Marinara sauce is a staple in many Italian kitchens and is used in lots of their sauce-heavy dishes, such as spaghetti, lasagna, and pizza. But what if one day you decide to try making one of these dishes and don’t have the correct sauce on hand? And with so many options available, it can be difficult to determine which substitute to use.
Thankfully, there are many delicious and easy-to-make substitutes for marinara sauce. From homemade tomato sauce to pesto, there are plenty of options to choose from, as you’ll soon see.
When selecting an alternative for marinara sauce, it’s important to consider the dish you’re making and the flavor profile you’re aiming for. Some substitutes may require more preparation or ingredients than others, so it’s important to factor in the time and effort required as well. Whatever dish you’re making, I’ll have just the substitute for what you’ll need. So, let’s jump in!
- Difference Between Marinara Sauce and Other Types of Tomato Sauces
- Best Substitute for Marinara Sauce
Difference Between Marinara Sauce and Other Types of Tomato Sauces
Let’s start with the differences between both family members of the same sauce group. There are numerous versions of tomato sauces available, and one of them is marinara sauce. To distinguish marinara sauce from other tomato sauces, here are some key differences to consider:
1. Tomato Paste vs. Fresh Tomatoes
Typically, marinara sauce is made by cooking fresh tomatoes until they become a thick sauce. This can’t be said for other tomato sauces, such as pizza sauce or tomato paste, as they are made using tomato paste, a concentrated form of tomatoes.
2. Simmering Time
Marinara sauce is typically simmered for a shorter period than other tomato sauces, resulting in a fresher and brighter flavor. In contrast, tomato sauces like spaghetti or pizza sauce are often simmered for hours, resulting in a deeper and richer flavor.
Marinara sauce is usually seasoned with garlic, onion, and herbs like basil and oregano, giving it a distinct flavor. Other tomato sauces may have different seasonings depending on their intended use.
Marinara sauce is generally thinner and smoother than other tomato sauces. This makes it ideal for tossing with pasta or using as a dipping sauce. Other tomato sauces, like spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce, are thicker and chunkier, making them better suited for topping pizzas or serving over pasta.
Best Substitute for Marinara Sauce
Homemade Marinara Sauce
Starting off the list with a DIY version for those seeking an easy-to-make and tasty homemade marinara sauce. Preparing your own sauce is a straightforward process that requires only a few ingredients and a short amount of time.
Here’s how to do it:
- 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 tsp. of salt
- 1 tsp. of dried oregano
- 1 tsp. of dried basil
- 1/2 tsp. of sugar
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add the minced garlic and sauté for about 1 minute or until fragrant.
- Add the crushed tomatoes, salt, oregano, basil, and sugar to the saucepan.
- Stir everything together and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Reduce the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning as needed.
This recipe makes about 3 cups of sauce, which is enough for about 6 servings of pasta. You can also use this sauce as a base for other Italian dishes, such as pizza or lasagna.
Making your own marinara sauce also gives you the added bonus of controlling the ingredients used. You can adjust the seasoning to your liking and avoid any additives or preservatives that may be in store-bought sauces. Plus, it’s a great way to use up any extra tomatoes you may have on hand, saving money and leaving no waste.
Just using fresh tomatoes can be a healthy and flavorful alternative to marinara sauce in certain recipes. With their juicy and tangy taste, tomatoes can be applied as a base for homemade tomato sauces, soups, and stews.
Their versatility also allows them to be used in various dishes, from bruschetta to salsa. Not to mention, they can be seasoned with herbs and spices to enhance their flavor, making them a great option for creating customized sauces or dressings.
Pizza sauce can be a tasty and convenient alternative to marinara sauce with a rich and tangy flavor that can be used as a base sauce for homemade pasta sauces such as mushroom pasta and fettuccine Alfredo.
Its smooth consistency can also provide a satisfying texture to dishes like baked ziti or meatballs. While it may not be ideal for dishes that require a chunky texture, like salsa or bruschetta, pizza sauce can provide a unique and delicious twist to traditional recipes.
Tomato juice can be a very versatile ingredient in the kitchen, offering a thinner consistency that’s an ideal addition to soups or stews. This juice provides a rich tomato taste without the added thickness of the marinara sauce.
It can also be seasoned with herbs and spices to enhance its flavor profile, making it a perfect base for homemade tomato-based sauces or dressings. The sauce’s many use cases and simplicity make it a valuable ingredient to have on hand in the kitchen.
Tomato ketchup can also be a viable substitute for tomato sauces in certain recipes. Its thick and sweet consistency can add a rich flavor and consistency to dishes like meatloaf, sloppy joes, and casseroles.
While it may not be ideal for dishes that require a thinner consistency, like pasta sauces or soups, tomato ketchup can still provide a unique and delicious twist to traditional recipes.
Tomato paste is an especially valuable ingredient found in most modern kitchen pantries, providing a concentrated and intense tomato flavor that can enhance the taste of many dishes. Although it may not replace marinara sauce directly, it can be a great alternative for adding a rich tomato taste to your dishes.
Its thick texture can also help thicken up sauces and gravies, making it a useful ingredient in many recipes. This paste can also serve as an excellent base for homemade tomato sauces or dressings, allowing you to customize the flavor to your preference.
Tomato salsa can be a flavorful and unique alternative with a fresh and chunky texture that can add a burst of flavor to dishes like tacos, nachos, and quesadillas. While it may not be ideal for dishes that require a smooth consistency, like pasta sauces or soups, it can provide a refreshing twist to traditional recipes.
Pureed tomatoes are very similar to using fresh tomatoes, only that they’re pureed. They provide a smooth and silky texture that can enhance the flavor of many dishes. As a substitute for marinara sauce, pureed tomatoes can serve as a base for homemade tomato sauces, soups, and stews.
Its neutral taste can be customized with various herbs and spices to create a more tailored flavor profile. Moreover, its smooth consistency can help thicken up sauces and gravies.
Tomato soup has a creamy and smooth texture that can add a rich and savory taste to dishes like casseroles, meatloaf, and pasta bakes. While it may not be ideal for recipes that require a chunky texture, like pizza or spaghetti sauce, this soup can provide a delicious twist to traditional recipes.
Like most other alternatives, it can also be seasoned with herbs and spices to enhance its flavor profile, making it a great base for homemade tomato-based sauces or dressings.
Tomato passata is a very useful ingredient with a strained and smooth consistency that can be a superb base for making pizza sauce or pasta sauce. It can also be made into a base for other sauces, such as curry or tikka masala, to create a rich and savory taste. Tomato passata’s neutral flavor can also be customized with various herbs and spices to enhance the taste of the dish.
Carrot sauce can be an interesting alternative, to say the least. With its sweet and earthy flavor, it can add a delicious veggie twist to dishes like pasta, risotto, and roasted vegetables.
It can be a light and healthful alternative, even if it may not work well in recipes that call for a tomato-based flavor. On top of that, carrot sauce can also be seasoned with herbs and spices to enhance its flavor profile in homemade sauces or dressings.
Canned tomatoes can be a convenient and cost-effective alternative with their rich and tangy flavor that can be used as a base for homemade tomato sauces. Their versatility allows them to be used in various dishes, from chili sauces to lasagna.
Canned tomatoes are long-lasting and available in most, if not all, retailers and stores. They can also be seasoned with herbs and spices to enhance their flavor.
Spaghetti sauce can be a flavorful and easy alternative with its rich and robust flavor that can be used as a base for homemade pasta sauces. Its chunky texture can also provide a satisfying texture to dishes like baked ziti or meatballs.
While it may not be ideal for dishes that require a smoother consistency, like pizza or dips, spaghetti sauce can provide a unique and delicious twist to traditional recipes.
Pesto is a versatile alternative to marinara sauce, made from fresh basil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. It can be used as a dip, spread, or sauce and is perfect for topping pizzas, mixing into pasta dishes, or using it as a marinade for grilled meats and vegetable dishes. When choosing a pesto, look for high-quality ingredients, consider the texture, and pay attention to the flavor profile.
Alfredo sauce is a velvety, creamy pasta condiment originating from Italy. Its rich base, often made with butter, heavy cream, and grated Parmesan cheese, results in a luscious, indulgent texture. Enhanced with garlic and seasonings, this sauce delivers a balanced blend of flavors with a simplicity that allows it to complement various pasta types.
While it may not be ideal for dishes that require a tomato-based flavor, like pizza or spaghetti sauce, Alfredo sauce can provide a unique and delicious twist to traditional recipes.