Marinara Vs. Tomato Sauce: Similar Yet Different

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Marinara Vs. Tomato Sauce – Both tomato and marinara are actually tomato-based sauces which are common in the Italian cuisine. However, there are a lot of differences between them. Despite the fact both of them are sued for pizzas, kinds of pasta and etc. these two sauces have different textures and they are essentially different types. Here is the time to know all about marinara vs. tomato sauce.

What is a marinara sauce?

This type of sauce comes from Naples and according to a legend, a sailor shared it to the locals after he got it from Spanish sailors from the New World. Of course, this was a long time ago, but the actual legend is more than just interesting.  Marinara uses a few basic ingredients such as olive oil, ripe tomatoes, garlic, and oregano.

marinara vs tomato sauce

Marinara – Photo Credit: Bill Holsinger-Robinson via Flickr

There is no meat here (we will clarify later). The cooking time is usually 25 minutes, but it cannot be specified. For example, some chefs in the United States like cooking the sauce for a shorter period of time in order to get bigger chunks of tomatoes. Others on the other hand like cooking it a bit longer in order to get more refined sauce.

Related: Pizza Sauce Vs. Marinara

What is tomato sauce?

As the name suggests, tomato sauce refers to all types of sauce which are based on tomatoes. However, the main difference between these two sauces and why tomatoes sauce in question is specific is the list of ingredients.

marinara vs. tomato sauce

It uses garlic, tomatoes, but it also uses beef and cheese. There are a lot of different types of tomato sauces out there and each one is more specific. In addition, tomato sauces are commonly used for meatballs, bacon bits, sausage and etc.

Marinara Vs. Tomato Sauce – The Differences

As you may know by now, there are differences in the taste, texture and the use of these two sauces. Marinara is a smoother type of sauce, more commonly used when a chef requires a smooth sauce without meat. Tomato sauce is less refined and it has completely different texture. You can notice larger chunks of meat or other ingredients, while in marinara all ingredients are extremely small and even garlic is cut in a different way.

The main difference is in the taste. Marinara is mostly based on tomatoes, so the taste will be precisely like that, tomatoes. It will dominate the entire meal and it can make a huge difference. On the other hand, tomato sauce will be chunky and meaty despite the fact it is also based on tomatoes. In addition, a chef will determine is the tomato sauce spicy, cheesy or meaty. Obviously, there are a lot of possibilities here so two tomato sauces can have a completely different taste and aroma.


Marinara vs. tomato sauce comparison is more than just important to know if you like Italian cuisine. There are a lot of differences between these two sauces, how they are made, for what they are used and etc. At the end of a day, they are more different than similar.

See Also: Side Dishes for Lasagna

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Jenny Flatoue

I am a mom of 2 kids, and I have spent my childhood days with my three sisters and parents. Although my parents have helped to be educated, they have enabled me to become savvy in the cooking process. Read More