• Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce Recipe

    by Polly on December 17, 2012


    If I would have known how easy and cheap it is to make your own marinara sauce in the crock pot, I would have started doing this years ago! Instead I’ve been spending money on expensive jars of Prego and other brands.

    All I had to do was cook some onions and then dump all the ingredients into my slow cooker for a few hours. Not only did it make the house smell good but I ended up with 14 cups of red sauce that can be used for tons of recipes like our Baked Beef Ravioli, Meatball Subs, or Chicken Parmesan.

    After letting the sauce cool and then chill in the fridge, I bagged up two cups per freezer bag and froze them for later use.

    It was so easy!

    Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

    (Recipe from Not Your Mother’s Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookbook)

    • 1/4  cup olive oil
    • 2 large onions, diced
    • 1 tbls chopped garlic
    • *4 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1-2 cups water (mine turned out a little watery so I would use less than a cup of water)
    • 1 tbls salt
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil or 2 tbls dried basil (I subbed a tbls of thyme since I ran out of basil)
    • 3 Tbls chopped fresh parsley or 1 tbls dried parsley flakes
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used a little less than this because I don’t like spicy food)
    • (I also added a little bit of garlic salt because we like garlic around our house)


    In large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and garlic and cook until softened. Add onions and the rest of the ingredients into slow cooker (no smaller than 5-quart) and cook on low for at least 4 hours. Adjust seasonings to taste.

    *Research is telling us more and more that we should avoid canned tomatoes. Choose tomatoes in glass bottles (which do not need resin linings), such as the brands Bionaturae and Coluccio. You can also get several types in Tetra Pak boxes, like Trader Joe’s and Pomi.

    Happy red sauce making!

    slow cooker marinara sauce recipe

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    { 8 comments… read them below or add one }

    Kathy December 17, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    This recipe sounds easy and tasty. I think I will try it this summer with my garden tomatoes Also, I bet if you leave the lid off for a few hours, it would concentrate enough to use as pizza sauce.


    Shawna September 16, 2013 at 11:03 pm

    Can I just use fresh tomatoes and fresh tomato juice. I refuse to buy canned foods for the very reason you mentioned andi have tons of tomatoes.. this recipe sounds delish (with fresh devine!)


    Rachel September 16, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Shawna, Rachel here. The same thought crossed my mind this week. I had a ton of tomatoes and made some homemade tomato sauce on the stove, but I think you could easily do it in the slow cooker instead. The key, though, is that you’ll need a food mill to remove the skins and seeds from your fresh tomatoes. Or, you can do what I did, and par-boil the tomatoes for about 1 minute, plunge them in an ice bath, and remove the skins. Then, you’ll need to squeeze out the seeds. (A food mill would be much easier!) I’m not sure how many tomatoes you’ll need to replace the canned tomatoes in this recipe, but I bet a quick google search would tell you. I hope that helps some!


    Shawna September 17, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    After a quick search I found someone who apparently believes canned tomatoes are superior, they state there are aprox. 10-12 tomatoes in a 28oz can or about 2lbs. Hth


    Kerrie Laminack November 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    I actually just out whole tomatoes from my garden, garlic, onions, parsley, basil in my vitamin and purée then cook. I add a little black pepper and some fresh peppers when have them also puréed. Then I put in crockpot to simmer. I add other herbs depending on what I have but rosemary and allspice can add a nice flavor as well :0). Wondering why everyone peels and de seeds the tomatoes…


    Rachel April 12, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Kerrie, that’s a great idea! I’m doing that this season.


    Candi April 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Thanks for the recipe it looks delish. I have some fresh tomatoes I need to use up in the fridge. Thanks for the post on the ratio of fresh to canned tomatoes. My crock pot went out on me the other day. Do you think this recipe will be just as good if you do low and slow on the stove?


    Polly April 22, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Oh no! Time to get a new crock pot, huh? Yes, I think you could cook this over the stove. I’d only cook it for an hour or two though. Even a low setting is hotter than a crock pot.


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