Hearty Marinara Sauce

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Are you tired of reaching for the same boring flavor of Ragu? Pasta should never be boring, not when you have a million options for pasta shapes and sizes, sauces, and toppings. So if you’re tired, it might be time to try making pasta sauce of your own. Enter hearty marinara sauce, inspired by the Domino’s classic. It’s a simple, easy to make sauce that only requires a few ingredients.

But before we get to the recipe, there’s a few things you need to know.

Table of Contents

What is Hearty Marinara Sauce?

Hearty marinara sauce is, essentially, a traditional marinara sauce. With a tomato base and ingredients that add richness and depth, such as spices and cheese, you get a denser sauce that makes pasta taste all the more delicious.

Now for the all important question that is definitely on your mind: What’s the difference between marinara sauce and tomato sauce?

Marinara sauce is meant to be more efficient. The sauce cooks quickly and needs only a few ingredients to taste good. With marinara sauce, simpler is better.

Tomato sauce, on the other hand, requires a bit more effort. You need to masterfully blend pureed, diced, and whole tomatoes. Plus, you add other flavors from celery or carrots, some wine, and oils. You need to simmer tomato sauce until the flavors blend and deepen or the consistency thickens.

Hearty marinara sauce

Domino’s Hearty Marinara Sauce

One of the sauce options at Domino’s Pizza is called Hearty Marinara, and it’s often compared to the regular pizza sauce, also known as Robust Tomato Sauce. Domino’s Hearty Marinara is used mainly for the pasta bowls they offer.

Since a lot of people adore the sauce, there are many home cooks attempting to make a copycat recipe. Others have tried to make it healthier or more vegan-friendly.

The Difference Between Domino’s Hearty Marinara vs Robust Tomato

It’s a battle of the red sauces! Wondering if the pizza sauce and marinara sauce used by Domino’s are different? Turns out, the Heart Marinara recipe is much more complex, which is why the sauce is far richer than the regular pizza sauce.

The ingredient lists for Hearty Marinara Sauce is:

Tomatoes, Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste), Onions, Sugar, Romano and Parmesan Cheese (Cultured Milk, Salt, Enzymes), Carrot Puree, Salt Celery Puree, Garlic, Spices, Butter, Olive Oil, Citric Acid, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavor, and Xanthan Gum.

There are some sources around the internet saying that Heart Marinara at Domino’s contains chicken fat, but judging by the official ingredient list, that isn’t the case. That said, this still isn’t a vegan menu option, considering the cheese, milk, and butter used.

The Robust-Inspired Tomato Sauce, on the other hand, has a more simple ingredient list:

Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Pasta), Sugar, Salt, Spices, Garlic, Soybean Oil, and Citric Acid.

Interestingly, going off our original definition of marinara vs tomato sauce, it would seem that Dominos Heart Marinara is actually tomato sauce, and the pizza sauce is more of a marinara.

What Are The Best Tomatoes For Hearty Marinara Sauce?

Now that you’re thinking about pasta and pizza and everything in between, you might also be wondering how to make your sauce more delicious. Obviously, you want to look at the base ingredients—tomatoes. You don’t need anything special, but you do want tomatoes with a great amount of flavor.

Hearty marinara sauce

Avoid the overly large hothouse tomatoes that tend to taste a little bland. Tomatoes on the vine, plum tomatoes, and also cherry or grape tomatoes work well. When in doubt, grab a can of canned and peeled plum tomatoes. If you want a bit more depth, mix those plum tomatoes with canned fire roasted tomatoes.

A Delicious Hearty Marinara Sauce Recipe

Getting hungry yet? If you’re looking for a hearty marinara sauce recipe that cooks up quick, is meatless, and also has a decent shelf life, you’re in the right place. Best of all, this sauce is versatile. Use it on angel hair or spaghetti, as a pizza sauce, on baked potatoes, or on chicken or eggplant parmigiana.

Prepping this recipe takes about 10 minutes. Cook time is between 1 and 1.5 hours.


  • 1 (28 oz) can of Italian style tomato sauce
  • 1 (28 oz) can of diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • Oregano, dried or fresh
  • Italian seasoning
  • Basil, dried or fresh
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Take a large skillet and warm the olive oil with medium heat.
  • Add your onion to the pan. Saute for 3 minutes, letting the onion soften.
  • Add the garlic and oregano. Saute for about 1 minute. Keep stirring to prevent the garlic from burning.
  • Next add the basil, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning. Keep stirring. It takes about 30 seconds for the herbs to let off fragrance.
  • Add the dry red wine and sugar. Stir the ingredients together. Allow the mixture to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat to low. Pour in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir, combining the ingredients. Let sit for about one hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Once the sauce has reached the correct thickness, you can add the sauce to a blender to make it more smooth. Or you can keep it somewhat chunky. The choice is yours.

Recipe Variations to Hearty Marinara Sauce

Yes, the recipe is simple and easy, isn’t it? You might feel it’s a bit too simple and want an extra challenge or flavor. Here are some ways to customize the sauce:

  • Add in some meat. You can use ground beef or Italian sausage (or even a vegan ground meat substitute) to jazz it up. Brown the meat before you start cooking the sauce and let it cool. Once you get to the final step, crumble the meat or sausage then pour it into the marinara sauce.
  • Pour in some more red wine or red wine vinegar. Mirin can also add a delightful punch.
  • Drop in some leafy green vegetables near the end. Collard greens, spinach, and kale all have rich flavors that make the sauce more hearty.
  • Incorporate zucchini, celery, red pepper, and carrots. Add those vegetables when browning the onion. Doing so will remove some of the moisture while intensifying the flavor.

How To Thicken Hearty Marinara Sauce?

Oh no, the sauce is too watery or thin! What now?

Don’t lose hope. You can solve the issue rather quickly.

First, you need to reduce the liquid. From the beginning monitor how much liquid you have put in the sauce. Thicker sauces shouldn’t get as much liquid, but sometimes the additional ingredients you add, such as zucchini or mushrooms, might add moisture, too.

You can simmer the sauce to help burn some of the water off. Do this for about 15-20 minutes on the low heat setting. Continuously stir the sauce to keep it from burning.

If that’s not working, you can always add in some starch. Bread crumbs or cornstarch (corn flour) does well. Since cornstarch is neutral, it won’t affect the flavors of the sauce. Tomato paste is an option that helps develop both the taste and consistency.

Don’t have any of that? Now you can get creative. Mashed butternut squash, cauliflower, or potato can be incorporated in small amounts. The density of these mashed vegetables will enhance the consistency almost immediately. Be careful not to add too much, though.

Gettin’ Saucy With It

Hearty marinara sauce is a quick and easy staple in the kitchen that you can use in a number of ways. Whether you’re making pasta or homemade pizza, hearty marinara sauce will make each meal special. Customize the recipe to suit your needs, too. You might find ingredients that give this marinara sauce even more zest!


1. What is hearty marinara sauce?

Hearty marinara sauce is a kind of pasta sauce that uses spices, onion, and garlic to make it more flavorful. You can add additional ingredients, if you’d like. The main separation from marinara and regular pizza sauce would be the seasonings involved.

2. What is the difference between tomato sauce and marinara sauce?

Both are tomato-based sauces, but the dividing line is that tomato sauce tends to take longer to cook and may use many more ingredients. Marinara sauce is meant to be simple. Tomatoes, seasonings, and maybe some red wine or vegetables for more richness.

3. How can I make my tomato sauce more robust?

Some of the best ways to make tomato sauce more robust is to add ingredients and seasonings that give it depth. Vegetables, red wine, butter, fresh herbs, chicken fat, broths, and similar ingredients can all come together for a truly robust sauce that works in a variety of Italian-inspired dishes.

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