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Easy Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce

Easy Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce

Pasta and a great tasting marinara sauce is a quick and easy meal to throw together and a comfort food favorite for me.  This easy fresh basil marinara sauce has many uses. Pair it with traditional pasta or try it with another grain-based pasta, such as quinoa or lentil pasta for a protein boost and it even works well over brown rice.  When you want a more veggie centric dish, you can pair it with zoodles, zucchini noodles created by using a spiralizer.

This sauce even works well with lentils or tofu ground beef to create a vegetarian ground beef substitute. Or add tons of vegetables to make a tomato-y pasta primavera. See….tons of flexibility with this one recipe.

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Creating my own marinara sauce

I will admit, that when living in New York City, I had access to pretty good jarred sauces at the grocery store, so it became a quick and easy meal for me to rely on.  I would probably eat it at least once a week.  Now I am living in Lima, Peru and what they offer as pasta sauce in the store is just not flavorful enough for me.  There are some imported jarred sauces, but I find them to be too expensive and not really what I want.  Meaning that if I want to enjoy this type of meal, I had to figure out a quick and easy way to make my own sauce.

Basil marinara sauce is in a pot cooking on the stove.
Everything is in the pot. Now it just needs to cook for 30 minutes for the flavors to blend together.

I got the basic recipe from a good friend of mine who is Italian-American, but I did put my own spin on it. The true key to this recipe is the garlic and the fresh basil, so definitely don’t skimp or substitute these ingredients because you may find the sauce a little less flavorful.

I also like my sauce to have a bit of kick so I added in some crushed red pepper, but it is definitely optional if you want a more traditional marinara sauce.

The recipe is actually pretty easy and goes together rather quickly.  It should cook for about 30 minutes to let all the flavors come together but from start to finish I would say it definitely takes no longer than 45 minutes to prepare.  It is also a super great meal prep recipe. Make up a batch on the weekend, portion it out and freeze to use during the week.

Basil marinara sauce tossed with ziti pasta and topped with sautéed spinach

Homemade Fresh Basil Marinara Sauce

Quick and easy recipe for a basic but delicious marinara sauce.
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Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Comfort Food, Italian
Keyword: family favorite, kid friendly, pasta, spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Author: Lyn Croyle


  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 5-6 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes 28 oz
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp adobe seasoning
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2-1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper optional


  • In a pan on high heat, add olive oil and sauté garlic for 30-60 seconds.
  • Add tomatoes, Italian seasoning, adobo, basil and ½ tsp of salt and black pepper.
  • Stir and lower heat to medium low.
  • Cover and allow to simmer for 25 minutes. Stirring frequently.


Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Sodium: 378mg | Potassium: 332mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g

Tofu with fresh basil marinara sauce

Fresh basil marinara sauce paired with tofu ground beef and served over whole wheat pasta.

As I said before, this recipe works well with anything you want to mix in.  I recently prepared it with the Tofu Ground Beef recipe.  Simply add the tofu when the sauce is ready and allow it to eat up a bit before serving it over my pasta.  This meal had lots of flavor and the tofu definitely had the texture of ground beef when combined with the sauce.

Other great serving ideas

There is really so much flexibility with this recipe. Think about adding tons of vegetables to make a tomato-y pasta primavera. Or mix it up with chickpeas, lentils or mushrooms. Truly, there is tons of flexibility with this one recipe and you can really mix in whatever type of protein or veggies you want. 

If you decide you prefer to add in a meat-based protein to the dish, I recommend adding it in the sauté stage or the simmer stage so that it has time to absorb flavor and also flavor the sauce.

Did you try out this homemade basil marinara sauce recipe? I want to hear how the recipe went for you. If you didn’t try it out, I hope you give it a try the next time you have a craving for pasta and sauce.  Please leave me a comment here on the blog or chat with me using the button in the bottom right area of the screen.

Check out these other great recipes!

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