Quick and Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

This easy to make marinara sauce is seasoned with basil, onions, and garlic and laced with wine. This is the sauce that convinced my husband that spaghetti sauce does not need to be sweetened (he has gladly thrown out those Prego spaghetti sauce jars in exchange for this one!).

Although it is a full flavored sauce, is it quite simple and fast to make. It’s the time of year for Christmas baking and shopping, card writing, and relative visiting. In other words, we are busy! It can be tempting to fudge a bit on our healthy cooking, but there are easy, nourishing dinners that you can throw together quickly.

This easy to make marinara sauce is quick to throw together after a busy day and makes a wonderful main dish when poured over some spaghetti noodles (perhaps with meatballs and Parmesan cheese). To keep things easy you can use brown rice noodles (low in phytic acid, read more about soaking grains here), or you can use my soaked noodle recipe. I have been getting my brown rice noodles at Trader Jo’s (2 dollars a package!).

We use this sauce as part of many other dishes, but we love it simply tossed with some hot noodles. Serve with a green salad and some garlic bread and you have a gourmet meal that is nourishing and easy as well.


Quick and Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce

I use whatever wine I have on hand. I have used white and red with good success (though red is probably a more natural fit). Just make sure you use drinking wine (those cheap cooking wines aren’t worth having in your kitchen!). You can adjust the wine amount to personal preference, sometimes I don’t even measure, but pour to taste. You can also easily use other herbs, or fresh herbs. I often use this as the foundation for more elaborate sauces.

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
3-6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 28 ounce jar of pureed or chopped tomatoes
2 teaspoons dried basil
1/2 cup of wine
Sea salt and pepper to taste

1-Heat a pan on medium high heat with the olive oil. When hot add the onion. Saute, stirring occasionally until the onions are soft and transparent. Then add the garlic and saute 1-2 minutes more (don’t let it brown).

2-Add the tomatoes, basil, and wine, and bring to a low simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, taste test and add salt if needed (by the way, it will taste much more “winey” before it pour it over the noodles. The noodles dilute the flavor a bit).

Serve as desired (with noodles, polenta, etc).

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Kelly the Kitchen Kop says

    Can’t wait to try this, Kimi!

    Question about the brown rice noodles – do you notice a difference in brands? I have tried Tinkyada (sp?) and can’t stand the taste!

    Thanks, Kelly

  2. Kimi Harris says

    Hi Kelly,

    Different brands of brown rice noodles do have different characteristics. Some fall apart much easier, for example. But I am really surprised that you don’t like Tinkyada’s! We love it! How did you serve it? With a flavorful sauce, we have served it to unsuspecting guests without them noticing anything different (we asked them after the meal!). 😉

    My sister actually ate some leftovers from the fridge once and didn’t notice anything being different than regular pasta.

    While if you are paying attention, there is definitely a difference, we have always thought certain brands, like Tinkyada to be very mild.

    All to say, if you didn’t like Tinkyada’s you probably won’t like Trader Joes, because it is very similar.

    Too bad, since it makes such a healthy pasta. 🙂

  3. Jenn says

    I make a sauce like this, and add cooked red lentils for protein, so it looks like a bolognaise sauce, and serve with noodles/rice/whatever.

    I like how versatile this recipe is.

  4. Anonymous says

    Hi Kimi,
    This looks and sounds really yummy, healthy and quick….I can’t wait to try it….
    Do you have a certain wine brand that you like for cooking with?

    Jessica O.

  5. Cathy says

    Okay, we tried this tonight for supper and it was absolutely delicious!!! I will be making this again and again! Thank you!

  6. Anonymous says

    I have made a sauce like this for a while. Recently, because I was out of canned chopped tomatoes I used a can of peeled whole tomatoes. When it was finished cooking I used my hand blender to mix it together.

    What a difference. The sauce was thicker, with a heartier (and I think) more satisfying texture. It also didn’t seperate as my usual sauce did.

    I also throw in a pinch of dried red chili flakes in the olive oil with the garlic.

    ps I love your web site – its so informative and the recipes are awesome.


  7. Anonymous says

    I made this last night for supper…It was so very good….everyone loved it….Thanks for posting it….
    Jessica O.

  8. Kimi Harris says


    Thanks for the comment. 🙂 I bet that would be good. And I am sure that added red peppers flakes would add a zing. Yum!


    Wow, you guys are fast! I can’t believe that two people have already tried this recipe. I am so glad that you like it. 🙂

  9. Liz says

    If there were no pasta, my children would not eat… I’m going to give this a try as it sounds delicious. I have a homemade recipe for a sauce that takes hours and hours, and I have another from Weight Watchers, but really, can’t you always use another pasta sauce recipe? Love it!

    Have you heard about the new cookbook featuring Trader Joe’s products? It’s called “Cooking With All Things Trader Joe’s” and lets busy cooks make quick and easy gourmet meals using TJ items. I am always looking to cook healthy (byproduct of Weight Watchers!) and the ideas in this cookbook are exactly right for that. The recipes combine fresh ingredients and lots of veggies with TJ products. I always feel so good about using TJ sauces and ingredients because they’re so much healthier than other brands — the ingredients are natural and preservative-free.

    Give it a look!

  10. Kimi Harris says


    My daughter loves pasta as well. I also enjoy many of Trader Jo’s products and appreciate their low prices so much! Thanks for letting me know about their cookbook, it seems like I did hear something about it when it first came out.

    And you are right, one can always use another pasta sauce. 🙂

  11. Caroline says

    Ah, I was totally inspired to make my own tomato sauce for dinner! This was my first time making it myself (though I’d seen my mom make homemade sauce growing up). I didn’t have any wine open (and I know that will really kick it up a notch) but I did have the rest of the ingredients, and I subbed Herbes de Provence for the dried basil (since I couldn’t find any in the kitchen).

    It was superb over wheat pasta! Thanks for the inspiration and I look forward to making the version with wine as well.

  12. Kimi Harris says


    I am so glad that you liked it, even without the wine. I bet that herbes de provence would be wonderful. Isn’t it so easy to make? That’s what I love so much about it. 🙂

  13. says

    I made this tonight and it was a hit! Really tasty, and so easy! I didn’t have any wine in the house, so I used homemade chicken stock instead. I served it over whole wheat pasta and put some meatballs I had made before and frozen with it. I plan to make this a regular in our menu plan!

  14. gerry says

    This entry prompts me to share my favorite pasta-quick “sauce”. Trader Joe’s has little
    jars of sliced sun-dried tomato strips in pure olive oil that is my base…heat it, add whatever you like after pushing the little strips to the side so they don’t burn. I usually
    add onion, garlic, pepper, fresh tomato or whatevere else I have that I like on pasta. Deglaze the pan with white wine, add a can of chopped tomatoes if that is your thing. I
    add a spoonful of capers at the end and finish the plate with toasted pine nuts. Love it!
    I’ve enjoyed browsing this website this evening. As you can tell I like assertive flavors!

  15. Diane G. says

    This is the recipe I have been looking for. I have been, at my children’s request, trying to duplicate my mother-in-law’s sauce recipe and this comes pretty close. I added one small can of tomato paste and that seemed to make it complete. I also cooked my meatballs in the sauce. Thanks for the recipe!

  16. Darla says

    Thanks for posting this recipe; it sounds great. I have tons of tomatoes, so I’m looking for ways to make them last. Do you think this recipe would freeze well?

  17. B. Stoll says

    Hello and thank you for posting this wonderful recipe! This is the first home made sauce I’ve ever made and I followed it pretty much to the letter (I did cheat and get crushed tomatoes that already had basil in it, but everything else, to the letter). I added in some italian sausage. Thanks again, easy recipee and very fast!

  18. Carisse says

    Hi Kimi,
    I stumbled on ur website and am very glad about it! Have tried a few recipes and they are great! Check with you though, is there any substitute for white wine as my family do not take wine. Can I use water? Thanks!

  19. Chelsea says

    Just made this sauce tonight over webcam w/ my long-distance bf. Due to our different cooking styles and timing the sauce ended up simmering for closer to 30+ min instead of 10, but all the better. We both added a little extra wine and a small bit of sugar too. Great basic starter recipe that we both adjusted to our tastes and turned out excellent on both ends! Two happy bellies here…thanks!

  20. Lauren says

    Hi Kimi,
    This recipe looks great. I too am wondering if there’s a particular brand of red wine you like to cook with? I honestly have no idea what to use so any help would be appreciated.

  21. Erin says

    I was obviously cross eyed from looking at recipes last night. I now realize it said “one” 28 oz jar of tomatoes. Sorry.


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