30 Minute Pasta Sauce

By Sally Cameron on February 23, 2014

Gluten-Free, Pasta, Sauces and Condiments, the daniel plan, Vegan, Vegetarian

Whether you call it spaghetti sauce, pasta sauce, tomato sauce, or marinara, it is a staple in the kitchen. With basics that you probably have in your pantry, make this 30 minute pasta sauce. Use it for dinner, then freeze leftover sauce for an even faster dinner in the future. Try it with Turkey Meatballs or to top Quick Chicken Cutlets topped with Parmesan cheese for easy Chicken Parmesan.

30 Minute Pasta Sauce|AFoodCentricLife.com

30 Minute Pasta Sauce: Power to the Pantry

Running out of my stash of frozen roasted tomato marinara, I grabbed a few things from my pantry shelves and came up with this quick pasta sauce. It came out so good I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

With a can of crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions, garlic plus dried herbs and spices you can make this in about 30 minutes. Use it right away with pasta, shrimp, chicken, or fish.  And of course, it’s great with either turkey or beef meatballs. Because Leftovers freeze well, make a double batch for a quick meal on a busy night.

Anise Seed and Substitution

One little extra that gives this sauce great flavor is anise seed. The lightly sweet licorice flavor offers a nice edge, something different. You can use fennel seed instead, but if you like that flavor, try anise seed. (If you don’t like it, leave it out).

Native to the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean, anise is in the same family as dill, caraway and cumin. While it has a similar flavor to fennel, they are two entirely different plants.

Anise Seed

Spice Tip

Whole spices, freshly ground just before using, provide an amazing burst of flavor, different than the pre-ground forms. An added benefit, whole spices stay fresher, longer in your pantry. Here I’ve use whole anise seeds, ground in a mortar and pestle by hand, then tossed into the pot. Another way to grind whole spices, use an inexpensive electric spice and coffee grinder reserved for spices.

30 Minute Pasta Sauce

For a quick dinner use this recipe for pasta with chicken sausage and substitute this sauce for the fresh tomatoes.

Nutrition Facts
30 Minute Pasta Sauce
Amount Per Serving
Calories 67 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Sodium 100mg4%
Potassium 85mg2%
Carbohydrates 4g1%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1g1%
Protein 1g2%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 28mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

30 Minute Pasta Sauce

Spaghetti sauce, pasta sauce or marinara – what ever you call it – is easy to make from a few staples in your pantry in about 30 minutes. It’s better, healthier and cheaper to make than most quality jarred brands. Freeze any leftovers. This sauce is versatile used for pasta, chicken, shrimp, fish, meatballs, and many dishes. To grind whole spices, use a mortar and pestle or an small electric spice and coffee grinder.
Course Sauce
Cuisine Italian
Keyword marinara, pasta, Sauce
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 67kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 3 large garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried talian herb blend
  • 2 teaspoons whole anise seed or fennel seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper more or less to your heat preferences
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup red wine optional


  • Heat olive oil in a medium pot over medium low heat and add onion. Cook until onion is soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Add the basil, ground anise seed, black pepper, red pepper, salt, tomatoes and sauce, and wine if using. Cover and simmer sauce for 20 minutes until flavors are blended. For a smoother sauce, puree briefly in blender.


Calories: 67kcal | Carbohydrates: 4g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 100mg | Potassium: 85mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin C: 3mg | Calcium: 28mg | Iron: 1mg
  1. Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon - February 24th, 2014

    Pinned. I never buy pasta sauce anymore. I usually pull up one of yours and we are all happy.

  2. Sally - February 24th, 2014

    Thanks Madonna 🙂

  3. Hari Chandana - February 26th, 2014

    beautiful photography.. thanks for sharing!!

  4. Esther - October 11th, 2017

    Didn’t have anise or fennel added 2 bay leaves smells terrific will use tomorrow on spaghetti

  5. Monica - June 2nd, 2019

    I liked this very much. I had a recipe that called for only anise and was glad to find that basil blends well with it. Thank you!

  6. Alex Lukenda - March 27th, 2020

    Is the 15 oz tomato sauce tomato paste? Is t crushed tomatoes tomato sauce? Or use like a ragu tomato sauce? Thanks so much, new cook here!!! ??

  7. Sally Cameron - March 27th, 2020

    Hi Alex! I love to hear from new cooks! Congratulations on getting into the kitchen. The 15 ounce can is tomato sauce, pure smooth tomato sauce in a can. Not ragu. I understand the confusion as tomatoes come in so many forms at the store. This recipe uses both the crushed and sauce, both canned. Here is what I generally use, as the brand is organic and widely available. Maybe the photo will help. https://www.muirglen.com/products/tomato-sauce/

  8. Steven Henderson - November 21st, 2020

    We’ve been making the recipe for several years with the chicken parm combination. The kids always love it! Our sauce has always been sans vino. We just tried it with some Cabernet and it made a big difference. The sauce complexion was more smooth and balanced. Glad we tried both ways! Thanks for this meal staple:)


  9. Sally Cameron - November 22nd, 2020

    Thank Steven! I love to hear that my recipes are working for you and your family, and yes, I agree on the wine addition.

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