Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce Recipe (Quick Simple Dip)

This Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce Recipe (Quick Simple Dip) is the perfect accompaniment for a variety of foods like roasted ravioli, arancini, mozzarella sticks, and garlic bread! Made with some simple ingredients, this tomato sauce is flavorful and the perfect dipping sauce for any yummy snack! 

Marinara dipping sauce in a white ramekin on a wood cutting board with basil and a parmesan rind up close.

My homemade marinara dipping sauce has lots of flavors, thanks to fresh garlic, onion, crushed tomatoes, and plenty of seasonings (no holding back, don’t the red pepper flakes here!). Italian seasoning also helps to add a bit of flavor and my secret ingredient? A little bit of grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese! Oh, and don’t forget the fresh basil! Although this recipe was developed for dipping purposes (hello pizza bites and zucchini fries), it’s also a foolproof homemade marinara sauce that can be used as pasta sauce or pizza sauce! 

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Simple, whole ingredients. This recipe uses simple ingredients that are easy to find, and you probably probably have the majority of them on hand already! 
  • It’s customizable. This recipe can be made spicier, creamier, or more basil-forward. Just check out my ‘substitutions and variations’ section. 

Ingredients

Ingredients for marinara dipping sauce.

  • Olive Oil – Olive oil serves as the base of the sauce, providing richness and flavor. Look for extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor. It’s worth investing in a good-quality olive oil for this recipe.
  • Garlic  – Garlic adds aromatic depth and flavor to the sauce. Mince the garlic finely to ensure it evenly distributes its flavor throughout the sauce. Fresh garlic cloves are preferable for the best taste.
  • Onion – Onion adds sweetness and complexity to the sauce. Halving the onion and sautéing it before adding other ingredients helps to release its flavors without overpowering the sauce. Choose a sweet onion variety like Vidalia if available.
  • Crushed Tomatoes –  Crushed tomatoes form the base of the sauce, providing a rich tomato flavor and texture. Opt for high-quality canned crushed tomatoes with no added sugar or preservatives for the best taste. San Marzano tomatoes are often recommended for their sweetness and depth of flavor.
  • Tomato Paste – Tomato paste adds concentrated tomato flavor and helps to thicken the sauce. Cook the tomato paste for a minute or two after adding it to the pan to deepen its flavor and remove any raw taste. Look for tomato paste in a tube for convenience and ease of use.
  • Dried Oregano and Basil –  Crush dried herbs between your fingers before adding them to the sauce to release their essential oils and enhance their flavor. If possible, use freshly dried herbs for the best taste.
  • Red Pepper Flakes –  Red pepper flakes add a hint of heat and depth to the sauce.
  • Grated Parmigiano Reggiano – Parmigiano Reggiano adds a rich, savory flavor and creamy texture to the sauce. Stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano off the heat to prevent it from becoming grainy. Use freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano for the best flavor and texture.

Substitutions

  • Dried Herbs – Fresh herbs such as oregano and basil can be used instead of dried herbs. Use about three times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs.
  • Garlic – If fresh garlic is unavailable, garlic powder can be used as a substitute. Use about 1 teaspoon of garlic powder for every clove of garlic.
  • Creaminess –  Stir in a splash of heavy cream or coconut milk for a creamy texture and rich flavor.
  • Heat – Increase the spiciness of the sauce by adding additional red pepper flakes, diced jalapeños, or a dash of hot sauce.
  • Roasted Vegetables – Roast vegetables like bell peppers, eggplant, or zucchini before adding them to the sauce for a deeper, smokier flavor.

Step by Step Instructions

A halved white onion cooking in olive oil with minced garlic.

1: Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.

Add minced garlic and the halved onion to the pan and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

Tomato paste, onion, and garlic cooking in olive oil in preparation of making marinara dipping sauce.

2: Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes to allow it to caramelize slightly

Crushed tomatoes and onion cooking in a pot with dried herbs and salt.

3: Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and stir well. Add dried oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using.

Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.

Marinara dipping sauce cooked in a blue dutch oven with a wood spoon.

4: Let the sauce simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to your desired consistency.

Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Once done, remove from heat and let it cool slightly.

Remove the onion and discard. Stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano until it’s fully incorporated.

Marinara dipping sauce in a white ramekin on a wood cutting board with basil and a parmesan rind.

Tips and Notes

  • Taste as You Go –  Taste the sauce as it cooks and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Remember, you can always add more salt, pepper, or herbs, but you can’t take them away.
  • Texture Matters – Pay attention to the texture of the sauce. Simmer it until it reaches your desired thickness, but be careful not to overcook it, as this can lead to a sauce that’s too thick or overly concentrated.

Serving Suggestions

  • Wine Pairing – For the rich tomato flavors and savory notes of marinara dipping sauce, consider pairing it with a Chianti or Sangiovese. These Italian red wines complement the herbs and acidity of the sauce while offering fruity undertones.
  • Classic Dipping – Serve the marinara sauce with warm, crusty breadsticks, breaded mozzarella sticks, or crispy calamari for a classic meal. It’s also great with arancini!
  • Pizza Night –  Use the marinara sauce as a base for homemade pizza. Spread it on pizza dough, add your favorite toppings, sprinkle with cheese, and bake until bubbly and golden brown.
  • Pasta – Toss the marinara sauce with freshly cooked pasta for a quick and easy weeknight meal. Top with grated Parmesan cheese and fresh basil for a finishing touch.
  • With Meatballs – Pair the marinara sauce with homemade or store-bought meatballs. Serve them as an appetizer, over spaghetti for a hearty meal, or as a meatball sub for a satisfying lunch.
  • For Breakfast – Use the marinara sauce as a base for shakshuka, a Middle Eastern dish of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

  • Storage – Refrigerate the cooled marinara dipping sauce in an airtight container for up to 5-7 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Consider portioning it into smaller containers for easy thawing.
  • Reheating – Thaw frozen sauce overnight in the refrigerator or use the microwave’s defrost setting. Reheat on the stovetop over medium-low heat or in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring in between. Adjust the consistency with water or broth if needed and refresh the seasoning as desired.

Did you try this recipe? I’d love to see it! Tag @seasonedandsalted on Instagram and leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review below!

red marinara sauce

Easy Marinara Dipping Sauce Recipe (Quick Simple Dip)

Allie Hagerty
This easy marinara dipping sauce recipe mkaes 2.5 cups and is great for a variety of snacks like pizza bites, breadsticks, or arancini!
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Servings 20 servings
Calories 37 kcal

Equipment

  • Medium saucepan
  • Wooden spoon or spatula
  • cutting board
  • Knife
  • measuring spoons
  • can opener
  • Grater (for Parmigiano Reggiano, if not pre-grated)
  • Airtight container for storage (if applicable)

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 halved onion
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes for some heat optional

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add minced garlic and the halved onion to the pan and sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another 1-2 minutes to allow it to caramelize slightly.
  • Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and stir well. Add dried oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using.
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
  • Let the sauce simmer for about 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it thickens to your desired consistency.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
  • Once done, remove from heat and let it cool slightly.
  • Remove the onion and discard.
  • Stir in the grated Parmigiano Reggiano until it’s fully incorporated.

Notes

Taste as You Go –  Taste the sauce as it cooks and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Remember, you can always add more salt, pepper, or herbs, but you can’t take them away.
Texture Matters – Pay attention to the texture of the sauce. Simmer it until it reaches your desired thickness, but be careful not to overcook it, as this can lead to a sauce that’s too thick or overly concentrated.

Nutrition

Serving: 2tablespoonsCalories: 37kcalCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 1gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 0.4gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 1mgSodium: 77mgPotassium: 139mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 119IUVitamin C: 4mgCalcium: 28mgIron: 1mg
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