Spicy Marinara Sauce


Are you a fan of home made tomato sauce? If you haven’t yet discovered a recipe you love, give this one a go: its rich, silky loveliness will transform your usual bowl of spaghetti or pizza into something incredible.

For just a little extra effort (than opening a tin of tomatoes), this Spicy Marinara Sauce is an absolute treasure. It’s rich, spicy, tangy and a little smoky too.

This marinara sauce will make all the difference to your:

  • pasta;
  • pizza;
  • zoodles;
  • tagines;
  • stews;
  • casseroles; and
  • whatever else you desire.

I could go on. It is that tasty. A handful of simple ingredients really can elevate a recipe like this one.

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Until recently, I’ve always been one for making a tomato-based sauce out of, well, a tin of tomatoes and a quick stir in the pan with some seasoning. And my pizza sauce has always consisted of a nice thick spread of tomato purée. But I realised (partly through the development of this tagine recipe) that there was probably a good reason why traditional tomato sauce recipes are cooked a little more slowly, and consist of more than just tomatoes.


And that reason is a more complex flavour and an intensity that’s quite surprising! Not to mention super levels of satisfaction… If you have longer than the 20 minutes I’ve suggested for simmering the sauce, absolutely let it cook longer – bubbling gently away for 45 minutes or so will only add to the richness.


So if you have a little extra time, this recipe is really worth making. As well as jazzing up rustic dishes that call for a sauce, it’s:

  • simple to make;
  • incredibly rich and deep in flavour;
  • great for making in batches to keep in the fridge, for added dinner-time efficiency;
  • packed with the healthy benefits of cooked tomatoes, including increased levels of vitamin C and antioxidants such as Lycopene, which is thought to reduce your risk of heart disease;
  • better for you than buying pre-made marinara, which can often be high in sodium and preservatives; and
  • so tasty and versatile!

Oh, and it is incredible with this Pumpkin Seed & Sun Dried Tomato Pesto – watch out for a delicious recipe that combines the two soon!


I hope you love this simple, but delicious, recipe. If you do, please share it using the buttons below!

Spicy Marinara Sauce
Preparation time
Cooking time
Total time
This rich, Spicy Marinara Sauce will transform your favourite pizza and pasta dishes. It's simple to make and bursting with flavour.
Recipe type: Dips, Condiments, Preserves
Cuisine: 30 minutes or less, Vegan, Gluten Free
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 heaped tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g) or 6 fresh, ripe tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp pepper (or tomato) purée
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Thinly slice the garlic and chop the onion.
  2. Add the oil to a frying pan and heat to moderate temperature. Add the chopped onion and garlic and stir. Once softened, add the paprika, cumin, cayenne and oregano and leave for a minute to release the flavours.
  3. Next, add the chopped tomatoes, purée and balsamic vinegar, stirring well.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Pour the sauce into a food processor and blitz until smooth.
  6. Pour back into the pan, add the salt and pepper, and leave to reduce further. Simmer for at least another 10 minutes.
  7. If you're not using the sauce straight away, leave to cool then transfer into a sterilised jar. It will keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks.
If you are using fresh tomatoes rather than tinned, add an extra tbsp of pepper or tomato purée.


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  1. The sauce looks wonderful. I agree with you, tomato sauce from real tomatoes is much better than a quick sauce with tomatoes from the tin.

    • Thank you Anca! There’s definitely something extra tasty and satisfying about making your own sauce – it really does turn an ordinary dish into something special 🙂