Authentic Italian American Marinara Sauce/ Red Gravy

Total Time
4hrs 20mins
Prep 20 mins
Cook 4 hrs

If you are Italian, or were lucky enough to grow up with some, this is the red sauce that you knew. you may have called it "gravy", or "red sauce". whatever you called it, you loved it. it is a marinara sauce, and look for my meatball recipe, as this is what you should be cooking them in.

Ingredients Nutrition


  1. Rough chop onion and garlic.
  2. Heat up a large pan on medium heat.
  3. Pour in all of olive oil.
  4. Dump in onion and sauté until soft.
  5. Add garlic, bay leaf, oregano, salt and pepper.
  6. Stir all together into a mess and continue to cook, if it seems to hot, turn down the heat, you don't want to burn anything.
  7. Once everything is well mixed and cooked, turn up the heat for about 1 minute. I tell you to do this as you are about to add the balsamic vinegar to "deglaze" and you will want the pan hot.
  8. Add balsamic, stir quickly while hot steam rises. the vapors should make you eyes water, and nose run, so be careful to remain hygienic. when vapors stop remove from heat.
  9. Open all the cans of crushed tomato.
  10. Stir in one can at a time with wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  11. Once all cans are in, stir well again so you don't see any oil on the top of sauce. return to heat. Cook on low heat uncovered, stirring whenever you walk into the kitchen for some other reason. You don't need to stir it every hour, but do it whenever you get around to it. although you do need to stir it from time to time.
  12. Cook for at least five hours. If you want to do this while you go to work, you can transfer everything to a crock pot, but you must start in a big metal pot. Your choice.
  13. Serve over your favorite pasta, or use to cook my meatball recipe, which is highly recommended ( look at the reviews). doing my meatballs is particularly easy if you have transferred gravy to a crock pot, but if you do you may need to remove some sauce to fit the balls in the sauce.
  14. Freeze left over sauce, just pour cooled sauce in zip-lock bags and throw in freezer.
Most Helpful

This is by far the *best* tasting Marinara Sauce I have ever made. I reduced the ingredients to - 2 -28 oz cans crushed tomatoes, 1 medium onion, 2 heaping tbls minced garlic, 1 tbls balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tbls dried oregano and 2 bay leaves, cooked according to recipe and must add that my house smelled so good all afternoon :>) Served with Calamari for a King. Made for *Fall 2008 PAC*

Papa D 1946-2012 October 09, 2011

This is the recipe I have been looking for. Real Italian gravy, just like my friends, the Campisis, used to make. Rich, rich flavor that we can't get enough of. So easy to make. I half the recipe and buy the huge can of crushed tomatoes at Sams, just do the math for what you need. I can't believe I'm only the 2nd person to make and review this, the rest of you don't know what you're missing. Thank you so much for posting this. My son and I love you!

transworldco July 20, 2010

This sauce is amazing! One of my first experiences making homemade marinara and it turned out pretty great! I did scale down the recipe, and I used fresh tomatoes in place of the canned. I just weighed them and used the same weight of tomatoes, and roughly chopped them. I used a variety of red & yellow tomatoes from my garden and the Farmer's Market. I also used leaf thyme in place of the bay leaves (I thought I had bay leaves but turned out I didn't - oops!). I didn't let it simmer quite as long just because I was impatient, and I used my immersion blender at the end to puree the sauce. My sauce was very liquidy (I just used arrowroot starch to thicken it up a bit) but next time I'll probably drain off some of the tomato juice a little bit before adding them to the pot. Thanks for sharing!

Keee September 13, 2012