Fresh Tomato Marinara

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


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.


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 insoluble fiber which is good for filling you up and for ye bowels.


Basically we’ll just heat up a touch of oil, brown some garlic, throw in some diced tomatoes and let them simmer. Not only is cooking going to break these tomatoes down into a nice smooth sauce, but it’s 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. Okay we need to talk about this honey I found.


“Taste Ladies” were always my favorite part of grocery shopping as a kid…and well yea they still are. So when I saw a taste-testing booth for honey a few weeks ago I was like YES and bee-lined it for them (tehe, get it?).

And it turns out they’re just the best thing ever. The Central Texas Bee Rescue works with people who have unwanted bee infestations, rescuing the bees and relocating them to honeybee havens. They teach classes in beekeeping to schools, the Boy Scouts, and even correctional facilities. They have bee havens on volunteered land, on top of hotels, and in downtown Austin. Oh and they make damn good honey that just so happens to be exactly what this marinara sauce needed. Check them out here.

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

5 from 3 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.

Helpful products for this homemade marinara

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Comments (22)

  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?

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