Fresh Marinara Sauce

This fresh marinara sauce is a delicious tomato sauce using farm fresh tomatoes. Try this recipe when tomatoes are in season!

I have a complicated relationship with tomatoes.

For the first 20 years of my life, I wouldn’t go near a tomato.  I couldn’t stand them.  I wouldn’t eat anything derived from tomatoes.  I was “that kid” who refused to eat pizza, and I didn’t want to be in the same room as ketchup or pasta sauce.  Tomato juice sounded like a cruel punishment, and fresh tomatoes were enough to kill an otherwise decent salad.

Then one day in college, I was at a gathering where Domino’s pizza was being served.  “This is ridiculous,” I thought, and I tried a slice.  It was one of the most delicious things I had ever tasted (Domino’s!), and I’ve embraced tomatoes ever since.  I didn’t know until a few years ago just how delicious a tomato can be, though.  Tomatoes fresh off the vine are perfection, and the grocery store version just doesn’t compare.  When I get a big batch of tomatoes from my farm share, one of my favorite things to make is fresh marinara sauce.  This is so easy to make, and the flavor is incredible.  It can be served with pasta, on pizza, or as a dip.  This marinara sauce freezes well, so you can stash some of it for a cold winter night.

peeling tomatoes

Fresh Marinara Sauce Recipe

2 tbs. olive oil
2 small cloves garlic, minced
8 lbs. tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh basil (no need to chop – Thanks for the tip, Food52!)
2 tbs. honey
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper, optional

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about 30 seconds, then transfer them to a large bowl of ice water.  (You may need to do this in 2 batches.)
  2. Remove the skin from the tomatoes.  Cut off the cores and remove the seeds.  You can do this by scraping the seeds out with your finger, and it’s okay if you don’t get them all. (I use food-prep gloves to protect my sensitive hands.)
  3. In a large pot, cook the garlic in the olive oil over low heat for a few minutes.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium low heat for about 2 hours, or until it reaches the consistency you like.  You can turn the heat up a bit if you don’t have 2 hours.
  5. Remove the basil stalks and leaves, and serve warm.

Price Breakdown
The cost of this recipe will vary according to the cost of your tomatoes.  With tomatoes from my farm share costing $1.50 per pound, this recipe costs a total of $12.82 ($12 worth of tomatoes).  It yields 5 cups of marinara sauce, or 10 half-cup servings costing $1.28 each.  If you grow your own tomatoes, this price comes way down because the cost of everything other than the tomatoes is $.82.  Homemade marinara sauce has a delicious flavor that can’t be found in a jar, so it’s well worth the effort.


  1. says

    LOL, AM your story is almost exactly my experience too (minus Domino’s being my tipping point). Hated tomatoes and anything to do with them. Now as an adult, with a garden, I’m eating tomatoes – straight, several times a day. Plus salsa, diced tomatoes in all my sauce, anything tomatoes I love. Oh those cherry tomatoes that are orange; earth’s freakin candy to me!!

    Thanks for the post. Our last patch of tomatoes need to be processed and I was hoping for a spaghetti sauce inspiration.

    • Annemarie says

      Thanks, Atiera! I’m glad I’m not the only one with a crazy tomato history. I love the sun gold cherry tomatoes too.

  2. says

    I’ve always been OK with tomato sauce, but it took a food writer at the Washington Post, writing about the summer tomato sandwich, that got me to try that bite of heaven on earth.

    This looks wonderful–I’ve canned 20 qts of crushed tomatoes, and my tomato plants are mocking me with their continual bounty. Time to move on to other tomato preparations.


    • Annemarie says

      Kirsten, it sounds like you’ve got quite a tomato collection! It’s great that your plants are still producing so well. Enjoy!

  3. Anonymous says

    I tried this recipe, and it burned on the bottom. It’s definitely me because it happens with other sauces, and since I have the opportunity for troubleshooting, I’ll take it. It needs to cook uncovered, yes? Should I stir more at the beginning? The other factor is I’m using stainless steel, so maybe I should cook at a lower temperature?

    • says

      I’m sorry to hear that it burned. I simmer this sauce uncovered so it will thicken. A simmer should just be slightly bubbling, so I’m guessing you had the heat up a bit too high. Stainless steel should work fine, so just try it at low heat (getting just a little bubble) next time. Good luck!

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