The easiest fresh marinara sauce recipe for summer

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

An easy to make, healthy marinara sauce that is ready in under an hour.

The easiest fresh marinara sauce recipe for summer

Quick and Easy Marinara Sauce with Fresh Tomatoes

Summer is upon us and as always I have a garden full of tomatoes growing out back. This is a super easy quick cooking marinara sauce I love to make for an easy summer dinner. And the best part is since pasta is super inexpensive and the tomatoes/basil are growing in the garden, it serves up to be a very economical but satisfying meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Course Main
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6
Calories 60 kcal


  • 1 T olive oil
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 t balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper fresh ground is best
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil


  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add onion and simmer for 3-5 minutes or until onions are tender.
  • Add garlic and cook another 2 minutes. We always add in the garlic after the onion so it doesn’t burn.
  • Stir in tomatoes, wine, vinegar, salt, and pepper.
  • Simmer uncovered for about 20-25 minutes, the sauce should be slightly thickened.
  • Chop the basil and add just prior to serving.


The great thing about this recipe is it is very flexible. If you have other items to prep – you can always let the sauce simmer longer, just add a lid so the sauce doesn’t cook down too far.
Other variations:
The red wine is optional, you can skip this if you don’t have any on hand. Additional herbs like Oregano or Italian Seasoning can be added based on your taste preferences or the time of year.
Add vegetables for a heartier sauce: green peppers, carrots, and zucchini are great additions to marinara sauce. Consider the water content of the vegetables before adding them to the recipe. Carrots can be added a little earlier than zucchini. Most vegetables are fine to add in with the onions & garlic. This will caramelize the veggies a little and give them a sweeter flavor.
Keyword fresh tomatoes, marinara sauce, tomato sauce


What Kind of Tomatoes Should Be Used in Marinara Sauce?

ingredients for a tasty pasta with marinara sauce

Most professional cooks & cookbooks will recommend a paste tomato for cooking since they have fewer seeds and cook down nicely. However, it is perfectly fine to use cherry, grape, or other garden tomatoes for your sauce. Some varieties have a higher water content or meatier flesh, so it may just take a little longer in prep time.

Take the variety of tomatoes into consideration when cutting up the tomatoes. A meatier tomato may need to be diced instead of a loose chop. For some varieties, you may want to remove some of the extra seeds or peel the tomatoes with a thicker skin.

Personally, I use grape tomatoes most of the time, because we have more of them handy & like them in salads & omelets. I just slice them in half, pop out a few of the seeds & slice again in quarters. Experiment with different varieties to see which works best for you and your family.

Serving Suggestions


The classic quick dinner is pasta with marinara sauce – I always add a little parmesan cheese just before serving. But marinara sauce goes with so many meals. Here are just a few suggestions:

  1. Serve on the side with fried mozzarella or zucchini sticks.
  2. Use as a topper on hamburgers instead of ketchup.
  3. Perfect on a hoagie roll to make the classic meatballs sub.
  4. Serve over chicken with a side salad.
  5. Freeze in a plastic baggie to make quick & easy meals any day of the week.

Enjoy & Share!

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