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Hearty Marinara Sauce

Hearty Marinara Sauce

This Hearty Vegan Marinara Sauce thickens and simmers for only about 30 minutes and comes out flavorful and rich and freezes incredibly well! This is a simple Italian that you will make again and again.

I love making Italian food. The ingredients are minimal and simple and the flavors are nostalgic. I could pretty much eat Italian food for every meal. And there are few Italian items as ubiquitous as marinara sauce, and for good reason. This basic tomato sauce, can be used for many things like pizza sauce or in a lasagna- and its delicious on a big bowl of pasta or simply to dunk some crusty bread into. So, I think its time I share my recipe for Hearty Marinara Sauce.

Marinara sauce in an orange dutch oven
Marinara should be simple to make and comforting to eat.

San Marzano Tomatoes or Bust

Hearty Vegan Marinara sauce is much more simple that a lot of people make it. A good marinara sauce is all about the tomatoes. So, its important to get high quality whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes. And, be sure that they are certified San Marzano tomatoes, not just San Marzano style. These are the sweetest variety you will find.

silver spoon with tomato sauce on it over a pot of marinara
Simmer everything until its nice and thick.

Whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes are the highest quality, most easily accessible tomatoes out there. And, since this Hearty Marinara Sauce has just a few ingredients, it crucial to use the best. My favorite brand of San Marzanos is Cento. Cento is available pretty much everywhere, which is great. Cento’s San Marzano whole peeled tomatoes are also really affordable. Imagine paying over $7 per can for tomatoes? Thanks but no thanks. And, most importantly, they taste great.

Whole Peeled Tomatoes for the Best Homemade Marinara

Whole peeled tomatoes are the most consistent and highest quality canned tomatoes. Crushed tomatoes vary wildly between brands. And that means your homemade marinara will vary wildly as well. And diced tomatoes are treated with a chemical to keep them firm. So, they never cook down nicely into a tomato sauce.

Lanscape of spaghetti with tomato sauce in a white bowl topped with basil
Put this Marinara on pasta, use it on pizza or simply dip plenty of crusty bread into it.

To work with whole peeled tomatoes, pour the contents of the cans into a large bowl. Then, using clean hands, squish the tomatoes until they are all broken up into small chunks. It is a little messy. But, I’ll do anything for an Hearty Marinara Sauce.

Add Grated Carrot for Sweetness

Growing up, my mom alway added a bit of sugar into her tomato sauce. Tomatoes are quite acidic, so the tomato sauce needs to be balanced with something sweet. But, traditionally carrot is used rather than sugar. So, I grate my carrot and it ends up being undetectable in the finished sauce. But it does a really nice job balancing the acidity of this Hearty Vegan Marinara Sauce out.

flat shot of two bowls of spaghetti topped with basil
As with most Italian food, this Marinara is best with a glass of wine.

How to Thicken Marinara Sauce

This Hearty Marinara sauce thickens by simmering on the stove top. As the steam evaporates, the mixture thickens and the flavors marry. It will take about 30-40 minutes of simmering to achieve a rich, thick Hearty Marinara Sauce.

Can you Freeze Marinara Sauce

Yes! This Hearty Marinara Sauce freezes beautifully. Simply divide it between a few containers and freeze for up to three months. DO try to divide it into amounts that you will use it in. Its best not to refreeze things after they have been frozen and thawed once.

Lanscape of spaghetti with marinara sauce in a white bowl topped with basil
Comfort food made simple.

Use this Homemade Marinara as pizza sauce, on top of pasta or if you like me and my family, simply stand over the stove and dunk an entire loaf of crusty bread into it.

Hearty Marinara Sauce

Megan Calipari
This Hearty Vegan Marinara Sauce thickens and simmers for only about 30 minutes and comes out flavorful and rich and freezes incredibly well! This is a simple Italian that you will make again and again.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 40 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 7 Cups


  • 2 28 oz Cans, whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil, divided
  • 1 Medium Carrot, peeled and grated on a box grater
  • 1 Large Onion, finely diced
  • 4 Large Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 2 Tbsp Tomato Paste
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Oregano
  • 1/4 tsp Dried Basil
  • Pinch Crushed Red Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp Finely Chopped Fresh Basil
  • Salt and Black Pepper to taste


  • Pour the contents of the tomato cans into a large bowl. Using clean hands, squish the tomatoes in you hands until they are nicely broken up into about 1/4 inch chunks. Set aside.
  • Into a large dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil, grated carrot and the chopped onion. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook until everything is soft and the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes.
  • Into the pot, add the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste basil, oregano and chili flake. Stir together and season with another pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce has thickened a bit.
  • Remove from heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the fresh basil.
  • Ladle atop pasta, or cool and refrigerate for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 2 months.
Keyword Marinara, sauce recipes, tomato sauce

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