What can I use as a substitute for marinara sauce? (5 options)

In this blog post, we will answer the following question:  What can I use as a substitute for marinara sauce?  We will give you five alternatives for a marinara sauce that you can prepare at home. 

What can I use as a substitute for marinara sauce? 

If you are looking for a substitute for marinara sauce opt for tomato sauce combined with water. You just need to mix tomato sauce and water in equal parts in a bowl and mix well. This gives you a substitute for tomato juice. You can add a little pinch of salt to make it even better. 

Don’t have a heavy hand! This “homemade” derivative of tomato juice can then be consumed as a drink, or in a cocktail like real tomato juice. You can add celery salt, tabasco, or even Worcestershire sauce. There are many recipes that allow you to make homemade tomato juice. But the ideal remains the mixture of tomato sauce and water. 

You can then add whatever you want to it as you wish. But avoid eating tomatoes when it’s not in season. There are recipes for all seasons!

How to make the marinara sauce at home

Today we return with a foray into the world of sauces and we are going to see how to make our marinara sauce at home.

It is a very grateful sauce for pasta, but it is also applicable to other types of recipes as we will see later in some that we are going to put in the recipes section.

Marinara sauce is a popular Italian sauce, made with tomatoes, onions, and herbs, making it a bit spicier than other tomato sauces.

There are several kinds of marinara sauce. The basic one is simply tomato sauce with spices but there are those who add meat and / or mushrooms.

The easiest way to do it is to start with canned tomatoes, but if we want to make it natural, the base of the recipe is tomatoes, specifically ‘pear’ style tomatoes.

Let’s go with a recipe for a marinara sauce with meat and mushrooms.

  • Two kilos of pear tomatoes
  • Half an onion
  • One garlic clove
  • 150 grams of minced meat
  • 1 smoked or spicy sausage (maximum 100 grams)
  • Oregano
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Sugar
  • Thyme, cumin, cloves, chili,…. (optional and to taste)

We peel the tomatoes, put them in a pot with some very chopped onion. Crush garlic and add it to the pot. Once the cooking has started it is time to add minced meat or pieces of sausage. All cooked over low heat and stirring every bit to prevent them from sticking to the pot.

We cut mushrooms and put them in the pot, but bear in mind that they need less cooking than the meat, so we will put them when the meat is already advanced in its preparation.

We cut fresh basil (it is worth dry but it does not taste the same) and we add it to the pot. Also, keep in mind that it is made before the mushrooms, so you will have to wait a bit after adding these previously.

We raise the heat and when we see that the cooking begins to be powerful, sprinkle oregano on top. We stir and without stopping, we will add pepper, a little salt, a little sugar, and other seasonings to taste (in case you like them with other ingredients). Let the sauce heat up and we will have it ready!

Other FAQs about Sauces which you may be interested in.

Should I blend my tomato sauce?

Should I cover spaghetti sauce while simmering?

Alternative sauces for your pasta

These four sauces will help us rediscover pasta and enjoy its many possibilities, with the certainty that we are eating healthy and well. Whether for the work container or a family dinner, a spring picnic, or a meeting with friends, you just have to let your imagination fly and combine pasta and dressings to your liking. 

Lemon Walnut Sauce

Healthy and balanced, as it combines the pasta’s carbohydrates with the vitamins of the citrus fruits and the nuts’ iron and proteins. We will prepare it in five minutes, and it will be the perfect alternative for fast food or a sandwich on days when we have little time. 

Brown onion in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and when it has softened, add the walnuts. Cook for a few minutes, add the lemon juice, salt, and pepper, and if we like, some species (a touch of coriander will give it an exotic touch). Add the pasta already cooked, for example, some macaroni striped al dente.

Garlic and oil

The classic Italian recipe “all’aglio e olio” is always a sure bet, requiring just a pinch of fresh oregano and a good Parmesan to be a dish of the gods. It will be enough to brown some garlic in the pan with extra virgin olive oil (you can add the crushed or chopped garlic since you can strain them later), always over very low heat. When they are ready, add some spaghetti and finish the dish with an excellent grated Parmesan.

Tomato and basil

It is a classic, but only if we make it with tasty natural tomatoes and fresh basil. To make it perfect, we must fry the tomatoes, previously blanched, peeled and without seeds, in extra virgin olive oil, with garlic and onions, and add some fresh basil leaves at the end, without mincing. It is a perfect sauce for many pasta types, although we stayed with the gnocchi as battle companions of this simple and light sauce.

Pistachio pesto

We are used to traditional pesto or even its red version with beets, but we probably had not heard of pistachio pesto. It is enough to replace the pine nuts with pistachios and prepare the pesto in the same way as the traditional one: we whisk all the ingredients, with their jet of extra virgin olive oil, and the basil, until obtaining a homogeneous mass. 

To facilitate the task, we can pass the pistachios through the chopper before making the pesto. It is an extremely versatile sauce, which works well with any type of pasta.


Marinara sauce is a popular Italian sauce, made with tomatoes, onions, and herbs, making it a bit spicier than other tomato sauces. You can easily reproduce this sauce at home. There are many alternatives to marinara sauce, four of them considered to be both delicious and healthy options! 

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