Fresh Tomato Marinara

This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. No cans here, just delicious, fresh from the garden tomato sauce!

This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

I’m sort of posting backwards, leading up to some quite tasty little Eggplant Parmesan Poppers that you’ll be seeing tomorrow. But no eggplant parm dish is complete without a good homemade marinara sauce.

So I went to the store, gathered up what I thought should go into a homemade marinara (fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, parsley), got home and decided “eh, better just check to see what the interwebs say about making marinara”. Well the interwebs say canned tomatoes. Almost always canned tomatoes. Canned stewed tomatoes and tomato paste and canned crushed tomato and all of these sodium-filled cans of tomatoes.

This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

But it’s summer and tomatoes are growing and I have five beautiful ones sitting right here in front of me. So screw the cans. We’re making a fresh tomato homemade marinara.

And we’re gonna leave the skin on too! Most recipes will have you blanch the tomato to remove the skin, but I didn’t find it to be all that necessary. AND the skin has healthy insoluble fiber. Double win.

This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

How do you make marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes?

Heat a touch of oil, toast some garlic, throw in diced fresh tomatoes and let them simmer. Not only is cooking going to break these tomatoes down into a smooth sauce and remove those sour tones, but it’s also going to increase the concentration of lycopene, one of the most potent antioxidants!

Once you’ve cooked down the tomatoes, add in your flavor makers: basil, parsley, and honey. 

This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.

What are the best tomatoes for marinara sauce?

You can use almost any tomato to make fresh tomato marinara sauce, but the best ones will be the paste tomatoes. These are meatier and have less water content, meaning you need to cook them for less time to get to that nice, thick sauce. Look for Roma or San Marzano tomatoes!

Ways to use this Homemade Marinara Sauce:

4.89 from 9 votes

Homemade Marinara Sauce

This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. No cans, no fuss!

Course Dips, Sauces, and Salsas, Pastas
Diet Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegetarian
Time 45 minutes or less
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Live Eat Learn


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 fresh tomatoes diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs of parsley


  1. Heat oil in a saucepan over medium heat, then add garlic and cook about 2 minutes.
  2. Add diced tomatoes and stir well. Allow to simmer, uncovered, about 25 minutes, stirring often, until mixture has thickened slightly.
  3. Stir in basil, honey, salt, pepper, and parsley (stem and leaves intact). Continue simmering about 10 minutes.
  4. Carefully remove sprigs of parsley with a fork.
  5. You can serve it like this or puree it in a food processor/blender for a smoother sauce (good for dipping!).


Use maple syrup instead of honey to make this recipe vegan.

Thanks so much for dropping by and for making easy recipes like this Homemade Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce possible!

Comments (43)

  1. Sami Bustos says:

    This is so good i just made it for me and my fiance we had a spur of the moment cheese stick craving and i decided to make a marinara and found your recipe it was soooo good and the honey….who knew!!
    Thanks so much!!!

    1. Sarah says:

      Oh gosh you’ve just passed your cheese stick craving onto me! So happy to hear your liked the recipe, Sami. It’s so easy right? 🙂

  2. Morgan says:

    Can you can and freeze this recipe?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi, Morgan! I haven’t tried canning or freezing this marinara, but my thinking is that yes, you can. This post from The Kitchn gives a handy idea for freezing!

  3. Ifrah says:

    Hi! I’m so sick of all those recipes having canned tomatoes. So I definitely wanna try this. Can I substitute dried basil for fresh and cilantro for parsely if I dont have them on hand?? Please do reply because I’m so into this recipe. TIA.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ifrah! Sorry for the delayed response. I haven’t tried making this with either substitution, but you should be able to substitute the fresh basil with about 2/3 tbsp of dried. Cilantro has a pretty distinct flavor and is a lot more citrusy than parsley, but it shouldn’t make an enormous difference. If you do end up making it with these substitutions I’d love to hear how it goes!

  4. Cait M. says:

    What is the best way to store a few batches? Could I freeze it?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi, Cait! Yep you can freeze it 🙂 I just freeze it in cup sized portions so it’s easy to thaw the perfect amount.

  5. Sarah says:

    Mine came out very watery. Is there a good way you recommend to thicken it a little?

    1. Sarah says:

      Hey Sarah! You must have had some juicy tomatoes 🙂 Just keep stewing your tomatoes uncovered for a while, until it reaches a thickness to your liking. The excess water and moisture should evaporate out, just keep it cooking slow and steady!

  6. Alexandria says:

    Just tried making this for the first time and my fiancé and 4 year old both informed me it smells amazing. I am going to use it tonight on our Chicken Parmesan and see if it tastes as good as it smells. I used fresh basil instead of dried and I also added in a couple of fresh Oregano leaves diced up since I saw it on another recipe and had already purchased it haha.

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy the hear, Alexandria! The fresh basil and oregano were great ideas. Sauces like this are so flexible to throw in whatever you have and it tends to work! 😀

  7. Alexandria says:

    The sauce was a huge hit and everyone has demanded I make more for our future dishes! Thank you so much for posting this awesome recipe

    1. Sarah says:

      So awesome! You can try freezing it in portion sizes if you find yourself making it a lot 😀

  8. Sumera says:

    HI. Can I use dried basil as its not easy to find fresh basil where I live.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Sumera! I haven’t tried making this the substitution, but you should be able to substitute the fresh basil with about 2/3 tbsp of dried. Enjoy! 😀

  9. Sandra says:

    The frozen pasta dinners have small amounts of pasta sauce in the packages it works good when cooking. So freeze it in ice cube trays and put that in freezer bags, and take out what you need when you make any pasta.

    1. Sarah says:

      I do this all the time, especially with pesto! 🙂

  10. Peter says:

    What are the best tomatoes to use? Thanks

    1. Sarah says:

      Paste tomatoes (like Roma) are best for making sauces because they have less juice 😀

  11. Kendra says:

    How long does this last in the fridge?

  12. Ruth says:

    My neighbor gave me 60 roma tomatoes from his garden. I found your marinara and decided to try it. Great taste, I cooked it down about 2 hrs and blended it in my food processor. Came out beautiful, made 5 two cups containers, I froze them for handy dinner solutions.

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Ruth! So happy you liked the marinara! Great idea to freeze them. I love freezing tasty sauces for ultra-quick dinner solutions. Sometimes I freeze them in an ice cube tray for even more convenience (especially for things like pesto)

  13. Cheryll Dennis says:

    I am making this sauce right now. Finally have a garden with bountiful roma tomatoes so I looked for a sauce recipe with fresh romas. Also have fresh herbs in the garden so this is perfect. I’m sure it will be a 5-star sauce because it smells simply divine! You apparently posted this a couple of years ago, but I’m thankful to find it.

    1. Sarah says:

      Indeed, it’s an old recipe but I’m happy you could find it to use up those fresh tomatoes and herbs! Bon appetite 😀

  14. Pete says:

    Used all ingredients fresh out of my garden. Added fresh oregano with the basil, and sauteed 2 small shallots with the garlic at the onset. After adding the herbs, I added a 1/4 cup of 2015 DaVinci Chianti…this recipe has that “WOW” factor and will be served with some chicken, spinach, asiago cheese sausages over parsley-ed fettuccine and fresh parmesan cheese…and, of course, more Chianti!!

    1. Sarah says:

      I’ll just refer people to your comment when they need some dinner inspiration because I can almost taste your delicious fettuccine dinner from here! Thanks so much for letting us know how it went, Pete. Love your marinara “upgrades” and pairings! 😀

  15. Will Turner says:

    I had some San Marzano’s from a plant that didnt do very well, but I managed to salvage a nice bunch of tomatoes and just let them ripen on my butcher block… My Daughter suggested making a marinara.. I thought what the heck.. found several but something about yours seemed perfect.. Boy am I glad I did!! Amazing!! Everything from the garden.. The Basil was grown in a patio planter with some trinidad scorpion peppers and took on a little a match made In heaven!! Thank You!!

    1. Sarah says:

      Your version of this must have been amazing with all that fresh produce!! 😀

  16. Katy says:

    can you give a measurement on tomatoes i have small home grown, so a cup measurement would be awesome

    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Katy! I would guess about 3 heaping cups. I’m fixing to make this recipe again soon, I’ll be sure to let you know if it ends up being a different amount.

  17. Nicole says:

    Can I substitute agave for honey?

  18. Heather says:

    Best marinara sauce I have ever tasted! I used fresh garden tomatoes and basil and oregano from my garden! My parents brought me a ton of tomatoes from their garden and I have been getting more from my garden as well as my favorite produce stand and have been chopping them and freezing them in bags until I get enough to make a big batch and I am gonna try to water bath can it!

    1. Sarah says:

      Ahh, so happy to hear Heather!! It sounds like it would be amazing with all those fresh veggies and herbs. Would LOVE to hear how the canning goes 😀

  19. Margo says:

    I made this today with Roma tomatoes from my neighbor. It is fantastic! I also added fresh oregano from my garden. Much tastier than canned tomatoes! I would love to have Peyte’s recipe (July 10, 2018 comment) for chicken, spinach, Asiago cheese, sausage over palsied fettuccine w/Parmesan cheese!?

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy you liked it, Margo! Fresh tomatoes this time of the year are the BEST 😀

  20. Deana Forman says:

    If using dried spices, what would be the amounts.

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Deana! You can use 1/3 the amount of dry instead of fresh herbs. So 2 tsp of dried basil and about 1 Tbsp of dried parsley.

  21. Blue says:

    Just a btw!!! This isn’t vegan if you add honey since that’s an animal byproduct. Love the recipe though.

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for pointing that out, Blue! I’ve been meaning to get back through a recheck things like this, thanks for helping 🙂 Glad you liked it!

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