This super hearty vegan marinara sauce is also low in sodium & healthy! Made with diced tomatoes, it is incredibly easy to fix, & all you need is a handful of ingredients & 20 minutes. Perfect for pastas, lasagnas or as a dipping sauce.
This simple hearty marinara sauce is considered a pantry staple in our household! We use it in literally anything, from topping spaghetti, using it as a dip and even adding it to stir-fries.
💚Why you will love this recipe
- Super quick and easy to make - All you need is a few ingredients (that you probably already have on hand) and 20 minutes to make this vegan marinara sauce.
- Flavorful and super versatile - You not only can pair it with pastas, but can also use it as a dipping sauce or spread it on pizzas!
- Freezable - Double or triple this recipe so you will have homemade marinara ready to go whenever you are craving it. Do cook it in a larger pot or pan to avoid it from boiling out.
- Healthy and low in both sugar and sodium - You can even leave out salt and sugar, if you like. But a little pinch do go a long way!
🍅What you will need
📓Notes / substitutions
- Diced tomatoes - You can use crushed or whole peeled tomatoes in place. Crushed tomatoes will yield marinara sauce with a smoother texture. If using whole peeled tomatoes, make sure to break it up using spatula while cooking.
- Maple syrup - Can be substituted with other liquid, granulated or artificial sweetener.
- Italian seasonings - If you do not have any on hand, substitute with 1 teaspoon of dried basil, oregano and thyme each.
- Dried basil - You can use a handful of chopped basil in place. Stir them in during the last minute of cooking.
- Oil-free - Use ¼ cup of water to saute onion and garlic in place of oil.
🔪How to make
Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil ( or other neutral oil ) in a cast iron skillet / heavy bottom pan on medium high heat. Add in onion into the pan and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
Next, add in garlic and tomato paste. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring frequently.
Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasonings, dried basil and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to gentle simmer. Place lid on and let it cook at low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
Remove from heat. Give it a taste and add more salt, if needed.
- To intensify the flavors of marinara sauce, add in about ¼ cup of red wine vinegar.
- Feel free to add in veggies of choice like diced carrots, celery or red pepper into this sauce. Simply add them in along with onions.
- To give your meal a boost of protein, add in some crumbled tofu, tempeh or even veggie crumbles at the last few minutes of cooking.
- Throw in some chili or red pepper flakes if you like spices!
- For a smoother sauce, blend it up using a immersion blender right in the pot until desired texture. Using crushed tomatoes will also yield smoother sauce.
- Stir your sauce every few minutes during cooking. This will help distribute the flavors more evenly and prevent sauce from sticking to bottom of pan.
- For a quicker version, use a teaspoon of garlic and onion powder each in place of fresh ones.
- Make it your own by swapping or adding in herbs and spices of choice.
🍝How to use
Wondering what to do with this sauce other than using it in pastas and spaghetti? Here are some of our favorite ways to use them:
- Use it as a pizza sauce. You might want to blend them up either by using an immersion blender or normal blender beforehand!
- Use it in place of tomato sauce for lasagnas or ratatouille.
- Cook some vegan meatballs in it.
- This marinara sauce can also be used as a healthy dipping sauce for chips and fries.
- Lastly, you can use it to top your vegan tacos, stuffed pasta shells or stuffed peppers!
❔Commonly asked questions
Both marinara and spaghetti sauce are primarily made from tomatoes, onion, garlic and herbs. However, spaghetti sauce usually have a thicker consistency and includes some kind of meat and vegetables, while marinara sauce has a thinner texture.
Both sauces works equally well in pastas, so pick and choose whichever you like!
Yes, marinara sauce works really well as a healthier alternative for pizza sauce. As it is quite chunky, you might want to blend it using a blender or immersion blender beforehand so that you can spread it on your pizza base more easily.
Most of the store-bought marinara sauce are vegan, as they are made with tomatoes, onion, garlic, herbs and spices. Sometimes preservatives or seasonings might be added, but they are usually plant-derived.
Not all marinara sauce are vegan though as some brands might include animal products such as chicken stock or parmesan. Hence, be sure to read the label before purchasing to make sure that it is vegan-friendly.
Or, you can just make your own at home following this recipe !
This vegan marinara sauce can be stored in the fridge in a jar or sealed container for up to a week. It is also freezable too, and can be frozen for up to 3 months. Portion it out using zip-top bags or small storage container accordingly before freezing.
To reheat from frozen, let it thaw completely overnight in the fridge before heating it up on stove. Or, you can just heat it up in the microwave !
🍽More vegan sauces and dips
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Hearty Vegan Marinara Sauce (Low Sodium)
- Heat up 1 tablespoon of olive oil ( or other neutral oil ) in a cast iron skillet / heavy bottom pan on medium high heat. Add in onion into the pan and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes.
- Next, add in garlic and tomato paste. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until fragrant, stirring frequently.
- Add in diced tomatoes, tomato paste, Italian seasonings, dried basil and salt. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower heat to gentle simmer. Place lid on and let it cook at low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes.
- Remove from heat. Give it a taste and add more salt, if needed.
Reheat - To reheat from frozen, let it thaw completely overnight in the fridge before heating it up on stove. Or, you can just heat it up in the microwave !