A simple and delicious Instant Pot Marinara Sauce made with canned tomatoes and seasonings. Use it as a pasta sauce, pizza sauce, dipping sauce and more.
Making marinara sauce in your pressure cooker is simple, especially when using canned tomatoes and dried herbs. Marinara sauce should be pressure cooked on low pressure to prevent burning, as tomato-based sauces can easily trigger the burn notice in many pressure cookers.
This recipe for a basic Instant Pot marinara sauce seasoned with a variety of herbs, onions and garlic can be used as a spaghetti sauce, pizza sauce, a base for other sauces, and in any recipe that calls for spaghetti, marinara, or tomato sauce. You can use it to make Instant Pot spaghetti and meat sauce, add it to tortellini and spinach soup, chicken parmesan soup and this easy chicken tenders parmesan bake.
While I make this recipe with canned tomatoes and tomato sauce, you can use fresh tomatoes when they're in season too. My notes below give instructions for how to do this.
MORE DELICIOUS TOMATO SAUCE RECIPES
- Tomato sauce: a plain tomato sauce, San Marzano style if possible.
- Crushed tomatoes: San Marzano style is preferred because these tomatoes are less acidic and on the sweeter side.
- Onions and garlic
- Seasonings: garlic powder, dried basil, dried parsley, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Fresh herbs can be used in place of the dry at three times the amount.
- Baking soda or sugar: only a pinch or two if needed to correct the acidity and balance the sauce.
Can I Use Fresh Tomatoes Instead Of Canned?
Yes, if you'd like to making this recipe using fresh tomatoes you'll need about 10-20 large tomatoes. Plum or paste tomatoes are the best tomatoes for making sauces and you can choose to peel them or not. Since plum tomatoes are generally small, use 20. If using a large tomato like a beefsteak, you may only need 10. Follow the recipe as written, replacing the canned tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes with roughly chopped fresh tomatoes. When pressure cooking is finished, use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes into a smooth sauce.
*If using fresh tomatoes, do not add the full 1 cup of water when deglazing. Add only a few tablespoons, as the tomatoes will give off water while cooking and you don't want the sauce to end up being too watery.
STEP 1: Set the Instant Pot to saute on high for 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and onions. Stir frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
STEP 2: Turn off saute. Pour the water into the pot and deglaze. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, salt, garlic powder, basil, Italian seasoning, dried parsley black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Do not stir.
STEP 3: Close and lock the lid. Set to pressure cook/manual on LOW for 15 minutes. When complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Complete a controlled quick release of remaining pressure.
STEP 4: Open the lid and stir the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If sauce is too acidic, add baking powder or sugar in pinches until sauce is balanced.
How To Store
Marinara sauce that's been pressure cooked will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container. It will keep in the freezer when stored in airtight freezer safe storage bags for up to 6 months (for optimal quality) to 1 year.
How To Fix Acidic Marinara Sauce
Tomatoes are naturally acidic and thus, tomato based sauces can taste too acidic and sometimes even bitter. The two most common ways to fix this are adding a pinch of baking soda or a little sugar to the sauce once it's done cooking. Baking soda is an alkaline that will help balance the excess acid. Sugar also cuts down the acidity and creates a more balanced sauce. A pinch of either should do the trick.
- Always use low pressure: tomatoes, especially tomato-based sauces, are notorious for giving the burn notice while pressure cooking. One of the simplest ways to make sure your tomatoes and sauces don't burn is to use low pressure rather than the default of high pressure that most recipes use. Pressure cooking this marinara sauce on low for a little more time than you would on high pressure ensures that you won't get the burn notice.
- Add the recommended amount of water: don't fear that if you add a cup of water your sauce will become thin. Some of the water evaporates under pressure and there are so many tomatoes and other ingredients in this recipe that you won't end up with a thin sauce.
- Don't stir! Please don't stir the ingredients after everything is added to the inner pot. The goal is to keep the water, onions and garlic on the bottom of the pot with the tomatoes layered above. This also prevents the burn notice.
Marinara and spaghetti sauce are both Italian tomato-based sauces but there are a few key differences between the two.
Marinara sauce is typically made with tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs such as basil and oregano. It's generally thinner and smoother than spaghetti sauce and is often used as a base for other sauces, such as pizza sauce or pasta sauce.
Spaghetti sauce usually contains more ingredients, such as meat, vegetables, and additional seasonings. It;s often used specifically as a sauce for spaghetti and other types of pasta dishes. Spaghetti sauce is also typically cooked for a longer period of time than marinara sauce in order to develop the flavors of the added ingredients.
As long as there is enough liquid in the pot, sauce should not burn. But if the sauce is too thick because there isn't enough liquid, it's possible that it will burn. To prevent this, make sure to add water to the sauce.
To thicken a marinara sauce that is too watery, add tomato paste, more crushed tomatoes or a cornstarch slurry. To make cornstarch slurry, mix together equal parts of cool water and cornstarch (starting with ¼ cup). Whisk into the sauce until incorporated and thickened.
If you'd like to can this recipe, you'll need to research how to safely can sauces. You will need to add citric acid, lime or lemon juice, etc. to make it safe for canning. But since I am not a canning expert, I can not advise you on how to do this.
Recipes That Use Marinara Sauce
Use this Instant Pot marinara sauce recipe to make dishes such as:
- Pizza: use your sauce on pizza, like these mini pizzas, feta and tomato pizza, margherita pizza or bread machine pizza.
- Pasta: the obvious choice for using marinara sauce is of course on pasta! From spaghetti to fettuccine to lasagna and everything else that calls for a tomato-based sauce.
- Dipping for bread: Italian bread is delicious dipped into marinara sauce, as is cheese bread, focaccia, garlic knots and more.
- Meatball parmesan subs
Instant Pot Marinara Sauce
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ cups onions diced
- 10 garlic cloves minced
- ½ cup water
- 2 28 oz cans tomato sauce
- 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes *San Marzano preferred
- 2 ½ tsp salt
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- pinch of baking soda or sugar if needed to fix acidity
- Set the Instant Pot to saute on high for 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and onions. Stir frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute more.
- Turn off saute. Pour the water into the pot and deglaze. Add the tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, salt, garlic powder, basil, Italian seasoning, dried parsley black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Do not stir.
- Close and lock the lid. Set to pressure cook/manual on LOW for 15 minutes. When complete, let the pressure release naturally for 10 minutes. Complete a controlled quick release of remaining pressure.
- Open the lid and stir the sauce. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If sauce is too acidic, add baking powder or sugar in pinches until sauce is balanced.