Does marinara sauce have seafood? (marinara main ingredients)

In this article, we will answer the question “Does marinara sauce have seafood?” and discuss which are the typical ingredients of marinara sauce, why seafood can be a concern and how to prepare marinara sauce.

Does marinara sauce have seafood?

No, marinara sauce generally does not contain seafood (1). There is no standard definition of marinara sauce in the United States and there are many commercial varieties available in the market (2,3).

The definition for tomato sauce is a product made with tomato pulp or concentrate that may contain tomato residues and other ingredients, such as organic acids, salts and spices (2). 

However, due to the multiple possibilities to produce a marinara sauce, it can be added by seafood. In an Italian cooking book, a recipe for marinara sauce was described as having the following ingredients: tomato puree, pepper, carrots, celery and garlic (1).

Another Italian marinara sauce recipe included fresh tomatoes, garlic, parsley and olive oil. On the other side, another recipe was described as being a seafood sauce based on tomato.

Therefore, although not common, seafood can be found in marinara sauce. Being a versatile product, the term “marinara sauce” is often used to designate a type of sauce, similar to the terms “barbecue sauce”, “pasta sauce” and others (4).

What are the ingredients of marinara sauce?

The most commonly found ingredients in commercial marinara sauce are (2):

  • fresh tomatoes, tomato paste or tomato puree
  • sugar
  • salt
  • ascorbic acid and citric acid
  • preservatives, such as sodium benzoate
  • herbs

The most commonly found ingredients in homemade marinara sauce are (1,3):

  • fresh tomatoes, tomato paste or tomato puree
  • salt 
  • garlic, onions and pepper
  • basil, oregano, parsley and other Italian herbs
  • olive oil

Other less commonly found ingredients in homemade marinara sauce are (1,3):

  • carrots, celery and other vegetables
  • bay leaves
  • walnut oil
  • anchovies
  • seafood

Why is seafood a concern?

Seafood may be a concern to some individuals, as seafood can cause allergic reactions. Seafood is one of the most important causes of food allergy in some countries and several seafoods were reported to cause allergic reactions, including, mackerel, tuna, salmon, squid and crab (5). 

Another concern is that seafood is a highly perishable food and can cause foodborne illnesses when improperly handled or stored. Seafood can carry many pathogenic microorganisms and parasites and has a reduced shelf life. It is required careful preparation practices when cooking seafood.

Seafood must be carefully purchased, transported, handled, cooked and stored and generally has a shorter shelf life than beef. Insuficient cooking of seafood can be hazardous (6).

In addition, seafood can contain heavy metals and sea contaminants, which can cause toxicity when ingested in increased concentrations. Especially in the case of vulnerable individuals such as pregnant, seafood can be a concern.

On the other hand, seafood is a source of many important nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids. The consumption of omega-3 fatty acids is related to several health benefits, due to their high anti-inflammatory properties (3).

Omega-3 fatty acids are related to reducing oxidative stress and preventing ageing, as well as many diseases, such as heart disease, artherosclerosis and many types of cancer.

Other FAQs about Sauces which you may be interested in.

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What can be substituted for tomato sauce?

How to prepare marinara sauce?

Ingredients (7):

  • 2 cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped basil
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 2 carrots, cut into small cubes
  • half diced celery
  • chopped parsley
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chilli (optional)
  • a little sugar (to taste)


  1. Heat the olive oil in a pan at medium heat 
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook till they are light brown
  3. Add the vegetables and cook for about 5 minutes
  4. Add the tomatoes and the herbs, as well as the other spices
  5. Add water if necessary
  6. Turn to low heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes till a desirable consistency is achieved


In this article, we answered the question “Does marinara sauce has seafood?” and discussed what are the common ingredients found in marinara sauce, why is seafood a concern and how to prepare marinara sauce. 



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Collie H. Omega-3 Fatty Acid Fortification of Marinara Sauce. East Tennessee State University


NACHAY K. Highflying Sauces Sauce products are flying off store shelves as consumers look for inexpensive ways to enhance recipes. Product developers and chefs continue to formulate new sauces with ethnic/regional and bold flavors as well as varieties that help consumers meet certain dietary needs.


Aranishi F, Okimoto T. PCR-based detection of allergenic mackerel ingredients in seafood. Journal of Genetics. 2004 Aug;83:193-5.


Selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely [Internet]. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. FDA; 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 21]. Available from:


Easy marinara sauce [Internet]. [cited 2023 Aug 21]. Available from: