Quick Classic Marinara Sauce 
Yield: approximately 28 ounces (3-1/2 cups)
The long-simmered flavor reminiscent of your grandmother's classic marinara sauce can be yours in short order thanks to a brief list of key ingredients and the following easy method!


  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in puree, certified D.O.P. if possible*
  • ¼ cup (56 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and slivered
  • A pinch (1/16 teaspoon) cayenne pepper or 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 level teaspoon kosher salt (use 3/4 teaspoon if using table salt)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano


  1. Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush with your hands. Pour 1 cup water into the can and slosh it around to get all the tomato juices.  Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the oil (you may use a deep pot, but the sauce will require 5-10 extra minutes of cooking time).  When the oil is hot, add the garlic.
  3. As soon as garlic is sizzling (don’t let it brown), carefully add the tomatoes (be careful–they may splatter), followed by the reserved tomato water.  Add the cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes, oregano and salt. Stir.
  4. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thickened and the oil on the surface is a deep orange, about 15-20 minutes.


*Good quality whole tomatoes are key for this simple sauce.  I use Cento San Marzano tomatoes.  The primary ingredients should be San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and San Marzano puree (not juice or water), and the salt content should be low.  The pictured can of Cento tomatoes has just 20mg per serving.

If you have fresh basil on hand, you can add one sprig to the sauce as it comes to a simmer.  Then remove and discard it at the end of cooking time.

Tip: The final sauce will be more or less smooth with some texture.  Towards the end of cooking time, you can easily squish any remaining chunks of tomato or garlic against the side of the pan with the back of a wooden spoon.

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