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Spicy Marinara Sauce

This spicy marinara sauce comes together in a snap and tastes terrific. Use good quality canned tomatoes because they’re going to make all the difference. Made with onion, garlic, basil, Italian seasoning, and loads of red pepper flakes, it’s super tasty and also pretty spicy.

Spicy marinara sauce in a small mason jar with a spoon, with a larger mason jar, a jar of dry spaghetti, two tomatoes on the vine, and parsley in the background.

Adapted from Ashley Hankins | Make it Vegan | Victory Belt Publishing, 2021

My goal still is to show people that vegan food can be delicious, fun, easy, accessible, kid-friendly, and reminiscent of the foods they grew up on. My all-time favorites range from Southern twists based on my childhood in Louisiana to comfort dishes inspired by my hometown of Fresno, California, which is deeply rooted in Hispanic culture and Mexican cuisine.—Ashley Hankins

Spicy Marinara Sauce FAQs

Can I make spicy marinara sauce less spicy?

If you want a less spicy or more “traditional” marinara sauce, simply reduce the red pepper flakes by half, or omit them altogether.

How do I make a marinara sauce if I don’t have an immersion blender?

If you don’t have an immersion blender, let the sauce cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then transfer it to a blender and pulse until it’s just smooth.

What can I do with extra marinara sauce?

Aside from using your spicy sauce on a plate of perfectly cooked pasta, you can use it for quite a few other things. It’ll make a terrific base for chili, shakshuka, meatball subs, pizza sauce, and sloppy Joes.

Spicy Marinara Sauce

Spicy marinara sauce in a small mason jar with a spoon, with a larger mason jar, a jar of dry spaghetti, two tomatoes on the vine, and parsley in the background.

This marinara sauce is so delicious. The hint of sugar balances out the acidity in the tomatoes, and the pop of heat from the red pepper flakes really brings it full circle. Not all canned tomatoes are created equal, though! My favorite brands are San Merican (S.M.T.) Whole Peeled Tomatoes and Target’s house food brand, Good & Gather.

Ashley Hankins

Prep 15 mins

Cook 45 mins

Total 1 hr



4 servings | 3 cups

83 kcal

No ratings yet

  • Dump the tomatoes and their juice into a large bowl. Using your hands, crush the tomatoes. Pour 1 cup of water into the empty can and slosh it around carefully to get the rest of the juices. Set the can and water aside.

  • In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until they become slightly translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  • Carefully pour the tomatoes into the skillet along with the reserved water in the can. Season with sugar, red pepper flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper, and stir to combine the ingredients thoroughly.

  • Add the fresh basil and increase the heat to high. Once the sauce reaches a simmer, cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the sauce begins to darken, about 30 minutes.

  • Remove the lid and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes more. Using an immersion blender, blend the sauce until mostly smooth.

    To avoid splatters from your immersion blender, move the sauce to a deep bowl before blending, or use a regular blender with a lid.

  • Serve immediately or cool to room temperature and refrigerate in an airtight container until ready to serve.

Serving: 1servingCalories: 83kcal (4%)Carbohydrates: 9g (3%)Protein: 1g (2%)Fat: 5g (8%)Saturated Fat: 1g (6%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 1gSodium: 661mg (29%)Potassium: 115mg (3%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 4g (4%)Vitamin A: 625IU (13%)Vitamin C: 5mg (6%)Calcium: 37mg (4%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

Originally published November 18, 2021


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