Slow cooker marinara sauce is beyond delicious and you won't believe how easy it is to make. Perfect for pasta, chicken, meatballs and more. This simple recipe, made mostly from pantry staples, is great to make and freeze so you will always have some on hand.
I get a little confused when I see people post about putting their slow cookers away for the summer. This little miracle worker is on call in my house 365/52. It only vacations when I do.
Slow cookers rely heavily on the fact that they keep all of their heat inside. This makes for a much cooler kitchen than when larger appliances are in use. Plus, you have the added advantage of just being able to throw a bunch of ingredients into it and heading back outside. No missing beautiful summer afternoons and evenings because you are stuck inside preparing dinner. Best of both worlds!!
I have also noticed that no one in my household is ever willing to forgo a hot meal, even on a hot day. This easy crockpot marinara sauce is always a perfect option.- spring, summer, winter or fall. It pairs well with everything.
To make this dish you will need:
- olive oil
- diced tomato
- crushed tomato
- whole peeled tomato
- tomato paste
- dried oregano
- dried basil
- bay leaves
- kosher salt fresh ground pepper
- Parmesan rind (optional)
How to assemble
Start by adding your olive oil, garlic and onion into your slow cooker and turning it on high. Gather together remaining ingredients and open all cans. Add tomatoes and spices into slow cooker and stir to combine. Parmesan rind is listed as optional incase you prefer to keep this dish vegan or dairy free. If neither of these is an issue for you, the rind really adds a depth of flavor and I highly recommend using it.
Turn your slow cooker down to low and cook for 8-12 hours. Towards the end of the cooking time, you can use an immersion blender if you want a smoother sauce. Serving chunky style is also delicious. Be sure to remove the Parmesan rind prior to blending or serving.
Serving and storage suggestions
Marinara sauce goes well with with so many things! Is is great as an ingredient in dishes such as chicken Parmesan, pizza chicken or pasta e fagioli. But it is equally as wonderful just topping a plate of pasta.
Sauce can be stored in air tight containers. It will last in your refrigerator for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 3-4 months. Freezing in meal sized portions makes it an easy reheat and eat addition to any meal or recipe.
Hints & hacks
- Almost all ingredients come straight from a can or jar making this an easy thing to throw together without having to make extra trips to the store.
- This recipe is fully vegetarian. To make it vegan or dairy free, leave out the Parmesan rind.
- This sauce deepens in flavor and just generally improves with time. Long and slow work best for this on for sure. While the cooking time is officially listed at 8 hours, you can cook it as long as 12.
- This is a perfect dish for days when your people will be eating at different times. After the cooking time, turn your slow cooker to warm (or have it automatically switch to warm if your slow cooker has this feature) and everyone can add some warm sauce to their plate when they are ready to eat.
- I always recommend the use of a slow cooker liner. Of course, this is an optional step. I like to purchase my liners in bulk for a less expensive per-piece price.
- In the market for a new slow cooker? Here is the one I am currently lusting after.
Great dishes for marinara sauce
Frequently asked questions
Yes, this dish can cook on high for 4-6 hours rather than low for 8-12. However, I don't recommend it. This flavor of this sauce seems to become richer with a low and slow cooking.
Yes! As long as your crockpot is large enough.
Marinara sauce is traditionally a much simpler sauce to make with many less ingredients. However, all of the recipes on this site that call for tomato sauce as an ingredient work well with marinara sauce as an equal substitute.
Lazy Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce Recipe
- 6 qt slow cooker
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 28 oz cans diced tomato (I like to buy the kind with onion and garlic in it for extra flavor, but this is optional)
- 1 28 oz can crushed tomato
- 1 14 oz can whole peeled tomato
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried basil
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 1.5 teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 2-3 pieces Parmesan rind This is optional, but if you aren't vegan or dairy free, I think it really adds to the flavor.
- Add first 3 ingredients into slow cooker and let them get started cooking on high while opening the cans and gathering all remaining ingredients together
- add remaining ingredients and stir.
- add Parmesan rinds if using (optional) and stir to incorporate
- Turn slow cooker down to low and cook for 8 - 12 hours
- remove cheese rinds and use immersion blender if you prefer a smoother consistency.
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