Marinara Vs Tomato Sauce: What Are The Differences?

marinara vs tomato sauce

Pasta and pizza are among the top favorite dishes for people coming from various nations and continents, regardless of age.

They are such flavorful, juicy food that you won’t ever forget once tasting them. What’s more, you can easily have them for your ideal dinner by simply buying from local restaurants or making them yourself. 

Due to their popularity, many may wonder if there are any differences between marinara vs tomato sauce. If you’re wondering the same thing, then keep reading for more interesting info.

Quick Facts


  • Origin: Italy 
  • Texture (consistency): Thinner & lighter 
  • Flavor: Simpler 
  • Cooking: Easier 
  • Food type: Vegan

Tomato Sauce:

  • Origin: Mexico 
  • Texture (consistency): Richer & thicker 
  • Flavor: More flavourful 
  • Cooking: More complex 
  • Food type: Non-vegan 

What Is Marinara Sauce? 

Marina becomes popular due to its various advantages: thinner and more straightforward to cook. 

You just need to prepare some basic ingredients easily found in the local supermarket, such as tomato, garlic, red pepper flakes, and herbs appropriately. There is no requirement for types of tomatoes. However, plum or paste ones are highly recommended. 

Generally, it is referred to as “pizza sauce” due to its wide appearance in pizza at the store. The reason lies under this phenomenon may come from the relatively cheap cost and its delicious taste. 

Many agree that this one is extraordinary with its unique juicy flavor and is suitable for vegetarians. Moreover, the fact that consumption of it brings health benefits to humans makes them enjoy the food more.  

What Is Tomato Sauce? 

Professional chefs state that this kind of sauce is thicker, richer, more flavourful, and not traditionally vegetarian. Also, its process of making is more complex. 

Specifically, you have to prepare a mixture of salt pork (or bacon), onions, carrots, and roux first. Next, add tomatoes, bay leaves, garlic, and veal stock to the mixture and cook them for several hours. The thick characteristic makes it suitable for various foods such as fish, eggs, beans, grilled cheese, curry, etc.

Despite being famous all around the world, few people know about its origin. It was first introduced in Mexico by Bernardino de Sahagún. Nevertheless, it is not paid attention to until it appears in a cookbook called L’Apicio Moderno written by Francesco Leonardi in 1790. 

Can I Substitute Between Them? 

As mentioned before, marinara is a type of tomato sauce. Therefore, you can substitute it for tomato sauce if you prefer its flavor. What’s more, if you are in such a rush period that you do not have much time to cook, marinara sauce is the best solution. 

Some also state that they simply go with marinara because they want a vegetarian-friendly dish. In addition, the light flavor of marinara can balance other ingredients. However, sometimes it is not suitable for you to change the type of sauce. 

Is Marinara Really Italian? 

There is no specific location that is the origin of this recipe. Though, it is likely that it was developed first in southern Italy in Naples in 17 century. 

Its appearance is enabled due to the earlier introduction of pasta and tomato. In the 12 century, pasta reached Italian shores thanks to Arab traders, and four centuries later, it was the turn of tomato in European countries. 

Antonio Latini, an Italian chef, created a recipe of tomato sauce in his cookbook called Lo Scalco alla Moderna in 1692. Approximately 100 years later, chef Francesco Leonardi combined it with pasta in his well-known cookbook. 

Since then, many have contributed to the development of tomato sauce and created various variations, including marinara. The name was taken inspiration from the fact that it was once a seafood-style sauce and desired by Italy’s merchants during long expeditions at sea. 

Is Marinara Healthy? 

Any type of food with natural and green ingredients can positively affect your health if you know how to consume them properly. Similar cases also apply for marinara sauce. Below illustrated the main three health benefits you can gain from it:

Medium calories and low fat

Despite usually being served with pasta or fried foods, you can still eat marinara sauce alone. However, if you have this habit, you must be aware that a half-cup provides 82 calories and 2.7 grams of fat. 

Thus, if you are struggling with losing weight but crave paste noodles’ flavor, consuming this type of sauce can only be your solution.

Excellent source of vitamins and minerals

Marinara sauce is well-known for being rich in vitamin C, which is one of the most important types that people have to purchase more supporting products for additional consumption. 

A classic dish would bring up to 67% of your vitamin C daily requirement. In addition, absorbing the approximate amount of vitamin C every day can improve the human immune system. 

Besides, you can also attain vitamin A (40% of requirement), iron (10% of requirement), and calcium (7% of requirement). 

Source of Lycopene

As the main ingredient of marinara sauce is tomato, it contains a high level of lycopene. This type of substance can reduce the opportunities to commit cancer-related diseases. 

Many scientists have done various research and come to similar conclusions that you can easily find on the Internet. Hence, there is no doubt about the positive health effects of the sauce

Can You Use Tomato Sauce Instead Of Pizza Sauce? 

There is nothing wrong with using tomato sauce instead of pizza sauce. Especially when you only desire basic homemade pizza with new and exciting tastes, don’t hesitate to do it. 

However, due to easily-defined taste, substituting the tomato one for the pizza one still creates significant differences. Typically, while the former is cooked ahead of a long period, the pizza is uncooked once. 

Is Marinara The Same As Ragu? 

For this concern, some people might state that the main difference between the two is that marinara is not a type of source while Ragu, on the other hand, is. 

Yet, this statement is not valid. Simply Google the term “marinara,” you can achieve various recipes for making your own recipe applied for many types of dishes beyond pasta. Hence, you have to be clear that it is precisely a kind of tomato sauce.

So, do marinara and ragu move in tandem? You may ask. The widely accepted answer would be no. Although both are sauces, there are significant points you can rely on to distinguish them:

Marinara: tomatoes are required, and no meat

Ragu: meat is required, tomatoes are optional (used as flavorings).

Tamara Pierce

Tamara Pierce is a food writer at Elapasony, passionate about exploring diverse cuisines and sharing recipes and food experiences. From trendy restaurants to local hotspots, she's always on the lookout for new and exciting flavors.

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