Many of us can confidently say that we know a thing or two about Italian-style tomato sauces, right? You have probably used tomato-based sauces for all kinds of pasta dishes, homemade pizza, hearty breads, chicken parmigiana, and even shakshuka. You may even use terms like marinara and tomato sauce interchangeably, without ever thinking of the differences.

That brings about a few questions, like what is the difference between robust inspired tomato sauce vs hearty marinara sauce? How do you use them? Can these sauces substitute one another?

Let’s find out.

tomatoes, onion, and garlic

What is Robust Inspired Tomato Sauce?

If you’re a fan of Domino’s pizza, you will recognize the robust inspired tomato sauce from their famous pizzas. People love how zesty and thick it is. In fact, robust inspired tomato sauce has such a unique flavor that you may just want to copy it for your own at-home creations.

The ingredients in robust inspired tomato sauce include tomato puree, sugar, spices, salt, soybean oil, citric acid, and garlic. Pepper, such as jalapeno or crushed red pepper, may be included to give the sauce a little kick.

Here is the thing you need to know: the robust inspired tomato sauce you get at Domino’s isn’t exactly true-to-form Italian tomato sauce. Does it taste like the traditional thing? Yes.

Uses for Robust Inspired Tomato Sauce

  • Ratatouille
  • Vegan chili
  • Meatloaf
  • Sloppy Joe sauce
  • Eggplant or chicken parmesan sandwiches
  • Chicken cacciatore
  • Pasta bake
  • Casseroles
  • Lasagna
  • Pizza

What is Hearty Marinara Sauce?

A well made marinara sauce can make a meal ten or a hundred times more delicious. There are many varieties of marinara sauce out there, some with vegetables or cheese. Hearty marinara sauce happens to be one variation that you will find as an option at supermarkets or even Domino’s pasta bowls.

Hearty marinara sauce usually contains ingredients like celery, cheese, onions, carrots, butter, tomatoes, and olive oil. Red wine can also be included to bring out even more flavors. Because of the presence of cheese, butter, and carrots, the taste is subtle and slightly sweet.

You might even notice that the texture is velvety instead of chunky or oily. After all, marinara sauce is designed to be a complement, not a main player in the dish.

Uses for Hearty Marinara Sauce

You can use hearty marinara sauce a few ways:

  • Make baked eggs
  • Pasta in marinara sauce
  • Meatballs
  • Dipping mozzarella sticks or grilled cheese
  • Sauce for a slow cooked pot roast
  • Poaching chicken
  • A quicker paella
  • Stuffed peppers
  • Minestrone soup
  • Pizza

Difference Between Robust Tomato and Hearty Marinara

Marinara vs tomato sauce. It’s a battle as old as time. Okay, maybe not that old, but there has been a lot of discussion about what separates the two when they are more or less composed of the same thing.

The differences stem from the names and how marinara and tomato sauce are made.

Marinara Sauce

Be it hearty marinara or regular, this kind of sauce is simple and often made with garlic, basil, and crushed red pepper. Usually, marinara sauce comes together in about an hour.

In fact, when most of us think of tomato sauce, we’re actually confusing it with marinara sauce. Marinara sauce is the thinner cousin. The bulk of marinara is made with plum tomatoes, such as low-acid San Marzano tomatoes.

The flavor of regular marinara sauce isn’t very complex, which is why variations like hearty marinara sauce exist.

Tomato Sauce

Whether we’re talking about robust inspired tomato sauce from Domino’s pizza or the stuff on the grocery store shelves, tomato sauce is always going to be thicker, richer, and more complex than marinara sauce. Also, historically, tomato sauce was not vegetarian.

Fresh Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce has a long history. The origin sauce was French mother sauce or sauce tomat, which contains bacon or salted pork, carrots, onions, and a roux of flour and butter. After that, bay leaves, tomatoes, garlic, and veal or chicken stock are added in and simmered for hours on end.

This may be where the Italian debate between sauce and gravy began; tomato sauce is almost always used as a gravy. You ladle it over pasta or foods that need to be smothered, such as biscuits or chicken cacciatore.

Taste Differences

As mentioned earlier, hearty marinara sauce is thinner and less complex than a real robust inspired tomato sauce. The latter is made to have a kick from garlic. Meanwhile, marinara sauce is sweeter and less pronounced in dishes.

Tomato sauce has a very strong flavor, so you use it when you want that flavor to be a star in the dish. Otherwise, it could overwhelm your food.

Hearty marinara sauce has a touch of sugar and spice that enhances meats or more rich flavors, like grilled mushrooms.

Texture Differences Between Robust Inspired Tomato Sauce vs Hearty Marinara Sauce

Texture plays a key role in the deliciousness of a meal. Robust inspired tomato sauce is much more dense than marinara sauce. Since traditional tomato sauce uses tomato puree and chunks of tomato, it ends up thicker and won’t break down as easily.

Hearty marinara sauce, despite its name, is watery. This is part of the plan to coat thinner pasta, as to not weigh it down.

Ingredient Differences

Depending on whether you are getting robust inspired tomato sauce vs hearty marinara sauce at Domino’s or making it at home, the ingredients are going to be different—but not by much. Most recipes for either robust tomato sauce or marinara sauce tend to have similarities, and the flavors are consistent.

Hearty marinara sauce is hearty because of the fresh plum tomatoes and handpicked herbs. Parmesan and Romano cheeses get sprinkled in for extra deliciousness.

Robust inspired tomato sauce often has meats, chicken stock, cheese, olive oil, and sometimes butter. Of course, we can’t forget the tomato, garlic, and basil.

The main difference in ingredients? The use of meat-based stock, cheese, and butter.

Cooking Differences Between Robust Tomato and Hearty Marinara

Another difference between the two sauces is cook time. Robust inspired tomato sauce can take hours to cook. You have to simmer it at least 30 minutes for it to be usable, but the longer the better. This is why even chefs find robust inspired tomato sauce is trickier recipe to master.

Contrary to that, hearty marinara sauce is much easier to make. Simply mix the ingredients, let it simmer for a little while, and you are ready to go. You don’t have to tend to marinara sauce like you would tomato sauce, either. There is little you could do to mess up marinara sauce.

Can You Substitute Marinara Sauce For Tomato Sauce?

Both marinara and tomato sauce use a large amount of tomato, so you could swap one out for the other. Hearty marinara sauce is a great way to make a meal vegetarian-friendly. You can also save a lot of time preparing meals if you use marinara instead of robust inspired tomato sauce.

This swap might not work the other way around, however. Tomato sauce is much heartier and thick than marinara sauce. If you try to use marinara as a gravy, the effect won’t be the same. Similarly, if you used robust inspired tomato sauce on a pizza, it might overwhelm the crust.

How to Make Robust Inspired Tomato Sauce

One of the best ways to figure out which team you’re on is to have a robust inspired tomato sauce vs hearty marinara sauce taste test. How do you do that?


Easy. You make both sauces.

Let’s start with the robust tomato sauce. This recipe will come close to what you get from Domino’s pizza. You will need:

  • A half cup of canned tomatoes
  • 1 cup tomato puree (a blend of tomato paste and water)
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Basil
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Black pepper

Directions

  1. Pour the tomatoes and tomato puree into a small saucepan.
  2. Heat the ingredients over medium heat, bringing them to a simmer. Stir gently with a wooden spoon.
  3. Let the tomatoes simmer for about 30-60 minutes, depending on how thick you want your sauce. Add your spices during this time.

Old-Fashioned Tomato Gravy

Now, maybe you think the robust inspired tomato sauce recipe above isn’t that great. Maybe it sounds too much like marinara sauce for you. Well, good news. We have a really robust tomato sauce recipe that you can use to make denser meals.

Check out the difference between Domino’s version and this one. Then, compare it to the hearty marinara recipe below.

To make old-fashion robust tomato sauce, you need:

  • ½ pound bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 3 cups of tomato juice or vegetable broth
  • A pinch of black pepper and salt
  • Italian seasoning

Directions

  1. In a medium skillet, cook the bacon thoroughly. Once done, drain the bacon on a paper towel and discard most of the grease. You will want to keep about 2 tablespoons.
  2. Add your diced onion to the drippings and cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add in the flour, salt, and pepper. Keep stirring until everything is blended together and golden brown. Do not burn the onions.
  4. Slowly whisk in the tomato juice or broth.
  5. Stir in the tomatoes.
  6. Bring the mixture to a gradual boil over medium heat. Then reduce the heat. Keep the skillet uncovered, letting the sauce simmer. It should thicken in about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  7. Before removing the sauce from the heat, stir the bacon back in.

How to Make Hearty Marinara Sauce

Trying to find a hearty marinara sauce that goes with just about everything you make?

Here’s a classic take on marinara sauce. You will need:

  • 1 Spanish onion
  • 6-8 garlic cloves
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 cans of crushed tomatoes, not drained
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • Basil
  • Salt
  • Oregano
  • Black pepper
  • Parsley

Directions

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, sauteing until lightly golden.
  2. Add in the tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, tomato paste, oregano, and parsley.
  3. Bring these ingredients to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat so that the sauce starts to simmer. Let it do so for about 1 hour. Occasionally stir.

Easy enough, right? This hearty marinara sauce isn’t as complex as the robust inspired tomato sauce, so you should definitely try it with pizza or pasta.

You will notice that there isn’t any cheese added, and that’s okay. You don’t need cheese to make something a marinara. Yet, if you feel like your sauce needs a punch, why not add in some Parmesan?

Visited a friend in Turkey who took me to a traditional Turkish farmers’ market where I took a bunch of closeups of nuts, vegetables etc. Very colorful scene. And pics that can be very useful I presume.

All Sauced Up

Now that you know the difference between robust inspired tomato sauce vs hearty marinara sauce, you’re ready to start making more savory and sweet Italian dishes. Use this knowledge to wow your Italian friends or start challenging more advanced recipes. There are plenty of options out there for some delicious Italian meals! Give the sauce recipes a try then let us know which one is your favorite.

FAQs

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

Tomato sauce is denser, richer, and more complex in flavor than marinara sauce, which tends to be more watery and sweet. While the flavors that develop depend on the ingredients added, the easiest distinction between the two is the thickness of the sauce.

2. What is in Domino’s robust inspired tomato sauce?

Domino’s robust inspired tomato sauce (pizza sauce) contains a tomato puree (blend of tomato pasta and water), sugar, salt, spices, garlic, soybean oil, and citric acid.

3. What’s hearty marinara sauce?

Hearty marinara sauce is a kind of marinara sauce with added ingredients to give the sauce more of an impact. Since there are many varieties of hearty marinara out there, what separates it from other sauces is spices, cheese (sometimes), and sweet or savory vegetables (like carrots or zucchini).

4. Can I substitute tomato sauce for marinara?

Yes, you can substitute tomato sauce for marinara and vice versa. Since both are made from tomatoes, the flavors won’t differ that much. What you do need to keep in mind is the difference in thickness. Tomato sauce is traditionally more thick than marinara sauce, so it could potentially weigh down a lighter dish.