Can you substitute marinara for tomato sauce?

In most scenarios, you can use marinara sauce and ketchup interchangeably. However, the ketchup will be slightly lighter and finer than the thicker and more complex marinated sauce. Tomato sauce may be too thick for a pizza, while marinara may be too thin for dishes such as eggplant parmesan and chicken parmesan. Since both sauces are made with tomatoes as a base, it is possible to replace the marinara with tomato sauce.

Using marinara instead of ketchup can make a recipe vegetarian friendly and is a great way to save time preparing weekday dinners. That said, marinara isn't as heavy or tasty as ketchup, so the flavor and texture of the finished dish will be very different. So when it comes down to that, how are the two really different? In short, ketchup has much more depth and complexity than marinara sauce, as well as a longer list of ingredients. It's best to think of marinara sauce as a basic form of tomato sauce, especially since its flavor notes, cooking time and ingredient list are short and sweet, according to Paesana.

The marinara sauce is also quite fine compared to the thick texture of the tomato sauce. Read the article further, as I'll share how to make the perfect marinara and tomato sauces at home and the differences between sauces. If you add these things, you're just making bolognese or a sauce for spaghetti or other dishes that include meat and that's not what marinara is used for. Of course, ketchup is wonderful in Italian pasta dishes such as spaghetti and lasagna, but it is also used to prepare dishes such as shakshouka.

The same goes for fried calamari or mozzarella sticks; the marinara sauce will help accentuate the flavor of the dish without robbing it of prominence. Variations of Italian tomato sauce include vodka sauce, ragout and arrabbiata sauce, which take the basic red sauce and add a few additional ingredients to transform it into something completely different. Nowadays, you can find ketchup in all kinds of flavors, and that makes it easy to add flavor quickly to recipes. Tomato paste is one of the best substitutes for ketchup, so if the slight difference in flavor between pasta sauce and ketchup doesn't fit your recipe, it may be worth considering.

Pizza is a great example of this, as marinara sauce is often used to keep ingredients in place while also giving a light tomato flavor. If you don't have ketchup on hand, but the dish you want to prepare requires it, it can help to have a backup plan. To get the most authentic flavor from tomato sauce, you should cook some garlic and onion in oil until softened, and then add the tomato paste and water mixture. You'll need to mix 1 part of ketchup with 1 part of water until well blended, and then you should season the sauce with whatever you prefer.

But before we dive into their differences, let's talk about what ketchup and marinara sauce actually are. Ketchup is usually sweetened with ingredients such as herbs, garlic, and onions, so you can take inspiration from this if you're looking for a similar flavor. Since marinara doesn't taste too complex, it's perfect for pasta and pizza (and these other marinara-based recipes). Fortunately, it doesn't even matter what type of canned tomatoes you use, as long as you have enough to spare.

Jeannette Klingenberger
Jeannette Klingenberger

Proud beer fanatic. Freelance web specialist. Subtly charming tv nerd. Wannabe coffee fan. Subtly charming tv ninja.