If you make or purchase a batch of this red sauce and find that it is thin and lacks substance, there are ways to fix it! Read on for tips about how to thicken marinara.
Whether you open a jar from the grocery store or you’ve just finished cooking a homemade batch, there is nothing better than gazing at a thick, hearty batch of marinara sauce. What happens when instead of thick and luscious, you find a thin sauce that lacks luster?
Do not throw it away! It can be saved! Use one or more of the strategies below to thicken it up. No one will ever know it was once thin and droopy.
How To Thicken Marinara
Do not toss your watery sauce! Take a deep breath and employ one or more of the different ways to thicken it up that are listed below. Simmering the mixture to reduce the liquid on the stove top is the preferred method to begin with. Other methods may be used afterward
Let It Simmer
Simmering sauce on the stovetop over medium-low heat is the easiest way to thicken it through a reduction process. Simmer from anywhere between 10-60 minutes until desired consistency has been achieved. Stir regularly to avoid scorching.
This method is a super simple trick! If you have time to wait, transfer the mixture to a crockpot and let it cook for a few hours to achieve a thicker consistency. Stir throughout, cooking for up to 4 hours.
Tomato Paste or Tomato Sauce
If you have a can of tomato sauce or paste on hand, throw it into the mix! This is one of the most simple ways to not only achieve a thicker sauce, but add flavor as well. Stir and cook on the stove top for 5 minutes, or until fully combined and warmed through.
Tip: Make your own homemade tomato sauce in your Instant Pot for an extra burst of flavor!
To add creaminess on top of thickness, add up to 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream to the mixture.
Corn Starch Slurry
Adding a corn starch slurry is an easy way to thicken sauce quickly. Simply combine equal parts water and cornstarch (start with 1/4 cup each). Whisk until smooth, then stir into the sauce.
If you have pasta cooking nearby, drain after they’re cooked then reserve the water it was cooked in. This starchy water can act as a great thickening agent. Add up to 1/2 cup of liquid to your sauce and stir until fully combined. Excess water may be discarded.
Adjust the amount of liquid used, depending on consistency you desire.
Roux is a flour-fat thickening agent, typically involving butter but other oils can be used instead. In a separate pan or skillet, heat 1/4 cup of butter over medium heat. Add equal parts all purpose flour and whisk until smooth.
Add to the sauce and stir until combined and warmed through. This is a delicious method when also wanting to add creamy texture and flavor.
Adding mashed potatoes will create a nice and creamy texture of the sauce. If you do not have mashed potatoes prepared, consider adding up to 1/2 cup mashed potato flakes instead.
Note: The flavor of your sauce may be altered when going this route.
Beef it up! Adding any variety of cooked ground meat will produce a nice, thick sauce all meat eaters will love. Consider adding Italian sausage, ground beef, ground turkey or even venison.
Cook 1 pound of meat of your choice until golden brown and no longer pink. Drain and add to the mixture.
What is Marinara Sauce
Marinara Sauce is a very simple tomato-based sauce with minimal ingredients, including tomatoes, onion, garlic and seasonings. It does not require a long simmer time and can be made on the stove top in under 30 minutes.
It can be made using any type of tomato, but plum or San Marzano tomatoes work best.
You will find my favorite homemade marinara recipe here!
FAQ About Marinara Sauce
Store homemade marinara sauce in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. If there are visible signs of mold, discard the sauce. To extend the shelf life, freeze it! Allow the sauce to cool completely and pour it into an airtight container.
Store marinara sauce in the freezer for up to 4 months. When you are ready to use the sauce, remove it from the freezer and allow it to thaw completely. Pour it into a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes before serving.
Since tomatoes and spices take up most of the ingredient list in marinara sauce, it is one of the healthier dipping sauces. If you are looking for a boost in calories or fat, marinara is not a good fit. If you’re looking for a veggie-based, leaner sauce you have found your sauce.
Yes! Marinara sauce can definitely be used in place of pizza sauce. Pizza sauce is typically a bit thicker in consistency, but the two can be used interchangeably.
Uses For Marinara
- If you have an abundance of leftovers on your hands, there are a ton of ways to use leftover spaghetti or marinara.
- Pour it over the top of cooked plain pasta of any kind.
- Dip bread sticks, mozzarella sticks, zucchini fries, jalapeno poppers or pizza bites into it.
- Use it in place of store-bought sauce in your next pan of Baked Spaghetti or Baked Ziti.
- Replace pizza sauce with either of these options on your next homemade pizza. Thaw pizza dough from the grocery store or make your own!
- Lasagna and Cheesy Manicotti are both sooo good when made with either sauce.
- Use it as an ingredient to stuff spaghetti squash with.
- Add it to your morning eggs because everything tastes great with eggs.
- Spruce up the sauce by using any or all of the following: red pepper flakes, fresh tomatoes or diced canned tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, olive oil, fresh basil or dried basil, grated Parmesan, a few minced garlic cloves or fresh chopped onions.
- Consider adding sugar (or other sweetener) 1 teaspoon at a time for a sweeter sauce.
- Add a dash or two of red wine for a more complex end result.
- Throw in some chopped veggies, such as green pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini or carrots.
- Cheese is a great way to boost flavor. Add up to 1/2 cup of cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese or parmesan cheese.
- Add seasonings. Oregano, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, onion powder and garlic powder are all great ways to increase the flavor profile. Use any dried or fresh herbs of your liking, such as basil leaves, dried or fresh Italian parsley or fennel seeds.
- A few splashes of Worcestershire sauce will add a ton of bold flavor.
Marinara vs Spaghetti Sauce
So close in texture, color and flavor that you could call them cousins! Let’s get to the heart of the issue and explore marinara vs spaghetti sauce. What are the differences?!
How To Prepare Tomatoes for Freezing
If you have fresh garden tomatoes on your hands, be sure to freeze extras so you can turn them into a sauce later. Prepping fresh tomatoes for freezing is super easy! Don’t waste those juicy red morsels that have spent the summer growing in your garden.
Learn the best method for freezing whole tomatoes to thaw and use them in the coming winter months!
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce Recipes
Before we dive into thickening strategies, let’s talk homemade sauce recipes. Here are a few delicious options for you to choose from!
- This is the best thick spaghetti sauce you’ll ever meet!
- Using an Instant Pot to cook pasta sauce makes it flavorful and quick to prepare, but tastes like is has simmered on the stove all day. Pour this delicious savory sauce over a pile of cooked noodles!
- Ready for some serious magic? If you’re limited on ingredients and/or time, make this super simple version of pasta sauce made with tomato sauce and just a handful of other ingredients.
- And if you have paste on hand instead of sauce, try this super easy way to turn tomato paste into pasta sauce!
More Homemade Sauce Recipes
- Making homemade sauces is a great way to know exactly what ingredients are going into them, they are more affordable than store-bought and they’re just tastier!
- Enchilada Sauce is more delicious than anything you can buy at the store and it is super easy to make. It only requires a handful of ingredients and is done in 15 minutes, with perfect flavor and consistency.
- Alfredo Sauce is super easy to make, done in under 10 minutes.
- This homemade Pizza Sauce takes less than 25 minutes to make!
- Make your own Taco Sauce taco sauce to use in a variety of Mexican dishes, such as tacos, burritos and taco salads. Ditch the store-bought version so you know EXACTLY what goes inside! Make this quick sauce with a handful of ingredients and in just a few minutes.