For a simple and flavorful sauce, it doesn’t get any better than this Crockpot Marinara Sauce. We start by sautéing onions and garlic and then layer in the seasonings. Then we add crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar and let it all simmer in the slow cooker. The result is a tomato sauce that has a surprising complexity of flavor.
We love Italian flavors in our house, and this Crockpot Marinara Sauce is a staple.
I have lost count of how many times I have made it through the years. Hundreds?
It is my go-to homemade tomato sauce, and I know that you will love it too.
This easy tomato sauce is super-easy to make and such an improvement over jarred marinara.
Best of all, it freezes beautifully - I often double the recipe and freeze half to pull it out for an easy meal. (One of my favorite ways to use this is on pizzas!)
Once you learn how to make pasta sauce from scratch, you will never return to jarred.
Ingredients for Making Slow Cooker Marinara
- Oil: Use your favorite cooking oil; I used avocado oil.
- Onion: White or yellow onions are best here.
- Sweetener: Use your favorite sweetener. Sugar, honey, or Swerve all work.
- Garlic: I prefer fresh minced garlic, but you could substitute 1 teaspoon of garlic powder if you prefer.
- Italian Seasoning: If you don’t have Italian seasoning, use a blend of parsley, oregano, and basil.
- Red Pepper Flakes: This lends a very subtle kick of heat. If you have small children, you can reduce the amount or omit it.
- Salt and Pepper: Adjust the amount of salt and pepper to your liking.
- Crushed Tomatoes: I like fire-roasted, but plain works as well.
- Tomato Paste: I buy it in a resealable jar or tube to avoid waste.
- Balsamic Vinegar: This adds an addictive depth of flavor.
Tips & Tricks
- To turn this into slow cooker spaghetti sauce with meat, add 1 pound of ground beef and brown it before adding the onion.
- Add the rind of good-quality parmesan cheese for an even richer flavor. Remove before serving.
- Want a thick sauce? You can increase the cooking time, so it reduces further.
- Finish with fresh herbs for a burst of flavor. Basil and parsley are both great options.
- If you want a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender to puree.
What Do You Serve with Crockpot Spaghetti Sauce?
This sauce is excellent over pasta for a simple and easy dinner. The flavor is fantastic, thanks to all that time in the slow cooker. This marinara would also be great in my Slow Cooker Eggplant Parmesan, Veggie Lasagna, Gluten Free Meatballs, or even these Quinoa Crusted Chicken Parmesan Burgers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Marinara is a type of tomato sauce that is relatively thin and somewhat simple. Tomato sauce tends to have more vegetables (such as carrot and celery) and is often cooked on the stove for hours.
Crushed tomatoes are a great option for making slow cooker tomato sauce. If you can find it, fire-roasted tomatoes or San Marzano tomatoes are great options.
If you have whole canned tomatoes, give them a whirl in your food processor blender until smooth.
Balsamic vinegar adds a sweetness and depth of flavor that takes this crock pot marinara sauce to the next level. It makes your taste buds sing.
Yes, you can add a pound of ground beef, pork, or even turkey to make this a meat sauce. Italian sausage can also be added. (If you use turkey, I recommend browning it in olive oil or avocado oil.)
I recommend cooking it on high for two hours or low for four hours. If you would like to further develop the flavors of this homemade spaghetti sauce or want to reduce it for a thicker sauce, cook it on low for up to an additional four hours.
Tools Needed to Make Crockpot Tomato Sauce
As an amazon associate, I earn from qualifying sales.
This recipe can be stored in the refrigerator for up to five days.
It can be frozen for up to three months.
How to Make Crockpot Marinara
Start by heating your oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. If you have a crockpot with a saute function (like the Instant Pot Dutch Oven), you can do this right in it.
Add the onion and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
Next, add the sweetener, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
Reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes.
After that, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Transfer to a slow cooker and stir in the fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste, and balsamic vinegar.
Cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.
More Slow Cooker Recipes to Try
- Crockpot Taco Soup has all the flavors of your favorite tacos in the confines of a comforting bowl of soup.
- Slow Cooker Collard Greens are meaty and flavorful. This is one of the most delicious ways to get your greens that I know of.
- For an easy weeknight meal Slow Cooker Chicken Fajitas are perfect!
- Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken Sandwiches are family friendly and always a hit.
Make sure you check out my Crockpot Marinara Web Story.
- Heat a skillet to medium high heat. Add avocado oil and allow to heat for a minute. Add onion and cook for 8 to 10 minutes. Add the sweetener, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
- Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 more minutes. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.
- Transfer to a slow cooker and stir in fire roasted tomatoes, tomato paste and balsamic vinegar. Cook for 2 hours on high or 4 hours on low.