Italian Essentials: Awesome Marinara Sauce

Andy Anderson !


I learned this recipe from my Aunt Josephine, and over the decades it still cannot be beat for its simplicity, and depth of flavor. I have posted several Italian sauce recipes; however, for me, this is the one that started it all.

I would suspect that most, if not all, good Italian chefs have this recipe, or a slight variation of it, burned into their brains.

So, you ready… Let’s get into the kitchen.


☆☆☆☆☆ 0 votes

10 Min
20 Min
Stove Top



  • 2 Tbsp
    olive oil, extra virgin variety
  • 6 clove
    garlic, thinly sliced
  • 28 oz
    tomatoes, more on this later
  • 1/4 c
    dry white wine
  • 1 - 2 pinch
    red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp
    salt, kosher variety, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp
    dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp
    dried oregano
  • 1 Tbsp
    tomato paste, i use cento brand

How to Make Italian Essentials: Awesome Marinara Sauce


  2. Use a large skillet for this recipe. The additional surface area will aid in evaporation, and thicken the sauce in less time.
  3. I am going to ask you to trust me on this recipe. It requires the best canned tomatoes you can get. I am recommending San Marzano (whole or diced), D.O.P certified. if possible.
    If you need some help in selecting the right brand, I created a recipe post with some excellent suggestions:
    Cooking Class: The Best Canned Tomatoes
  4. You will find that basil is used in many Southern Italian recipes; while oregano is used more, as you travel North.
    If you substitute fresh for dried, then double the amounts to 1 teaspoon each. Or, just try one or the other, and see which one you like the best.
  5. This will probably freak some folks out, but when I was cooking in Naples, we would add 1 anchovy to the cooking garlic, and break it up as it cooked. It adds a bit of "umami," upping the flavor but without any hint of anchovy flavor to the finished product.
  6. Do not like using wine in your cooking, no worries, substitute an equal amount of water.
  7. If you are using whole canned tomatoes, you will need to dump them into a bowl, and then crush them with your hands.
  8. My Aunt Josephine used to use a razor blade to thinly slice the garlic… Yes, just like in the movie Goodfellas.
  9. Gather your ingredients (mise en place).
  10. Add the olive oil and the sliced garlic to a cold skillet and bring up to medium heat.
  11. Chef’s Note: We are doing this to prevent the garlic from browning and beginning with a cold pan helps to control the process.
  12. When the garlic looks like this, it is ready.
  13. As soon as the garlic begins to sizzle, add the tomatoes. Then add the wine to the can, swirl it around (to pick up the last tomato bits), and add it to the pan.
  14. Chef’s Note: If the garlic begins to brown before you add the tomatoes, start over, the sauce will be bitter. Slightly golden is okay… brown is a no, no.
  15. Add the remainder of the ingredients and bring up to a vigorous simmer.
  16. Chef’s Tip: One chef that I worked with told me to pretend I was pan frying the sauce… Whatever.
  17. Continue to simmer for, 5 minutes.
  18. Add the tomato paste, and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 10 – 15 additional minutes.
  19. If you want a smoother sauce, add to a food processor, fitted with an S-blade, and blend until you like what you see.
  21. Use on all things Italian. Enjoy.
  22. Keep the faith, and keep cooking.

Printable Recipe Card

About Italian Essentials: Awesome Marinara Sauce

Course/Dish: Other Sauces
Main Ingredient: Vegetable
Regional Style: Italian
Other Tag: Quick & Easy

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