How to Make Store-Bought Marinara Sauce Taste Homemade: Amazing Red Sauce Pasta Recipe

Store-bought marinara sauce or homemade? They'll never know, if you make my amazing Red Sauce Pasta Recipe. This quick and easy pasta recipe tastes like you have been cooking homemade pasta sauce all day, but is quick to make and only requires a few ingredients!

On this blog, I will never tell you to make marinara sauce from scratch. Although made from scratch marinara sauce is delicious, pasta is one of those meals we make when we need to cook something fast, and making your own marinara sauce from scratch just isn't going to achieve that objective. So, here is my recipe for making an amazing gourmet-style Italian pasta dish the quick and easy way. No one will ever guess that your sauce came from a jar, I promise.

Just a few ingredients, and you are on your way to an amazing Italian dish.

Amazing Red Sauce Pasta with Meatballs


1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce

1 box of penne pasta

1 medium onion (white or yellow)

1 clove of garlic or 1 tbs of minced garlic

2 tbs olive oil

1 bunch of fresh basil

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary

1 tsp fresh or dried oregano

1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)

1 bag of frozen meatballs (optional)

Optional Toppings applied to taste:

Ricotta cheese

Red pepper flakes

Olive oil


Black pepper


  1. Dice the onion, mince the oregano and rosemary, and chiffonade (cut into thin strips) the basil.

  2. Start boiling water for the pasta.

  3. If you are making the optional meatballs, preheat your oven, place your frozen meatballs on a cookie sheet, and cook according to the directions.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pot with the diced onions and cook on medium until they are translucent. Sprinkle the onions with 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper. This will build some spice and flavor into the sauce. You can add more cayenne pepper if you'd like a little extra spice in your sauce.

  5. Add 1 tablespoon of mined garlic to the pot. Cooking Hack: I like to use jarred minced garlic in olive oil. It is a great time-saving shortcut because all you need to do is scoop out your garlic rather than peeling a clove, breaking it with the side of your knife, and then mincing it. You still get all the garlic flavor, but no extra steps or mess.

  6. Cook the garlic with the onions on medium until the garlic is fragrant.

  7. By this time, your pasta water should be boiling and you should add your penne pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.

  8. Add the rosemary, oregano, and optional fennel seeds if you are using them. Fennel seeds add delicious flavor that is reminiscent of some of the flavors in Italian sausage. Cook on low until the herbs are fragrant.

  9. Add your jar of marinara sauce to the pot and stir until all the ingredients are evenly combined. Let the sauce simmer on low.

  10. Your pasta should be ready at this point; drain the pasta, put it in a container with a lid, cover it, and set aside.

  11. Add the basil to the sauce and allow it to simmer in the sauce until it has wilted.

  12. Add the sauce to the pasta, and add the meatballs to the pasta, if you made them.

  13. To serve, garnish each bowl of pasta with a dollop of ricotta, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Ricotta cheese is a delicious addition to pastas like those dressed with marinara sauce or pesto sauce, as it adds creaminess and richness without making the dish as heavy as a cream sauce pasta dish.


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