Do you have to cook marinara sauce?

In this article, we will understand what marinara sauce is and whether you should cook the marinara sauce. Let’s also see what marinara sauce is used for and how you can even make your own.

Do you have to cook marinara sauce?

No, marinara sauce doesn’t need to be cooked before being used for whatever you are using it for. Generally, it is a sauce usually made with tomatoes, garlic, herbs, and onions. Many people enjoy eating it cold as a dip for finger foods like french fries. 

You can also skip the step of heating it by simply adding cold marinara sauce on top of warm or freshly cooked pasta. 

Originating from Italy, it is traditionally paired with any type of pasta and can be used as a spaghetti sauce as well as be used as a dipping sauce. This tomato sauce is often slow-cooked when being made and so can offer a rich, savory taste to your cooking.

Marinara sauce can come pre-made in a jar, or you can opt to make it at home with easy step-by-step recipes like this one.

What is marinara sauce used for?

This infamous variation of tomato sauce is used in so many Italian recipes, that critics argue it is often overused in dishes that don’t necessarily call for it. Nevertheless, here are some classic recipes that would not be complete without marinara sauce:

  • Meatballs
  • Soup
  • A dip for mozzarella sticks or french fries
  • Pizza
  • grilled vegetables
  • Sandwiches
  • All types of pasta

As we mentioned earlier, these are just some of the ways in which marinara sauce can be used. Now let’s explore the differences between marinara sauce and other types of tomato sauce, to better understand when to use which sauce.

Does marinara sauce go bad?

A jar of store-bought marinara sauce typically has a shelf life of one year, but once it’s opened, it should be consumed within a week of opening the seal.

For homemade marinara sauce, it is recommended to store it in an air-tight container in your fridge and make sure to consume it within 5 days, or until visible signs of mold or discoloration can be seen. Another option is to freeze the marinara sauce, giving you around 4 months to use it. 

How is marinara sauce different from spaghetti sauce?

The two sauces are very similar and use the same base ingredients like tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and garlic. But spaghetti sauce is incomplete without adding proteins and/or vegetables. This creates a heartier sauce and is sometimes called the “meat sauce.”

But essentially, these two sauces can easily be substituted with each other without drastically changing the overall outcome.

How is marinara sauce different from pizza sauce?

Both sauces have a tomato base and Italian seasoning, with optional diced onions and herbs. However, pizza sauce is known to have a thicker consistency, to help keep the pizza toppings on the pizza and retain its shape. Marinara sauce is slightly runny in comparison.

If you are not sure which sauce you used on your pizza, then slightly tilt your pizza before baking it in the oven. If the toppings move slightly, then you have used a marinara sauce. This won’t exactly ruin your pizza, as most of these tomato-based sauces can be interchanged with minor alterations. 


We hope this article has given some insight into the many uses of marinara sauce, its storage instructions, and how to incorporate it into your Italian cooking. 


Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.