bought alternatives. This will be your go-to recipe for homemade sauce.

The process allows you to customize the sauce to your taste, adjusting sweetness, acidity, and texture, resulting in a truly personalized and satisfying classic marinara sauce. This easy recipe is great for your favorite pasta and more!

You will also love this Steak Pizzaiola Recipe!

plate of pasta with marinara sauce and fresh tomatoes. for on the side. Tomatoes and basil in background.

Simple Ingredients

Homemade marinara sauce is all about using fresh ingredients and good tomatoes. Embrace the natural flavors and let the recipe’s simplicity shine through for an authentic and delicious experience.

Ingredient shot for recipe.
  • Fresh tomatoes (San Marzano, plum, or Roma tomatoes work well), roughly chopped 
  • Good quality Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Yellow onion, finely chopped
  • Garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • Fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped 
  • Sugar (optional to balance acidity)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

See the recipe card for quantities.

How to Make Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes Step-by-Step Photos

This versatile marinara sauce can be used in various dishes, including pasta dishes, pizza sauce, and more. Enjoy your homemade marinara sauce with the delightful taste of fresh tomatoes!

How to prepare the tomatoes

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- chop the tomatoes. Chop the onions

Roughly chop the onions.

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- chop the tomatoes.

Roughly chop the tomatoes.

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- olive oil and onions stewing.

Cook the Onion and Garlic: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic (if used) and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- olive oil and onions stewing then add tomatoes.

Add the Tomatoes and Cook: Add the chopped fresh tomatoes to the pot. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How to make fresh homemade tomato sauce

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- let tomatoes and onions sew for 30 minutes.

Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- let tomatoes and onions sew for 30 minutes then blend with immersion blender.

Blend: Use an immersion blender or regular blender. Blend until desired thickness (chunky or smooth). Be careful when blending hot liquids. 

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

How to Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes- let tomatoes and onions sew for 30 minutes then blend with immersion blender. Add basil.

Add Basil: In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the fresh basil and stir to combine. 

Variations

  1. Roasted Garlic Twist: Roast a few fresh garlic cloves in the oven until soft and caramelized, then blend them into the sauce for a deep, sweet, and mellow garlic flavor.
  2. Mushroom Infusion: Sauté finely chopped mushrooms until they release their moisture and turn golden. Add them to the sauce for an earthy and savory note.
  3. Parmesan Power: Stir in freshly grated Parmesan cheese at the end of cooking for added richness and depth of flavor.
  4. Herb Medley: Besides basil, add other fresh Italian herbs (or Italian seasoning) like thyme, rosemary, or even a touch of fresh mint to create a unique herbal fusion.
  5. Sweet Pepper Kick: Sauté diced red bell peppers with the onions for a touch of sweetness and a subtle red pepper flavor.
  6. Meat Lover’s Delight: Brown ground meat (like beef, turkey, or pork) and incorporate it into the sauce for a hearty, meaty version.
  7. Spice Trail: Add a pinch of red pepper flakes or your favorite dried spices like smoked paprika, cumin, or fennel seeds for an unexpected twist.
  8. Lemon Zest Lift: Stir in a bit of freshly grated lemon zest for a burst of citrusy brightness.
  9. Wine Wonder: Deglaze the pot with a splash of red or white wine before adding the tomatoes for an extra layer of complexity.
  10. Pink Sauce: Finish the sauce with a touch of heavy cream or coconut milk for a creamy and luscious texture and savory sauce.

Equipment

How to Store Homemade Marinara Sauce

Cooling: Allow the sauce to cool down to room temperature before transferring it to storage containers. This helps prevent condensation and maintains the sauce’s quality.

Airtight Containers: Use clean, airtight containers or glass jars with tight-fitting lids for storage. Ensure there is enough space at the top of the container to accommodate any expansion when freezing.

Refrigeration: If you plan to use the sauce within a week, store it in the refrigerator. Make sure to label the container with the date for reference.

Freezing: For longer storage, freeze the sauce. Divide it into smaller portions, so you can thaw only what you need without defrosting the entire batch. You can use freezer-safe bags or containers for this purpose.

Removing Air: When using freezer bags, remove as much air as possible before sealing. This helps prevent freezer burn and keeps the sauce fresh for an extended period.

Storage Duration: In the refrigerator, fresh tomato sauce typically lasts 5-7 days. It can maintain its quality in the freezer for around 4-6 months.

Thawing: To thaw frozen sauce, place it in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, you can use the defrost setting on a microwave if you need it more quickly.

Reheating: When reheating the sauce, do it gently over low heat, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching. You may need to add a splash of water or broth to achieve the desired consistency, as the sauce can thicken during storage.

plate of pasta with marinara sauce and fresh tomatoes. for on the side.

Top tips

Here are some best recipe tips to help you make the most out of your homemade marinara sauce:

  • Quality of Tomatoes: Use ripe, high-quality tomatoes for the best results. Plum or Roma tomatoes are ideal for their sweet and less watery flesh, which results in a thicker and more flavorful sauce.
  • Basil Freshness: Since basil is a key flavor in this recipe, use fresh basil leaves for the best taste. Avoid using dried basil, as it won’t provide the same level of freshness.
  • Slow Cooking: Let the sauce simmer on low heat for an extended period, allowing the flavors to meld together. Slow cooking brings out the best taste in tomatoes and creates a rich and flavorful sauce.
  • Balance the Acidity: If your tomatoes are too acidic, you can add a teaspoon of sugar to balance the flavors. Taste the sauce before adding the sugar, as it may not always be necessary, especially if you’re using very sweet tomatoes.
  • Texture Preference: Decide on your preferred texture—whether you like a smooth sauce or a chunky one. You can either use an immersion blender to puree the sauce partially or leave it as is for a more rustic feel.
  • Salt Wisely: Be mindful of the salt you add, especially if you’re using canned tomatoes or store-bought tomato paste, as they may already contain salt. Adjust the seasoning accordingly to avoid an overly salty sauce.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Opt for good quality extra virgin olive oil, as it adds richness and enhances the overall flavor of the sauce.
  • Storage: Allow the sauce to cool completely before storing it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for longer storage. The sauce tends to taste even better the next day after the flavors have had more time to meld.

FAQs

What are the best tomatoes for homemade marinara sauce?

The best tomatoes for homemade marinara sauce typically have a balanced sweetness, acidity, and meaty flesh that cooks well. Here are some recommended tomato varieties:
San Marzano: San Marzano tomatoes are prized for their rich, sweet flavor, low acidity, and firm, meaty texture. They are often considered the gold standard for making marinara sauce due to their superior taste and cooking properties.
Roma or Plum Tomatoes: Roma tomatoes are widely available and a popular choice for marinara sauce. They have less water content and fewer seeds, making them ideal for creating a thicker sauce with a rich tomato flavor.
Canned Whole Tomatoes: If fresh tomatoes are not in season or hard to find, canned whole tomatoes can be an excellent substitute. Look for high-quality, canned San Marzano or plum tomatoes with no added preservatives or seasoning.
Amish Paste: Amish Paste tomatoes are heirloom varieties known for their strong tomato flavor and low water content, making them a good choice for marinara sauce.
Vine-Ripened Tomatoes: If you can access vine-ripened tomatoes that are fully mature and picked at their peak, they can also make a delicious sauce.
When making marinara sauce, it’s important to use ripe, flavorful tomatoes for the best results.

Is Marinara Sauce the same as tomato sauce?

Marinara sauce is a tomato sauce originating in Italy (sugo al pomodoro), made primarily with tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, and basil. It is known for its fresh, bright flavor and is commonly used as a pasta sauce or pizza sauce. On the other hand, Tomato sauce is a broader term that encompasses various sauces made with tomatoes as the base ingredient, that can include a variety of herbs and spices.

Do you have to peel the tomatoes to make fresh tomato sauce?

No! You don’t. This way is easier and more nutritious. This BEST homemade marinara sauce recipe features fresh tomatoes, skipping the peeling step for convenience and preserving nutrients. By using an immersion blender, achieve a rustic texture while allowing the flavors of ripe tomatoes and aromatic herbs to meld into a rich and delicious sauce.

plate of pasta with marinara sauce and fresh tomatoes. for on the side. Tomatoes and basil in background.

Looking for other Italian recipes? Try these:

Ways to Use Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes

These are my favorite dishes to serve with Homemade Marinara Sauce:

More ideas for serving: Chicken Parmesan, Dipping Sauce, and Sausage Meatballs.

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Homemade Marinara Sauce Recipe with Fresh Tomatoes

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5 from 6 reviews

Indulge in the essence of summer with this tantalizing homemade marinara sauce, bursting with the vibrant flavors of sun-ripened tomatoes, good olive oil, and fragrant basil. This fresh and easy-to-make recipe will elevate your pasta dishes to a whole new level of deliciousness!

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 3 pounds fresh tomatoes (San Marzano, plum, or Roma tomatoes work well), roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced (optional)
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sugar (optional, to balance acidity)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook the Onion and Garlic: Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add the chopped onion and sauté until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic (if used) and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
  2. Add the Tomatoes and Cook: Add the chopped fresh tomatoes to the pot. Stir well to combine all the ingredients. Allow the mixture to come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Blend: Use an immersion blender or regular blender. Blend until desired thickness (chunky or smooth). Be careful when blending hot liquids. 
  4.  Add Basil: In the last 5 minutes of cooking, add the fresh basil and stir to combine. 
  5. Optional: Thicken the Sauce. After the tomatoes have cooked down and released their juices, stir in 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and sugar (if using). The tomato paste will add richness and depth to the sauce. Continue to cook the sauce uncovered for another 10 minutes until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  6. Season and Finish: Taste the sauce and add salt and black pepper according to your preference. If it’s too acidic, you can add a bit more sugar. 
  7. Serving Suggestions: Use the marinara sauce immediately or let it cool before storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. It also freezes well, so you can make a larger batch and keep some for future use.

This versatile marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes is great for various dishes, including pasta dishes, pizza sauce, and more. Enjoy your homemade marinara sauce with the delightful taste of fresh tomatoes!

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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14 Comments

  1. How much marinara sauce will this recipe make as written without doubling? I need about 24 oz of sauce. Can’t wait to give it a try!

    1. About that much! It depends a little bit on the exact size and variety of tomatoes. You can always double and freeze the rest! Enjoy.

  2. Do you leave the basil in for blending? I’m new to using fresh herbs 🫣. In fact, I guess this might be a good place to ask—is there ever a time you remove the herbs before serving? Or is that only bay leaves 😅. Thanks!

    1. Hi! Yes, I remove bay leaves and and whole thyme and rosemary stems, but not fresh basil.You are fine to leave that in! Yummm

  3. Amazing! 10 stars!!
    I didn’t have fresh tomatoes so I used Whole Tomatoes and then left it a little thicker instead of making it smooth.
    We dipped Wood Fired Pizza into it and it was to die for!! (I did make it a tad sweeter to taste).






    1. Yay! So happy you loved it. It’s my mom’s famous recipe. Wow, I love that you dipped pizza in it. You need to try my homemade pizza recipe next.

  4. Thank you for this recipe, Elena! The sauce was so simple to make but was exploding with flavor! We served it with spaghetti and meatballs. I will definitely be using this recipe in the future when I have a lot of tomatoes to use up in a short period of time!






  5. This is the best sugo pomodoro con pomodori freschi (I love saying that🙂)!! It’s simple to make, fresh and light. It tastes amazing and my family loves it. I recently stumbled upon this recipe, but have made it tons of times already with all the fresh tomatoes in season. The only thing I don’t like about it is that I drink it right out of the pot so I have to make a double batch. Thank you for sharing!






  6. I made this recipe and it was so yummy with my homegrown tomatoes! It’s a keeper. I added roasted garlic and basil and it is so delicious. I left mine chunky because we like it that way. I can’t wait to use it for all my pasta marinara dishes.♥ Thank you Elena!






  7. My whole family loved this sauce. It is such a light sauce and super easy. I love the ability to switch up the flavor, too. I also love knowing exactly what is in the sauce.