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?!
At first glance, these savory sauces might look the same. There are similarities and differences, so let’s explore the topic together!
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!
What is Spaghetti Sauce
Spaghetti sauce is typically served with any variety of cooked pasta such as lasagna, spaghetti noodles or manicotti and typically contains meat, vegetables, spices and seasonings.
Marinara vs Spaghetti Sauce
What do they have in common?
- The base ingredient for both is tomatoes, and they contain the same basic ingredients. Tomatoes are the one essential ingredient!
- Because of the tomatoes, they’re both red in color.
- The texture and consistencies are similar.
- They generally serve the same purpose and can be used interchangeably.
What are the differences?
- A big difference between the two is that marinara is much simpler, requiring fewer ingredients and less cooking time.
- One of the key differences is that pasta sauce is more robust and complex, with a longer ingredient list and rich flavor.
- Marinara does not typically contain meat (while spaghetti sauce does), giving it a thinner texture.
- Marinara is traditionally used as a dipping sauce, while pasta sauce is not.
How To Thicken Marinara and Pasta Sauces
This value-packed post details everything you’ll ever need to know about how to thicken spaghetti sauce. Or check this post out if you find yourself without tomato paste and this one to specifically focus on thickening marinara.
In a nutshell, here are the different ways to achieve a thicker consistency:
- Let it simmer on the stove top until desired consistency is reached.
- Pop it in your slow cooker!
- Create a corn starch slurry and mix it in.
- Add tomato paste or tomato sauce.
- Mix together and add a roux.
- Add mashed potatoes.
- Spruce up either sauce by using any or all of the following: red pepper flakes, fresh tomatoes or diced canned tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, tomato juice, olive oil, fresh basil, bay leaves, grated Parmesan, a few garlic cloves or fresh chopped yellow or red onion.
- 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.
- For pasta sauce, add meat such as ground beef, ground Italian sausage or ground turkey for added texture and flavor.
- Throw chopped veggies, such as green pepper, onion, mushrooms, zucchini or carrots into your next batch of spaghetti sauce.
- 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 or balsamic vinegar will add a ton of bold flavor.
Can You Use Marinara Sauce For Spaghetti
Due to its simple ingredient list, marinara can be used in place of both pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce.
Substitute for Marinara Sauce – 5 ideas!
If you are looking for a substitute for marinara sauce, you have options! Click over for some excellent alternatives!
Uses For Marinara and Pasta Sauce
- If you have an abundance of leftovers on your hands, there are a ton of ways to use leftover sauce.
- 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.
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!
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.
How Long Is Spaghetti Sauce Good For In The Fridge
How long is pasta sauce good for in the fridge? If you have a jar of it staring at you and you are wondering whether to toss or eat.. click over for all the information you’ll ever need!
Homemade Pasta 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 meat 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 spaghetti sauce recipe 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.