Recipe // House Marinara Sauce

“This is our favorite sauce. Since we’ve started making it, haven’t bought another jar of pasta sauce since.”

My family is Italian. Like “why would you buy store bought pasta” Italian? They also don’t believe in buying your own tomato sauce. [Insert internal screaming here.] 

Now I was a college student for a long time – and box pasta + jarred sauce was one of the cheapest, easiest meals I could make. This was a secret I had to hide from my family during every vacation and Facebook photo. (Uncle Christian, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry.)

During my first cooking renaissance, one of my goals was sauce. I wanted to make my own sauce. When I saw that Gubs’ Kitchen Bible (aka The Thug Kitchen Cookbook) had a homemade marinara sauce, I jumped at it. I’ve made it a handful of times since then – and kind of made it our own recipe since – but it is our favorite sauce. Since we’ve started making it, haven’t bought another jar of pasta sauce since. 

We make this all the time – whether we make it for our Sheet Pan Spaghetti Squash – or just for dipping take-away pizza crusts in. It’s very versatile.

I will warn you. You will read this recipie and think “This doesn’t sound like marinara at all.” I did the same thing. But trust me. Hey! Hey! Look me in the eye and trust me. I’m “make your own pasta sauce” Italian and I like this sauce.

Maybe next I will start making my own pasta next….

This sauce is the boss. The spicy, sweet, garlicy, tomato-y boss. Where do you even work?

Recipe // Gubs’ House Marinara

Warning: I am not a professional chef. I do not use exact measurements. I provide guidelines. Season everything to your own taste. Leave out what you want to eat. Add what you enjoy. Take your time. Make with care. Assemble. Prep. Cook!

Makes: About 7 to 8 “servings” of pasta sauce, depending on how much you like sauce
Time: 10 min Prep Time, 30 min Cook Time
Survives: 5 days in the fridge
Bang for Buck: $ // Cheaper than store bought sauce! And tastier too! 

// Ingredients

– 1 yellow onion, the larger the better
– 3 to 5 cloves of garlic, depending on how much you like garlic // We love garlic so we use the whole 5 cloves.
2 carrots, pretty good sized // None of that baby carrot stuff in here
30 oz can of tomatoes // I like the sauce or the crushed version because I like the smoother sauce. But get whichever tomato suits your desired sauce chunkiness.
2 tbsp Olive Oil
– Oregano, dried
– Crushed red pepper flake
– Bay leaves

// Prep

– chop the yellow onion into pretty fine chunks – about half a dime sized
– chop the carrots so that they are the same size as the onion chunks
– mince the garlic // You’ll want this pretty fine so to not have chunks of garlic in your sauce

// Cook

– Heat a medium size sauce pot over medium heat
– Add a good dollop of olive oil, so there is a slight gathering at the bottom of the pan
– Heat the onion and the garlic together until sweaty and golden – about 4 to 6 minutes
– Add the carrot chunks, cook until integrated – about 2 minutes
– Add 4 shakes of oregano and 8 shakes of red pepper flake. Cook for 1 minute to activate the flavors and get it integrated.
– Crack over the tomatoes and pour that in
– Add 2 bay leaves
– Reduce heat to med-low and cook, uncovered for 25 minutes. You need to watch it. Every time a thick red foam appears, stir through the pot, making sure to scrape the bottom of the pot with your spoon
– If the sauce is splattering, turn down the heat a wee smidge and stir continuously, scraping the bottom every now and then.
– At 25 minutes, give it a taste. If it tastes too “tomato-y,” throw in some more oregano shakes and a little salt (we also like garlic salt). Season to taste. // We don’t like our sauce too tomato-y, so we add a lot of oregano. We also like a lot of spice in ours so we add enough red pepper flake to slightly tinge your lips – kind of like an amatriciana – sans pork.
– OPTIONAL // We don’t do this, but at this point you could take out 1 or 2 cups, immersion blend it, and return it to the pot. This will make your sauce a little thicker – but less chunky. We like it chunky.

Eating Now // Serve immediately on top of pasta, pizza, or even some super easy spaghetti squash.

Eating Later // Heat in the microwave in 30 second intervals, stirring briefly in between, covered with a damp paper towel to prevent splattering. This sauce will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

House Marinara in Action atop some Spaghetti Squash

Scorecard // You’re never going back to store bought again


Cut and put into a pot. The worst part is the stirring – but you can have a little fun with. Just put on some Netflix and pretend you’re Julia Child.


Not bad at all – but this does only make the sauce. You’ll have to cook something else. We usually have enough time to make the sauce while our Sheet Pan Spaghetti Sauce is in the oven. It times out very well.


Keeps for a week and reheats easy! What more could you want!


We can’t get enough of this. It wasn’t until we made this that we realized how little flavor store bought sauce has. Making your own sauce allows you to control exactly how it tastes. We love it sweet and spicy – and slathered on top of everything.


We make this about once a month just because we make pasta or Spaghetti Squash (or order take-away pizza) quite often. This is also a great recipe because you can keep everything you need to make it in the pantry and make it when you need it (that’s what we do!)


A perfect 5 out of 5. Our family is built on this great recipe. Plus – making this – I finally feel like a true Italian. See, Uncle Christian? I do make sauce!

Do you know a recipe I should try?
Or do you know a restaurant that does this recipe really well?
Let me know! In the Contact Tab!


2 Comments Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s