14 Substitutes for Marinara Sauce [Recipe Included]

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Originating in Italy and popularized by Italian-American cuisine, the marinara sauce has become known and loved worldwide. Still, if theres one downside of this delicious sauce, its that it takes over an hour to make at home, and it isnt something you regularly buy to have in stock. In cases like that, you will have to use a marinara sauce substitute. So what are some substitutes you can use instead of marinara sauce?

Tomato ketchup, tomato puree, tomato paste, tomato sauce, canned tomatoes, tomato passata, fresh tomatoes, alfredo sauce, pesto, tomato juice, tomato soup, pizza sauce, pasta sauce, carrots, and beets marinara are some of the best tomato and non-tomato based marinara sauce substitutes.

Since the marinara sauce is so versatile, you can substitute it for another tomato or non-tomato-based sauce according to what you will be using it for. Therefore, you can think out of the box and see what would fit the dish in terms of consistency, texture, and flavor effect. In the following text, I will list some of the best substitutes for marinara sauce and provide a marinara sauce recipe in the end.

Tomato Ketchup 

14 Substitutes for Marinara Sauce [Recipe Included]

Tomato ketchup is a great marinara sauce substitute for two reasons- you must have it lying around in your fridge, and it is highly customizable.However, because it contains added sugar and vinegar, be prepared that your ketchup marinara substitute will be more acidic than a regular marinara sauce.

You can add water to thin up the ketchup consistency and bring it as close as possible to the marinara sauce consistency, add salt, basil, and garlic and use it instead of marinara for pasta or pizza.

Tomato Puree

14 Substitutes for Marinara Sauce [Recipe Included]

Tomato puree is more neutral-tasting, meaning that you can make it taste as you want.At first glance, tomato puree looks pretty thick and dense, but you can easily make its consistency thinner by adding water or tomato juice.

To make your tomato puree resemble marinara sauce as much as possible, you can pop it over the stove and add one tsp of olive oil. Also, add the signature marinara herb- basil, and spice things up with garlic and salt.

You can use this marinara sauce substitute for pizza, pasta, or marinara chicken breast.

Tomato Paste

Very similar to tomato puree and often mistaken for it, tomato paste is quite different.While tomato puree is juicier because the tomatoes are cooked for a shorter amount of time, the tomatoes in tomato paste are cooked longer and are finally reduced to a concentrate-like substance.

Therefore the tomato paste is more intensive-tasting than the puree, which you might want to consider when substituting marinara sauce for tomato paste. Since the natural tomato juices have evaporated, the taste of the tomato paste is strong with an expressive bitterness.

Therefore, if you plan on substituting marinara sauce with tomato paste, you may want to add some sugar to the tomato paste to milden the bitterness. Also, you will need to thin the consistency; water alone wont do the job. Add water to the paste, add some olive oil too and simmer the paste for a few minutes.

You will need to be careful with the spices, as the bitterness wont go away but just subside a little. Therefore, dont add too much salt and garlic, but increase the basil quantity. The garlic and salt will only intensify the bitterness without any imprint on the taste. At the same time, the basil will balance everything out and give the paste a nice and refined dimension.

Tomato Sauce

Nothing more than fresh blended and cooked tomatoes, tomato sauce is an excellent marinara sauce substitute.It has kept the natural freshness, sweetness, and sourness of the tomatoes intertwined with the thin and cream-like consistency.

The tomato sauce usually contains onions, chili, or other peppers spiced up with salt and oregano. This is an excellent substitute for marinara sauce for two reasons- the consistency is more or less the same, with the tomato sauce being a bit thicker, and the use of the tomato sauce is the same as the marinara.

Therefore, wherever you want to use the marinara sauce, feel free to use the tomato sauce.

Canned Tomatoes 

You will love this marinara sauce substitute as it is genuinely effortless.Like the tomato sauce, the canned tomato marinara substitute blended and simmered canned tomatoes. The taste of the canned tomato marinara is different than the tomato sauce, as the canned version is sweeter.

Nevertheless, the final result will be excellent and will double great for marinara. The blended canned tomatoes will produce a much thicker substance than what you need for a marinara sauce; therefore, add the can liquid into the simmering pan to get the right consistency. Dont forget to save the tomato water from the can after you strain the tomatoes, as you will need this liquid to adjust the thickness of the sauce.

Tomato Passata

Tomato passata is essentially pureed tomatoes without the skin and seeds.The tomato puree is then simmered with spices of choice, as the tomato passata isnt restrictive regarding the seasoning, but rather, the making.

Add salt, garlic, perhaps anchovies, and, of course, basil, and enjoy. This marinara substitute works best with pasta.

Fresh Tomatoes

Freshly peeled and blended tomatoes seasoned with garlic, salt, and basil, enriched with some olive paste, are an excellent marinara sauce substitute.Somewhere between a salsa salad and a sauce, the blended fresh tomatoes will do great as a pasta sauce or a marinara sauce substitute for something meaty.

Since this sauce tastes sweet and sour, which is the signature tomato taste, the seasoning will be a piece of cake. Feel free to experiment and add other spices, such as black pepper or even curry.

Alfredo Sauce

Although Alfredo sauce isnt tomato-based, it made it on this list because, in terms of use, there are situations where it fits the dish as the marinara would.It goes great with chicken drums or chicken breast, mushrooms, or pasta.

Alfredo sauce is thicker and stickier than marinara sauce, but it is just as creamy and spreadable. You cannot substitute Alfredo for marinara everywhere, but when you can, feel free to do so; the results are excellent.


Pesto refers to any pate-like substance made by blending.The most famous pesto types are basil pesto, olive pesto, and a combination of the two. The basil and olives are blended until they homogenize, and then they are seasoned with salt and garlic, whereby olive oil is added to the mixture to tie everything up.

Even though the pesto isnt precisely what youd call sauce, it still doubles well for marinara because it carries the pungent garlic and basil flavor, and it goes excellent with meaty meals and plain pasta.

Tomato Juice

Thinner and more liquid than the marinara sauce, tomato juice can double for marinara only when combined with pasta.It will become denser after you simmer it, and you can more or less copy the marinaras taste by adding garlic and basil.

However, the juiciness of the tomato juice will still transpire and be noticeable, so dont expect it to taste exactly the same. Still, the tomato juice is a great marinara sauce substitute for pasta, and with some parmesan on top, it could be a finger-licking experience.

Tomato Soup 

Tomato soup resembles marinara sauce to a great extent, but it is undoubtedly sweeter than marinara.The marinara sauce also retains the tomato freshness, which isnt as represented in the tomato soup, especially if youre making it with soup powder instead of fresh tomatoes.

However, the garlic and basil will do just fine to double for the marinara. In terms of use, thanks to the similar consistency, you can use tomato soup instead of marinara everywhere where you would use marinara sauce.

Pizza Sauce 

Pizza sauce is very close relative to marinara sauce, but the pizza sauce has an expressive oregano aroma and flavor.Still, you can adjust the taste and make it more marinara-like by adding some basil, but not too much.

Even though oregano and basil seem compatible, they dont tend to mix especially well when combined into a single sauce. Therefore, carefully adjust the basil quantity to avoid giving the sauce an overly herbal aroma, as you may risk it smelling and tasting like tea.

Pasta Sauce

Pasta sauce is very customizable; you can tailor the density, thickness, and consistency by adding water and oil.You can use the pasta sauce instead of marinara as it is, or you can simmer it a while longer.

Generally, you can use pasta sauce instead of marinara in pasta, of course, but also on pizza or dip.

Carrots and Beets Marinara 

Another non-tomato-based marinara sauce substitute that will double excellently for marinara.The beets are watery, and they mash up perfectly with the blended carrots. They are also highly compatible with marinara seasoning and do great with pasta.

What Is a Healthy Substitute for Marinara Sauce?

Marinara sauce is healthy, and if you are mindful of healthy eating, you dont have to look any further.Since the sauce is simmered, it doesnt lose the nutritional quality, nor does it absorb the oil to an excessive extent. The tomatoes, garlic, and basil all have an anti-inflammatory effect and boost the immune system.

However, if you are looking for an even healthier alternative, Id recommend the last substitute on our list, beets and carrots marinara. The beets and carrots are incredibly nutritious and more beneficial than the tomatoes. The nutritional quality of the beets and carrots combined with the garlic and basil will do wonders for your immune system.

Other healthy variants are tomato juice (homemade, not store-bought), tomato puree, and blended fresh tomatoes.

What Is the Difference between Tomato Sauce and Marinara Sauce? 

You could say that the marinara sauce is more straightforward than the tomato sauce, combining fewer flavors.The tomato sauce contains onions and peppers and is usually thicker than the marinara sauce. The marinara sauce is fresher and zestier, but the tomato sauce is richer and silkier.

You can use both tomato sauce and marinara sauce for pizza or pasta. However, the marinara can be too thin for stuffed eggplants or zucchinis, and the tomato sauce could be too thick for pizza. Often, the pizza dough is topped with marinara sauce, and the pizza sauce is used after the pizza is done.

How to Make Marinara Sauce?

Marinara sauce is very easy to make, and whats more, it is a true enjoyment to make it.Adjust the quantity of the ingredients according to the people youre serving and the flavor intensity you prefer. Dont worry if you have leftover marinara sauce, as it is so delicious it wont last more than a day.

You will need tomatoes, salt, garlic, and basil leaves. Always use fresh basil leaves if you can, as the taste is gentler and more refined. Dry basil tends to give the sauce a tea-like aroma and flavor, but it too will do if you cant get fresh basil.


What can be substituted for marinara sauce?

Substitutes for Marinara Sauce
Fresh Tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes can be sauteed in a pan with olive oil, garlic and basil to make a really quick sauce.
Pizza Sauce. mortadellahead.
Tomato Juice.
Tomato Ketchup.
Tomato Paste.
Tomato Salsa.
Pureed Tomatoes.
Tomato Soup.

What is a healthy marinara substitute?

Tomatoes, canned

When cooked with garlic, onions, and basil, canned tomatoes provide a quick and easy alternative to store-bought marinara sauce. In addition to being economical, canned tomatoes can also be a healthy choice as they are typically lower in sodium than their jarred counterparts.

Can you substitute tomato sauce for marinara sauce?

Can you substitute marinara sauce for tomato sauce? Since both sauces are made with tomatoes as their base, it is possible to substitute marinara for tomato sauce. Using marinara instead of tomato sauce can make a recipe vegetarian-friendly, and it’s a great way to shave time when preparing weeknight dinners.

What is a substitute for pasta sauce?

Tomato puree. Tomato paste is an excellent choice to replace tomato sauce in most recipes as it is essentially a concentrated tomato sauce.
Canned Stewed Tomatoes.
Canned Diced Tomatoes.
Tomatoes, fresh.
Soup with tomatoes.
Pureed Eggplant.
Pureed Bell Peppers.

Can you replace marinara with tomato paste?

If you have a can of tomato paste in your pantry, you are in luck—this is the best substitution for tomato sauce. All you need is the tomato paste and water. Mix together 1 part tomato paste and 1 part water until well blended. Then, season your “sauce” to taste.

Can I replace marinara sauce with ketchup?

You can use ketchup instead of tomato sauce, but it should only be substituted if tomato sauce is not the main ingredient and you want your dish to be slightly sweet. Ketchup has added ingredients like sugar and vinegar that aren’t found in tomato sauce, so keep that in mind.

What sauce is the same as marinara sauce?

In most scenarios, you can use marinara sauce and tomato sauce interchangeably. However, tomato sauce will be somewhat lighter and thinner than thicker and more complex marinara sauce. Tomato sauce may be too thick for a pizza, while marinara may be too thin for dishes like eggplant Parmesan and chicken Parmesan.

What is the healthiest sauce option?

9 Healthy Condiments To Try
1) Mayonnaise. You may be surprised to see mayonnaise on this list.
2) Mustard.
3) Hot Sauce.
4) Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.
5) Salsa.
6) Fermented Foods.
7) Hummus.
8) Nut Butter.

Which is healthier tomato sauce or marinara?

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.

Is there a difference between marinara sauce and tomato sauce?

While the two sauces share many ingredients, the main difference is in the consistency and depth of flavor. Marinara is brighter, thinner, and more tomato forward than tomato sauce. Tomato sauce is thicker, creamier, and bears some similarity with gravy, hence why some Italians call it “Sunday gravy”.

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