Five Minute Marinara Sauce

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This Five Minute Marinara Sauce is everything I want in a pasta sauce. It’s fresh and oh so flavorful, with an unexpected brightness from fresh lemon – don’t doubt the sauce without trying it, the combination really works!

Every single person who has ever tasted this sauce in my home has asked for the recipe. Best of all, this easy marinara sauce is made from just a few simple ingredients and takes almost no prep time at all.

This five minute marinara sauce can be made with pantry ingredients and it is rave worthy!

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I’ve been sitting here staring at these photos for several minutes, trying to find the right words to describe this Five Minute Marinara Sauce. I’m actually at a loss for words to describe this perfect easy pasta sauce.

I’ve made a lot of different spaghetti sauces over the years and this is among the best tasting in addition to being far and away the fastest and easiest recipe.

How To Make Marinara Sauce

Fresh tomatoes, roasted, stovetop, crockpot, you name it and I’ve probably tried it. I’ve even been told that I make great spaghetti by numerous people. However, this sauce trumps them all.

I stumbled onto this Tomato Sauce recipe by 101 Cookbooks almost nine years ago.

I kept tasting this marinara by the spoonful the first time I made it. I was truly shocked that something so unbelievably easy could taste so delicious.

The olive oil combined with the red pepper and the lemon zest elevates this marinara sauce to a level I haven’t seen before in my own kitchen. I’m not one to wax on and on about a red sauce. If it’s good, it’s good, right?

Well, I actually sat there eating dinner that night, a basic plate of angel hair with this sauce and I was contemplating what else I could possibly eat with this sauce. With such simple ingredients, this is going to be a pantry staple in my house.

After many years of making this sauce, it is now my go-to sauce to serve with spaghetti, angel hair, penne pasta or any time I’m cooking something that calls for tomato sauce. Every single person I have ever served it to has raved about it.

With just a few tweaks to a can of crushed tomatoes, you can have the best ever marinara sauce simmering on the stove.

Make a big batch of this sauce to serve with meals throughout the week or freeze it in a freezer-safe ziploc bag to make meal prep even easier. Pour it over pasta, serve it as a dipping sauce for mozzarella sticks or breadsticks, serve it with chicken, the possibilities are endless.

It takes so little time and energy to make this fresh, flavorful homemade sauce that you’ll never want to buy jarred sauce again. 

This sauce is delicious just as is but could also be a great canvas for experimenting with different herbs and spices. If you learn to make one pasta sauce in your life, this one should be it!

Easy peasy five minute marinara sauce is a keeper!

Easy Marinara Sauce

Marinara recipes see a lot of play in my kitchen. They’re crowd-pleasers that I can almost always whip up with very little notice, plus they’re so versatile. From Penne with Bacon Marinara Sauce for the meat lovers in my house to this Vegetable Marinara Sauce with Fresh Basil for the veggie enthusiasts, there’s a marinara recipe to please everyone.

One year when I had a ton of basil to use up, I experimented with this recipe and turned it into a 5 Minute Basil Marinara Sauce to incredible results. I like it just as much as this original Five Minute Marinara recipe no matter how many times I make it.

Looking for an easy side to serve with pasta and marinara? Made with plenty of butter, herbs, and garlic, this Garlic Herb Bread is an easy way to elevate your next pasta night.

Tomato sauce isn’t just for pasta either! Have you ever had marinara sauce with your eggs? Soft Eggs Over Thyme Marinara is a different way to enjoy a tangy marinara sauce for brunch or breakfast.

If you’re a fan of spaghetti squash and looking for a delicious vegetarian meal, check out this Vegetarian Spaghetti Squash Skillet Recipe with marinara sauce and this Easy Baked Penne.

What are your favorite marinara sauce recipes?

Fine Minute Marinara is the best red sauce of your life!

Five Minute Marinara Sauce Recipe

  1. Combine the olive oil, pepper flakes, salt and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the pan over medium-high heat.

  2. Saute for 45 seconds to a minute, just until everything is fragrant. Avoid letting the garlic turn brown.

  3. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, this should only take a couple of minutes.

  4. Remove from the heat and taste the sauce. If it needs more salt, add it now.

  5. Stir in the lemon zest and taste again.

Five Minute Marinara Sauce

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Fine Minute Marinara is the best red sauce of your life!

Five Minute Marinara Sauce

4.50 from 12 votes
Recipe from and with thanks to 101 Cookbooks
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Servings: 4 servings


  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¾ - 1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes the full amount makes a very spicy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 medium cloves of garlic minced or finely chopped
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed red tomatoes not diced, not pureed, not whole, no additional seasonings at all
  • 1 tsp zest of one lemon


  • Combine the olive oil, pepper flakes, salt and garlic in a cold saucepan. Stir while you heat the pan over medium high heat. Saute for 45 seconds to a minute, just until everything is fragrant. Avoid letting the garlic turn brown. Stir in the tomatoes and heat to a gentle simmer, this should only take a couple minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and taste the sauce. If it needs more salt, add it now. Stir in the lemon zest and taste again. Try not to eat the entire pot of sauce with a spoon. Enjoy!


Calories: 192kcal · Carbohydrates: 16g · Protein: 4g · Fat: 14g · Saturated Fat: 2g · Sodium: 581mg · Potassium: 633mg · Fiber: 4g · Sugar: 9g · Vitamin A: 775IU · Vitamin C: 20mg · Calcium: 78mg · Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @barefeetkitchen or tag #barefeetkitchen!

{originally published 5/11/11 – recipe notes updated 4/9/20}

5 Minute Marinara Sauce - you're going to love this pasta!

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Mary Younkin

Mary Younkin

Hi, I’m Mary. I’m the author, cook, photographer, and travel lover behind the scenes here at Barefeet In The Kitchen. I'm also the author of three cookbooks dedicated to making cooking from scratch as simple as possible.

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  1. Jen says

    You're right- the whole family loved it- even my "particular" eating kids. 5 minutes sounds crazy- but that's all it took. The pasta took longer. I stood around the kitchen looking for something else to do!!
    5 stars

  2. Cheese with Noodles says

    Well, I'm intrigued! I don't think a sauce could be much simpler than this. Like you, I have made a huge number of spaghetti sauces over the years, looking for the perfect one. All of them have been decent, but very few have been amazing. None are as quick as this one. I'm happy with my recipes, but can't resist trying this one. Wish me luck!

  3. Cheese with Noodles says

    Oh yeah, I meant to say, one of the most irresistible sauces I've had, if you can even call that, was just ground beef, a can of tomatoes of one kind or another, and a whole lot of lemon juice. I used to live with a family that made that, shocking how good it was. The lemon zest component in your recipe is what makes me think it will be really good!

  4. Leigh-Anne Soules says

    Love it, use it all the time. It’s quick, easy and very tasty. I sometimes add fresh basil while I simmer the sauce for a different tast.
    Since I’ve made this I have not and will never buy pasta sauce again.5 stars

  5. Sarah Silverlight says

    Excellent and so very easy to make. This lovely, vegan sauce will now be my go-to sauce. Used Muir Glen,, the sun-dried variety and boy, did that ever make a difference! A little 14.5 ouncee, as it was just for me. Didn’t have the zest on hand, so I subbed a bit of lemon juice and that worked nicely. I have tried countless marinara recipes and this puts em all to shame. 2 paws up!!5 stars

  6. Karen Gaston says

    I followed the directions for this marinara sauce to a “T”. I
    did use the minimum amount of red pepper flakes.
    For my taste, it wasn’t thick enough. It did have flavor
    but I probably would not try it again.3 stars

    • Mary Younkin says

      For what it’s worth, if you enjoyed the flavor, you can add tomato paste to thicken. Sorry to hear it wasn’t your thing, Karen. We love it!

  7. Debby Clark says

    Love the content. To many advertisements.
    I get aggravated to shut the sight.
    Just read someone else’s comment.
    Your response will help me go right to the recipe instead of scrolling.
    Thank you4 stars

  8. Andrea says

    Delicious and soooo easy! This sauce was amazing as written but I had some leftover cream and crumbled sausage which I added. This is definitely a make again recipe 🙂5 stars