Quick hack: Sub 3 (28-ounce) cans undrained whole tomatoes, crushed, for fresh; use rest of ingredients as directed. Bake uncovered 50 minutes at 425°.

Photo: Caitlin Bensel

A blend of traditional ingredients (hello, butter!) and new-school items like soy sauce delivers killer marinara with rich, deep flavor.

Tim Cebula
August 08, 2017

Ingredients That Matter:

Soy Sauce
Just a little bit gives marinara what it needs most; meaty, savory, umami taste that makes it craveable.

Sweet Onion
The natural sweetness in Vidalias and Walla Wallas balances acidic tomatoes, so you don't need to lean so much on added sugar.

Butter
Savvy chefs know this secret to amazing marinara. Stir in at the end to magically round out flavor and add velvety texture.

Fresh Basil
Timing is key with fresh herbs in long-simmered sauce. Add sprigs at the end so the essential oils stay potent.

Fresh Tomatoes
Ripe (and local, ideally), they're loaded with nutrients and free of tinny canned taste. Use a variety for complex flavor.

Sugar
There's really no way around that pinch of sugar every Italian Nonna adds to her sauce for the perfect flavor balance.

View Recipe: Essential Marinara

Quick hack: Sub 3 (28-ounce) cans undrained whole tomatoes, crushed, for fresh; use rest of ingredients as directed. Bake uncovered 50 minutes at 425°F.