Homemade Marinara Sauce

This homemade Marinara Sauce is ideal for dipping all your favorite appetizers. It’s fast and easy, made with just 5 pantry ingredients and ready in minutes!

Homemade Marinara Sauce - a photo of a mozzarella stick being dipped into marinara sauce with more mozzarella sticks in a red basket on a light background - click photo for full written recipe

For a long time now, I have sought the perfect dipping sauce for things like mozzarella sticks, pizza bites, and pizza sticks. Marinara sauce is usually geared towards pasta, and such recipes often start off with sautéing diced onions and garlic and adding diced tomatoes and fresh herbs and simmering until thickened.

While suitable on pasta, it’s all wrong for dipping appetizers. I’ve been seeking something with a smooth texture and bold (but not overpowering flavors).

The punchline? My perfect homemade Marinara Sauce takes almost no time at all and is only five ingredients!

Making Marinara Sauce

I think the most important part of the dipping sauce is to start with a good brand of tomato sauce. If you buy generic tomato sauce, the force may not be with you and I cannot say whether your sauce will be perfect and delicious.


As far as flavoring the sauce, I use a technique I learned from Chef Anne Burrell on the Food Network. She loves to flavor her olive oil with ingredients by sautéing them and then discarding them (i.e., “Thank you for coming to the party, clove of garlic!”).

Homemade Marinara Sauce - Four photos of ingredients being added to a silver pot to make marinara sauce - click photo for full written recipe

That’s what I do here so I get the delicious flavor of fresh garlic without all the chunks. Then, I simply stir in some dried herbs and a bit of salt (omit the salt at your pleasure) and a short simmer later, the sauce is perfect. Smooth and delicious and everything I’ve always dreamed of in a dipping sauce.

Deep-Frying Tips

In case you happen to be serving your Homemade Marinara Sauce with deep-fried bites of deliciousness, here are a few tips to make that whole process easier.

You don’t need a deep-fryer. Any pot will do.

If you want to use less oil, choose a smaller pot. The bottom will fill faster, obviously, and you’ll have a deep enough amount in no time.

If you want fewer splatters, choose a taller pot. The taller the pot, the more likely it is that splatters will hit the walls of the pot and stay inside. Those splatter screens? I haven’t had much luck with them. If you have had a good experience, please leave me a note in the comments with your preferred brand. Thanks!

Keep your oil at a consistent temperature. This is true whether you use a traditional deep fryer or just a pot on the stove. I love the ChefAlarm by Thermoworks. They gave me one to try out, pictured below, and it works like a charm. You just attached the probe to the side of the pan, and the unit sits waaaaay outside the splatter zone. Brilliant.

Homemade Marinara Sauce - left picture shows a blue digital thermometer and a lap top and the right picture shows a blue pot with a thermometer in it - click photo for full written recipe

Ready to dip?

Save this Homemade Marinara Sauce to your “Appetizers” Pinterest board!

And let’s be friends on Pinterest! I’m always pinning tasty recipes!

A square photo of a red basket lined with red and white checkered paper, filled with delicious mozzarella sticks. In the foreground to the left a hand is dipping one of the mozzarella sticks into homemade marinara sauce. The sticks are topped with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil.
5 from 2 votes

Homemade Marinara Sauce

This homemade Marinara Sauce is ideal for dipping all your favorite appetizers. It's fast and easy, made with just 5 pantry ingredients and ready in minutes!
Course Main Course, Pantry
Cuisine American, Italian
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Calories 235 kcal


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
  • 1 (15 ounce) can high-quality tomato sauce
  • ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  1. Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic cloves and sauté until browned, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove garlic and discard.
  2. Stir in tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and salt. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until flavors have blended, about 10 minutes. Keep warm over low-heat until serving time, or cool completely and store covered in the refrigerator.

This post contains affiliate links.  For more information on my Affiliate and Advertising Policy, please click here. I have been using my ThermoWorks Thermapen since 2003. I am grateful for the chance to try out some of their new products!

This homemade Marinara Sauce is ideal for dipping all your favorite appetizers. It's fast and easy, made with just 5 pantry ingredients and ready in minutes!

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  1. I usually use San Marzano tomatoes and mill them to a purée for marinara sauce. I love Ann and her “cook until the garlic becomes golden brown. When the garlic is golden brown and very aromatic, remove it and discard, it has fulfilled its garlic destiny.” Cracks me up although I always leave mine in there. Love it.

  2. What’s your favorite tomato sauce to use?

    • Hi Lauren, it’s just the plain unseasoned tomato sauce (it doesn’t matter which brand). It isn’t spaghetti sauce, if that’s what you are asking. It’s just plain tomato sauce. Please let me know if I’m not understanding the question. Thank you!

  3. Awesome sauce!!

  4. will it affect the sauce if i dont put in dried basil? i only have oregano

    • Hi Natalie, you’ll be fine! Just use what you have. Not a big deal at all – the recipe is very forgiving. Thanks for the question and good luck!

  5. Will it be thick enough? Seems like it would be too runny.

    • I think the recipe is poorly titled. It is a marinara sauce designed to be a dipping sauce, so for that, it’s perfect. As a standard sauce to put on pasta, it might not be the right consistency you have in mind. I need to rework the recipe so it makes sense for the title. I hope this makes sense! So sorry for the confusing.

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