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Simple 10-Minute Tomato Sauce (Marinara)

Patricia Reitz

One of the most popular recipes on this blog has been my san marzano tomato sauce that I posted a number of years ago.  And I have to say, it's popular for good reason, it's a fabulous recipe.  But honestly, it takes quite a bit of time to prepare, and 9 times out of 10 I prefer this simple marinara that only takes about 10 minutes to make.  Let me show you how it's done.


Before you do anything, make sure you have the can of crushed tomatoes open and place it near the stovetop.

In a heavy-bottom sauce pan, heat extra virgin olive oil, minced garlic, and optional crushed red pepper flakes over medium high heat.

Saute the garlic for about 1 minute until fragrant, being careful not to let the garlic burn.


Immediately pour the crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper into the pan and stir well.  Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. 

If you want to add the optional fresh basil, add a whole sprig about 5 minutes after adding the crushed tomatoes to the saucepan.


Just stir the sprig into the sauce and let it simmer away for the remaining 5 minutes.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and get ready to add the magic ingredient, a pat of butter.  Yes, butter!  So to recap, the crushed red pepper flakes are optional, the fresh basil is optional, but the butter is NOT optional!  You'll thank me later.  You're welcome.


Just before serving, remove the wilted and discolored basil.  It's imparted all its wonderful flavor into the sauce so we don't need it anymore.   Enjoy!  

Item's used to make this recipe:

Simple 10-Minute Tomato Sauce

makes about 3 cups

Printable Recipe


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

  • 28-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (suggested brands: smt, cento, muir glen, tuttorosso, sclafani)

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or half as much table salt or fine sea salt)

  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1 sprig of basil (optional)

  • 1 tablespoon butter (don't leave this out - it's magic)


  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive olive oil, garlic, and optional crushed red pepper flakes until garlic is fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

  2. Add crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper; stir well.

  3. Bring sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes (or up to 30 minutes if you have the time). If using optional basil, add it whole during the last 5 minutes of cooking, then discard.

  4. Remove from heat and stir in butter until melted.