Trying sauce that lasts 5 minutes, 30 minutes and 2 days

Trying sauce that lasts 5 minutes, 30 minutes and 2 days
  • I’ve tried recipes for 5-minute, 30-minute, and 48-hour marinara sauce to see which one is worth it.
  • I expected to like the 30 minute or 48 hour sauce best, but they were both disappointing.
  • The 5 minute sauce came together so quickly and easily, and it tasted amazing.

Marinara sauce is one of those things I usually just buy at the store. But I don’t mind putting in a little extra effort every now and then for a delicious bowl of pasta.

I decided to test three popular recipes, each requiring different prep and cooking times.

From a five-minute spicy marinara to a standard 30-minute recipe to a whopping 48 hours of sauce, here’s how the recipes stacked up.

The 5-minute sauce contained a surprising ingredient

ingredients for a 5-minute marinara on a counter

I was surprised by the lemon zest.

Paige Bennett

The five-minute marinara sauce recipe I found from Barefeet in the Kitchen sounded a little too good to be true.

Most of the ingredients were pretty standard: olive oil, garlic, sea salt, red pepper flakes and crushed tomatoes.

The only thing that surprised me was the addition of lemon zest.

When the recipe says 5 minutes, it really means it

initial process of cooking 5 minutes marinara sauce in metal pot on stove

The instructions were simple.

Paige Bennett

I thought the recipe would take about 10 or 15 minutes, but it was really quick.

I used a small metal tool to mince my garlic in an instant; added it to a hot pan with oil, salt, and about 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes; and stir everything together for about a minute.

Then I added the tomatoes and let it simmer for a few minutes before sprinkling some lemon zest on it.

Cooking marinara sauce for 5 minutes in metal pot

I wasted no time getting to the final product.

Paige Bennett

My only complaint is that my pasta takes about 13 minutes to cook, plus time to cook.

I’d rather start with my sauce first and give it time to simmer and develop a deeper flavor than worrying about the marinara just before the pasta is done.

But that’s an easy problem to solve. Next time I’ll just let it simmer a little longer.

In the future I would trade lemon peel for fresh herbs

5 minute marinara sauce on a bowl of pasta and in a small bowl on its own

I was pleased with the results considering how quickly the sauce came together.

Paige Bennett

I really enjoyed the taste and texture of this sauce.

The garlic was strong but not overpowering, and the red pepper flakes gave it just the right amount of heat.

The oil also gave it a softer mouthfeel without being too greasy.

Aside from simmering a little longer, I’d also swap out the lemon zest for fresh herbs. I didn’t like the taste of lemon and would have preferred some basil and/or parsley.

The 30 minute marinara was easy and required only 6 ingredients

ingredients for 30 minutes marinara on a counter

I expected the recipe to be a bit more complicated.

Paige Bennett

When I think of homemade marinara I expect something closer to 30 or 60 minutes so I had high hopes for NYT Cooking’s recipe

It specifically called for San Marzano tomatoes, a type of plum tomato with fewer seeds and thicker pulp than other varieties.

Anyway, my canned, whole tomatoes seemed good enough to me. I would pair them with extra virgin olive oil, grated garlic cloves, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and a sprig of fresh basil.

It actually took less than 30 minutes including the time I spent carefully slicing garlic

slices of garlic in oiled pan for 30 minutes marinara

The garlic took a little extra time to cook.

Paige Bennett

To start, I had to crush the whole, peeled tomatoes by hand.

Then I removed the skin from several cloves of garlic and cut them into thin strips. These strips went into a pan of hot olive oil before I poured in my hand-ground tomatoes.

The recipe also said to add a cup of water to the empty tomato can and swirl it around to get any leftover tomato chunks. That cup of water went into the pot with the rest of the ingredients.

basil on top of cooked marinara sauce 30 minute recipe

I simmered everything for 15 minutes.

Paige Bennett

After the ingredients were combined, I put the basil on top and let it wilt before stirring it into the sauce.

It only took about 15 minutes to simmer – just enough time to cook my noodles.

The sauce was a bit too watery and oily for me?

30 minutes marinara on a bowl of pasta and in a bowl on its own

The sauce was quite thin.

Paige Bennett

When the noodles and sauce were both done, I noticed the oil had gathered around the top of the marinara.

Taste wise it was fine. I found it a little sweet and a little spicy. But the extra cup of water diluted the flavor and made the sauce way too thin. It was also way too greasy.

Unfortunately, the fresh sprig of basil didn’t add much flavor, and I didn’t like the texture of the grated garlic – I prefer chopped.

The 48-hour marinara required a lot of tomatoes

ingredients for 48 hours marinara on a counter

This recipe had by far the most ingredients.

Paige Bennett

I had high hopes for Kitchn’s 48 Hour Marinaraeven if the actual cooking time is only 16 hours.

It called for whole tomatoes without skins, tomato paste, strained tomatoes and diced tomatoes. I unfortunately misread the ingredients list and accidentally bought crushed tomatoes that said diced on it. But in the end I think it was really just for the best.

Aside from the tomatoes, the sauce also needed dry white wine, stock, minced garlic, dried herbs (I used basil, oregano, marjoram, and sage but left out thyme as I don’t like that), salt, pepper, optionally fennel, and red pepper flakes (I only used red pepper flakes), sugar and a final dash of olive oil.

I didn’t cook for 48 hours but it was still a long process

spices added to a 48-hour marinara sauce

The recipe called for some spices and herbs.

Paige Bennett

Immediately I ran into some hiccups.

I started with a large enamelled pan, but it was too small for all those tomatoes, so I got out my hefty Dutch Oven. Even after cutting the recipe in half, there were still too many ingredients, so I had to upgrade again to a large stockpot.

I started by adding the whole and crushed tomatoes, followed by the tomato paste and strained tomatoes. The recipe said the wine had to swirl around the empty cans before adding it to the pot and stirring.

I added low-sodium vegetable stock and brought the sauce to a boil before adding about a third of the dried herbs, rubbing them with my fingers to “release their essential oils,” as directed.

Then I got a nice eight hour break while the sauce simmered. I stopped about once or twice an hour to stir it.

At the end of the first day, I added another third of the spices, stirred the sauce, let it cool slightly, and refrigerated overnight.

48 hours marinara sauce in a jar

I had to leave it in the fridge.

Paige Bennett

After the sauce had about 12 hours to cool, I put it back on the stove. This time it simmered for four hours and I stirred it every hour.

I added the last of the spices, along with the sugar and a little more salt, and let it simmer for another four hours.

I finished the sauce with some olive oil and prepared to enjoy the fruits of my labor.

The long awaited sauce was a big disappointment

48 hours marinara sauce on a bowl of pasta and in a small bowl on its own

The sauce wasn’t even worth all the effort.

Paige Bennett

After going through all the trouble of rubbing the spices into the sauce, I couldn’t really taste them. Instead, the sauce tasted sour and sour.

I stirred it enough to keep the sauce from burning on the bottom of the pan — a common complaint among recipe reviewers — so it didn’t last much for me. But it sure tasted burnt.

After cooking for 16 hours and overnight in the fridge, the sauce really left a bad taste in my mouth.

I expected to prefer the longer recipes but my favorite only took a few minutes

paige holds up a bowl of pasta with the 5 minute marinara on it

The five minute sauce was the surprise winner.

Paige Bennett

I honestly expected to like the 30 minute or 48 hour recipe the best. But my favorite was the five-minute marinara, which was easy to make and required simple ingredients that I usually have on hand.

I plan to make this again in the future, with a few minor changes, like cooking longer and swapping the potent lemon zest for flavorful, fresh herbs.