My favorite marinara sauce recipe made in the slow cooker. The secret to good marinara is using quality ingredients and slow cooking it until the sauce is perfect!
This comfy, cozy yet easy breezy traditional style marinara is made in the slow cooker and makes your entire house smell heavenly.
Basically all the ingredients get together in the slow cooker and hang out until they become the most amazing garlicky, basil, italian tomato sauce. Then just drizzle it all over your bowl of pasta or use it in a lasagna, or eggplant parmesan, or chicken parm — it’s totally your call. You can even freeze it in zip-top bags have have it defrosted and ready to in a matter of minutes.
And I love making a big batch of marinara sauce in the slow cooker on the weekends and popping half the sauce (because this makes like 6 cups!) into the refrigerator (for other weeknight meals) or zip-top bags and freezing it. The other half? I pan fry a pound of meatballs and toss them into the slow cooker and let the sauce and meatballs cook up for a few more hours. Oh yeah! Then we top our pastas and make meatball subs with melty mozzarella. No shame in my game.
And yeah. The leftover meatballs even get eaten straight from the refrigerator as a cold snack sometimes.
But really this traditional marinara sauce is a life saver on weeknights when your 2 year old is screaming pas-ghetii on the top of his/her lungs and you don’t wanna pop open a jar because you don’t know what’s actually in that stuff, and what the heck are ‘natural flavors’ anyway?
If you’ve seen this and this post, you know i’m totally not a big fan of using canned or jarred sauces. If I can make it at home, 99% of the time, I will. Not only do you get to control the quality of the ingredients when you make your own sauce, but you also can up the ingredients to suit your preference. So you like a little more garlic than everyone else? Add it in baby, make this sauce so robust that a vampire thinks 5 times before he/she decides to cross your path.
1.) Good ingredients. I use whole san-marzano style tomatoes. Because I love the super chunky texture of marinara sauce. If smooth is the way to go for you, use crushed tomatoes, or even diced. Also, fire-roasted or not, it’s totally up to you. I usually have fire roasted on hand so I chose to go with those.
2.) LOW and SLOW. Sure you can make a pot of marinara sauce on the stove in under 20 minutes but will it taste as good as my sauce that’s been slow simmered in a crock pot for 6 hours? Che-yeah NO. I seriously have my doubts about that.
And that’s it folks! B-T-W, this recipe is totally doable with only like 10 minutes of hands on time. And with 6 cups made with just 10 minutes of prepwork, you’ll be enjoy this sauce with tons of yummy things. Here‘s where you should start.
Homemade Marinara Sauce (Slow Cooker)
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon of EACH: red pepper flakes, dried parsley, AND dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 (28-ounce) cans San Marzano style tomatoes (diced, crushed, or whole to preference)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 10-12 basil leaves torn
- Add the olive oil to a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions for 5-7 mediums until they turn translucent in color but do not allow the onions to brown. Add the garlic and let cook for another 30 seconds. Add the red pepper flakes, parsley, dried oregano, and thyme and allow the oils to bring out the natural flavors, about 30 seconds.
- Transfer the mixture into a 3-quart slow cooker or larger.
- If using whole tomatoes, place in a large bowl and crush with hands so they break down just a little bit. Add the tomatoes, sugar, bay leaf, basil, and salt and pepper to the slow cooker, give it a stir to combine the ingredients. Let the sauce cook on the low setting for 6-6 ½ hours.
- Allow the sauce to cool completely before storing. I stored mine in zip-top bags in the freezer. The sauce can be kept refrigerated for about 1 week and frozen for 3 months. I have not tried canning this sauce myself but do believe the recipe is suitable for canning.
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