Spicy Marinara Sauce

A bolder marinara…

It’s time to liven up that basic plain pasta with a bigger, bolder tomato sauce.

This spicy marinara recipe provides a simmering heat to that delicious tomato tang through a healthy portion of crushed red pepper. You be the judge whether to fan the flames with a little extra dose of pepper flakes on top of the tablespoon already used.

Don’t only think of this as a pasta sauces. This is an excellent option to pair with fried mozzarella sticks and bread crudités, too. Or use it as your go-to for a spicier chicken parmesan. A chicken parm sandwich with spicy marinara is one of our faves. 

Spicy Marinara Sauce

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Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 30 mins


  • 2 cans diced tomatoes 14.5 ounce can
  • 1 cup yellow onion chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil chopped
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil until the onions are translucent (approximately 5 minutes).
  • Stir in all remaining ingredients except for the parsley and reduce the heat medium-low. Allow the marinara sauce to simmer uncovered for 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Add in the parsley, stir to combine, then serve.


Increase or decrease the heat by changing the amount of crushed red pepper used. For those that like a lighter amount of heat, 1/2 tablespoon of red pepper flakes works very well.


Did you make this?Mention @PepperScale or tag #PepperScale so we can see what you made!

UPDATE NOTICE: This post was updated on August 17, 2019 to include new content. It was originally published on April 1, 2016.