Marinara Sauce Vs. Tomato Sauce

Marinara Sauce

A good pasta, pizza, or even meals that contain meat which is marinated into a good sauce create the perfect mouth-watering dishes. Actually, Italian cuisine has a variety of sauces made with the perfect ingredients that result in a product that speaks for itself.

We are all familiar with the Italian tomato and marinara sauces that fit perfectly with many dishes. We come across these sauces packed in jars at the grocery stores or in markets, as well as in many recipes when cooking lunch or dinner.

Also, what is interesting to note is that these sauces have a particular use for specific dishes. This leads us to a very interesting question: are marinara sauce and tomato sauce the same thing and why are they used for different dishes?

What’s the difference between Marinara Sauce & Tomato Sauce? Actually, they’re not the same thing even though both are made of tomatoes. The main difference between them is their texture. Also, each sauce has its particular use and recipe to make.

Read further the article as I will share how to make the perfect marinara and tomato sauces at home and the differences between the sauces.

Marinara sauce

Marinara sauce is very juicy, delicious, healthy, and is easy to make. This type of sauce can be combined with many everyday dishes that don’t take much of your time. The numerous list of pasta types and pizzas fit perfectly with this sauce.


Another thing that is important to know about marinara is that it is very affordable and you can easily make it at home. Its ingredients are not hard to find in markets and we usually have them in our kitchen.

Next, read further the article as I’ll share with you how to make the best home-made marinara sauce and its origin.


The origins of the marinara sauce come from Naples. They say that the name is actually given by mariners who traveled from Italy to America and who actually discovered fruit and tomatoes in the 1700s.

Legend says that mariners used the ingredients they had stored on their ships. Furthermore, the real marinara sauce has a taste of fresh tomato and a very soft texture.


Home-made marinara:

Well, if you want to use fresh tomatoes that you bought from the market you can put them at use by making a good marinara sauce at home with fresh ingredients. All you need is:

  • Whole San Marzano or plum tomatoes, which need to be crushed by hand or passed through a food mill. Another option for the tomatoes if you don’t have fresh ones, you can always use canned Italian tomatoes.
  • Then, when the texture becomes loose, season it with plenty of garlic or just put as much as you like, then add crushed red peppers and basil. Actually, there are many versions of the sauce that also include oregano.
  • After you’ve done all of the above, the sauce needs to be cooked for at least thirty minutes in a pan.

There are some alternatives that can be added when cooking marinara sauce that is included in some dishes like olives, capers, or wine. The traditional Italian marinara sauce is thin, while Americans make it pretty thick.

This sauce never contains meat, onion, anchovies, tomato paste, cheese, or butter. If you add these things you are just making bolognese or a sauce for spaghetti or other dishes that include meat and that is not what marinara is used for.

Tomato sauce

Tomato sauce is made with rich, complex, and thick texture. On one hand, the tomato sauce can be used with pasta, pizza, but on the other, it’s actually a sauce that is made from vegetables.


It has similar ingredients like Ragu and other sauces that fit perfectly with meat-based dishes. Add pork, chicken, or other types of meat to create a perfect marinated meal. Also, tomato sauce can be added to pizza and pasta dishes to make them more juicy and flavorful.

This type of sauce can be also found in jars at the market, but there’s nothing better than home-made which is always better and fresh. Read on as I’ll share with the origins of the sauce and how to make it at home.


The tomato sauce was first introduced by Bernardino de Sahagún, a French friar from the Kingdom of Spain. Whereas the tomato sauce recipe with pasta actually appeared in 1790 in a cookbook L’Apicio Moderno that was written by a Roman chef named Francesco Leonardi.

This sauce is originally known as a love remedy in Italy and it was used to replace the pepper preserve in the 16th century.

Home-Made Tomato Sauce:

As previously mentioned the tomato sauce fits perfectly in almost every meal, especially with meat. If you don’t want to waste fresh tomatoes you can always use them to make a good sauce for your meal. All you have to do is grind the tomatoes and then add them in a pan to cook.

This sauce is easily made and it can be done within 30 minutes. All you have to do is follow these steps:

  • Firstly, heat up olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Then add onion and cook them. However, if you are cooking your dish with meat, add the meat first and let it cook with the sauce together.
  • Add garlic, oregano, and basil and stir for a minute and add the tomato paste. If you like your sauce to be spicy add a little bit of chili as you please.
  • Also, you can add little wine to the pot for better texture and taste. Stir again.
  • Another thing that you should add is sugar, you can neutralize the acid. Bring to boil and reduce the heat as the flavors are mixed together to create the perfect sauce.
  • Once you are done, you can add melted butter and cheese, stir it and let it cool for a minute. Once this is done, your sauce is ready to be served.

Conclusion: Marinara vs. Tomato Sauce

To sum up, after I shared with you how marinara and tomato sauces are made I would like to say that the sauces are not the same.

One can not be a substitute for the other, especially if you are cooking meat. Regardless, both are made of tomatoes, but the main difference is in the texture of the sauces.

On the one hand, we have the marinara which is thick and very easy to cook, but on the other, we have the tomato sauce which is thicker, more complex and not very vegetarian.

Even the sauces that you see in markets packed in jars are actually labeled to let you know which sauce is used with what kind of dish. Be careful when you buy sauces, so you won’t get the wrong one.

Related questions:

Go through these FAQs to get the answers that you need.

What’s the difference between ketchup and marinara sauce?

Ketchup is made with a variety of spices while the marinara sauce is made without any. The major difference between them is the use of sugar. Sauces generally do not contain sugar, whereas ketchup has a specific amount.

Can you use tomato sauce instead of pizza sauce?

Yes, you can. Even though pizza sauces are not always made of tomatoes you can use tomato sauce as a substitute.

Tomato sauce is made with tomatoes and herbs that can make your pizza even more delicious.

Is marinara sauce the same as Ragu?

No, it’s not the same. Ragu sauce is usually made with tomato, meat, and milk or cream, whereas marinara is made without meat and tends to be smooth without big chunks of tomato. The ragu can be used as a substitute for tomato sauce.

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