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Easy Homemade Marinara Sauce in 20 Minutes

This Easy Homemade Marinara uses fire-roasted diced tomatoes, Vietnamese caramel sauce, and a sardine to get fast and easy flavor packed full of umami. 
Servings 3 cups
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 an onion finely diced
  • 5 garlic cloves pressed
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 14.5 ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 small sardine* soaked in olive oil preferably
  • 1 tablespoon Vietnamese caramel sauce or 1/2 tablespoon coconut or palm sugar + 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himayalan salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano diced


  • Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it’s hot, add the onion and garlic, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes until fragrant, shiny, and translucent.
  • Add the tomato paste in the middle of the pan and let it sit sizzling for 30 seconds. Mix it in with the onions and garlic and cook for 30 more seconds to 1 minute, until it starts smelling caramelized.
  • Add the fire roasted diced tomatoes, mix, and let simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low.
  • Add 1 sardine and 1 tablespoon Thai caramel sauce (or 1/2 tablespoon coconut or palm sugar + 1/2 tablespoon fish sauce). Break apart the sardine and stir together, cooking for 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low. Use an immersion blender to the get the sauce more smooth or to the consistency you prefer.
  • Add the oregano, salt, and pepper and stir. Turn off heat and set aside.


*Using a small sardine will up the flavor and umami of the sauce while a big sardine can overpower the other flavors and leave the sauce tasting a little fishy. 
Makes about 3 cups
Try this marinara sauce out in these Spaghetti Squash Bowls with Turkey Sausage and Marinara Sauce.
Author: Megan Wells
Course: Sides and Snacks