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Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce

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

Fresh tomato marinara sauce in a bowl

When I first set out to make my own marinara sauce, I went to the grocery and gathered up what I thought should go into a homemade marinara – fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic, parsley. When I got home I thought, “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.

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

How to Make Fresh Tomato Marinara Sauce Video

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.

Chunky fresh marinara sauce on a plate of spaghetti

How to make marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes

To make this simple marinara sauce, heat a touch of oil in a pot, add some garlic, throw in diced fresh tomatoes and let that all 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 into your desired thickness and consistency, add in your flavor makers: basil, parsley, and honey.

Ingredients to make marinara sauce with fresh tomatoes

What are the best tomatoes for marinara sauce?

You can use almost any tomato to make marinara sauce from scratch, 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 (and learn about the different types of tomatoes here).

Chopped fresh roma tomatoes for marinara sauce

This marinara sauce is naturally chunky, but you can easily make it into a smooth and silky marinara with a quick blitz in the blender. I prefer to use a handheld immersion blender to puree it right in the pot, but you could also transfer it (carefully – hot!) to a countertop blender.

Homemade marinara sauce mixed with spaghetti

Ways to use this Homemade Marinara Sauce

Marinara sauce is a type of tomato sauce that’s more light and acidic than, say a pizza sauce. It’s great as a pasta and spaghetti sauce, but there are quite a few ways to use marinara (that aren’t pasta!)

Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan
Eggplant Parmesan Poppers

Homemade marinara sauce on a plate of spaghetti
Homemade marinara sauce recipe on a plate of spaghetti

Homemade Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

This homemade marinara sauce recipe is made ultra-simply from scratch with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs. No cans, no fuss!
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dips, Sauces, and Salsas, Pastas
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: fresh tomato marinara, homemade marinara sauce, marinara sauce recipe, tomato sauce recipe
Diet: Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free, Low Carb, Paleo, Vegetarian
Time: 45 minutes or less
Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 35 mins
Total: 40 mins
Servings: 2 cups
Calories: 39kcal
Author: Sarah Bond
4.18 from 96 votes


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 fresh tomatoes diced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp honey 15 g
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 3 sprigs of parsley


  • Cook tomatoes: Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and allow to simmer uncovered until tomatoes have mostly broken down, about 25 minutes. Stir often to prevent burning.
  • Herbs: Stir in basil, honey, salt, pepper, and parsley (stem and leaves intact). Continue simmering about 10 minutes. Carefully remove sprigs of parsley with a fork.
  • Serve: You can serve it like this or puree it in a food processor/blender for a smoother sauce.


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


Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 39kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.6g | Protein: 0.8g | Fat: 1.9g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 0mg | Sodium: 151mg | Potassium: 190mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 4.2g | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.2mg
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This homemade marinara sauce is made ultra-simply with fresh tomatoes, garlic, and herbs.
A photo from when I originally published this recipe!

Hi, I’m Sarah!

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Comments (66)

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  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!!!5 stars

    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? πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ™‚ 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 πŸ™‚ 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 fiancΓ© 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.5 stars

    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! πŸ˜€

  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 πŸ˜€

  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! πŸ˜€

  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! πŸ™‚

  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 πŸ˜€

  11. Kendra says:

    How long does this last in the fridge?5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      About 1 week πŸ™‚

  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.
    Thanks5 stars

    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.5 stars

    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 πŸ˜€

  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!!5 stars

    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! πŸ˜€

  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!!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Your version of this must have been amazing with all that fresh produce!! πŸ˜€

  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?

    1. Sarah says:

      Yes! πŸ™‚

  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!5 stars

    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 πŸ˜€

  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 πŸ˜€

  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.4 stars

    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 πŸ™‚ Glad you liked it!

  22. Paula says:

    This is the best sauce I have ever had, made my cabbage rolls really tasty!!!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      YAY! So happy to hear, Paula! πŸ˜€

  23. Laura Beth says:

    Delicious! Exacly what I was looking for! I added 1 small fresh red & green bell pepper & about a 1/3 of a yellow onion, also used oregano instead or parsley. PurΓ©ed, on angle hair spaghett., My 2 year old loved it! Thanks for sharing it!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy you liked it, Laura! πŸ˜€ Thanks for all the substitution tips!!

  24. Paula says:

    This tomato sauce was delicious! I have never tried to make it from scratch but I received a whole bunch of tomatoes in my CSA so used your recipe. Really the best tomato sauce I have ever had! I used the maple syrup instead of honey. Will be making this again!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear, Paula! πŸ˜€ This recipe always gets so popular this time of year with everyone drowning in bunches of fresh tomatoes!

  25. Gillian says:

    Perfect! Added a splash of balsamic and used an immersiin blender. It is sooo good4 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Yum, great idea Gillian! πŸ˜€

  26. Peggy says:

    I used whatever tomatoes I had from my veggie garden including cherries and grape. I also added finely diced green peppers as I had an overabundance of them this year.
    My Ex’s family is from Italy and Aunt Lena, came here at 19/20 yrs old, one time told me that her family never used sugar to cut the acid of the tomatoes but used carrots for the sugar in them. I used baby carrots as they are the sweetest and put them in my Ninja and then in the pot, this adds a lot of extra nutrients into the sauce, which is great when you have kids that do not like veggies, I did not have the problem. Added several additional spices oregano, tarragon, sage( this is a strong spice so less is better), marjoram, rosemary and thyme.
    Love the basic recipe as it is quick and easy as I did not blanch the tomatoes.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Using baby carrots is brilliant! Deeper color, more healthy, and better taste. Triple win! Happy this could be your base recipe for what sounds like a very delicious marinara! πŸ˜€

  27. Donna Wetherell says:

    Can u tell me about how many cups of diced tomatoes I would need for this recipe?

    1. Sarah says:

      Great question, Donna! You’ll need about 5 cups of diced tomatoes.

  28. AlanahK says:

    Tried this recipe because even now in 2020 all recipes include canned tomatoes! This was AMAZING!!! No more canned sauce! Thank you

    1. Sarah says:

      Yay! Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  29. Phil D says:

    My family said that this was the best sauce I ever made. I used a lot more tomatoes to make more. Now I know what to do with all of the tomatoes that I am growing this year. I don’t want to go back to using a canned or jarred sauce. Thank you!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it! I’m already so excited for tomato season πŸ˜€

  30. Alison Stukkie says:

    How much sauce does this recipe yield for a pound of pasta??

    1. Sarah says:

      It yields about 2 cups, which will be good for about 1 pound of pasta πŸ˜€

  31. Aubree says:

    Third time making this recipe. Love love love the simplicity and the flexibility the ingredients have! This has become a major staple in our meal rotation! I’ve added different vegetables that have become abundant in our fridge, Costco prices on produce are too good to pass up sometimes. Spinach and onion have made an appearance this time. I can’t wait to try mushrooms in it too! Solid recipe Sara!!! Thank you!!!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Aw, so happy to hear it! I love that you sneak some extra veggie power in there. Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  32. Sara S. says:

    when do you add the salt

    1. Sarah says:

      In step 2, when you stir in the basil and honey. πŸ˜€

  33. CEDRIC DOTSON says:


    1. Sarah says:

      I have not tested this recipe for canning so I can’t say for sure. Sorry about that!