Marinara Sauce: Make Your Own.

When I started back to blogging a year ago, one of the first bloggers to welcome and encourage me was Liz from A Belle, A Bean and A Chicago Dog. She was a great support and answered a million of my questions. Liz is also a dedicated healthy eater and lover of homemade foods. Clearly she rocks!

Today Liz is here to share with us her homemade marinara sauce. Everyone clap and shout hooray!


About 2 years ago, our family’s diet took a hard left after our baby was diagnosed with an intolerance to fructose and other sweeteners.

Peace, Love and Muesli readers already know how bad HFCS is for your body, as well as how unfortunately prevalent it is.

We are a pasta-loving family, but the average pasta sauce contains HFCS because tomato paste – an ingredient in pasta sauce – is made from HFCS.  We originally tried to make our own sauce using organic tomato sauce, but the sugar content was so high, it was still too much for my daughter’s tummy.

Anne Burrell’s Marinara Sauce was the answer our family needed.  It does not contain any tomato paste so it is completely sugar and HFCS free!  Granted, it was a different texture and consistency than the marinara sauces most people are used to, but I found her recipe to be a refreshing change.


  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 pound diced pancetta
  • 2 large Spanish onions, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • Kosher salt
  • 4 large garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 4 (28-ounce cans) Italian plum San Marzano tomatoes


We buy pre-diced pancetta to save time.  Otherwise, chop your pancetta, onions and garlic cloves first. 

Add olive oil and pancetta to a large pot, and cook for 4-5 minutes at medium-high heat. 

Add onions and season with salt, to taste.  Cook the onions for 6-7 minutes, coating with olive oil.  Add the garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Anne’s recipe calls for passing all 4 cans of tomatoes through a food mill.  I do not have a food mill, so can by can, I added the tomatoes to my food processor.  I pulsed each batch 5 or 6 times, and then poured it into the pot.  After adding 4 cans of tomatoes, fill one can full of water and add it to the pot.  Then add salt to taste.  Tomatoes take a LOT of salt, so make sure to taste your sauce.

Cook the sauce 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

One pot makes enough sauce to be divided up and frozen for future meals.  I can get 4-5 meals worth for my family.


Thanks Liz! Pop over and visit Liz at A Belle, A Bean and A Chicago Dog.

I whipped up a batch of this super tasty marinara sauce for dinner tonight. Yum! I cut the recipe in half and instead of pancetta I used ground turkey. I also added a chopped carrot and celery with the onions. It’s a habit.

It is a great sauce by itself or as a base for adding all your favorite pasta fixings. Meatballs, grilled veggies, sausage.

San Marzano tomatoes are a great sauce making tomato. They are the least juicy of all the plum tomatoes and the most flavourful. I’ve grown them in my garden for a few years and they are great producers with very little input.

In Canada I use Unico. For tonight’s dinner I used one can of tomatoes and 1 bag of frozen pureed tomatoes from my garden.

Ok friends, sauce it up!


  1. Sauce it up is right! :)

    Thanks so much for having me!

  2. I love homemade marinara. A makes one and it’s divine. Me? I’m soooooo lazy. Alas, I may even try this one – Liz, it looks easy!

  3. I’d love to try Liz’s, but we’ve got a killer family marinara recipe of our own. Must be something about south side Italian girls from Chicago…it’s how we roll!

  4. Heather dh says:

    Great post! We loooove to sneak in a whole whack of roughly pureeded vegs and a bit of curry into our sauce…gives it a nice flavor with the meat.
    Thanks for the recepie- do you think we could do the simmer part in a crockpot?
    Also did you just puree then freeze your garden tomatoes or did you have to add anything?

    • Kristin says:

      I am sure you could find a similar crock recipe but I’m thinking no for this one in the crock. You really need to let a lot of the liquid evaporate off, that wouldn’t happen with the lid on.

  5. I love the sound of that marinara… it’s more complicated than my super-lazy everyday marinara, but I can tell the results are totally worth it. In fact, I want it for dinner tonight…

    You sure had me running to my pantry shelf in a panic to check labels just now! I always stir a small can of tomato paste into my super-lazy everyday marinara and I was horrified that I may have been too lazy to check the label for HFCS before buying it. Big sigh of relief… “Ingredients: Tomatoes.” Period. (whew!)

    • Kristin says:

      My paste is the same- only tomatoes. But it’s super scary to think about.
      Let us know if you try it out.

  6. Pretty much, if a recipe involves pancetta, I’m IN!

  7. That sounds amazing. I think this will get made next time we host dinner at our house. It’s always good to experiment on house guests, right?

  8. Lula Lola says:

    I bet this would go over big with the carnivores at my house! They’re always glad when a bit of meat makes it to the table! lol
    I do a marinara with garlic three ways. I thinly slice several cloves of garlic and then sort of flash fry them in olive oil until they start to brown. Then I remove them and put them on paper towels and set them aside. Then I saute a clove with onions and stuff before adding the tomatoes. All the while, I’ve got a bulb roasting in olive oil and a little rosemary. After I get the sauce going, I squeeze the roasted garlic from it’s skin and kind of mash it into the sauce. When I serve it, I sprinkle the fried slices of garlic over the top. It’s really good! Sometimes, I’ll fry a few capers too, I love the salty crunch they have when they get crispy.
    But Adam is starting to turn up his nose at having garlic breath. Teenage years approaching!

  9. Yummy! I didn’t even notice the HFCS in the tomato paste I use to make my marinara. Hmm, wonder if portabellos would work instead of pancetta? I will have to try and find out.

  10. Mrs.Mayhem says:

    This recipe sounds great. However, for us vegetarians, would it work to exclude the meat? I do make my own marinara, but I’m always ready and willing to try a new recipe. Thanks!

    • Kristin says:

      It will be fine if you skip the meat. Add more veggies instead or add them at the end.

    • I do think it’s quite a misnomer that Anne Burrell calls it “marinara” but it has pancetta in it! I think the pancetta gives it a bit of flavor (and salt), but you should definitely try it without. And it’s so light, it would be perfect to add veggies to.

  11. Lianne Lambert says:

    Phew, I gasped at the HFCS too! Thankfully mine doesn’t have it on the label either!

    Kristen, I use those tomats too, they are the best! Buying whole tomotoes in the can and pulsing them is definitely the way to go…they are also vine ripened longer then the ones used in crushed or diced cans, adding to their flavour of course.

    This recipe sounds great, I’m totally gonna try the panchetta…but in my family it is sacrilege to not add spices…basil and a bay leaf being key ;)

    • Kristin says:

      I added basil too. I am new to bay leaves and didn’t think to add one.
      Do you grow tomatoes in the summer Lianne?

      • Lianne Lambert says:

        A bay leaf definitely adds that je ne sais quoi?

        Every year we grow mucho tomatoes, I can never can them all and then I end up freezing them. Last year I didn’t can at all and just made huge batches of sauce and then froze that. Did you say you got a Kitchen Aid Mixer this year? I highly recommend the food mill attachment, it makes super quick work of crushing the tomates! It’s very efficient!

        I’ve never been able to find San Marzano plum tomatoes at the nursery, maybe I will have to go back to starting from seeds…one day ;)

        Thanks for the post, it was very saucy!

        • Kristin says:

          Good thinking on the mill to attach. I have a food mill but it’s too fine for tomatoes. And I’ve always frozen tomatoes instead of canning them. Simpler and tomatoes are tricky b/c of the acidity.
          I’m gearing up to grow tomatoes from seed this year. Maybe I can tempt you to visit with some San Marzano seedlings.

  12. Thanks for sharing this lovely recipe girls! I think in some ways, food intolerances are a blessing. Isn’t it funny how much our kiddies change the journeys we’re on? It never ceases to amaze me!

    • Kristin says:

      I hear that a lot from families that have had to make diet changes. It nearly always brings healthier eating.

  13. I’ve been making homemade sauce since I was in high school. I’ve yet to try using pancetta though. Maybe I should!

  14. Mel Gallant says:

    Mmm…this marinara sauce sounds delicious. We make homemade pasta sauce (with the Unico brand) in our house too. I add tons of pureed vegetables to beef up the veggie count. We sometimes use beef, sometimes ground turkey. But we’ve never tried pancetta!

    Liz – when you say tomatoes take a lot of salt, do you mean they retain a lot of salt so be careful how much you add?

    • Yes, what Kristin said. Tomatoes need a lot of sauce to bring out the taste. :)

    • Kristin says:

      I think she means they need a lot of salt to bring out the best flavour. Salt and taste, add more if you think it needs it.
      Next time I will try it with the panchetta too. Yum.

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