Are you craving a delicious vegan marinara sauce but don't know where to start? This easy-to-follow recipe will show you how to make an authentic, flavorful marinara sauce that is both vegan and packed with flavor.
From fresh garlic and herbs for a deep complexity of taste to a perfectly balanced acidity from the addition of baking soda; this vegan marinara sauce will be sure to impress any dinner guest or family member.
I love making this easy homemade marinara sauce. It's tasty, slightly chunky, and filling, but it also takes less than an hour to make on the stovetop!
Give this delicious sauce a try if you want something that tastes great and is healthy, too. There's nothing better than making a batch of your own marinara sauce with fresh and wholesome ingredients.
I love to serve this simple, healthy vegan marinara with my favorite pasta, fresh pasta, or zoodles (zucchini noodles) during the summer. It pairs perfectly with my homemade Easy Vegan Meatballs.
Here are the basic real ingredients you need to make this delicious homemade marinara sauce recipe with a rich flavor:
- Large can of crushed tomatoes - do not drain
- Roma tomatoes - save the liquid from the chopped tomatoes
- Olive oil
- Several cloves of garlic
- Carrot - this adds sweetness, eliminating the need for added sugars.
- Red onion
- Sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes - for seasoning
- Tomato paste
- Baking soda, to neutralize the acidity of the tomatoes
- Fresh basil, chopped, to stir in at the end
History of marinara sauce
There are many stories about how marinara sauce came to be. I found this article interesting while researching this topic. The marinara sauce originated in Naples; one story says that it was invented by mariners returning from the Americas with a newly discovered fruit in the 1700s, the tomato. Another story says that marinara sauce was made for the sailors when they returned from the sea, by their Neapolitan wives.
The marinara sauce recipe is traditionally simple and usually calls for crushed San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, and basil. You can experiment and tweak the ingredients to your liking, as I did. As you can see from the ingredients list, it's naturally vegan.
First, to make this sauce with basic pantry ingredients, you are going to need to blanch the tomatoes. Read on for how to do it.
How to blanch the Roma tomatoes
Before you make this Vegan Marinara Sauce, you will need to blanch the tomatoes before removing the tomato skins. Here's how to do it:
- Drop the tomatoes in boiling water and put the lid back on. You will want them in the pot no longer than two minutes total. Remove the lid after 30 seconds or so, and stir the tomatoes around quickly. Put the lid back on, and repeat in another 30 to 45 seconds.
- When the two minutes are up, drain the tomatoes in a colander and run cold water over them.
- Cut an X on the bottom of each tomato and remove the skins.
- Chop the tomatoes into large pieces, and save the liquid along with the tomatoes.
How to make this easy homemade Vegan Marinara Sauce recipe
- I have made many variations of marinara, with some recipes taking 20 or 30 minutes to make. For me, the depth of flavor comes in at 45 to 60 minutes. Here's how to make this homemade marinara sauce recipe:
- Blanch the Roma tomatoes as described above.
- Pulse the onion and garlic in the food processor until finely diced, scraping the side of the container and setting aside.
- Add the fresh tomatoes with the canned tomatoes and pulse briefly for about 10 seconds. You want the sauce to be chunky.
- Saute the onion, carrot, garlic, salt, and both types of pepper until softened. Add the tomato mixture and tomato sauce.
- Simmer for at least 45 minutes on low heat or low-medium heat. At the end of the cooking time, taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper as desired. Add the baking soda and stir in the basil.
How to serve
- You can also use this easy vegan marinara sauce as a base for other tomato-based sauces, like spicy arrabbiata or puttanesca for busy weeknights.
- Use it as a pizza sauce or serve with fresh garlic bread.
- Serve this red sauce on top of Vegan Polenta with Roasted Mushrooms.
- Try it on top of my Vegan Meatloaf Recipe instead of the ketchup topping!
- Serve it as a dipping sauce with my homemade vegan pretzel bites!
Here are some substitutions you can try:
- Red onion - a yellow sweet onion.
- Roma tomatoes - you can use heirloom tomatoes instead.
- Fresh basil - use dried basil instead or Italian seasoning.
Here are some variations you can try when making this marinara recipe:
- Herbs - Add fresh herbs such as fresh basil or fresh oregano, or add a bay leaf while the sauce is simmering.
- Vegetables - Add more vegetables such as chopped bell pepper - red peppers or sweet potatoes, which will add natural sweetness. Cut into small pieces and let them simmer in the sauce.
- Vegan meat sauce - Add a cup of cooked lentils to this homemade sauce to make a vegan bolognese.
- Sweet - If you'd like to add sweetness, add maple syrup or balsamic vinegar.
- Let the marinara cool, and then place the leftover sauce in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 3 to 4 days. I found this resource useful for storage tips.
- To freeze it, let it cool first, place it in a glass container, and then in the freezer. You can either freeze a whole batch or split it into individual portions for up to 4 to 6 months.
- Transfer the frozen marinara into the fridge the night before cooking to defrost. Reheat it in a saucepan.
All you need to make this great recipe is the following:
- Large pot or dutch oven. With a large pot, you can make a double batch of this chunky marinara sauce recipe.
- Food processor
- Chef's knife
- Cutting board
- Wooden spoon
Looking for more recipes like this? Check out these recipes:
I love to pair this vegan marinara sauce with these recipes:
I'd love to hear from you! If you make this Vegan Marinara Sauce, let me know what you think by ★★★★★ star rating it and leaving a comment below. It would make my day. You can also follow me on Instagram and share your creation with me. Just tag me @resplendentkitchen and hashtag #resplendentkitchenrecipes, so I don't miss it.
Easy Homemade Vegan Marinara Sauce Recipe
- 2 ¼ pounds fresh Roma tomatoes peeled and roughly chopped, instructions are below for how to peel them
- 1 small red onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 28-oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with juice
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 carrot shredded
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt divided
- 6 tablespoons tomato paste
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- 4 tablespoons basil leaves chopped
- Select a large stockpot and fill with enough water to cover the tomatoes. Set the water to boil. Place the tomatoes in the pot of boiling water for 2 minutes, no longer. Drain the tomatoes in a colander and cool quickly by running cold water over them. Let cool briefly; cut an X in the bottom of the tomato with a knife. Peel the Roma tomatoes and chop them, keeping the liquid as well.2 ¼ pounds fresh Roma tomatoes
- Pulse the red onion and garlic in the food processor until finely diced, scraping the side of the container. Set aside.1 small red onion, 4 garlic cloves
- In a food processor, combine the Roma tomatoes with the canned tomatoes, including the liquid. Pulse for a few moments until semi-smooth yet still chunky. Place in a medium bowl.1 28-oz can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes with juice
- Heat the large stockpot on medium heat for 3 minutes. Add olive oil. When shimmering, add red onion, garlic, carrot, black pepper, red pepper flakes, and 1 teaspoon sea salt. Saute for 10 minutes, until the vegetables are soft, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Set heat to medium-low to avoid burning the vegetables.2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 carrot, ½ teaspoon black pepper, ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Add the tomato paste and reserved tomatoes, stir to combine, and bring to a boil on medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, adding remaining salt, and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if desired. The sauce will have cooked down. Remove from heat, stir in baking soda until it dissolves, and stir in the basil.6 tablespoons tomato paste, ⅛ teaspoon baking soda, 4 tablespoons basil leaves
- Refrigerate the remaining sauce after it has cooled for up to 3 to 4 days, or freeze it for up to 4 to 6 months.
- This recipe can be doubled or tripled and stored in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Adjust seasonings to your taste! If you like spice, add more red pepper flakes.
- Makes approximately 5 cups of marinara sauce.
Resplendent Kitchen offers nutritional information for recipes contained on this site as a courtesy. Although resplendentkitchen.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information from online calculators, these figures are estimates.