What Is Marinara Sauce and Am I Not Supposed to Put It on Spaghetti?

Whenever I’m asked the question, “What is marinara sauce?” my initial thought is to just grab all the white shirts I’ve ruined over the years for an up close look. Luckily for you, I decided to go a bit more in depth and talk about the popular Italian red sauce. Plus, I think I just read an article in Vogue that the “red splotched” look is making a comeback, so I better keep those shirts around. 

What is marinara sauce?

Marinara sauce is typically a simple red sauce made with tomatoes and various aromatic ingredients such as onions and garlic. Sometimes it’s jazzed up with stuff like olives, capers, and even a splash of wine. It’s served hot over pasta or, if you’re lucky, in a styrofoam cup for dipping mozzarella sticks.

Is marinara sauce the same as spaghetti sauce?

Marinara is typically a simple tomato sauce. Spaghetti sauce, however, usually implies that a little something extra has been added, like meat or vegetables. But that begs the question…

Can I use marinara sauce for spaghetti?

Yes, absolutely. In fact, in central Italy there’s a spaghetti sauce based on the Americanized version of marinara called “sugo finto”…but you will have to live with the fact that it translates literally to “fake sauce.” Who knew Italy was so tough on poseurs!  

Is marinara pizza sauce?

Pizza sauce and marinara sauce are similar but not the same. Pizza sauce is thicker in consistency than marinara sauce because the tomatoes are pureed instead of lightly blended. 

How do you make marinara sauce?

Well, there are a thousand different ways, but if I were to boil it down to the simplest recipe:

First, thing’s first: Put on chef’s hat. 

After you’ve done that, bring tomatoes (use the best canned tomatoes) and an entire half of an onion to a simmer and let sit on low heat for at least 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Take the pot off the heat, remove the onion, and add garlic while smooshing any errant tomato chunks to your liking. Add salt to taste. Acquire job as professional cook in an authentic Italian eatery. Get own show on Food Network. Leave life as you know it behind and enjoy new career as top dog of the culinary elite. Mangia! 

But, that’s just the recipe I tend to use, like I said…there are a thousand different variations. I’ve just found this one works for me, personally. Of course, you could also just open a jar of store bought marinara sauce. Just make sure it’s the best store bought marinara

best marinara sauce

Best Marinara Sauce

Now that you know all about marinara sauce, find out what the best jarred marinara sauce is.

About the Author

Joe Rumrill

Joe Rumrill is a fictional one-eyed spinach-loving sailor created in 1929 by E.C Se- Wait, no, that's not right... Joe Rumrill is a stand up comedian and writer currently based in Los Angeles. His favorite thing about food is a close tie between the taste and the nutrients one gets from it. His least favorite thing about it is the "gritty, dirt-like quality some food has", but he's most likely referring to the time in third grade he was dared to eat playground sand.

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  • Marinara sauce has a nautical origin.
    It was simple because wives of sailors wanted to make something quick when their husbands ships came into view
    You could look it up,as Yogi would say.