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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!)

Homemade marinara sauce on a plate of spaghetti

Got fresh tomatoes?

You can also use fresh tomatoes to make these favorites!

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
4.28 from 147 votes


  • 1 Tbsp olive oil 15 mL
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 5 fresh tomatoes 1 to 1.5 lbs, 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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Recipe Rating

  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!

  34. Stephanie says:

    Can this recipe be canned? I am looking to make a bunch of sauce, because I have a billion tomatoes about to ripen, and i would like to put some up for later.

    1. Sarah says:

      I haven’t tried canning this recipe, but I think it can be done. I would follow some of the tips here about canning marinara.

  35. Diana says:

    I thought this was delicious!! So did the 4 teens I shared it with! Should have doubled it! Making another batch right now. Sooooo delicious! Passed on to friends! I think the honey adds a special touch! Plus I love fresh basil!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Diana! Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  36. Alexia says:

    Haven’t made it yet but it sounds great!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      Happy to hear it! Enjoy! πŸ˜€

  37. Lisa Maria says:

    Thank you Sarah! I was looking for a recipe using all fresh ingredients and did not want to bother skinning tomatoes. I have some beauties from the garden. I think I’ll add some fresh zucchini to it as well. I wouldn’t have thought of honey but I have that in my cabinet. Heading to the kitchen right now!

    1. Sarah says:

      Yay so happy to hear it! This late summer garden bounty is EXACTLY why I created this recipe! πŸ˜€

  38. Carina says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Would you be able to estimate how many lbs of tomatoes are needed for this recipe? My garden is producing different sizes πŸ™‚
    Very excited to try a recipe with fresh tomatoes.

    Thank you!

    1. Sarah says:

      About 1 to 1.5 lbs! So excited for you to try it! πŸ˜€

  39. Carina says:

    Thanks for confirming the lb!
    Immediately tried it out and it is DELICIOUS! Added diced onion with the garlic and used less honey since my tomatoes are already pretty sweet. Also added some chili flakes for some heat!
    Will definitely repeat the recipe with store bought tomatoes once my plants are out!5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      YAY! So happy to hear it, Carina! πŸ˜€

  40. Leslie says:

    Tomatoes vary in size greatly. Do you mean 5 Roma tomatoes? An approximate weight for the tomatoes would be helpful. πŸ™‚

    1. Sarah says:

      You can use roma tomatoes (or whatever you have on hand)! 1 to 1.5 lbs πŸ˜€

  41. Rob Sellers says:

    I’m excited about your marinara sauce but have 1 (important?) question.
    I will be using a blend of approx 10% jet star and and 90% heirloom which I know have a lot of water, which I don’t mind cooking down (more time for wine tasting!) I’ll also end up with a lot of seeds & am concerned that If I remove most of them, I’ll also loose a lot of the meat. Will leaving them in have a negative impact on the final product?
    I have a garden full of Heirlooms, enough for 6-8 quarts of sauce so using another type really isn’t in the cards. Will greatly appreciate any suggestions.


    1. Sarah says:

      Hi Rob! Leaving the seeds in shouldn’t have much impact on the final product. They won’t influence the flavor, but could obviously change the texture. If you’re sensitive to textures like that in food then you might just strain them out through a mesh sieve.

  42. Bonny says:

    Tasty! I have a bunch of tomatoes from my garden and was looking for sauces I could make and freeze. Beautiful.5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Bonny! πŸ˜€

  43. Renee says:

    Sarah how do you store fresh marinara?

    1. Sarah says:

      You can either store it in the fridge for about a week, or you can freeze it πŸ™‚ I just freeze it in cup sized portions so it’s easy to thaw the perfect amount.

  44. Delin says:

    My neighbor left 10# of Roma tomatoes on my porch. I hated to waste them so I ran a Google search for something that looked palatable. I’m not a big “spaghetti sauce” fan, but this looked easy with simple ingredients I had on hand. Mind. Blown. This is delicious! I even tripled the batch and made it for visiting children and grandchildren…it was a huge hit! I am growing Roma tomatoes next year πŸ˜‰5 stars

    1. Sarah says:

      So happy to hear it, Delin! πŸ˜€ Enjoy!!

  45. Diana E Davis says:

    I haven’t tried it yet, but I can’t wait. Can it be frozen if you make too much?

    1. Sarah says:

      Yep you can freeze it πŸ˜€ I just freeze it in cup sized portions so it’s easy to thaw the perfect amount.

  46. Cara says:

    This recipe is absolutely amazing! My brother has allergic reactions to store bought sauces and I wanted to make my own sauce anyways, I didn’t have canned tomatoes, this recipe was perfect. i added some water and cut the tomatoes before hand to have a smoother sauce. Everyone in my family loved it! I made it for school too πŸ™‚ I’m 13, and this prooves anyone can make this sauce!!

    1. Sarah says:

      This makes me so happy to hear, Cara! I’m glad you and your family enjoyed it! Happy cooking πŸ˜€

  47. RORider says:

    Just a heads up type of comment re: quantity changes. While the basic amount changes if you change the servings from 2 to 4, for example, the number changes but the amount in parentheses doesn’t, so be careful.
    Example, change from 2 to 4 servings and tomatoes changes from 5 to 10, but the (1 to 1.5 lbs. diced) remains the same. Same for oil-change 2 to 4 and it remains as 15 ml instead of changing to 30 ml.

    Could easily be confusion as to why a recipe didn’t quite turn out if the cook only noticed the unchanged amount reference.

    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks so much for pointing that out!