Marinara sauce is one of the simplest classic Italian pasta sauces.

Homemade marinara sauce is fast to make with basic pantry ingredients and tastes immeasurably better than the best store-bought pizza sauce. If you love homemade pizza, good pizza sauce makes all the difference.

Store-bought pizza sauce can be runny and awful, and the last thing you want is bad sauce ruining your homemade pizza.

If you’re looking for the best pizza sauce, marinara guarantees a thick, lively-tasting red sauce for your pizza.

Marinara sauce is beloved in kitchens across the world thanks to its simplicity and versatility. You’ll be surprised at how easy and simple it is to prepare this incredibly pure and zesty pizza marinara sauce.

Sometimes referred to as the “little black dress” of Italian-American cooking, marinara sauce delivers a “perfect for every occasion” quality and is the foundation of many iconic dishes and classic cuisine.

If it’s not pizza night, you can serve this simple sauce as a pasta sauce for pasta dishes or spaghetti sauce. The delicious marinara sauce also blends well as a dipping sauce for different fried goodies.

Read on for a bit of history and fun facts about marinara sauce, and learn how to make this easy homemade pizza sauce within 15 minutes!

5 Simple Steps to Making Your First Homemade Pizza
Marinara sauce for pizza

The History Of Marinara Sauce

The marinara sauce originated in southwestern Italy near Naples. It’s believed to have appeared after tomatoes were brought to Europe in the 16th century by New World explorers.

The Italian cookbook, The Modern Steward or Lo Scalco alla Moderna, was written in 1692 and is the first to reference tomato sauce.

You can also find a recipe for pasta with tomato sauce in the 1790 cookbook L’Apicio Moderno, written by chef Francesco Leonardi. Many theories exist as to why the sauce is called marinara, the Italian word for “of the sailor” or “mariner’s style,” yet it doesn’t contain any fish or seafood ingredients.

It may be because it’s a quick-cooking simple sauce whose basic ingredients, virgin olive oil, tomato sauce, dried herbs like oregano, and salt, don’t spoil easily and can travel well. The main ingredients are quick and easy to assemble, making it a preferred sauce for Italy’s merchants during long expeditions at sea.

Other accounts argue it got the name because Neopolitan fishermen had a trick to deepen the sauce’s flavor by putting a stone from the sea to boil in the sauce. No matter how it began, marinara sauce was here to stay once it arrived.

It featured as the base ingredient for soup, meat stew, and other sauces, and by the time southern Italians emigrated to the US, it had become such a way of life that it became a classic in America.

How To Make Marinara Sauce For Pizza

Marinara sauce for pizza uses straightforward and similar ingredients to classic marinara sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Tomato paste – If you don’t like thin pizza sauce, tomato paste will thicken the pizza marinara sauce and make it better than the pizza sauce you find at the store.
  • Crushed tomatoes – Crushed canned tomatoes work perfectly for this recipe. They’re thick and easier to work with than fresh tomatoes. Replacing fresh tomatoes with canned tomatoes will also speed up the recipe without sacrificing flavor.
  • Fresh garlic – Fresh garlic makes the flavor so much better than pre-minced garlic, so don’t sacrifice the fresh garlic! Ensure they’re not sprouted or yellow but firm and white.
  • Extra Virgin olive oil – The flavor of olive oil pairs well with many other flavors. Virgin olive oil indicates the olives were pressed to extract oil with no heat or chemicals. You can use other oils, but the sauce won’t taste the same.
  • Red wine – Red wine adds a deep, bold flavor to homemade pizza sauce that you can’t replicate with any other ingredient.
  • Dry oregano – Oregano is an essential ingredient that adds plenty of flavor to any tomato sauce.
  • Onion powder – Onion powder can help you avoid having chunks of onion in the sauce. It will blend into the sauce perfectly and still add the onion flavor.
  • Salt – Salt is another base ingredient that will add sweetness and flavor to the sauce.
  • There are many other ingredients you can add, depending on personal preference. Some people add fresh basil instead of oregano, while others add black pepper or red pepper flakes, anchovies, or grated mozzarella cheese for more flavors. You can skip the cheese and stir in a lump of butter at the last minute.

Instructions

Use a skillet instead of the usual saucepan. The water will evaporate quickly in the skillet, so the tomatoes will get cooked through as the sauce becomes thick.

Step 1

If using tomatoes, peel and pour them into a large bowl and crush them with your hands. Pour a cup of cold water into a can, slosh it around to get tomato juice, pour out excess water, and reserve it.

Step 2

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Remember not to use a deep pot. Once it’s hot, add the garlic.

Step 3

Don’t let the garlic turn brown. Add the red wine and heat for 1 to 2 minutes, as soon as it sizzles. Add the crushed tomatoes and then the reserved tomato water, tomato paste, onion powder, oregano, red pepper flakes, or other spices if using, and salt and stir.

Step 4

If using basil, place it on the surface like a flower. Let it wilt, then submerge it in the sauce. Steady simmer the sauce over low heat for around 15 minutes until it thickens and the oil on the surface turns a deep orange. Taste the sauce after ten minutes if using oregano, and add salt and oregano as needed.

Discard the basil, remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool slightly before making your pizza.
How to make pizza2

Tips

For a thicker consistency and more flavor, you can add uncooked tomato sauce, beef, or Parmesan cheese anywhere in the cooking process.

For the best pizza results, make the pizza on a pizza stone. It holds more heat than a regular oven tray and distributes heat evenly to ensure you get a crispier pizza crust.

Spread the marinara sauce over the raw pizza dough to create a thin layer before transferring it to the preheated pizza stone for baking.

You can also freeze any leftover marinara pizza sauce in wide-mouthed jars. Ensure you leave about 2-inches at the top to allow for expansion in the freezer.

Read Fun Facts About Pizza

How to make pizza

Fun Facts

Marinara is very nutritious.

The marinara sauce is very low in carbohydrates, calories, and sodium. It’s full of flavor without the added sugars, preservatives, oils, and other additives in other pizza sauces you may find in the store. One huge difference compared to other sauces is the sodium level.

Most of the pizza sauces you find at the store contain sodium with added sugar, spices, or seasoning. The main difference is that the only sugar in this homemade marinara sauce for pizza is from wine and is pretty negligible. It’s a healthy homemade pizza you can be proud to feed your family.

Marinara sauce can help fight heart disease.

You are what you eat, and regarding heart health, eating cooked tomato sauce, aka marinara, can protect against heart issues caused by bad cholesterol. Studies show that cooked tomatoes can help reduce oxidative damage and improve the activity of good cholesterol.

Marinara sauce can help fight cancer.

Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that helps protect against cancer by killing cancer cells and stopping them from growing. You can reap the benefits of natural antioxidants by consuming delicious marinara sauce.

Marinara sauce sells well.

Census data in the US shows over 260 million Americans used pasta or spaghetti sauce in 2020, and the market keeps growing, with the figure expected to reach over 275 million by 2024. Aggressive advertising and celebrity endorsements of different brands have made North America a dominant pasta sauce market.