The BEST and EASIEST Marinara Sauce

No really. This is the best and I’m obsessed with it.

I will caveat that this is adapted from the NYT Cooking blog. A friend told me about it and I fell in love with it. It’s so good and seriously, so simple. I think the only way you could possibly fuck this up is if you don’t know how to read.

Here’s the key to any recipe that’s “simple” and contains very few ingredients: make sure they’re good quality ingredients. Use a brand you trust for the canned tomatoes (I used Botticelli) and make sure you have really fresh garlic, since that is the base of the flavor in this sauce. And if you’re not a garlic fan…I’m not sure what to tell you. Onions can make a sauce like this bitter, so I wouldn’t substitute. But this recipe calls for 7 garlic cloves, which is pretty random. Why not 6? No idea. I’ve used 6 before and it tastes the same, but either way, make it garlicky!

I always add oregano (whereas the NYT recipe says optional), and I also add a bit of freshly grated parm right at the end. Because cheese is wonderful. It starts to smell like pizza the second the oregano and basil hit the pan. Who wouldn’t love that??

Use a large skillet for this instead of a deep saucepan or pot. The juices evaporate quicker, and it thickens faster too. You can have this sauce on the table in 20 mins and it will taste like it’s been simmering all day. Bonus? It tastes even better the next day.

Easy Marinara Sauce (Adapted from NYT Cooking Blog)

  • 1 28-oz can whole peeled San Marzano Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 cup water
  • Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large fresh basil sprig
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • Parmesan cheese, for grating (optional)


  1. Pour tomatoes in a large bowl and crush with your hands. Don’t chop these or try any shortcuts. Wash your hands and get in there.
  2. Pour 1 cup water into the tomato can and slosh it around a little to make it like tomato-water. Set aside as you will use it later.
  3. In your large skillet, heat the oil. When it’s nice and hot, drop in the garlic. DO NOT LET IT BROWN. Just let it come to a nice sizzle.
  4. Once it’s all sizzling, add in the tomatoes and the reserved tomato water.
  5. Add red pepper flakes, oregano, and salt. Stir gently. Simmer for a minute or two.
  6. Add the sprig of basil (stem and all) on top like a flower. Let it wilt, and once it starts to wilt, submerge it into the sauce and give it a few gentle stirs.
  7. Simmer sauce until it’s thickened and oil on the surface becomes a deep orange. About 10-15 minutes. Grate a little fresh parm on top, discard basil and serve over pasta. YUM.

This pasta is cavatelli, and I added a dollop of fresh cold ricotta on top because it’s a wonderful combo. I promise.

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