What is the difference between marinara and tomato sauce?

The marinara can be left in pieces; the texture of the finished sauce is quite loose and the flavor is that of fresh tomatoes. Tomato sauce, on the other hand, is more complex, since it starts with mashed tomatoes seasoned with onions, carrots, celery and bay leaves, and is left to simmer until it thickens and has a rich flavor. 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, plus 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 ketchup. 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. Because marinara sauce and ketchup have different textures and flavors, they also have different uses. Two of the most common types of sauces you'll hear people use are marinara sauce and pasta sauce, especially in Italian cuisine. Since tomatoes and spices make up most of the list of ingredients in marinara sauce, it's one of the healthiest dipping sauces.

Then, you add fresh tomatoes, bay leaves, garlic and veal broth (although many modern recipes use chicken stock instead). 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. Or you can take out a bag of chips or French fries for a movie night and dip it in marinara for an extra touch of flavor. But when you eat such delicate noodles as bucatini, campanelle and perciatelli (all of which combine exceptionally with tomato-based pasta sauces, according to Food Network), you'll wonder: Is marinara sauce what I eat or tomato? And more importantly, what's the difference between these two popular sauces?.

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. Try this old tomato sauce recipe or take your ketchup to the next level and make Sunday sauce. Prepare the meatballs with minced meat of your choice or combine different types of minced meat if you want to try something different. Tomato sauce, which has a consistency that looks more like the sausage sauce spread on cookies, can also be used as a marinara sauce in pasta dishes or can be poured over meat.

Most recipes start with a soffrito made up of chopped carrots, onions and celery, according to Cooks Info, with ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, butter and herbs added (besides tomato, of course) to give the sauce depth and flavor. If you take a look at kitchens around the world, you'll notice that there are several different sauces that use tomatoes as a base. Pizza is a great example of this, as marinara sauce is often used to keep ingredients in place while also giving it a light tomato flavor. However, unlike marinara, thicker and tastier tomato sauce is traditionally never used as a pizza sauce.

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Jeannette Klingenberger
Jeannette Klingenberger

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