Quick and easy Italian Sausage Marinara Sauce has a wonderful taste. Use it on spaghetti, pasta casseroles, spaghetti squash, or a sub sandwich.
A good marinara sauce escapes most people, and the long-simmering needed to get to a great taste scares many people away. Usually, they end up with disgusting jar sauce.
But how about a delicious sauce in just about an hour? Plus, it is so easy to do. Just follow these simple step-by-step photo instructions for some great Italian.
I based this recipe on several others I have used over the years.
👨🍳How to make Italian sausage marinara sauce
- Chop an onion.
- Brown the bulk Italian sausage. If you have links, remove the casing and either break apart and cook it like the bulk sausage or cut it into one-inch meatballs and brown them.
- Add the chopped onion while browning.
- When the meat is mostly brown (it can have some pink), add garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add all the other ingredients and simmer for 1 to 3 hours.
The sausage needs to be one you enjoy. I suggest a sweet Italian sausage, not a hot one. You want to be able to control the heat level.
If you have links, you can remove the casing, cut it into pieces, and cook them almost like a meatball. Or mash them up and cook them like bulk sausage.
You need to brown the sausage to prevent clumping in the bulk sausage. Since we are simmering the sauce, it will finish cooking then.
Quality matters. If you buy cheap generic products, you will get cheap generic results.
I like to use crushed tomatoes, but you can use an equal amount of diced tomatoes.
The tomato paste adds a huge burst of tomato taste and some very nice sweetness.
This is relatively mild with a heat level of 2-3 if you use ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper. Without that, almost no heat.
The heat can get out of hand quickly if you use hot Italian sausage. So be careful.
If you use hot Italian sausage, do a taste test before adding any. It can wait to be added to near the end of simmering.
Loose ground meat must be browned some prevent clumping. If in meatball shape, browning will add some taste but is not otherwise required.
Generally, on pasta like spaghetti or in pasta casseroles.
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🖼️Step-by-Step Photo Instructions
Picture note: pictures may be from other cookings and are used to illustrate the step. Pans and cutting boards may vary.
If you have Italian sausage links, you can cut them into 1-inch pieces, remove the casings, and use them as small meatballs. You can break the links into ground sausage and use it that way. Or use Italian ground sausage.
Chop a medium onion and add until the meat is browned and the onion slightly clearing. It is ok for the meat not to be totally cooked at this point. Add 4 to 5 cloves of crushed garlic and let "bloom" for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
Add 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 6 oz tomato paste, and 6 oz water, and 14 ½ oz diced tomatoes.
Place back on medium heat until light boil.
Cover and turn down to a light simmer for 1-3 hours.
Italian Sausage Marinara Sauce
- 1 pound Sweet Italian Sausage
- 1 onion - medium
- 4 cloves garlic - crushed
- 2 teaspoon oregano
- 2 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes - optional
- 28 oz crushed tomatoes
- 6 oz tomato paste
- 6 oz water
- 15 oz diced tomatoes
- If you have Italian sausage links, you can cut them into 1-inch pieces, remove the casings, and use them as small meatballs. You can break the links into ground sausage and use it that way. Or use Italian ground sausage.
- Chop a medium onion and add until the meat is browned and the onion slightly clearing. It is ok for the meat not to be totally cooked at this point. Add 4 to 5 cloves of crushed garlic and let "bloom" for 30 seconds. Remove from heat.
- Add 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 2 teaspoons dried basil, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional), 28 oz crushed tomatoes, 6 oz tomato paste, and 6 oz water, and 14 ½ oz diced tomatoes.
- Place back on medium heat until light boil.
- Cover and turn down to a light simmer for 1-3 hours.
Your Own Private Notes
- You can use bulk or linked Italian sausage. If links, you can cook it in some chunks like a small meatball after removing the casing or break them up and cook it like bulk sausage.
- Use only the sausage and tomato products you like. Generic ingredients will get generic results.
- You can use diced tomatoes instead of crushed tomatoes.
- The heat level for ½ teaspoon of crushed pepper is about 3. A full teaspoon will be about 6-7.
- I suggest not using hot Italian sausage, or the heat can get out of hand as the spices come out into the sauce.
- As little as 30 minutes will give fairly good results. The longer you simmer, the better.
- Good refrigerated for 3-4 days and frozen for 3-4 months.
To adjust the recipe size:
You may adjust the number of servings in this recipe card under servings. This does the math for the ingredients for you. BUT it does NOT adjust the text of the instructions. So you need to do that yourself.
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Editor's Note: Originally published April 13, 2010. Updated with expanded options, refreshed photos, and a table of contents to help navigation.
Another way to use your great marinara sauce. SPAGHETTI MEATBALL BAKE. Had some leftover meatballs. Broken anglehair (uncooked) in bottom of casserole dish, lay meatballs on top, poured marinara sauce over. Covered with foil, baked in 350 (conventional) for 30 minutes. Uncovered and stirred to bring spaghetti up. Added small amount of water, recovered and returned to oven for approximately 30 minutes. Uncovered and added mozzarella cheese on top, back in oven until cheese melted and slightly brown. ENJOY
Generally not needed if using non-stick pan. The fat in the sausage is enough. If not using a non-stick pan and a lean sausage, then a tablespoon of oil at the start is fine.
They'll outgrow that. Mine did. When they were little we had to buy the most awful BBQ sauce for them. I think it was Kraft Honey something. Yuck. We are all on the same page now.
Ah yes, I remember that one at Rex's. I still haven't tried it because it seemed close to ours. I need to give it a shot because I like spicy (although the kids will probably not like it....punks, I don't think they're mine.)