Crock-pot Marinara Sauce

The first time I made a crock-pot marinara sauce I was so, so thrilled I couldn’t contain myself and made it two more times that week.  I wanted to share with the whole world what I had just conquered (I guess I am doing that now:).  I think I was so amazed because I actually made from scratch something that I had bought my whole adult life, and it was so easy.  I mean REALLY easy.  It reminds me of the first time I made sourdough bread, and it was like a work of art to me-beautiful, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  Anyway, I have grown accustom to buying canned spaghetti sauce (or spaghetti sauce in a jar) and adding some spices to the sauce to give it a little more oomph, so making my own marinara sauce was so exciting!

Slow Cooker Days

Homemade Marinara Sauce in the crock-pot

I made this marinara sauce using fresh, homegrown tomatoes (not my own-many thanks Cheryl). Honestly, I think making tomato-based sauces like marinara and salsa are typically more cost effective if you actually buy it pre-made from the store UNLESS you get a bountiful blessing.  But these blessings typically only come at the end of summer.  It just takes so many tomatoes to make the sauces, to me it just seems more frugal to buy the pre-made.  But the big benefit to making your own sauce is that you get to control your ingredients.  Here you know the exact amount of salt and sugar you use, and you have the opportunity to use fresh ingredients.

Homemade Crock-pot Marinara Sauce

I have only used fresh tomatoes to make the marinara sauce, although you can use canned crushed tomatoes.  Before I ever made a marinara, I made a fresh, raw tomato soup by just blending whole tomatoes, skins, seeds, and all, with the appropriate ingredients.  So when I went to make my first marinara, I thought I’d skip the steps of peeling and seeding the tomatoes by blending them thoroughly in my Vitamix blender before cooking (you could also use a food processor).  I thought this worked fabulously-saving time and eliminating some laborious steps!  You can see in the next picture below that after you blend the tomatoes, they turn a light, almost pink color.  The first time I made the sauce, I wondered if the color would darken, and it does.

Crock-pot Spaghetti Sauce

You will extract more flavor out of the onions and garlic if your sauté them first in a cast iron skillet with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed or olive oil (add more oil if needed).  If your goal is just to getter done you can skip this part, but the end result will not be as flavorful, so I highly recommend this step.  I have started cooking the tomatoes in the morning, and when I got a chance to sauté, I would add the onions and garlic about noon if I didn’t do it in the morning, so don’t let your lack of time prevent you from getting the tomatoes started.


Having marinara on hand is one of the best go-to sauces EVER!  We use it on pizza, lasagna, and spaghetti, of course.

I have made this recipe with less tomatoes and just reduced the ingredients.  Really the most important thing is to cook the tomatoes down and flavor as desired.

Do you have any flavors or secret ingredients that make your marinara stand out?  I added a cup of shredded zucchini once since it was on hand.  I have also left out one tomato and chopped it so there would be a little more of a chunky texture.  I imagine you could add more kinds of veggies, but I haven’t experimented.

Crock-pot Marinara Sauce

Crock-pot Marinara Sauce


  • 7 cups of blended or crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup fresh packed basil, chopped
  • 10 garlic cloves minced, or to taste (optional, sauté onions and garlic for more flavor)
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T Italian seasonings
  • 2 T sugar, optional
  • 2 t sea salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 t black pepper


  1. Place blended tomatoes, fresh basil (if using dried basil-add in the last hour), onions, garlic, and oil in the crock-pot, cover with the lid, and cook on high for 8 hours (crushed tomatoes may cook quicker, so check after 4 hours and every hour after or cook them on low and check after 6-8 hours).
  2. In the last hour of cooking stir in the Italian seasonings, salt, pepper, and cook with the lid off or partially open to thicken the sauce.
  3. Continue cooking sauce as needed with the lid slightly ajar until desired consistency is reached. This might take hours depending on how watery your tomatoes were (I've cooked overnight in this step before). To expedite this process you can just boil your sauce in a pan on the stove top, too if you need the sauce faster. I've boiled part of it so I could use it then and there, and kept the rest cooking in the crock-pot for later use.
  4. Cool in glass containers leaving an inch of room at the top of the jar or in freezer bags.
  5. Store in the refrigerator up to five days or in the freezer.

Are you interested in trying a raw tomato sauce?

Bruschetta Spaghetti or Raw Tomato Sauce

For more slow cooker inspiration, check out my Cookin’ with the Crock-pot Board on Pinterest.

Cookin' w the crock-pot Screen Shot



  1. says

    Thanks, Sonja, for the alternative to pre-made sauce. The tomatoes are coming in, so I clicked your “save recipe” link and signed up for a ZipList account to save recipes conveniently. Thanks

  2. Dorothy says

    This looks fantastic. I wonder if you’ve ever tried canning the sauce. I’d love to do up a bunch for my son to have on hand through the winter.

  3. says

    It’s like you read my mind. I was just thinking, if these tomatoes ever turn red I could make my own pasta sauce! And here you were in the Homestead Barn Hop today. And you answered my question – I can freeze it (I haven’t learned to can yet but love to freeze). Thanks again. Lea

  4. says

    I’m planning on canning some tomato sauce from tomatoes out of the garden this summer. I like this method better than babysitting in on the stove all day!

  5. says

    Sonja, this looks great! About how many tomatoes would you say that it takes to make one batch of sauce? And about how much does it yield? We love to can our home-grown tomatoes, and I’m always looking for something different to do. :) Found you at The Party Bunch :)

    • says

      Hi Kim! The amount of tomatoes it takes really depends on the size of the tomatoes. I don’t remember the yield but will be making some soon. I am sorry I can’t be more specific. Thanks for visiting!

  6. Patty says

    question on “blended tomatoes”- can you explain a little more please Do you peel, deseed the tomatoes before crushing. Sorry, just really excited to try this recipe and want to make sure I do it right :O) Thanks

    • says

      Hi Patty. I don’t do anything to the tomatoes except wash and cut out the tops. I don’t peel or deseed the tomatoes. That’s why it’s so easy. You just might have to cook it longer to get the desired thickness because it will take a bit to get the moisture out. You can also just buy and used cans of crushed tomatoes. I hope this helps!

  7. Barbara Wadkins says

    Sonja, I’ve tried freezing salsa before without removing skins. It was yucky. Skins just didn’t breakdown as I’d hoped in the simmering processing (didn’t use crockpot). I don’t have a Vitamix. Just a regular blender. I also have a Jack Lahaina Juicer. Which would you recommend to breakdown the skins before putting them into the crockpot? I’m so excited to begin making this sauce!

    • says

      Hi Barbara. If you don’t have a Vitamix, I would recommend breaking down the skins before putting them in the crock-pot, then. I hope that helps, and I hope you enjoy! Thank you for visiting!

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