Olive Garden Marinara Sauce

Olive Garden Marinara is rich, flavorful, and a great sauce for pasta, pizza, ravioli, spaghetti, meatballs, and breadsticks. There’s no need to go to the restaurant when you can make this delicious Italian tomato sauce at home.

copycat Olive Garden marinara sauce in a bowl and over spaghetti.

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Why Is The Olive Garden Marinara Sauce So Good? 

The best Italian cooking is simple yet delicious. That is a great way to describe this recipe for traditional Olive Garden Marinara Sauce. There is nothing complicated about this recipe, but the authentic flavors will impress you and your guests.

Stop wasting your money on jarred pasta sauce when you can make your own that tastes a lot better for a lot less money. 

What Makes This Copycat Version of Marinara Sauce Perfect for So Many Different Recipes? 

A great thing about this marinara sauce is that it is so basic. It contains no onions, celery, or other vegetables that can appear in some marinara recipes.

That means this tomato sauce is not only perfect for serving with pasta, but you can also use it in many other recipes. See below for a few ideas. 

Ingredients For Copycat Olive Garden Marinara Sauce

To make this tomato sauce, you’ll need:

  • Extra virgin olive oil 
  • Garlic, crushed
  • Tomato puree, canned
  • Diced tomatoes, canned
  • Italian seasoning blend 
  • Dried basil
  • Red pepper chili flakes
  • Salt 
  • Ground black pepper 
  • Sugar 
Olive Garden marinara sauce ingredients on a tray.

How To Cook Copycat Olive Garden Marinara Sauce

To make this copycat Olive Garden marinara sauce recipe:

  1. Place a large sauce pot over medium heat and allow it to warm.
  2. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil, and when hot, add the sliced garlic. 
garlic slices and olive oil in a pot.
  1. Reduce the heat to medium-low, allowing the garlic to color slightly and become fragrant. Adjust the heat and occasionally stir the garlic to prevent it from burning.
  2. Remove the sliced garlic with a slotted spoon and discard.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato puree to the sauce pot. If the pot is too hot, it can splatter, so be careful.
  4. Sprinkle in the dried basil, Italian seasoning blend, red pepper chili flakes, salt, and black pepper.
Olive Garden marinara ingredients in a pot.
  1. Stir the sauce to combine.
  2. Bring the sauce to a slow simmer. Cover and cook for 25 to 30 minutes. Adjust the heat if necessary to maintain a slow simmer.
  3. Taste the sauce, adjust the seasonings, and add some or all of the sugar if you think it tastes too acidic. 
copycat Olive Garden Marinara sauce over spaghetti in a bowl.

What To Serve It With 

Due to spaghetti’s size and shape, it is a perfect pasta to pair with marinara sauce. However, angel hair, spaghettini, cheese ravioli, tortellini, and ziti are fine choices as well.

Other Ways To Use This Sauce 

Besides serving pasta, there are dozens of ways to use marinara sauce, either on its own or as part of another recipe. Here are some suggestions to consider:

How To Store Leftovers

You can keep any extra marinara sauce in the fridge or the freezer, but the key is to store it properly. 

  1. Bring the temperature of the sauce down as quickly as possible. One of the best ways of doing that is using an ice bath. Fill a large bowl halfway with ice and water. Set a smaller bowl in the ice water and pour the sauce into the smaller bowl. Stir until cold. 
  2. Transfer the sauce to an airtight container and place it in the fridge or freezer. If you are freezing a big batch, use single portion-sized containers. That way, you won’t have to defrost all your sauce at once. 

How Long Does Marinara Sauce Last in the Fridge and Freezer?

The sauce can last three days in the fridge and up to three months in the freezer. Thaw the sauce in the refrigerator before using it. 

overhead view of copycat Olive Garden marinara sauce in a bowl and over spaghetti.

More Olive Garden Copycat Recipes

Favorite Italian Sauce Recipes

Check out more of my delicious Italian recipes and the best copycat Olive Garden recipes on CopyKat!

copycat Olive Garden marinara sauce in a bowl and over spaghetti.

Olive Garden Marinara Sauce

You can make Olive Garden marinara sauce at home with this easy copycat recipe.
4.62 from 21 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Sauces
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Marinara Sauce, Olive Garden Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 14
Calories: 23kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced into large slices
  • 28 ounces canned tomato puree
  • 28 ounces canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  • Heat the olive oil in a large stainless-steel pot or Dutch oven (do not use cast iron, as the acidity of the tomatoes may make the sauce taste metallic) over medium heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the sliced garlic. Cook until the garlic becomes translucent and very fragrant. Remove the garlic from the pot.
  • Add the tomato puree, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, dried basil, chili pepper flakes, salt, and ground black pepper to the pot and stir to combine. Lower the heat to a simmer and place a lid on the pot. Simmer for 25 to 30 minutes.
  • Taste the sauce. If it’s too acidic, add 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, taste it, and see if you need to add the remaining sugar.


Olive Garden Marinara is rich, flavorful, and a great sauce for pasta, pizza, ravioli, spaghetti, meatballs, and breadsticks.


Please do not use cast iron to make marinara because the acidity of the tomatoes may make the sauce taste metallic.


Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 23kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 0.1g | Fat: 2g | Saturated Fat: 0.3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 333mg | Potassium: 9mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 15IU | Vitamin C: 0.3mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home, and CopyKat.com's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Nick

    5 stars
    This is a keeper for me – ended up subbing the dried basil for 1/2 cup of fresh basil and it was super tasty with rich flavor, very close to Olive Garden. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Bonnie

    1 star
    My husband and I both thought this was too spicy hot! I ended up discarding it-what a waste of ingredients. It didn’t taste anything like Olive Garden marinara!

  3. Lynn Ansield

    1 star
    Not sure why this turned out so bad. The suggestion to add up to a Tablespoon of sugar to counter the acidity did nothing to diminish the strongly sour taste. I ended up adding heavy cream and parmesan, but they only slightly modified the bitter taste. The Olive Garden meatballs, however, were terrific.

4.62 from 21 votes (18 ratings without comment)

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