Slow Cooker Marinara Magnifica

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A hearty marinara sauce made with plenty of vegetables, two type of tomatoes, and spices make for a tasty sauce that’s great served over top of pasta.

A plate of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce.

Last year I had an abundance of tomatoes in my garden.   I made a ton of salsa and tomato sauce.  I also ended up canning a bunch of tomatoes that I could use throughout the winter to make some of my favorite dishes.

I still had a lot of tomatoes left and I wanted to make a huge pot of marinara that I could freeze and use all winter and spring. Since I also had some green peppers in the garden I wanted to use those as well.

I found a recipe for Slow Cooker Marinara Magnifica that uses both tomatoes and peppers, makes a huge pot, and has tons of spices.I liked that I could let it simmer in the slow cooker all day long and it would be ready whenever I had time to portion and freeze it.


  • olive oil
  • onions (I like to use sweet onions but use your favorite type)
  • brown sugar (if you don’t have brown sugar you can use granulated)
  • garlic cloves (I use a lot but you can use more or less depending on your tastes)
  • bell peppers (use your favorite color or whatever you have on hand)
  • fresh tomatoes (I used ones from my garden but you can buy them at the market)
  • crushed tomatoes (this will give your sauce a nice smooth base)
  • tomato paste (I like buying the resealable tubes in case I can’t use an entire can)
  • red wine (if you don’t want to use wine you can use beef broth instead)
  • oregano (use fresh or dried)
  • parsley (use fresh or dried)
  • salt (I like using kosher or sea salt)
  • black pepper (using fresh cracked is best)

I started by heating the olive oil in a skillet and sauteing the onions along with the brown sugar in order to caramelize them.   While this step adds a ton of flavor you can simply skip it and just put everything in the slow cooker.

A pot of marinara sauce

This recipe is super easy because everything is just placed into the slow cooker and then it’s cooked on low all day long.  I like to check it throughout the day and add more salt or seasonings as needed.

Once the vegetables have softened and the tomatoes are easy to break down the sauce is probably finished.  You can leave it chunky or you can put it into a food processor and process until it is smooth.

Do I have to use fresh tomatoes?

You do not have to use fresh tomatoes.   I only use them when I have them from my garden or when I can get them at the farmer’s market.  If you don’t have them you can use 16 ounces of diced tomatoes in place of them.

Can I use different vegetables in the marinara?

Yes!  I always use the peppers and tomatoes for the base along with the onions but feel free to add in other vegetables.   In my most recent time making this marinara sauce I added in a cup of carrots and it was delicious.  You could also add in celery or mushrooms.

Can I make marinara in the Instant Pot?

You sure can!   I’ve done this twice and it has worked out really well.   I set the Instant Pot to saute and caramelize the onions right in the pot and then add in the other ingredients.   Be cautious when adding the wine as you shouldn’t put much alcohol in the Instant Pot.  I ended up adding 1/4 cup.   Put the lid on and cook on high pressure for 25 minutes.  Naturally release the pressure for 10 minutes then take off the lid.   Taste the sauce and add additional salt and seasonings.

How do I freeze the marinara sauce?

Let the sauce cool completely.   Then portion it into quart sized freezer bags.  I always write the date and name of the recipe on the bag.   Squeeze out as much air as possible and place in the freezer for up to 6 months.  When you are ready to use it you can thaw it in the refrigerator over night or you can slice the bag and put the frozen sauce into a pan on the stove to heat it up.

Pin Image:  A plate of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce, text title, A container of marinara sauce.

We used this sauce over top of fresh pasta which was a good choice.  The flavor of the sauce is rich and inviting.

Since I used several vegetables they flavored the sauce as well.   The wine adds a nice depth to the sauce and the spices just add more flavor.

More Pasta Recipes:

Because the sauce simmers in the slow cooker all day all the flavors meld together into a beautiful sauce.  This recipe makes a lot so we had enough to use on pasta one night and then I froze more for later.

This recipe is easily doubled when made in the slow cooker so you can make and freeze multiple batches.  I like to freeze them in quart sized bags and then take a bag out through out the winter when we need a fresh sauce to brighten up our day.

You can easily add in additional vegetables and spices if you’d like.   You can also omit veggies and spices as well.  Make this sauce your own!

A plate of spaghetti and meatballs with a fork sticking out of it.

If you’ve tried my Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce or any other recipe on Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks please take a minute to rate the recipe and leave a comment letting me know how you like it.  I love hearing from you!  You can FOLLOW ME on:

A plate of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce.

Slow Cooker Marinara Sauce

A hearty marinara sauce made with plenty of vegetables and spices make for a tasty sauce that's great served over top of pasta.
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 8 hours
Total Time: 8 hours 25 minutes
Author: Hezzi-D


  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onions
  • 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 c. chopped green pepper
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes chopped
  • 2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • ½ c. red wine
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper


  • Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and brown sugar and saute for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to caramelize.
  • Put the onions in the slow cooker and then add all the additional ingredients. Stir until everything is well combined.
  • Cook on low heat for 8 hours or high heat for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  • Check the seasonings, add more salt, pepper, or spices, and serve over top of pasta.


Recipe adapted from Caitlin's Cooking

A plate of spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce and a fork picking up a meatball.

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  1. I love all the veggies in this sauce! And that it’s made in the slow cooker. I can easily double it and save half for later. Such a great sauce recipe!

  2. I totally love a homemade sauce, but the hours of “babysitting” usually keeps me from doing it. So I love that you use a slow cooker! Now I’m really psyched to start my seedlings!

  3. Hi Heather,
    There is nothing better than a wonderful homemade Marinara Sauce. We grow lots of tomatoes so I will sure be trying this recipe. Hope you are having a wonderful week end and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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