Although the two sauces share many ingredients, the main difference is in the consistency and depth of the flavor. Marinara is brighter, thinner and has more tomato flavor than ketchup. Tomato sauce is thicker, creamier and has a certain resemblance to sauce, which is why some Italians call it “Sunday sauce”. Marinara sauce and ketchup are often used interchangeably and for clear reasons; the two look and taste quite similar to each other.
But those nuances in their textures, cooking processes, and flavor profiles are the same things that separate these two sauces into different categories. And make each one better adapt to different recipes. But before delving into their differences, let's talk about what ketchup and marinara sauce actually are. Because the two sauces look similar (and can sometimes even taste similar), we often use the names marinara and tomato interchangeably.
However, the two sauces are not the same. According to Taste of Home, marinara sauce cooks much faster than tomato sauce (often less than an hour) and has a less complex flavor profile that usually consists simply of tomatoes, garlic and oregano. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, requires hours of slow cooking and is made with more abundant ingredients, often including a creamy base of roux, meat, and other vegetables and various herbs. As a result, ketchup tends to be much thicker and more robust than its marinated counterpart.
Marinara sauce is much lighter and simpler compared to pasta sauce. Marinara usually uses only tomato, olive oil and garlic, making it less complex than pasta sauce. In addition, marinara takes less time to cook, while pasta sauce may have meat that extends its cooking time. While each of the two sauces clearly has unique flavors and uses, one thing remains the same: both are delicious in their own way.
There are some alternatives that can be added when cooking the marinara sauce that is included in some dishes such as olives, capers or wine. 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. However, unlike marinara, the thicker and tastier tomato sauce is traditionally never used as a pizza sauce. The rich flavor and thick texture of ketchup make it more suitable for smothering foods such as a sauce.
Tomato sauce was first introduced by Bernardino de Sahagún, a French friar from the Kingdom of Spain. Tomato sauce, which has a consistency that looks more like the sausage sauce that is spread on cookies, can also be used as a marinara sauce in pasta dishes or can be poured over meat. We often see that the terms “ketchup” and “marinara” are used interchangeably on supermarket sauce jars. Marinara sauce, with its finer texture and its simplest flavor, is the best to mix with pasta or spread it on pizza dough.
But if you plan to use the same sauce in a spaghetti dish, you'll probably call it spaghetti sauce. This sauce doesn't finish quickly either; it simmers for hours, thickens as it goes, and allows the flavors to deepen and become almost sweet. This sauce was originally known as a remedy for love in Italy and was used to replace preserved pepper in the 16th century. Two of the most common types of sauces you'll hear people use are marinara sauce and pasta sauce, especially in Italian cuisine.
Even the sauces you see in markets packaged in jars are labeled so you know what sauce is used with what type of dish. .