Can you use the marinara sauce for pasta?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you use the marinara sauce for pasta?”, and how to make penne pasta with Marinara?

Can you use the marinara sauce for pasta?

Yes, you can use the marinara sauce for pasta. Marinara sauce is often used as a substitute for tomato sauce because of the comparable flavor profile of both sauces. 

Though both sauces are tomato-based, the marinara sauce has a milder and subtle flavor than tomato sauce. 

So, pasta made with marinara sauce will have a pleasantly different taste. Besides, marinara is the best vegetarian option when it comes to pasta sauces.

What is tomato sauce?

Tomato sauce is a sweet and sour sauce packed with flavors. Tomato sauce did not originate as essentially vegetarian. 

The main ingredients of a classic tomato sauce include pork, carrots, onions, roux, lots of fresh tomatoes, veal stock, bay leaves, and garlic. 

All the ingredients are simmered on low heat until the sauce thickens and develops a rather sweet flavor. 

Modern variations of tomato use omit the non-vegetarian part or sometimes incorporate chicken stock instead of veal stock.

Some variations of the tomato sauce shoot up on the non-vegetarian part. For example, the Sunday sauce, that is made using extra meat like pork, beef, or Italian sausage.

Tomato sauce is best used with pasta, in meat dishes like chicken cacciatore, with breakfast biscuits, or most types of gravy.

What are the major differences between marinara and spaghetti sauce?


Bolognese spaghetti sauce has a distinct meaty flavor and the flavor is a blend of many ingredients that are hard to distinguish. 

The marinara sauce has a mild meaty flavor with a thin consistency. Due to the strong flavor of spaghetti, it goes well with plain pasta. 

The mild flavor of marinara sauce makes it a better candidate for pasta that is made with seafood.


The thickness of the spaghetti sauce perfectly adds richness and heartiness to your heavy meals. While the marinara sauce is more of a light meal partner because of its thin consistency.

What is the marinara sauce used for?

The basic ingredient of the marinara sauce are tomatoes, herbs, garlic, and onions. Most variations include tangy ingredients such as olives, wine, or capers. 

The consistency of the marinara sauce also differs from region to region. Unlike the Italian version of marinara sauce, the American version is bold, rich, and thick.

Some of the famous classic dishes that use marinara sauce are Afritada, Menudo, Ratatouille, Shakshuka, meatballs, Minestrone, Pizza, Parmigiana, and Mozarella sticks.

Difference between marina sauce, pizza sauce, and spaghetti sauce 

Marinara and pizza sauce are very similar to each other in terms of their smooth texture and thin consistency. 

However, marinara differs from the pizza sauce due to its chunkier consistency, strong flavor, and use of ingredients like pre-cooked tomatoes, some herbs, and seasoning. 

The main ingredient of the pizza sauce that differs from other sauces is balsamic vinegar. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is thick, rich, sweet and is best used as gravy and not as a pizza sauce.

How to make penne pasta with Marinara sauce?


  • kosher salt
  • 1 28-ounce can whole, peeled San Marzano tomatoes, with purée
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 sprigs of fresh basil or oregano, plus more basil for garnish
  • 1 pound dried penne pasta or other favorite pasta of your choice


  1. Fill a pot with water and a generous amount of salt for seasoning pasta.
  1. Crush the tomatoes with the tomato puree in a bowl using a fork.
  1. Grease a skillet with olive oil and sautee the garlic until fragrant and golden. This should take about 5 minutes.
  1. Stir in the crushed tomatoes into the sizzled garlic and oil mixture. Be careful not to burn your hands. Sprinkle some salt and pepper as per taste. 

Bring this mixture to a boil then reduce to a simmering heat. Add the basil sprigs and cook this mixture for about 30 minutes. 

Stir occasionally to prevent the sauce from burning. Remove the basil and skim off the oil that afloat the skillet.

  1. Cook the pasta al-dente in the salted water. Then transfer it to the simmering sauce. Toss to coat the pasta in the sauce.
  1. Add a splash of pasta water to adjust the consistency if required.
  1. Top off with some fresh basil leaves and serve.


In this article, we answered the question “Can you use the marinara sauce for pasta?”, and how to make penne pasta with Marinara?


Hello, I'm Sana Ameer. I'm a student of Food Science and Technology at UVAS. I like to bake and I aspire to become a Food blogger.